Yoga is amazing for your health for so many reasons, but these reasons below will help you learn how to use yoga for weight loss specifically!
The basic formula for weight loss is: Calories Consumed – Calories Burned.
However, losing weight isn’t always that simple. You probably already know this if you’ve ever struggled to lose weight, experienced a weight loss plateau or seen the pounds creep on over the years.
Other factors contribute to weight gain or difficulty losing it, including:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Adrenal fatigue
- Toxins in the system
- Insulin resistance
- An unhealthy gut
- Metabolic issues
You can eat salads all day long, but if you don’t take care of yourself in other ways, you may not achieve your body goals.
Yoga is one way to get back in touch with your body and target some of the above factors that can interfere with weight loss.
Use Yoga to Detox
While studies show that yoga doesn’t directly help you detox, the practice can help boost circulation and improve your lymphatic system. Essentially, yoga can help your body improve its own detoxification system.
When your body is able to eliminate more harmful waste from the system, it operates like it’s supposed to. That means that your body can absorb nutrients better and use food for fuel more effectively.
Your body can respond to insulin the way it’s supposed to instead of allowing sugar to accumulate in the blood and affect the organs. Your body can release the proper balance of hormones to help with all functions, including weight loss.
Use Yoga to Shred
You can do all the gentle yoga you want, but if you have a significant amount of fat to lose, you may not see the defined muscle tone that you want until you get rid of it.
You don’t have to do massive amounts of cardio to lose the fat, either. Researchers are finding that doing shorter bouts (8-16 minutes a day) of high-intensity exercise may be just as effective as jogging for 30 minutes (1).
Research also shows that HIIT training increases the body’s ability to burn fat (2).
Plus, people tend to view this kind of training as more enjoyable and less boring than longer bouts of steady cardio, making them more motivated to actually do it.
How can you add more fire into your yoga practice to burn more fat and lose weight?
You can incorporate moves that involve doing yoga poses in a more intense manner or with faster repetitions.
The moves below are not specific yoga poses, but they are still bodyweight exercises and therefore very close to yoga.
Some ideas for adding intensity to your yoga routine:
- Do plank pose with mini-pushups. Bending and straightening your elbows just an inch while keeping them close to your sides for a minute can tone your arms and shoulders and increase your heart rate before you know what hit you.
- Do mountain climbers for a minute. With yoga, you don’t necessarily have to move faster to get your heart rate up. Focus on doing the movement with maximum effectiveness, and repeat it for a minute.
You’ll feel the burn.
- Do slow burpees. One of the reasons you like yoga is probably to get out of doing burpees. However, doing slow repetitions of the dreaded movement can target large muscle groups and get your heart rate up.
Start by standing tall. Fold forward and place your hands on the ground, pushing your fingers into the earth and activating the muscles in your lower abdomen and lower back.
Hop back into plank pose. Focus on maintaining a strong plank, then bend your elbows to bring yourself to the floor.
Push back up into plank, then engage your abs as you shift your weight to your shoulders and hop forward. Stand up straight and jump.
Use Yoga Poses to Maximize Your Benefit
Even if they don’t burn extra calories, certain poses can target areas that encourage weight loss.
For example, poses that benefit the thyroid can help your body better manage weight. Some asanas that are good for the thyroid are:
- Fish pose
- Bridge pose
- Plow pose
- Shoulder stand
Restorative yoga poses can help you manage adrenal fatigue and combat chronic stress. Ideal poses for the adrenals are:
- Legs up the wall
- Supported easy pose forward bend
- Corpse pose
If you can improve your digestion, you can help your body absorb nutrients and eliminate waste. Some poses that can aid in digestion are:
- Child’s pose
- Happy baby
- Standing forward bend
Note that a good probiotic supplement will go a LOT farther towards helping you heal your gut and improve your digestion.
Use Yoga to De-Stress
If nothing else, yoga can help you gain some peace.
Some people just feel better after a pavement-pounding run. However, research indicates that high-intensity exercise may increase inflammation and stress hormones temporarily (3).
The same research suggests that low-intensity exercise can reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body.
Practicing yoga can help counteract the stress of high-intensity exercise or just your daily life.
Yoga stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which regulates your breathing, hormones and digestion. Keeping your PNS in check helps prevent your adrenaline from raging throughout the day when you miss the bus or have to deal with your toddler’s tantrum.
Use Yoga as a Lifestyle
Yoga can become a lifestyle.
Research shows that people who do yoga regularly for four or more years gain less weight as they age than people who do other forms of physical activity (4).
When you are in tune with your body, you are more likely to notice when a certain food or substance makes it feel less than ideal. You are more apt to eliminate the source of problems like fatigue instead of treating them with unhealthy options like energy drinks as the problems appear.
Being connected with your mind and body means that you can tell when you’re hungry or when you’re just likely to be seeking comfort foods.
You can better recognize the activities—like exercise—that really influence your wellbeing instead of those that just mask stress.
Yoga can help you develop a healthier, more well-rounded lifestyle, which will ultimately improve your health at the source.
The Bottom Line
Like any workout, if you’re just going through the motions, you won’t be as effective as if you really focus.
When you’re doing yoga for weight loss, remember that the practice is about the process, not the results. Work on connecting your brain and your body.
When you concentrate on this connection, you’ll work your muscles more as you relieve stress. You might even gain a new perspective on exercising and a new love for your body.
All of that can help you lose weight.