Yoga has gradually become a lifestyle trend. In a chaotic world dominated by tech-leveraged rat races, peace of mind is an absolute requirement. Yoga studios around the country provides about 60-90 minutes of mental and physical balance which is essential for achieving peace of mind. But the question that riddles us day and night is, can yoga help with weight loss and toning? Research shows that a minute of yoga helps you lose about 3-6 calories. So a 90 minute session will help you lose about 80-360 calories only. But compared to other forms of exercises yoga has a higher success rate for keeping off the extra pounds while strengthening your core muscles.
Today we will extensively discuss about the benefits of weight loss through yoga. Globalization of yoga has helped it to evolve according to the different needs of people. In the past years we have seen the rising trend of hot yoga, power yoga and vinyasa which combine a number of other styles with yoga to increase the intensity of the activities per session which stimulate rapid weight loss.
Alan Kristal, a renowned researcher and yogi conducted a study on 15,500 middle aged subjects of both genders. This study was conducted in association with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and monitored the physical activity and weight loss of the subjects for years. The study revealed that adults who practiced yoga regularly for at least 4 years were less likely to gain weight as compared to the ones who did not practice yoga. More than burning of calories, yoga concentrates on restoring homeostasis in your body which is very necessary for a healthy living. Restoring the right balance automatically causes the weight to gravitate towards the ideal average as per your body’s height, age, sex and other requirements.
Indirect ways in which yoga helps in weight management-
1. Practicing yoga regularly helps in lowering stress levels, this in turn reduces binge eating, over eating and stress eating which are the major reasons people put on weight in modern society.
2. Research also shows that people who practice yoga are more tuned to the necessities of their bodies and are better able to manage hunger.
3. When you follow a healthy lifestyle you automatically choose a healthier diet which helps you to lose weight and stay in shape.
Weight loss through yoga-
Yoga can catalyze weight loss, however it may not be in the traditional sense of the word. The procedure is much more gradual and stable. Dr. Lewis Maharam from the American College of Sports Medicine says, “Thanks to celebrities yoga is now an en vogue practice. However there are different levels of yoga; to lose weight you need to pick one which hastens your heart beat and challenges you in class”. Since there is no healthy short-term solution to weight loss, it is recommended by experts like Leigh Crews to go for a style which increases your levels of physical activity.
The different styles of yoga which stimulate weight loss include –
1. Power yoga
Power yoga is a combination of the breathing techniques of yoga with dynamic movements which results in a full-body workout. This 15 min yoga routine does not need you to do crazy head-stands or crane postures. Instead of visiting a yoga studio regularly you can buy a yoga mat, play a training video and start working out. This is majorly a combination of two very important elements; the breath based movements and an effortless flow between the yoga poses. There are no rests or vishraams between two poses. This increases the heart rate, increases body heat and catalyzes a full body workout. Power yoga is recommended for all ages and sexes who want to lose weight fast.
This is another branch of yoga which focuses greatly on breathing and targeting specific areas of our body. This is a concept which believes in step by step connection of the poses in a gradual manner. The most common yoga poses weight loss – 3 step sequence followed by students include-
Chaturanga– this is the mother of all transition poses in Vinyasa which is synonymous with the low plank. In this pose the practitioner holds his body parallel to the ground supported by his palms and toes only. The elbows are at right angles to the ground and the upper arms tightly held beside his body. This promotes arm balance, strengthens shoulder muscles, core muscles and thigh muscles.
Upward-facing dog– Urdhva Mukha Svanasana is the second step in transition which is also one of the most common yoga poses. This strengthens upper body muscles and helps fight excess fat off abdomens and thighs. During the upward-facing dog, the practitioner lies face down on the floor with his legs stretched. While inhaling, the upper body, torso and legs completely relying on the strength of the hands and shoulders. The toes touch the ground and the head is ever so bent slightly.
Downward-facing dog– while lying face down on the floor, the knees are set directly below the hips and the hands slightly ahead of the shoulders. While slowly exhaling the knees are gradually lifted off the floor so as to lengthen the tailbone away from the back of the pelvis. The practitioners thighs are pushed back and the heels are stretched towards the floor. The knees are kept straight and the thighs firm.
3. Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga means 8 limbs. In this system of yoga all concentration is given upon producing intensive heat and produce sweating which propagates detoxification. Besides the extensive detoxification session the intense heat produced burns the adipocytes which store all the body fat. There are several series of this system of yoga of increasing difficulty levels that helps you to calm your mind as well as get a better control over your body.
How to lose weight with yoga?
Yoga is not known to be an intense activity which helps catalyze fast and visible weight loss within the first few weeks. However the constant practice for months can help you eat healthy, burn calories as well stay away from all the plus size dresses that hang in your closet right now. Here are a few easy poses which help you to lose weight-
1. Dhanurasana- This is a very common pose which is responsible for strengthening abdominal muscles. Holding the Bow pose for at least 20 counts, for 10 cycles will tone your abdomen as well as fight off any back problems plaguing you.
2. Naukasana- This is a challenging pose, the Boat pose strengthens the core muscles, thigh muscles as well as the calves all at one go.
3. Bhekasana- the Frog pose stretches the chest and abdomen which helps to improve your overall posture. This relieves stress induced back pains and stimulates weight loss from the upper and lower abdomens.
