Can Yoga be Used for Weight Loss?

People often ask if they can lose weight doing yoga. Yoga means “union” and refers to the union of mind and body through focus on the breath. Although many factors contribute to whether or not weight loss is possible, yoga can certainly be part of any weight reduction plan. However, yoga’s emphasis on mind, body and breath awareness encourages overall well-being rather than weight loss alone.

Yoga encourages:  

  • Mindfulness
  • Stress reduction
  • Relaxation
  • Muscle strength and tone
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Improved posture
  • Better metabolism
  • Enhanced athletic performance
  • Injury prevention
  • Cardio fitness

What sets yoga apart from other forms of exercise is the attention to the breath. Some types of yoga synchronize movement with breath, and other forms hold poses while focusing on the in and out breath. This present focus – the breath - without the continual mind chatter, brings peace. It helps to balance stress hormones which contribute to weight gain.

The mindfulness of yoga and the poses can also curb cravings. If you are tense, tired or sad, it’s easy to grab for some comfort food. Yoga can elevate your mood without the calories. Beside what it does for your attitude, yoga helps to strengthen, tone and stretch muscles. It also works on balance and proper alignment. A better posture helps you look thinner without losing any weight.

Many yoga poses benefit the internal organs. Twists and bends – forward, back and side – along with breath work, contribute to a better functioning metabolism. Therefore, yoga on its own or in combination with other exercise can help with weight loss.

Types of Yoga  

  • Along with providing better focus for athletes, a restorative or gentle yoga practice is beneficial for relaxation and recovery. 
  • Calories aside, a gentle or moderate yoga practice can help to strengthen joints and increase flexibility so there is less likelihood of injury.
  • Vinyasa flow yoga burns more calories than a gentle or restorative yoga practice. It integrates movements with breath. It gets the heart rate up and targets all the major muscles of the body. 
  • A sweaty hot yoga practice feels intense because of the heat and humidity, but any weight loss is mostly water. The heat deepens flexibility but also requires more hydration.

Nutrition

Yoga alone cannot make you flexible or lose weight. Hydration and clean nutrition are necessary. Flexibility, weight loss and general health are challenging with a diet of heavily processed foods and sugary or artificial beverages. Choose water instead of soft drinks and organic foods when possible. These foods have less added chemicals which allow the body to assimilate nutrients better. A variety of nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans encourage healthy body weight and provide energy for activities.

Conclusion

Nutrition, along with exercise, contributes to ideal body weight. Yoga can be incorporated into any fitness program for overall health. The mind, body and breath component can only benefit fitness goals. Instead of asking, “Will I lose weight doing yoga?” a better question is, “Will yoga enhance my well-being?” The answer is, “YES!” Try it for yourself and see.

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