These days the term yoga usually refers to Hatha Yoga (a combination of many yoga styles) – that’s what we exercise in yoga classes: physical exercises, breathing, meditation and relaxation.
In the world of fitness, there are endless number of exercises that can help you burn fat.
However, it can feel like an overwhelming task to find an exercise that is not only good for the body but for the mind as well.
Lets explore if yoga can do both!
Depending on your goals, yoga can be approached from different perspectives.
Statistics show that people who practice yoga are more vital and live longer.
But what can yoga really do to your body?
People who practice yoga expect their muscles to stretch, to become more flexible, but most importantly to reduce stress and relax.
In addition, yogis believe that regular exercise can accelerate the process of burning calories and losing weight.
Let’s clear the misconception once and for all!
People who regularly practice yoga don’t have problems with excess weight.
That’s why there are no yoga poses that specifically target weight loss.
Yoga will bring your body into a natural balance, which means that you will lose or gain weight, depending on what your body needs in order to function normally.
To clarify: if you are overweight – you will lose weight, and if you are underweight – you will gain weight.
Yoga poses that I am going to share in this article require movement and strength.
Asanas that require energy burn calories and keep your body weight in control.
Study about yoga and weight loss
In a 2007 study that measured the metabolism of people who attended yoga classes for beginners, each participant burned between 2.3 to 3.2 calories per minute, which is 104-144 calories during a 45 minute yoga class.
This is equivalent to slow pace walking.
At this intensity, in order to lose 1 pound (that’s about 3,500 calories burned), you have to practice yoga for 28 hours.
More advanced yogis can expect to burn 240-360 calories in an hour of exercise. Off course this is just an estimate, because it differs from person to person and the more energy a particular exercise requires, the more calories it burns.
So if yoga burns so little calories, how does it help with weight loss?
Recent scientific research suggests that yoga is not directly linked with weight reduction.
People who practice yoga every day carefully choose what they eat and when they eat. This leads to less emotional eating caused by stress. Many studies associate emotional overeating with obesity.
Yoga positions that are great for weight loss
Before you begin, please keep in mind that these poses are not suited for beginners. Failure to correctly perform the exercises may lead to severe injuries.
Candle pose (Sarvangasana)
Some say that this asana is the “queen of all poses”.
Benefits: regulates the work of thyroid, prostate and digestive organs, relieves symptoms of menopause and andropause, relieves pain in the legs, expands neck and shoulders, relieves stress, depression, insomnia and much more.
Length: 30 seconds to 3 minutes depending on how comfortable you feel.
Plow pose (Halasana)
Switch from the candle pose, while exhaling, by bending in your hips and lowering your toes behind your head.
The hull must be vertical in relation to the floor, and the legs horizontal (locked in the knees).
Length: This asana has similar benefits as the Candle, and is performed from 1 to 5 minutes.
Fish pose (Matsyasana)
You can perform it with stretched legs or with legs bent in your knees and beneath you. Rely on your lower legs and forearms.
Length: hold the fish pose for 30-60 seconds.
Lie on your back and place your hands next to the body.
Fold in your knees and draw your feet close to the buttocks.
Bend your hands in your elbows, and place your palms on the ground next to your head, your fingers point to your feet.
Relax on your feet, palms and shoulders, and lightly slip away from the floor as far as your body permits.
Then, try and lift your shoulders from the floor with the rest of the hull.
Length: 5 to 10 seconds, preferably even more.
Benefits: Helps with back pain, asthma, infertility, osteoporosis, depression, alleviates menstrual pain, stimulates the endocrine system, expands the chest and lungs, strengthens the arm muscles, buttocks, legs, abdomen and spine, tightens and rejuvenates the skin.
Camel pose (Ustrasana)
Kneel on the floor, knees should be in the width of the hips.
Keep lower legs and feet firmly on the floor while holding heels with your hands, tilting your hips forward and dropping your head back.
Length: Stay in position 30-60 seconds
Benefits: regulates the digestive system, expands muscles of the abdomen, chest and neck, strengthens the back muscles, alleviates menstrual disorders.
There is a saying that those who practice camel pose daily will never eat more or less than what they need.
