There seems to be a lot of debate over whether or not yoga can help you with your weight-loss goals..
I’m here to help put that debate to rest, because trust me when I say this, yoga can transform you in MANY ways and weight-loss can surely be one of them. This post was made to explain all the reasons why 🙂
For those who don’t know, yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. The main goal of yoga is samadhi (a state of meditative consciousness, which could be described as pure bliss or “nirvana”). All these disciplines are synergistic with one another when it comes to helping us lose weight.
I’m going to break up the benefits into two different categories– physical and mental/spiritual.
Yoga offers hundreds of asanas (postures) contained within an endless number of flows or sequences. All postures offer their own unique physical benefits. In addition, almost every pose addresses detoxification of some sort. This detoxification helps the purification of the body and mind. By removing this stagnant waste in our body, this directly affects our weight-loss.
All types of yoga are effective when it comes to burning calories, purifying the body, calming the mind, improving flexibility and muscle tone, and providing peace and a feeling of being interconnected with the world around you. However, some styles of yoga are much more effective than others when it comes to shedding of the unwanted body fat.
Power yoga and vinyasa flow are the two types of yoga that will bring you the best results.
These types of yoga are both fast-paced flows that provide a good mixture of cardio and isometric stress on your muscles, which will help you increase muscle tone, shock your muscles in various ways, and keep your body under a solid amount of stress/tension. The cardio-like nature of vinyasa flow will help with effective fat burning, and the various postures/movements of power yoga will keep your muscles working.
These two types of yoga will help you burn anywhere from 400 to 600 calories per hour, which is equivalent to the number of calories burned during an average hour in the gym!
This helps explain why studies are showing you may develop muscle tone and improve your metabolism. (At the end of this post there will be a set of asanas (postures) for you to try)
The mental and spiritual aspects of yoga focus on developing mindfulness. This increases your awareness on many levels.
It can make you more conscious of how different foods affect your mind, body, and spirit.
While restorative yoga (yoga for the mind, which consists of easier postures that allow you to focus on connecting with your breath and relaxing) isn’t an especially physical type of yoga, it still helps in weight loss. One study found that restorative yoga was effective in helping overweight women to lose weight, including abdominal fat.
Practicing yoga can also help improve the quality of your sleep. You might find that you’re able to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply when you’re consistent with your yoga practice. This will help with getting your ideal six to nine hours of sleep each night.
Quality sleep is usually associated with weight loss. A 2018 study found that people who had restricted sleep five times per week lost less fat than the group that followed their normal sleeping patterns. Both groups were limiting the number of calories they consumed, suggesting that sleep loss has an adverse effect on fat-loss and body composition.
In terms of mental changes, a review of studies from 2013 found that yoga is helpful with behavioral change, weight-loss, burning calories, heightening mindfulness, and reducing stress. A meta study from 2017 reported that mindfulness training (meditative yoga flows and any form of mindful meditation) has positive short-term benefits regarding impulsive or binge eating and physical activity participation. There was no significant effect on weight loss directly, but it’s thought that weight-loss will be a by-product of ongoing mindfulness training. Personally, I couldn’t agree more because my personal relationship with food and “bored eating” has completely changed throughout my yogic journey.
All of these factors of increased mindfulness will help you in reducing unnecessary food intake, stress-eating, and overeating by becoming more mindful of your emotions and eating patterns.
Overall, your mental and spiritual state has a lot to do with how you view food. Practicing mindfulness will help you on your journey toward building a better relationship with the food you eat. It’s no coincidence that a LOT yogis are vegan? This is mainly a by-product from becoming more conscious about the sources of your food and wanting the best fuel for your body while dodging the negative karma that comes from eating beings that wanted to live.
Additionally, a negative mental state can have a negative impact on how your body processes food.. like whaaa?
Let me explain..
One of the main sources of weight-loss resistance is stress. It’s funny because there have been studies by the NIH that show you can literally think your way to weight-loss and weight-gain. This is because stressful thoughts can activate metabolic pathways that cause insulin resistance and weight-gain! Cortisol is an adrenal hormone that helps you hear better, run faster, see further, and load your bloodstream with fuel for quick energy. Look at it as the hormone that helps us survive when true danger arises in our lives. Yoga will help you stay at ease while in aggravating situations, such as traffic jams, instead of tapping into your cortisol hormone as if you’re in an actual life-threatening situation.
So, by becoming more mindful and improving your ability to cope with stress (which is one of the main benefits of practicing yoga), you’re enabling yourself to dodge unnecessary spikes in cortisol.
All in all, yoga will help you become more mindful and able to cope with stress, both of which will help you on your weight-loss journey 🙂
Practice yoga as often as possible to lose weight. I’d shoot for at least 4 intense sessions a week that are around an hour in length.
On the other days, balance out your practice with a more relaxing and meditative session. Hatha, yin, and restorative yoga classes are great options for winding-down and stretching out without any strenuous asanas (postures).
If you’re a beginner, start slowly and gradually build up the frequency and length of your sessions. This allows you to build up your strength and flexibility and prevent injuries. If you don’t have the time for full sessions, then break them up into smaller 20-minute flows. At the end of the day, don’t take it too serious and always remember to have a rest day throughout each week!
Combine your yoga practice with other physical activities that you enjoy such as walking, running, cycling, low-weight high-rep weight training, or swimming for added cardiovascular benefits. This will give you a well-rounded fitness regimen that’s suited for your goals.
Also, avoid weighing yourself directly after hot yoga classes or other intense sweating sessions, since you may lose water weight during the class. Instead, weigh yourself at the same time each day, preferably in the mornings.
I wish you the best of luck on your journey! And for those of you who are completely new to yoga, I have a free 3-Day Yoga Journey Kick-Start that can help you start your journey off on the right foot!
In addition to the yoga kick-starter, I also have my Vegan Weight-Loss Made Easy e-book that is PERFECT for anyone who’s wanting to lose weight by adopting a plant-based diet 🙂
Other than that, here’s a few videos that might interest you, especially during the beginning of your yoga journey!
I hope this post helped give you a better outlook on how you can achieve your weight-loss goals with yoga. Yoga will challenge you physical, mentally, and spiritually, all of which will help you become a more mindful person with less stress.