It seems counterintuitive that something so calming could burn calories and get our bodies into tiptop shape, but yoga for weight loss really works.
Most of us think of yoga as a stress buster, not as a way to lose weight. Well, good news! Research has found that you can lose weight if you practice yoga at least three to four times a week for 30 minute sessions. With increased frequency and longer durations, the weight comes off quicker.
Doing yoga for weight loss works because it lowers our stress levels and increases our insulin sensitivity, which tells our bodies to burn food as fuel instead of storing it as fat. The science also found that a regular yoga practice can prevent obesity.
Yoga comes in many forms. Integral yoga is one of the gentlest of yoga practices. A session includes chanting, postures, deep relaxation, deep breathing, and meditation. On the other end of the spectrum is Ashtanga yoga, which is much more strenuous. It’s a constant movement that may have you break out into a sweat and is designed to build core strength and tone your body. Breaking into a sweat means you’re eliminating toxins, cellular waste, and water weight.
Yoga also has many other benefits, including:
- Making you mindful of your body, which helps cut down on unconscious eating and poor food choices
- Improving posture due to the stretching that’s involved
- Helping build muscle and strength through weight bearing poses
- Better circulation, digestion, and bowel movements
- Overall toning of your body
- Improving balance, flexibility, and coordination
- Boosting concentration
If you’re new to yoga, look for a class in your neighborhood. You can ask about observing. Before you’re ready to join in, tell the instructor that you’ve never done yoga before. That’s because you should never push yourself if you feel uncomfortable. Yes, most poses are safe, but it’s smart to stop before you hurt yourself.
One example is a simple downward stretch. If everyone in the room is bent over touching their toes with their hands and you can only reach your ankles or your knees, don’t overdo it. The best part about yoga is that, over time, you will be able to touch your toes. You just have to do a little each day.
Here are a five yoga poses for weight loss:
- To get rid of a double chin, try the Lion Pose. Anyone can do this — adults and children. It may look silly, but practicing this on a daily basis, you will notice an improvement. You do this pose by sitting on the floor or on a chair. Simply open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue. Have your tongue point toward your chin. That’s it!
- The Tree Pose tones your abdomen, thighs, and arms. It also helps keep you balanced. Start by standing up straight with your legs together. Put most of your weight on one leg and lift the other, bringing the bottom of your raised leg toward the inside thigh of your standing leg. Then gently raise your hands above your head and gently reach upwards. Hold for a minute or two — depending on how steady you are — and then switch legs.
- Downward Dog is a weight-bearing pose that tones your arms and legs. Don’t do this if you have carpel tunnel syndrome because it puts weight on your wrists. Place a mat or towel on the floor, and put your hands under your shoulders. Your knees should be under your hips. You’ll form a triangle. Walk your hands a few inches forward, and spread your fingers apart. Press your palms into the mat. Curl your toes under, and slowly press your hips towards the ceiling. Breathe normally, and hold for the count of 10.
- The Cobra Pose will give your body a nice stretch while strengthening and toning your arms, legs, and stomach muscles. Start by lying face down, and place your palms under your shoulders. Your elbows are facing upwards. Have your legs extended with the tops of your feet on the floor. Press down on your palms, and raise your upper body and stomach off the floor. Hold and repeat.
- The Child’s Pose gently stretches your hips and thighs. It also relieves stress and back and neck pain. Start on your hands and knees, and spread your knees apart. Keep your big toes close together. Your torso should be resting on your thighs. Your arms should be straight and extended forward with your palms on the floor. Have your forehead on the floor.
The “no pain, no gain” saying does not apply to yoga. Remember that, and yoga should be treated like all new exercises. Talk to your doctor before you start any type of workout.
April 17, 2017
Janet O’Dell, RN