Yoga has become a prominent part of many popular workout routines. It’s commonly touted as a cure for everything from stiff joints to breathing problems. But will yoga help you lose weight?
Sitting on a mat and meditating seems counter-intuitive to someone who wants to build strength and shed pounds.
But yoga has been given a thoroughly modern makeover. Now you can work up a sweat while you learn to get your body and mind in synch.
Here are some of the ways yoga can help you lose weight and increase your sense of wellbeing.
1. Vinyasa yoga burns calories.
Also known as “flow yoga” or “ashtanga yoga”, vinyasa yoga is a physically active form of yoga that increases the heart rate and sends the body into fat-burning mode.
Vinyasa yoga sends the practitioner through a series of poses known as sun salutations.
These poses are held for several breaths, and then the practitioner flows into the next pose in the series. Vinyasa yoga is frequently combined with other cardio exercises, like walking, for a balanced weight loss routine.
2. Yoga puts you in touch with your body.
When you practice yoga, you learn to clear your mind of the distractions that prevent you from really listening to your body. By getting back in touch with your needs, you can learn to differentiate between hunger and cravings.
The more you learn about your body and its amazing abilities, the more you will want to take care of it by avoiding junk food and radical diets.
3. Yoga reduces stress.
Yoga is a real stress-buster. By practicing mindful breathing and quiet meditation, you can bring your mind and body to a peaceful state. This decreases anxiety and can even reduce your body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol sends our bodies into self-preservation mode, which translates to increased fat storage, especially in the abdominal area.
Learn to relax and breathe during yoga, and you will eventually learn to incorporate those skills into the rest of your life.
4. Power yoga improves strength and flexibility.
Power yoga is a westernized version of vinyasa yoga that combines sun salutations with stretching, strength training, and intense bursts of cardio.
This produces a stronger heart and more lean muscle mass. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, power yoga can help you burn more calories even at rest. That’s a great way to speed up your weight loss.
5. Hot yoga provides quick, temporary weight loss.
Hot yoga really makes you sweat. It’s like regular vinyasa yoga, but it takes place in a sauna or other hot surroundings.
As you can guess, the quick weight loss comes from shedding water weight.
While this is not a good long-term strategy, it can give you a good workout and help you look more svelte before a special occasion. Just be prepared to regain those few pounds once you get rehydrated.
6. Yoga makes you mindful.
Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons yoga teaches us is the lesson of mindfulness. Yoga practitioners learn how to be “in the moment”, focusing on their breathing and their posture rather than worrying about work, family, or other stressors.
You can apply this mindfulness to your weight loss plan as well. Learn to focus on your food and your enjoyment rather than choking down your meals while watching TV.
By taking your time and keeping your mind on your meal, you will tend to eat less and be more satisfied.
Yoga can benefit your weight loss plan in many ways. You can add yoga to your routine by finding a class near you, or renting a yoga DVD from your public library.
Remember: if one style of yoga doesn’t suit your needs, there are many more to try.