4. Setu Bandh- the Bridge pose is a part of yoga for beginners which stretch out abdomen, neck, spine and chest.
5. Salabhasana- this is the Locust pose which strengthens and tones shoulders, hips, thighs and calves.
6. Pavanmuktasana– the Wind Release pose stimulates fat loss form abdominal area.
7. Nauka Chalan- or the Boat pose is ideal for toning all core muscles.
8. Ardha Matsyendrasana- This is the ideal pose for concentrating on your love handles. This pose stimulates fat mobilization from the sides of the abdomen.
9. Vakrasana- the half spine twist pose is very effective in reducing fat from the abdominal regions. It also mobilizes and strengthens the spine and is hence recommended for all people who suffer from back pains.
10. Bhujangasana- this one completely stretches the chest, abdomens, thighs and shoulders. It is advisable for those who are looking to lose weight from all these areas. This pose increases internal body heat and is hence a part of most yoga regimes.
Is yoga recommended for weight loss?
As we have discussed before, yoga has several health benefits. Each style concentrates on different aspects of general good health and wellbeing. Here are a few direct benefits enjoyed by yoga practitioners-
1. Building muscle strength- yoga postures help in developing muscle strength which tones muscles and reduces fat buildup in the body.
2. Improves flexibility- this helps you attain poses with greater ease and perform day to day functions easily. Yoga thus helps in shaping body muscles and tones body parts.
3. Increases blood flow- this increases the internal temperature and directly helps in dissolving stored body fat. Increased blood flow carries more oxygen to tissues which stimulates oxidation of stored fat molecules in the body.
4. Boosts immunity- thus the organs function optimally which helps them secrete hormones which help in breakdown of adipose tissues.
5. Increases heart rate- this is a common phenomenon experienced by all yogis. Increased heart rate stimulates fat metabolism in the body which triggers easy and steady weight loss.
6. Regulates adrenal glands- this reduces stress, anxiety and anger which are majorly responsible for stress eating and binge eating disorders. Lower cortisol levels increase glucagon secretion which stimulates fatty acid breakdown inside our bodies.
7. Increases serotonin and nor-epinephrine levels- which also reduce stress eating. This stimulates a healthy appetite in regular intervals such that we are encouraged by our system to eat healthier.
8. Reduces constipation and bloating- air build up inside our stomachs is majorly responsible for untimely pangs of hunger which provoke us to grab midnight snacks and junk foods in between meals. Getting rid of bloating solves more than half the problem for the population interested to lose weight healthily.
9. Lowers the LDL levels in blood- this is one of the major factors why yogis are not obese. LDL is the bad cholesterol which stimulates fat build up in body. Stimulation of HDL or the good cholesterol breaks down the fatty acid molecules for generation of energy which keeps your energized throughout the day after a single session of yoga.
10. A strong and healthy nervous system- 15 minutes of yoga everyday stimulates secretion of neurotransmitters which controls our heart beat, thyroid hormone secretion, pituitary function and cortisol levels. In reality a healthy nervous system is extremely crucial to lose weight.
11. Helps to sleep- a good night’s sleep is extremely necessary for weight loss. Not only do we burn a significant number of calories during a solid 8 hours sleep, long hours of undisturbed sleep keeps us refreshed and away from caffeine products which act as hunger suppressants.
12. Prevents digestive problems- IBS and other digestive systems are a major cause of uncontrolled appetite. Yoga helps us to boost our immune system and keep parasites at bay which cause such digestive troubles. This lessens gastrointestinal troubles as well and hence we refrain from eating unnecessarily.
13. Gives us peace of mind- this is extremely necessary to keep all our hormonal levels, blood pressure, blood sugar and organ system in a balanced and fully functional state. A stressed person always consumes more food and alcohol as compared to a relaxed person. Yoga helps us attain that level of happiness and satisfaction where we do not need to occupy ourselves with over eating or alcohol consumption.
14. Boosts self-esteem- this is another major contributor to losing weight. Research shows that most obese people suffer from self-esteem issues. Yoga is a wonderful tool which increases your self-esteem which satiates you will a happy feeling. Yoga teaches you that any void in a person’s life should not be filled with indulgence in rich food or alcohol and other unhealthy practices.
15. Increases willpower- willpower is the most necessary plinth required to start your days of self-control and weight loss. Increased willpower helps you stay away from that extra serving of dessert or it helps you to complete another cycle of your exercises before you hit the shower.
16. Helps you get rid of drug dependence- be it anti-depressants or recreational drugs, the primary side-effects of all uppers is to increase your appetite. Yoga helps you stay happy from within, which reduces your drug dependency and cuts down your voracious appetite for junk food.
17. Promotes self-care- your body is a temple and yoga helps you to realize just that. After an intense session of power yoga you will automatically be repelled by the sight of greasy, unhealthy food. This is hugely helpful when it comes to aiding yoga stimulated weight loss processes.
18. Complete detoxification- once the toxins are flushed out of your body you will automatically resort to healthier eating habits which start with timely meals in controlled quantities. Complete detoxification helps in giving you a fresh start where you can rely on fresh fruits, fruit juices and green vegetables to dominate your diet.
19. Less pain and stiffness- this means lesser consumption of energy boosters and painkillers which directly affect your appetite. Once you reduce the consumption of these medications your appetite will reverse to normal. This is efficient in keeping off the extra pounds.
20. The ultimate placebo effect- starting yoga will give you the freshness of a new endeavor which you can direct towards attaining a healthier lifestyle.