Note: You can perform all of the asanas in one sequence without pausing between individual asanas. This can help you burn more calories.
For more advanced yogis, who want to burn much more calories, there’s power yoga.
What is power yoga?
The term “Power Yoga” was created in 1990, and some believe that it’s the beginning of “gym yoga” concept.
It’s the most popular style of yoga in the US.
Power yoga is an intense full-body workout routine that requires continuous and dynamic movements. It will make even the most experienced yogis sweat.
The idea behind power yoga is to make it accessible to everyone, yet more athletic and sweaty.
It varies from class to class as each teacher has its own series of poses.
Some research shows that advanced power yoga can burn up to 900 calories per hour. After such training, your metabolism remains at an increased level after the workout, resulting more calories being burned afterwards.
Here’s an example of power yoga in action:
I hate to guess, so lets take a look at some scientifically proven benefits of yoga.
Over 21% of adult Americans suffer from arthritis, making it one of the leading causes of disability and chronic pain.
A study on 589 participants found that yoga is associated with reduction of stiffness, pain and joint swelling.
Good for the heart
Harvard researchers have analyzed 32 studies that focused on cardiovascular effects of more vigorous forms of yoga, such as bikram yoga, and slower types of yoga such as hatha.
All types of yoga have positive effects on heart health.
Some studies have also concluded that yoga has a positive effect on the well-being of the cardiovascular system.
Weight loss and maintenance
One research confirms that people who practiced yoga 30 minutes a week, gained less weight during middle adulthood and had lower BMI (body mass index).
Researchers link this with mindfulness. Mindful eating can lead to less emotional eating.
Yoga and cholesterol
In 44 randomized trials that included 3,100 participants, it was found that yoga can improve all markers of cholesterol (HDL, VLCI, triglycerides, insulin resistance).
There are other numerous benefits of yoga:
- Improves the flexibility of the joints and muscles
- Builds muscle mass
- Improves proper posture
- Prevents the deterioration of the joints and cartilage
- Strengthens connective tissue
- Improves bone density and bone health
- Improves circulation
- Accelerates heart rate
- Improves the immune system
- Regulates blood pressure
- Regulates the function of the adrenal glands and reduces cortisol levels
- Helps in regulation of everyday symptoms of menopause
- Improves the mood
- Regulates the blood sugar levels
- Improves concentration
- Calms you down
- Relaxes the body and the nervous system
- Improve self-control
- It has positive effect on depression
- Improves balance
- Relieves tension in the muscles
- Improves sleep
- Helps the lungs to breathe better and deeper
- Prevents digestive tract problems
- Increases self-confidence and inner strength
- Alleviates certain types of pain
- Reduces symptoms of allergies and viruses
- Promotes self-care (mind, body and health)
This makes me do a yoga workout right now.
Yes yoga is that good.
Although yoga is low-impact and safe, there are some potential risks that you need to be aware of.
Practicing yoga incorrectly can lead to injuries and pain from nerve damage.
As a beginner it is important to exercise under the guidance of a well-trained instructor. Once you build strength and experience, gradually increase intensity.
Yoga slows down the metabolism?!?
There’s a rumor circling around the internet that yoga slows down the metabolism.
The fact is that yoga slows you down, it relaxes you.
Study performed on 104 people (39 women and 65 men) in India measured basal metabolic rate in people who practice yoga.
The participants practiced a mixed set of yoga techniques including meditation, relaxation and breathing techniques.
The results showed that participants who practiced yoga daily had a 15% BMR (basal metabolic rate) decrease compared to participants who didn’t practice yoga.
This is because yoga is an activity that relaxes and inhibits the sympathetic nervous system. It is great for prolonging life expectancy, stress control and general well-being.
Keep in mind that this research is not statistically confident as it was performed only on 104 people. Also, this research included relaxation and breathing techniques, which are not included in intense power yoga routines.
From my experience yoga definitely doesn’t cause weight gain!
However, yoga is probably not the most effective method for losing weight, but along with aerobic and weight exercises and healthy eating, it can be a great combo.
It all adds up.
Like I said at the beginning, yogis don’t have problem with excess weight!
There’s nothing to lose. Give it a try!
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