Yoga originated in India, and has been around for at least 10,000 years. While its origins are Eastern, it has become a huge influence in Western culture and is practiced by millions of people all over the world.
While yoga is a fitness routine, it is also a science and an art form that comes with numerous benefits for the body, mind and soul.
Yoga has its origins in Sanskrit and its literal meaning is to unite, specifically to unite the body with the mind and spirit.
Yoga is comprised of various poses called, Asanas and incorporates strength, and flexibility to bring balance to the body and mind.
What sets yoga apart from other workouts is the simple fact that it not only benefits the health of one’s body, but it also has numerous benefits for emotional, mental and spiritual health.
And, in its holistic approach, yoga can also be used by anyone to lose weight with a workout regimen that is of low impact and of great benefit.
Yoga is a unique fitness approach to weight loss that yields impressive results.
Health Benefits Of Yoga
Yoga uses both physical movements, meditative practices and breathing to bring about inner harmony and balance to the mind, body and spirit.
There are a lot of health benefits associated with yoga and it is used as a complementary treatment for many conditions and as a preventative measure as well.
Yoga exercises work on both external and internal body functions and organs, and facilitate good health by making sure that they are functioning properly.
Yoga helps with pain management, and builds strength and flexibility.
It is good for heart and cardiovascular health, joint health, mental health, and emotional well-being. It also has natural detox benefits and is known to be a wonderful anti-aging workout.
It also greatly improves self-awareness, confidence and posture. And of course, it helps with weight loss.
Weight Loss With Yoga
Yoga is practiced by millions of people around the world, including, many very fit celebrities and professional athletes who uses it to supplement their regular workout regimen and enhance their performance.
And yes, this no strain workout that allows people to work at their own level can have profound effects for weight loss.
While Yoga does not burn calories at the rate that other cardio workouts do, it is still an effective and viable weight loss option.
Many personal trainers and fitness experts, including Dana Edison, a certified personal trainer with the American College of Sports Medicine, as well as, celebrity trainer Ana Brett agree that yoga works quite well in helping people to lose weight.
5 Ways Yoga Works For Weight Loss
A study headed by Yogi Alan Kristal, DPH, MPH in 2005 found that out of 15,500 middle aged men and women that were tracked over a 5 year period, those who did Yoga for just 30 minutes per week lost 4 pounds over those who did not and who actually gained 14 pounds. For the purposes of the study influencing factors such as diet and other exercise were weeded out.
1. The Mind Body Connection
Yoga, unlike other workouts, includes breathing as a focal point and complete integration of mindfulness with physical movement.
This practice of mindfulness does not go away when you leave the yoga mat, with regular practice it stays with you and effects all parts of your life.
This intense focus makes you pay better attention to your body, and that includes what you eat and in general yields a high level of body awareness.
This mind is really what controls everything we do, and yoga can help in this way to change negative behaviors.
It can help you to decipher boredom from real hunger, alleviate emotional overeating and binge eating as well. Yoga makes you pay attention and think in a whole new way.
A study that was published in the Journal of Qualitative Health Research showed that women’s binging was reduced after practicing yoga for only 12 weeks. This was achieved through the development of present-moment awareness, which, resulted in them eating less.
Also, since yoga promotes relaxation and greatly decreases stress and anxiety it can go a long way to curbing overeating and emotional eating.
End Binge Eating Addiction: If you’re struggling to overcome binge eating addiction, then guided self-hypnosis meditation may provide the answer that you need, on order to curb those subconscious cravings, and to make your mind desire more beneficial habits instead, read more…
2. Encouraging Exercise
- Yoga relieves aches and pain, which can encourage people to do other types of workouts.
- For those that dread the intensity of cardio, like running, walking or bikes, yoga is a completely different experience that is non-impact and can get those who never move to do so, at their own pace, and moving of any type is better than none at all.
- Yoga is also the ideal starter workout for those that have been stationary for their entire lives, or have had little exposure to exercise.
3. Loosening Muscles And Increasing Range of Motion
Other great benefits include that it loosens the muscles, and improves flexibility and range of motion. This is important for the overweight who are often in need of this from lack of exercise and can also aid in correcting poor posture that comes form being overweight.
4. Belly Fat Reduction
Belly fat is the most dangerous of all fats, and is known to be exasperated by rising Cortisol levels in the body.
Yoga has been proven to reduce Cortisol, and consequently can help with belly fat prevention and reduction. This is especially true for women over 40 that battle with belly fat.
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health evaluated women who performed restorative yoga, which is type where poses are held for long periods and found that they lost 2% more body fat as compared to women who simply stretched.
Another study published in the Journal of Alternative Medicine reported that men who engaged in yoga daily breathing exercises lost about 4 pounds in just 10 days.
5. Muscle Toning
Yoga also works to tone the butt, arms, back, legs, and other muscles, so, if you engage in a weight loss regimen it can help those muscles pop as the body fat melts away.
Additionally, lean muscle mass uses body fat for fuel, even when it’s at rest, and this means prolonged fat burning throughout the day for much more effective weight management.
Yoga Versus Cardio
Yoga and cardio are two different things, and one should not necessarily replace the other.
For those that want to lose significant amounts of weight, cardio is important, but yoga should be included to yield a complete and comprehensive fitness routine.
Doing cardio and yoga several times per week can bring astounding weight loss results.
Types of Yoga Best For Weight Loss and Fat Burning
There are many types of yoga, all of which, include their own Asanas (poses) and specific routines. Power Yoga is one of the options for those that want to lose weight. While the term “Power” is not an official branch of the practice, it is a term that is often used in yoga studios and gyms across the United States.
