If you've lived a sedentary lifestyle for so long, any type of exercise seems daunting to you, yoga may get you up and moving again. Most yoga poses involve stretching for flexibility and strength, but you can lose weight fast by practicing Ashtanga or other vigorous forms of yoga. There are many benefits of yoga for weight loss, from mindfulness and better digestion to fat-burning from a sweaty session of Bikram yoga.
All types of yoga, including slow-paced Hatha yoga, help you burn calories. The more strenuous the yoga, the more calories- and fat- you'll burn. Power and Ashtanga yoga can burn up to 360 calories per hour; the slower, non-aerobic forms of yoga can still burn 180 calories per hour, depending on the poses you practice. There's even yoga fusion, which combines yoga poses with kickboxing or other cardio workouts.
Restorative, gentle yoga can work just as well as more energetic forms of yoga. Regular yoga for weight loss calms the parasympathetic nervous system. This balances hormones and slows down your body (in a good way), so it can rest and rejuvenate from the day's activities. Gentle yoga repairs the body physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The success of any weight loss program starts in the mind. If you don't have the desire or willpower to eat less and exercise more – and stick to your weight loss plan till you reach your goal - buying lots of fancy exercise equipment and pre-packaged diet meals won't help you.
Yoga, or any other physical activity, will increase endorphins and make you feel better, help tone your body and burn calories (even if it's just a small amount). You shouldn't depend on yoga alone to burn fat, but use it as part of your exercise program. Choose from several options, including walking, jogging, swimming, strength training and aerobic dancing as part of your weekly workouts for best results. Gentle or Hatha Yoga may be used as flexibility training or stress reduction between cardiovascular workouts. The mindfulness yoga provides is part of a long-term weight maintenance plan. Yoga keeps you focused to eat good food and follow through on your weight loss goals.
Gentle yoga not only repairs the body, but detoxifies it as well. When you're overweight from eating too much of the wrong foods, your body harbors toxins that cause heart disease, diabetes and cancer Your liver and kidneys may not be working properly and ridding your body of dangerous toxins. You'll gain weight when organs aren't working to flush out harmful substances. Yoga breathing, or pranayama, teaches you to control your breathe and use all of your lungs, bringing more oxygen to your body. This relieves stress, reducing nervous binge eating and clearing your system of toxins. Self-control through pranayama leads to peace of mind and a more healthful body.
Yoga stimulates the body's organs, improving the way they function. The Full Twist and other spinal twists squeeze the kidneys, liver and intestines, aiding digestion. The Shoulder Stand improves thyroid function, boosting metabolism and leading to more burned calories. Inverted poses widen the intestines and help food move easily through the digestive system. The headstand and other “upside down” poses stimulate the lymphatic system by draining blood out of your legs and improving circulation.
Yoga helps you instinctively eat healthier by reducing emotional cravings for certain foods. Most overeating is caused by automatic or emotional impulses, not true hunger, and yoga helps to quell those feelings. People who practice yoga for weight loss eat more mindfully and don't eat when they're bored or stressed-out. The emotional eating binges that pack on pounds fade away, and self-awareness leads to better food choices.
Yoga can help middle-aged folks who have a tough time losing weight. A study shows middle-aged yoga enthusiasts lost an average of five pounds over ten years, while participants who didn't practice yoga gained 14 pounds over the same ten year period.
A 2013 study conducted at the University of California, San Diego consisted of two groups of obese women. One group had stretching sessions for 48 weeks; the other restorative yoga sessions. The women performing yoga lost just over 13 inches of subcutaneous fat and an average of 3.75 pounds. The stretching group lost 0.93 inches of fat and 1.54 pounds. Restorative yoga may reduce cortisol levels, which are elevated by stress and increase the amount of belly fat.
On LiveScience.com, several experts gave their opinion on yoga and weight loss. They all agree that power yoga, Ashtanga and vigorous forms of yoga that raise your heart rate can help you lose weight. But Hatha yoga and gentle yoga contribute to weight loss, too. "The practice of yoga and meditation may aid the development of mindfulness during mealtimes, aiding awareness of portions sizes, food preparation, and eating speed." says Annie B. Kay, a nutritionist at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge Mass.
Vinyasa or flow yoga, consists of asanas synchronized with the breath. This form of yoga uses slow movements that flow into one another, similar to a dance. You move from one asana to another while inhaling or exhaling. While not as intense as power or Bikram yoga, Vinyasa involves changeable sequencing that can be altered for more efficient weight loss. The Sun Salutation, a series of asanas that includes the Down Dog, Chaturanga and Upward Dog, burns up to 500 calories during one hour of practice. Vinyasa means connection in Sanskrit, and it bridges the gap between gentle yoga and vigorous yoga. .It's a moderate form of yoga for people ready to tackle something more challenging than Hatha yoga, but not as strenuous as power yoga.
Ashtanga yoga, developed from an ancient Sanskrit text. Yoga Mala, the first modern interpretation of this text, was published in 1958. Ashtanga yoga includes six series of poses. The first series, called Yoga Chikitsa (or Yoga Therapy), includes asanas to detoxify the body, realign the spine and build strength and stamina. Consisting of Sun Salutations, standing, seated and inverted poses and ending with backbends, the first series has a total of 75 poses. They are performed in one session lasting up to two hours. The second series purifies the nervous system. Called Nadi Shodana, students learn it when they've mastered Yoga Chikitsa. It consists of the same poses as the first series with variations and some new poses added. Students learn this after they've mastered the first series. The last four series, Sthira Bhaga, include difficult arm balances, and few students move on to these poses.
Bikram Yoga is named after its founder, Bikram Choudhury. It's a vigorous form of yoga with specific postures and requirements. It consists of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, which must be performed in order in a room heated to 100 degrees in no less than 90 minutes. That may sound rough, but there's a method behind the madness. Bikram yoga gives every part of your body a workout, and the heat helps your body sweat out toxins. Many athletes practice bikram yoga. It conditions their bodies for competition, and helps prevent injuries. The asanas (poses) are designed to improve all muscle groups and improve balance and strength. The poses release oxygen to joints, organs and muscles. It takes awhile for new students to become accustomed to the heated studio, but after three to four lessons, most students adapt and see a change in their energy and health. The typical Bikram yoga session burns 475 calories per hour, or 712 calories per session.
Power yoga is a fast-moving, intense workout based on Ashtanga yoga. You move quickly from one asana to the next, working up a calorie-burning sweat. Unlike Hatha Yoga, which focuses on flexibility, power yoga is geared for strength training. You will lift and hold your body weight several times during a class. You may perform the same set of poses in each class or mix new poses with old ones, depending on your teacher's preferences. For weight loss at home or in class, try performing the wind releasing pose, followed by the cobra, bow, side stretch, warrior, extended angle. Follow up with the eagle, pigeon, Cow-face and seated forward bend.
Doing yoga (or any regular exercise program) won't help you lose weight unless you make other changes. You'll need to eat a clean diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts, beans, and a small amount of dairy and lean meat. If you're practicing yoga, eating good food will become second nature to you. The calorie count for women on a diet shouldn't exceed 1,200 calories a day; men shouldn't consume more than 1,500 calories a day. You may need more calories a day depending on your age, health and weight. You should always check with your doctor before starting a serious weight loss plan. Counting calories may seem like a chore, but if you eat only fresh, unprocessed food and avoid sweets, fried food, soda and alcohol, you may not need to bother totaling up calories after each meal. Clean food fills you up without skyrocketing your daily calorie count.
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