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How to Lose Weight with Yoga

Lose-Weight-with-YogaWeight loss through Yoga…now that sounds omm-tastic. Losing weight with yoga  is a very popular topic which I’m excited to cover in this blog post.

The bottom line of weight loss is: in order to lose weight we need to burn more calories than we take in. In practice this usually means that we need to reduce our total calorie intake in our diet and incorporate an exercise routine to rev up our metabolism. So the question arises:

Can Weight Loss Occur Through Regularly Practicing Yoga?

After doing my rather extensive share of research, I found that while it’s not entirely impossible to lose weight with yoga alone, in most cases practicing yoga alone is not enough for substantial weight loss. Research done by the American Council on Exercise shows that we burn on average 3-6 calories per minute practicing yoga, which equates to a total of only up to 180-360 calories burned in the single class. By comparison, in an aerobic workout we burn 10-17 calories per minute, which adds up to about 600-1000 calories burned in an hour.

Short answer: usually not.

But I Want to Lose Weight With Yoga!

Okay, fine. Don’t despair. There are ways to lose weight with yoga.

Method one:

Incorporate An Exercise Routine Right Before Your Yoga Class

After all this hard work, imagine winding down and calming your nervous system during yoga while at the same time giving those overworked muscles a well-deserved stretch. The best workouts are a mix of both cardio and resistance strength training but if you prefer,  you can also alternate the days you do your cardio and resistance training. It’s better to exercise for shorter periods of time but frequently (5-6 days ideally) to maintain the habit than to exercise less for 2-3 times a week for 2-3 hours at a time.

Method two:

Take More Vigorous and Dynamic Yoga Classes

Because classes like Ashtanga and Power Yoga are practiced at a fast-pace and the sequence of moves are intense, they will raise your heart rate and you will be sweating tons.  As the focus in these classes are on strength, you will be working your core muscles a lot and building upper and lower body strength which will tone your body.

Method three (for beginners):

Hybrid Yoga

If you are a beginner in yoga, it’s not recommended to dive into Ashtanga and Power Yoga classes immediately as you might injure yourself. In this case, look into the Hybrid Yoga classes available in your area like Yoga Sculpt with free weights or Cardio Fusion Yoga for example. Hybrid Yoga classes are  innovative and are usually a combination of yoga, exercise and other disciplines like dance to get your body moving! See my previous post here on Hybrid Yoga for more details and ideas. 

Deeper Benefits

Yoga is a perfect component of an effective weight loss program by providing important benefits that support weight loss.

MindfulnessLose-Weight-With-Yoga-2

As you probably know, one of yoga’s many benefits include mindfulness in our day to day lives. Research confirms that although exercises boosts our metabolism, what “regular”  exercise such as jogging or running doesn’t provide us is the kind of mindfulness and body awareness that practicing yoga does. When we are mindful about how we feel, we also have an increased sense of body awareness. Our relationship with food as a result changes: we become conscious of seeing food as nourishment which heals and energizes us.

Hunger Awareness

When we mindfully eat, we end up making healthier choices in our diets and we actually pay attention to hunger and satiety (feeling full) which is the key for both weight loss and weight maintenance. Some yogis even take things further and change diets completely for a plant-based or raw vegan diet.

Stop Emotional Eating

Yoga, as a stress management tool, also curbs emotional and binge eating so we end up eating less. Studies done by the American Council on Exercise show that people who regularly practice yoga for at least 4 years are less likely to gain weight and, on average, would lose 4 pounds during this time period, while those who didn’t practice yoga at all gained, on average, 14 lbs.

Can I tell you a secret?

Yes? Okay, here it comes. I got so intrigued by the research I’ve done for this article that I am actually working on another post which will cover all about cleanses.

***** UPDATE: You can find this article, Yoga Cleanse Diet 101, here. ********

Want to start losing weight with the combination of yoga, exercise, and mindfulness from the comfort of your own home starting today?

=>Then check out my review of Yoga Download.com by clicking on the link here. <=

Back to you.

What are your goals with weight loss?

Do you think yoga will play a role in the process?

Let me know by leaving a comment below!

 

PS: I respond to all comments.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Cheertopia Cheertopia

    Wow, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first saw the title of this post but I absolutely loved reading it!

    I have tried yoga a few times and liked it a lot but could never make it a routine thing to go back. I have read about all of the benefits yoga has but I love how you related them all to weight loss.

    I especially love the section about mindfulness as most of weight loss is about what you eat. Seeing food as something to heal and energize your body will help SO MUCH in a weight loss journey.

    I think I might try yoga again to relieve stress. Which type of yoga do you recommend for that?

    • Vanessa Vanessa

      Thank you for reading and for commenting Cheertopia. I’m happy that you enjoyed this post. Mindfulness definitely changed my life for the better. It’s quite a challenge to mindfully eat every single time, but I found from experience that the more I practice mindful eating, and especially continue even when I slipped up, the more this becomes a habit.

      As for stress management, I recommend for you to try Hatha Yoga or even Iyengar and Restorative Yoga which I covered in my post “What are the Different Types of Yoga”. If you want to attend yoga more often, try to find a teacher with whom you can connect with. I find that makes all the difference.

  2. Peter Peter

    Hi Vanessa, I have to say I really enjoyed your post, I have been a weight trainer and runner for years which helps balance me out a bit, however, I am an emotional eater which does cause even more depression once you start seeing the weight pile back on. I did not realise there was yoga that could burn that many calories, thanks for the intricate post I will look into it some more and maybe give it a go.

    • Vanessa Vanessa

      Hi Peter, thank you for stopping by. Emotional eating is something I also struggle with and yoga and meditation really help me deal with this challenge.

      You mention that you are a weight trainer and a runner. There are “hybrid” yoga classes that are more fitness- oriented and you get to use free weights. I cover more of that in this post What are the Different Types of Yoga?

      Let me know if you try any of these classes hybrid classes as I’m interested to know how they go.

  3. Cathy Cathy

    I have been practicing Yoga for 5 years now and Flow yoga works best for me. It really makes me sweat and there’s not too much talking in the classes which can be very confusing sometimes.

    For every breath, I focus on one thing and then move onto another. I think this method builds up the intensity and I am able to do proper workout while enjoying myself.

    There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to loosing weight with Yoga. Consistent is key and lifestyle changes can be modified for better results.

    • Vanessa Vanessa

      Wow Cathy! 5 years of practicing yoga is a long time!

      Breathing is the core of all yoga practices. When we focus on the breath that’s when we experience the calming and invigorating effects of yoga both physically and mentally. The oxygen that we deliver to our bodies when we use breathing techniques when exercising at the gym also leads to better performance. So I’m not surprised to hear that you’re capable of building up intensity and do a proper workout when you practice yoga.

      And yes, long-term weight loss is a lifestyle change.

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