Does Yoga Help with Weight Loss?

An image of a lady in oversized pants to show that she has lost weight

Yoga: The Natural Way to Lose Weight

The Yog Circle | Can Yoga Help with Weight Loss?

Yoga and weight loss? Can this no-strain, work-at-your-own-level exercise really help you lose weight?

True, yoga is not perceived as an option for weight loss, but Hollywood and Bollywood actors like Jennifer Aniston, Liv Tyler, Halle Berry, Madonna, Kareena Kapoor, Shilpa Shetty, and Bipasha Basu have embraced it. There must be something about yoga that works!

Yoga is a known stress buster, but it’s also one of the most effective workouts for fighting stubborn fat stores, especially the ones that crop up after age 40. Yes, you can use yoga for weight loss.

Yoga: A Subtle Path to Weight Loss

Yoga is definitely more subtle than a calorie-burn-count workout like aerobics or running on a treadmill. It is a gradual process.

Mindfulness Matters

Yoga is not yoga if not practiced mindfully. Mindfulness helps change the relationship of mind to body, and eventually to food and eating. Yoga forges a strong mind-body connection that ultimately helps make you more aware of what you eat and how it feels to be full.

It brings about “moderation” in your life-style.

Stress Reduction and Hormone Balance

Yoga practices help in regulating functioning of endocrine glands. Studies show that yoga lowers levels of stress hormones and increases insulin sensitivity—a signal to your body to burn food as fuel rather than store it as fat.

Cleansing and Detoxification

Yoga’s cleansing and detoxifying effects prepare your body and mind for lasting weight loss. Specific yoga postures strengthen the liver, a powerful detoxifier, enabling it to function optimally. The best postures for the liver are mainly backbends:

  • Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
  • Dhanurasana (bow pose)
  • Chakrasana (wheel pose)
  • Matsyendrasana (spinal twist)

The Yog Circle | Bhujangasana

Thyroid Activation

Your thyroid gland plays a vital role in metabolism regulation. One of the main factors that define whether we have a high metabolism that burns a lot of fat is whether our thyroid is active or not. Many people who suffer from weight gain have hypothyroidism (“hypo-” meaning low). There are certain postures that help to correct this dysfunction:

  • Sarvangasana (shoulder stand)
  • Matsyasana (fish pose)
  • Setubandhasan (bridge pose)

The Yog Circle | Matsyasana

pH Balance and Alkalinity

The ideal pH balance for our bodies is about 7.35. Most people struggling with their weight have too much acidic content. If the body has too much acid content (low pH), then the body will attempt to protect itself from the acid by storing fat and using it as a buffer. As a result, the heart is forced to overwork just to maintain the blood circulation, which can increase the chances of heart attacks occurring. Therefore, it is extremely important to maintain the body’s pH balance.

Some of the best postures to increase alkalinity are:

  • Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
  • Janushirasana (head to knee pose)

The Yog Circle | Janushirasana

Balancing the Nervous System

A lot of overweight people’s bodies are under an immense amount of stress. Their nervous systems are under tremendous pressure from often unhealthy lifestyle choices. And if the nervous system is under stress, then it will set off a chain reaction in the rest of the body. The body needs to be relaxed and soothed. This requires finding the right balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The best yoga postures for this are:

  • Savasana (corpse pose)
  • ViparitaKarani (legs up the wall)

The Yog Circle | Shavasana

Internal Heat Generation

Ancient yogis created warmth in the body through generating internal heat by drawing the chin towards the chest in forward bends, thereby lengthening the femoral nerve and the spinal nerves. This heat burns up and purifies visceral (deep) fat and subcutaneous (superficial) fat. The best postures for this are:

  • Anjaneyasana (lunge)
  • Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)

In both postures, the head must draw downward actively.

Building Muscle for Fat Burn

Any yoga position that requires you to be active, either as you shorten or lengthen the muscles, will help with weight loss. This is because muscles are active tissue, that consumes fat as fuel. If you build strong muscles they will be eating into your fat stores even when you are resting. That is why strength work is very good for weight loss.

Arm balancing postures are great for this. Even basic arm balancing poses are great because they often engage every muscle, not just the arms or shoulders, but also the abdominals and legs.

Some great postures for this are:

  • Bakasana (crane)
  • PinchaMayurasana (feathered peacock)
  • Tolasana (scale pose)
  • Chaturanga (plank)

The Yog Circle | Plank fro building muscle

Elevating Your Heart Rate

  • Starting in a standing position at the front of your mat, do two slow rounds of Surya Namaskar (sun salutation).
  • Come back to standing and feel connection with your heart, with your palms together and eyes closed for a moment.
  • Then repeat it again, making the pace a little faster. Continue for a few rounds you will have your heart rate at an optimum level; without the strain of high-impact exercises like jogging.

The Yog Circle | Surya Namaskar for Weight Loss

More Movement, Less Eating: The Yoga Way

Regular yoga practice not only gets your body moving and burning calories but also encourages introspection. The spiritual and emotional dimensions of yoga can lead you to address eating and weight issues at a deeper level. Yoga brings your body into balance, making it an essential tool in your weight loss journey. Practicing yoga several times a week can lead to tangible results, including shedding those extra kilos and toning your muscles.

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