Hoping to lose weight but don’t fancy sweating it out in the gym or powering through an intense spin class? How about trying yoga for weight loss? It could be just the solution you’re looking for and dare we say…you might even enjoy it!
For many, yoga is about strengthening the mind and body connection, improving flexibility and relieving stress. Sure, it’s far gentler than other types of exercise but that doesn’t mean you won’t lose weight doing it. If you think about it, moving the body burns calories and yoga will have you moving your body in ways you never have before.
Read on to find out more about the different types of yoga and how they can promote healthy weight loss.
Power Yoga for Weight Loss
Unlike cardio workouts, which just burn calories, power yoga goes a step further and tones the body too. Through regular power yoga practice, you will:
- Increase the flexibility of your body
- Develop a stronger core
- Tone your muscles
- Burn calories
Ultimately, you will achieve weight loss. It’s a great way to encourage permanent weight loss, as it increases lean muscle mass, which will, in turn, boost your metabolism.
What is Power Yoga?
Power yoga refers to any kinetic types of yoga that focus on muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness. The three main types are Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Bikram. Though each varies in style, they are all physically strenuous and challenging.
Ashtanga yoga – Ashtanga yoga was developed by Indian Yoga teacher, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and is designed to really challenge the body. It involves performing incessant sequences that are synchronized with your breath. Expect to perform arm balancing poses and core strengthening movements that push your body to its limit.
Vinyasa yoga – This type of power yoga for weight loss was developed by Krishnamacharya, an Indian yoga teacher known as the ‘father of modern yoga.’ Vinyasa is a very intense style of power yoga and like Ashtanga, involves coordinating breath with movement. Whereas Ashtanga classes usually feature the same poses in the same order, Vinyasa tends to offer a little more variety and will keep you on your toes.
Bikram yoga – Bikram yoga was invented by Olympic gold medalist Bikram Choudhury and is often associated with weight loss. It involves performing intense yoga poses in a heated studio (usually around 95 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and is all about challenging your body and getting your heart rate up. Working out in a heated room will increase blood flow to your muscles, making them more pliable, so you will be able to perform deeper stretches. Providing you can stand the heat and put in the work, you can greatly boost your chances of fat loss.
Want to learn more about the different types of yoga?
Power Yoga Poses for Weight Loss
Give power yoga a try. This 10 minute video features a sequence of basic power yoga poses for beginners that will get your heart pumping and those calories burning.
Easy Yoga for Weight Loss
Not everyone enjoys cardio-based workouts and that’s perfectly okay. If you are new to yoga, struggle with a lot of movement or simply prefer a less intense workout, there are easier types of yoga you can try, like Yin Yoga.
Yin Yoga is a slow-paced type of yoga that involves holding postures and asanas for long periods of time. It’s one of the best styles of yoga for beginners to try but also favored by experienced practitioners for its meditative qualities.
Many Yin Yoga poses are restorative, meaning they are performed in a reclined or seated position, with parts of the body supported by props like cushions and blankets. The poses, which are often held for several minutes at a time, are designed to put moderate stress on the connective tissues in the body, helping to stretch and rehabilitate them.
How Restorative Yoga Promotes Healthy Weight Loss
Now, we know what you’re thinking. How can restorative yoga promote weight loss when it’s all about gently stretching, relaxing and recharging the body? According to the experts, it’s all to do with lowering your levels of cortisol.
A study by Maria G. Araneta, PhD, MPH, of the University of California, found that obese women saw a greater loss of subcutaneous fat from restorative yoga than aerobic activity. It was determined that the weight loss was a result of lowered cortisol levels, a stress hormone, which is known to increase abdominal fat. By lowering their cortisol levels, through practicing restorative yoga, the women also reduced their body fat.
Some yoga experts also believe that restorative types of yoga facilitate healthy, natural weight loss by improving the connection between the mind and body. By aligning the two, we become more in tune with our body’s signals telling us when we are full and need to stop eating.
As well as being more mindful about how much we eat, yoga can also teach us to care more about what we eat. You’ll find that those who practice yoga regularly tend to eat fewer processed foods, with many adopting vegetarian and vegan diets that contain a lot of fruit, vegetables and grains.
Restorative Basic Yoga Poses
Want to give restorative yoga a try? Here are a few basic yoga poses to start with:
Butterfly – Sit on your yoga mat and bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to relax either side of your body. Fold forward from your hips to create a stretch across your groin, hips and back. Use a bolster to rest your head on and hold the pose for 3-5 minutes.
Knees to chest – Lie on your back and gently draw your knees into your chest. Put your hands on your shins or the back of your thighs and hold for a couple of minutes. Feel free to move slightly from side to side, it’s all about doing what feels comfortable for you.
Pentacle – Lie down on your mat with your limbs stretched out in a star shape. Close your eyes, relax and concentrate on your breathing. Scan your body slowly, paying attention to any areas of tension and observe how your mind is feeling. This pose is all about finding your connection and is a great one to start or end your yoga session with.
For a full restorative yoga weight loss sequence, watch the video below…
Best Yoga for Weight Loss
When it comes to yoga for weight loss, it’s all about discovering what works best for you. Some people may prefer the intensity of power yoga and its ability to shed calories quickly, whereas others may find the meditative, stress-relieving, benefits of restorative yoga to be more effective at achieving permanent weight loss.
Personally, we’d recommend a mixture of the two. Varying your classes and trying out different styles of yoga keeps things interesting. The more you enjoy your yoga workouts, the more you’ll benefit from them, as your brain will send happy signals to the rest of your body, encouraging it to work harder and keep going.
Regular Yoga Practice for Weight Loss
The key to losing weight through yoga is regular practice. Ideally, you should be looking to practice yoga for at least an hour each day, six times a week, with one full day of rest. If you’re new to yoga and can’t manage a full hour, do as much as you can. It’s important to start slowly so you can build up your strength and flexibility. You’ll also enjoy it a lot more this way, which is so important as the more you like doing something, the more beneficial it will be to you.
Remember, with yoga, you don’t necessarily need to head to a class in order to reap the benefits. One of the great things about it is that it can be practiced anywhere and with so many fantastic yoga for weight loss videos on the Internet you’ll have no trouble getting started.
Yoga for weight loss: the best of both worlds
Speak to any fitness expert and they’ll tell you that it’s not enough to do just cardio or weights. In order to achieve weight loss and improve strength on a permanent basis, you need to tick both boxes and that’s where yoga comes in.
The great thing about yoga is that it offers the best of both worlds. Power yoga sessions featuring incessant non-stop sequences will increase your body temperature, get your blood pumping and those calories burning. Restorative yoga, where you’re holding your body weight in different poses, will build your strength and tone your muscles. It’ll also teach you mindfulness, which is key to self-awareness and making good decisions for your body. As you can see, there are many benefits of yoga.
Combined with a healthy, balanced diet, practicing yoga will help you achieve your weight loss goals steadily, safely and on a permanent basis. The best news is you can start straight away! Visit our beginners’ yoga section to learn more.
Have you experienced weight loss by practicing yoga?
Share your tips in the comments below.