Can Yoga Help You Lose Weight?
Raja Is a yoga teacher who lived in Rishikesh the…
Yoga has plenty of physical and mental benefits, but many people overlook its effects on weight management. Exercise physiologist Jessica Unick shares that people assume that yoga cannot help with weight loss because the soothing and gentle practice burns fewer calories compared to most aerobic exercises.
However, yoga can actually provide psychological benefits that can help with weight loss. In fact, Unick’s study revealed that people who do yoga classes lose 3.5% more weight compared to people who attend nutrition or cooking classes since yoga can provide mental benefits for weight loss and also burn a few calories.
Yoga is a good strategy to add to your weight loss regimen. So if you’re planning to achieve a healthier weight, here’s how you can make the most out of your yoga practice
Understanding the Benefits of Yoga for Weight Loss
Yoga may seem too gentle and relaxing to be an effective weight loss method. However, studies have shown that your yoga practice does not have to be too rigorous before you see any significant changes.
A six-month study on weight loss showed that two distinct styles of yoga, Hatha and vinyasa, are equally effective in inducing weight loss and improving people’s cardiorespiratory fitness.
Vinyasa yoga may seem more beneficial for weight loss programs because this is a rigorous style of yoga where you’ll have to move continuously as you shift from one pose to another. It’s not surprising that most participants in the study stated that this type of yoga has a similar or even greater intensity than brisk walking.
Meanwhile, hatha yoga is a more restorative style in which you’ll have to hold postures for a longer period of time and settle into relaxing poses. Despite the varying intensities, the six-month study shows that people who practiced vinyasa yoga and those who practiced hatha yoga lost significant amounts of weight, with no differences seen between the two styles of yoga.
One key to their weight loss is the frequency of their yoga practice. Due to the study protocols, participants had to do yoga for five days per week. They started off with 20-minute sessions for their first eight weeks, then progressed to 40-minute sessions for 5 days per week and eventually went up to 60 minutes per day. Even if the intensity of their yoga practices are different, their continuous participation resulted in significant weight loss and improved cardiorespiratory fitness.
Though yoga is effective in boosting weight loss, the study highlights that the weight loss program includes a calorie-reduced diet and weekly behavioral group sessions to help people get to their ideal weights. That’s because combining the dietary changes with the exercise programs can increase initial weight loss by 20%, while the weekly behavioral strategy sessions can help people change habits that can harm their physical health.
Together, the consistency of their yoga practice, their balanced diet, and their behavioral group sessions resulted in improved physical health.
3 Strategies That Can Boost Yoga’s Weight Loss Benefits
1. Create a yoga practice for weight loss
You can definitely burn lots of calories from your yoga practice, especially if you consider the frequency of your classes.
To burn more calories, you can follow the vinyasa or power yoga classes of Yoga with Adrienne. These online classes are completely free, plus they can also be accessed via YouTube, so it’s easy for you to do them anytime and anywhere. YouTuber Jessica Richburg also offers plenty of Vinyasa routines that can help you burn more calories from your regular yoga practice. Jessica has a soft approach and gentle style as compared to Adrienne, so this may motivate you to practice more regularly.
You can also challenge your entire body by following the Ashtanga yoga routines of Kino MacGregor. Kino learned Ashtanga in Mysore, India, and has even taught in workshops and classes around the world, making her a great teacher to learn from. These three yogis offer routines with different lengths, so you can gradually increase the length and frequency of your practice to speed up your weight loss.
2. Have a well-balanced diet
As previously stated, your yoga practice will be more effective for weight loss if it’s combined with the right dietary practices. After all, people primarily gain weight due to the imbalance between the calories consumed and expended during the day, which is why it’s important to keep it balanced through a proper diet.
However, you shouldn’t restrict your food intake just to force your body to shed some weight. Instead of doing strict diets, doctor-recommended weight loss programs show that you can keep your favorite meals as long as you balance them with more nutritious dishes.
You’ll have to take your food’s calorie content and other nutritional information into account, so that you can evaluate how to balance out your intake of calories, fat, sugar, fiber, and other nutrients. By understanding the content of your meals, you can increase your intake of good nutrients and practice proper portion control with your meals.
3. Improve your behavioral health
Apart from observing proper dietary practices, the study also mentioned that behavioral strategies are an important factor that can boost the weight loss benefits of yoga. Though it may seem unrelated, it’s crucial to shift your behaviors to end harmful health habits and learn how to continuously do yoga and dietary practices.
The good news is that you can use your yoga practice to boost your mental and behavioral health. There’s extensive research that shows how yoga can improve one’s susceptibility towards stress, which can help you prevent any stress-related eating behaviors. The mindfulness techniques in yoga can also help you shape your behavior by encouraging you to apply mindfulness in various aspects, such as assessing the nutrient contents of your food and the frequency of your yoga practice.
Yes, yoga is a practice that can definitely help you lose weight due to its mind and body benefits. So if you want to start your yoga practice for your own weight loss, check out our articles and videos here at Yome Yoga & Meditation at Home. Our accessible and effective yoga classes will help you reach your goals for your physical and mental well-being.
Raja Is a yoga teacher who lived in Rishikesh the capital of yoga. He has been teaching yoga for over a decade and when he is not teaching you can find him sitting next to the banks of Ma Ganga