It is in fact the Americanized version of the traditional Kundalini type of yoga.
Many yoga instructors agree that Power yoga offers all the fat burning and heart health benefits as other cardio and aerobic workouts.
Power yoga was created by two American yoga students in 1990, namely, Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Krest.
The advent of this practice made yoga much more interesting and accessible to the American fitness audience who wanted a more vigorous approach to the more traditional gentle and meditative practices offered by other yoga varieties.
Power yoga incorporates the traditional breathing techniques along with faster more active pose movements, as opposed to the more static ones found in other forms of yoga. This provides for a much more aerobic workout that facilitates weight loss.
Power yoga includes various strength-training moves, like planks and chaturanga, and can also incorporate cross-training and hand weights that increase calorie burning.
Other terms used for vigorous yoga at studios and gyms are “cardio yoga,” “core yoga” and “boot camp yoga.”
This yoga class will be vigorous, intense and fast paced, where the various poses will be performed one to the other in a fast sequence. In Vinyasa yoga participants typically work up a nice sweat and increased heart rate, even though, the workout is done totally on the mat. A basic vinyasa yoga flow sequence, read more…
Bikram (Hot) Yoga
In Bikram, otherwise known as, Hot yoga the workout is done in a heated room, usually at 100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Bikram yoga will certainly increase the heart rate and make you sweat.
The official Bikram Yoga website recommends beginners to take a minimum of 10 hot yoga classes to see how it effects their weight loss, and then take at least 3 classes per week.
This is done in order to regulate digestion and normalize the appetite and decrease out of control food cravings.
Ashtanga classes also offer a faster and more vigorous style of yoga with 90 minute classes that involve constant movement between poses that require substantial strength and balance.
There are various levels and one must master the previous before they can move on.
This is not the best option for beginners, especially those that are out of shape.
Colleen Saidman Yee, creator of the Gaiam DVD “Yoga for Weight Loss” does not believe that the classes need to be intense or vigorous to achieve weight loss goals.
In fact, according to her, restorative yoga, which is a more meditative style brings more benefits for the long term. In her view, it is the mind and body connection that is most effective for weight loss, even more important than burning calories.
Yoga helps increase awareness about what is going in the body and it effects the practice. It also results in better sleep and better stress management, both of which are critical for weight loss.
Restorative Yoga Varieties
- Meditation classes
- Pranayama classes (breathing)
Asanas: Yoga Poses and Postures
Yoga is comprised of various poses performed in different postures.
- Standing Yoga Poses
- Sitting Yoga Poses
- Yoga poses while lying on the back
- Those done while lying on the stomach
5 Effective Poses For Weight Loss
Here is a glimpse into some of the most effective yoga poses for weight loss. These tend to increase metabolism and specific breathing patterns make them an aerobic workout that fills the body with oxygen.
These also improve overall circulation that allows the body to effectively utilize glucose and fats for energy instead of storing it as fat.
They are also effective for toning the major muscle groups in the body, which, further increases metabolism for more efficient weight loss.
- Begin by standing with your feet together and arms resting at your side.
- Breathe deeply as you raise your arms over your head in a straight manner.
- Bend your knees forward while slowly exhaling and lower your hands to the floor.
- Inhale and exhale deeply as you get into a lunge position and pick your arms up overhead.
The Chair Pose
- Stand with feet together, toes forward and arms at both sides.
- Take a deep breath and raise your arms over your head with palms facing each other.
- Exhale and sit back to a 45 degree angle, while keeping the knees behind the toes.
- Use your abs to support the back.
- Look straight ahead.
- Begin with your feet together and arms resting at your sides.
- Slowly lift the right leg and places the sole of your right foot against the inner left thigh, make sure that your knees are turned to the side.
- Place your arms in front of your chest with your palms facing each other.
- Reach up to the ceiling with your arms while bending your torso slightly to the right.
- Do the same on the other side.
The Locust Pose
- Lay down on your stomach with arms at your side.
- Lift the head, arms, legs and body off the floor so that only your stomach is making contact with the mat.
- Hold the position until the muscles begin to contact.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then release and repeat 3 to 5 times.
The Bow Pose
This one is like the locust, but, it is more difficult because the arms reach for the legs.
- Do the locust pose.
- Bend the knees up and grab your ankles with your arms.
- Do not strain the muscles, make relaxed movements.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then release and repeat 3 times.
How To Get Started With Yoga?
Yoga can be started at home with the many yoga workout online programs, or in a yoga studio with a professional instructor.
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Tips For Beginners
- Stick to a routine on a regular basis, go to class religiously, or if you choose to do yoga at home, then set specific times to do so each week.
- Pay close attention to the movements and breathing.
- Focus on the sensation of movement, down to the tiniest part.
- Find the place where your body feels challenged, but, do not overdo it. Allow yourself to rest and keep an open mind.
- Stay positive, and celebrate your efforts and achievements.
- Take note of how your mind is improving along with your body, especially, when it comes to lower stress, patience, gratitude, inner peace and more control over cravings and urges.
- If you are taking classes make sure that you feel a connection with the teacher and that they inspire you to keep going, if not, try another class until you find one that does.
- Stay motivated and keep doing it, you will be amazed at the results when you stick with yoga.
As you can see yoga is definitely worth consideration in your quest to lose weight, and it also provides a plethora of additional benefits for your mind, body and soul.
Take the time to treat yourself to this wonderful exercise method, you are well worth it.