There is a certain image surrounding yoga that some enthusiasts and trainers have struggled to shrug off – that yoga is a gentle activity for relaxation that isn’t really exercise and has no real benefit for weight loss.
While it is true that yoga is designed for stress relief and a gentle practice that is ideal for first timers and rehabilitation, it can be quite intensive and can have an incredible impact on fitness and weight loss.
This guide on how to lose weight by doing yoga will look at some of the different forms of yoga before delving deeper into the discipline’s advantages on well-being, dieting and shifting those pounds.
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There are different types of yoga out there with different benefits.
# Hatha yoga – the yoga that most of us start with, with gentle poses, a focus on rhythm and breathing and routines that really tone the core and improve posture and balance.
# Vinyasa yoga – the faster paced, more advanced option that takes poses further and is used more for weight loss than relaxation.
# Bikram yoga – also known as hot yoga, this is not for the faint-hearted as the heat is turned up in the studio so you sweat more and work harder.
# Kundalini yoga – a much gentler option that works with chanting, breathing and meditation.
These are four of the key types of yoga being taught and practiced but lots of instructors have created their own versions with twists on the themes to intensify certain elements and benefits. You can go as extreme as you want when choosing a form and the greater the physical intensity, the greater the chance of burning calories and losing weight.
Is Yoga Really Enough?
It is easy to see why many people are skeptical about using yoga to lose weight; this is a gentle, rhythmic process that generally focuses on breathing and posture rather than any sort of intensive aerobic or cardiovascular activity more associated with weight loss.
It is true that you will burn significantly more calories through a tough workout or a run than you will with an hour on a yoga mat – the faster, energetic vinyasa only burning seven calories a minute – but it all depends on your long term goals.
Do you go for the intense regime for quick success or use yoga for a slow and steady approach that has additional benefits for weight loss management?
Yoga is about more than trying to tone a muscle or shed a few pounds and the combination of additional benefits can have a massive impact.
The beauty of yoga is that you can gain so much and make so many improvements to your body and well-being with a practice that does not hurt like a tough session in a gym or require the same determination as a run. Regular yoga sessions can offer the following:
- Burnt calories
- Improved muscle tone
- Greater flexibility
- Breathing techniques
- Body awareness
So how can these individual benefits have a positive impact on your diet and attempts to shift those unwanted pounds?
Let’s start with improved muscle tone and greater flexibility. It never fails to surprise people the changes they can make to their body shape and posture by toning muscles with these poses – sometimes muscles they did not realize they had.
With gentle progress, you can see improvements in core strength, tone and flexibility that not only allow for a better execution of the poses but also give you the opportunity to carry out exercises that were once beyond your ability.
The more awareness you have of your body and the individual areas that can be improved, the easier it is to then tailor routines and other activities to losing weight in those areas, for example concentrating on flattening your stomach or toning your arms.
There are many people that use the gentle flow of a hatha yoga session for stress relief and relaxation, rather than as a form of exercise or a weight loss strategy, because of the energy release, the concentration on the poses and the benefits of the the breathing exercises.
You can really achieve a sense of calm and perspective with yoga that is not dissimilar to meditation and these principles, particularly those breathing techniques, can be carried forward to other forms of exercises.
If you can breathe properly and enjoy the motions of an exercise it becomes a much less stressful affair, you can potentially achieve more and workout for longer and this then has a positive impact on the calories you can burn.
Finally, there is the concept of mindfulness, something that is being taught in schools and professional environments as a way of improving well-being and relieving stress.
With yoga, you can work on this idea of being more mindful of your body and its needs by focusing on your breathing, your posture and the muscles you are targeting.
Practicing mindfulness can be greatly beneficial when dieting as you can become more aware of cravings and hunger and more appreciative of the food you eat, to the point where those cravings disappear, snacking becomes less desirable and you really make the most of a healthier diet.
It is often the case that enthusiasts doing yoga alone lose very little weight but no longer put any more on because of improved calorie intake – weight loss is as much about the calories going in and the ones being burned.
Hopefully this guide on how to lose weight by doing yoga has offered a different perspective on the discipline and shown that with the right approach, you can burn calories and change the shape of your body.
Yoga is not a quick fix solution and it does require some discipline but once you start to see the many different benefits at work, you can then use them to push your weight loss regime even further and make even bigger losses.
Yoga alone, either hatha, hot yoga or any other form of your choice, will burn some calories through energy expenditure but once you start to take advantages of your new strength, flexibility, breathing techniques and mindfulness, the opportunities for greater calorie burning and diet control are fantastic.