How Yoga Can Help You Lose Weight

Whether you’ve worked hard to lose weight and have reached your goal, or you struggle with being underweight and strive to gain, weight management and maintenance is more challenging than many people realize. This is because so much time and effort is spent getting to the goal weight that, once there, you don’t know how to adjust to achieve stasis. Fortunately, yoga can be a highly effective tool in weight management and offers multiple benefits. 

Ways Yoga Helps with Weight Loss

First, let’s look at how yoga can be a key part of your weight loss journey.

Yoga Cleanses Your Body to Balance Your Metabolism

Whether you struggle with being overweight or underweight, one of the concerns is that your metabolism isn’t balanced. Stress, exhaustion, and feeling depleted are at the root cause of this issue because when you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol. Continual release of cortisol, which happens when you’re constantly stressed out, causes your digestion to slow down, your immune system to be less effective, and can lead to chronic inflammation and fatigue in the body. This also affects your metabolism, making it difficult to maintain and manage your weight.

Yoga is a soothing activity that allows you to slow down your stress response and calm your mind and spirit. Less stress means your body isn’t releasing cortisol, allowing your body to heal and return to healthy functioning.

It Burns Calories and Increases Metabolism

While HIIT and weight training are often recommended for calorie burning and weight loss, any physical activity that burns calories is going to be helpful, especially when paired with a healthy diet. Doing yoga for twenty to forty-five minutes a few days a week, especially Vinyasa yoga that flows through poses uninterrupted, can burn calories and boost metabolism while toning your muscles.

Yoga Provides Stable, Consistent Exercise

If you were losing weight, you were probably exercising specifically to burn calories and help you reach your goal, and this may or may not have included yoga. While power yoga and vinyasa flow are fast-paced that improve calorie burn, when it comes to maintaining your weight, hatha yoga is a more measured practice that focuses on breathing, controlling your movements, and stretching your body. 

Just because you’re not wanting to gain or lose weight doesn’t mean you should give up physical exercise as it’s still necessary to your overall health. Thus, adding a hatha yoga routine is  an excellent way to bring physical activity into your day to tone and strengthen your muscles, but you’re less focused on calorie burn. This helps you maintain your weight rather than continuing to lose and the physical activity helps you avoid gaining, so it’s an excellent balance.

Yoga Reduces Stress

If emotional eating or stress snacking is one of the challenges you’re facing, you may find yoga especially helpful. By finding a healthier outlet for stress, you’ll feel less likely to reach for comfort foods. Additionally, stress causes the body to release cortisol, a hormone that affects blood sugar and appetite. By reducing your cortisol output, you’ll feel more balanced and return your appetite back to normal.

Yoga Can Improve Mindfulness

Yoga helps you focus your mind and heighten your awareness. This helps you to stop behaviors that can lead to weight fluctuations, such as impulsive snacking when you’re bored or turning to junk food when you’re nervous. Instead, you can focus on why you’re reaching for snacks and pinpoint the real reason. When you are more mindful, you’re also more likely to eat more slowly, savor your food, and listen to what your body really needs. This works together to help you make the right choices related to nutrition and eating, which can help you manage your weight.

Yoga Improves Sleep

When you are chronically tired, you’re more likely to seek high-sugar snacks and coffee for quick boosts of energy, and at the same time, your metabolism is slowing down due to fatigue. Practicing yoga on a regular basis improves the quality and quantity of your sleep, so you’re less likely to seek out sugar and energy boosts. Also, a well rested body and mind is able to heal and function properly, so your metabolism is able to stabilize, which, as we mentioned above, is necessary for weight management.

Yoga Poses to Help with Weight Loss

Knowing how yoga can help you with weight loss, let’s look at some of the best poses and movements that will help you meet your goals. 

Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana)

The plank pose strengthens your arms, spine, and the core, and is a key part of the Sun Salutation sequence. 

  • Start on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders, spreading your fingers wide and pressing down through your forearms; 
  • Lengthen the back of your neck into your spine and drawing your core abdominal muscles into your spine;
  • Tuck your toes and step your feet back drawing your body and head into a straight line, staying on the balls of your feet with your thighs lifted and your wrists below your shoulders.

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) 

This move opens your chest, your hips, tones your legs and strengthens your core as well as improving balance. Plus, it’s an energizing pose, so it can keep you moving and active through your other poses. 

  • Stand in Mountain Pose with your feet shoulder width apart and firmly planted with your spine lengthened and straight;
  • As you exhale, step your left foot backward three to four feet while raising your arms parallel to each other. You’ll draw your shoulders back and curve your spine slightly so your arms are following the slight curve of your body as you reach toward the ceiling. 
  • Keeping your hips and torso front, turn the left heel out 45 degrees and anchored to the floor, bending your right knee so it is over the right ankle in a slight “lunge” pose. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. 
  • Bring your back foot front and repeat by stepping your right foot backward and moving your left knee over your left ankle, keeping your motions fluid. 

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Another energizing pose, like Warrior I, holding this pose will burn calories and tone your core, thighs, and arms while improving your balance. 

  • Stand in Mountain Pose and step your right foot back, like in Warrior I. 
  • Raise your arms so they are parallel to the floor and actively reaching out to the sides with your shoulders open wide. Your left hand and head should be pointing in the same direction as your left foot and your right arm will be in a straight line back. Your torso and hips will be open and angled slightly, pointing in the 45 degree angle with your right foot.  
  • Keep your torso long and your shoulders over your hips.

Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

The Chair Pose is similar to a squat and is a powerful move that can get your heart pumping and your blood moving as it tones your core, thighs, and buttocks. 

  • Begin in Mountain Pose with your feet together, or, for beginners, hip-width apart. 
  • Inhale and raise your arms above your head, palms facing;
  • Exhale and bend your knees, so your thighs are parallel to the floor and at a right angle to your torso. Your knees will be ahead of your feet slightly. 
  • Pull your shoulder blades back so that your elbows are toward your ears while keeping your arms straight and avoid puffing out your ribcage. 
  • Keep your lower back long as you bring your hips down and lift up your chest – a slight bend in your upper back is normal. 
  • It’s important to maintain smooth breathing, and if you are straining to breathe, raise your hips back up into a more comfortable position. 

Schedule a Yoga Class in Smithfield Today

If you’re ready to lose weight and be more active, taking yoga is a great start. We have a variety of yoga classes available for every skill level and offer the instruction and guidance you need to correctly and safely perform all types of poses. Check out our class schedule or give us a call at  919-971-1431 to learn more!