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Can yoga help you lose weight?

yoga weight lossThe short answer is yes – a consistent and regular yoga practice can certainly influence weight loss. 

Keep in mind that there are different levels and types of yoga. We have yoga that is meant for the mind, for instance, yin yoga. 

On the other hand, there are other yoga types specifically designed and structured to provide a high-calorie burn. These include ashtanga yoga, vinyasa yoga, and power yoga.

Typically, weight loss occurs in a situation where regular movement is combined with a healthy calorie deficit diet. In other words, when a person’s calorie intake is less than their caloric expenditure. 

Although a person might not burn as many calories in a typical 30-minute yoga session compared to doing other exercises (for instance, swimming or cycling), practicing yoga for the long term can improve the mind-body connection. 

This deeper awareness creates mindfulness and a greater intuition with the body. As a result, this might help a person make better food choices and remind them when to pull back to prevent too much cortisol in the body. 

Take note that the stress hormone cortisol plays a major role in weight loss. This is because emotional eating tends to happen when a person is going through stressful situations.


How often should you practice yoga to lose weight?

It is important to think holistically about your lifestyle if weight loss is your priority. This includes controlling your stress levels, diet, alcohol consumption, and work-life balance. 

In these cases, it is recommended to treat your yoga practice as a way to connect with yourself, allowing yourself a chance to gain headspace and perspective. When your nervous system is calmed and your stress level low, the body is naturally in a much better condition to lose weight organically.

Ideally, you should incorporate 3-5 yoga sessions into your weekly exercise routine. Consider including at least one restorative yoga practice into that routine as well to positively affect your mindset.


Which yoga is best for weight loss?

As aforementioned, practices like ashtanga yoga, vinyasa yoga, and power yoga will help you burn calories using a flow sequence consisting of dynamic movements.

Ashtanga yoga literally means eight-limbed yoga. Traditional ashtanga yoga can be incredibly physically demanding as it follows the same sequence and series of poses in a precise order.

Vinyasa or power yoga incorporates many of the same postures, however, with different order or variance of the poses. Besides, vinyasa yoga links breathwork to its movements thus it is fast-paced and has a flowing rhythm.

The continuous aerobic flow and quick pace are what create opportunities for more calorie burn.


Best yoga poses for weight loss

I have rounded up some of my favourite yoga poses for weight loss. All of these poses involve the using of large muscle groups in the body that are highly effective for burning calories. 

I love including these yoga poses into my routine as I personally found them great for maintaining and toning my abs. 

What you will need: Yoga mat (check out this article for yoga mat alternatives)

What to do: Hold each of the following poses to the best of your ability or your comfort level. A good rule of thumb is to maintain them for at least 30 seconds. Complete all moves then repeat 2-3 more times for an extra challenge.


Beginner yoga poses for weight loss

woman yoga cobra pose

Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)

Cobra pose is great for strengthening the abdominal muscles.

How to do:

  • Lie down on the floor with your face down
  • Place your hands on the floor next to your shoulders
  • Stretch your legs long with the top of the feet touching the floor
  • Slowly inhale and lift your upper body without tensing your shoulders
  • Release to initial position on an exhalation


woman yoga plank pose

Plank pose (Kumbhakasana )

Plank pose is great for burning belly fat and toning the abdominal muscles.

  • Lie down on the floor with your face down
  • Lift your body up by fully straightening the arms
  • Neutralize your neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot away
  • Hold your body in a straight line from the top of your head down to your heels
  • Release to initial position on an exhalation
woman yoga triangle pose

Triangle pose (Trikonasana)

Triangle pose is perfect to align and stretch your entire body including hips, thighs, claves, and shoulders.

  • Start by standing with your feet one leg’s distance apart
  • Stretch your arms wide to the side at shoulder height 
  • Turn your right foot outwards by 90 degrees and the left foot in by 45 degrees
  • Engage your core and slowly lean sideways over to the foot pointing outward
  • Position your right hand either on your ankle, shin, knee, or a yoga block and raise your left arm up toward the ceiling
  • Repeat from beginning with another leg
woman yoga warrior ii pose

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior II is a great pose to lengthen the side of the body and strengthen the legs.

  • Start by standing with your feet one leg’s distance apart
  • Turn your right toes out by 90 degrees and your left toes in by 45 degrees 
  • Bend your right knee so it’s parallel to the ground and press down through your left big toe to balance that action
  • Stretch your arms out to the sides and gaze over your right fingers without leaning to the front
  • Repeat from the beginning with another leg
woman yoga one legged downward dog

One-legged down dog pose (Eka pada adho mukha svanasana)

One-legged downward facing dog trains your balance while strengthening your abdominal muscles.

  • Get into downward-facing dog pose
  • Straighten one of your legs and lift it up to the ceiling
  • Make sure the leg on the ground remains straight and lengthened
  • Repeat the same with another leg

Intermediate yoga poses for weight loss

woman yoga chair pose

Chair pose (Utkatasana)

Chair pose is like the yoga version of squat as it activates the quads, hamstrings, and calves all at the same time.

  • Start by standing with your feet together and arms by your side
  • Bend your knees on an exhale and move your hips back as if sitting on an imaginary chair
  • Engage your core and make sure your knees are not stacked over the toes
  • Inhale to raise your arms next to your ears while keeping the shoulders relaxed
  • Hold for a few seconds before releasing to initial position
woman yoga bow pose

Bow pose (Dhanurasana)

Bow pose might look easy but is actually quite a challenge for the abs.

  • Lie down on the floor with your face down
  • Bend your knees and hold your feet with your hands
  • Lift up your hands and feet on an inhale
  • Lengthen your things and chest toward the ceiling at the same time
  • Release to initial position on an exhalation
woman yoga side plank pose

Side plank pose (Vassithasana)

Side plank pose is more difficult than the traditional plank as it tests your balance and strength while keeping the core burning.

  • Get into downward facing dog pose
  • Shift your weight to your left foot by opening the entire right side of your body
  • Raise your right arm in the air toward the ceiling
  • Repeat on the other side
woman yoga boat pose

Boat pose (Naukasana)

Boat pose works perfectly to burn belly fat by strengthening the side and front of your core.

  • Lie down with your back on the floor 
  • Keep your hands by your side and make sure your legs are straight
  • Slowly raise your hands and legs together off the ground into a V-shape
  • Try your best to engage your core at all times to really work the ab muscles
  • Release to initial position on an exhalation
woman yoga camel pose

Camel pose (Ustrasana)

Camel pose not only stretches the front body but also strengthens the back body simultaneously.

  • Kneel on the floor with knees hip-distance apart 
  • Make sure your thighs are straight and at 90 degrees to the floor
  • Slowly lean back by arching inwards to hold the heels with your hand
  • Release to initial position on an exhalation


yoga for weight lossWill yoga help you lose weight? In short, yoga is a great way to kickstart your weight loss journey by not only toning and also stretching your muscles. 

If you are thinking of taking up yoga, check out this post that discusses the 10 best yoga poses for beginners.


What do you think?

Are you considering practicing yoga after reading this post? Let us know in the comment below.


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