Yoga for fitness and health benefits offers a gentle alternative to high impact workouts. You can join a yoga class at a health center, perform the movements on your own or follow along with video instructions in the comfort of your home. If you have decided that losing weight is your goal, yoga for weight loss is an ideal companion to a healthy eating and weekly workout program.

Yoga-for-Weight-Loss Yoga for Weight Loss

Fitness Components

Your exercise program contains 4 essential components to improve your health and help you maintain your ideal weight. These include cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, flexibility and balance. Yoga easily fits into three of these categories, with some controversy over the cardiovascular element. The hesitation is that cardiovascular exercise is defined by rhythmic, continuous movements that elevate your heart rate and yoga may not always be rhythmic or continous. Typically, cardio exercise is the biggest push toward weight loss, so how does yoga fit into your goals?

Yoga Style

The key is in the style of yoga. If you perform yoga in a slow manner with long holds in each posture, you are enhancing your flexibility, balance and strength, but will not elevate your heart rate into a cardio zone. To increase the benefits of yoga for weight loss, select a yoga style such as Vinyasa, Ashtanga or one that is promoted as Power Yoga. These workouts move at a faster pace through the postures which increases your heart and breathing rates. As a result, you burn a higher number of calories. The Harvard Health Publications lists calories burned during a 30-minute Hatha yoga session as similar to 30 minutes of water aerobics. A 125-pound person burns approximately 120 calories. A 155-pound person burns approximately 149. A 185-pound person burns approximately 178 calories. Hatha yoga moves at a slower pace than a Vinyasa class, so if you are performing vigorous sun salutations and powerful movement, expect to burn a higher number of calories.

Yoga for Weight Loss

Weight loss is achieved by creating a negative deficit in your daily calories. In other words, you eat less and you move more. Adding yoga into your weekly or daily routine adds to your calorie-burning benefits. Plus, you are increasing muscle fibers by performing strengthening poses such as Downward Dog, Four-Limbed Staff Pose and Chair. The more muscle tissue you have, the faster your metabolism, which leads to increased calorie-burning and weight loss. If yoga is your only mode of exercise, you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound. If you currently weigh 185 pounds and perform an hour of yoga each day, you burn approximately 356 calories a day. 10 days of yoga, burns enough to lose one pound. This is only if you do not change your eating habits. If you decrease your daily calorie intake slightly, the weight will come off faster.

Weight Loss Yoga Guidelines

Select a quality and supportive yoga mat such as Gaiam Print Premium Yoga Mats. These mats are 5mm thick for added knee and back protection, plus are made with a textured surface to reduce slipping. It also comes with a free Yoga workout download. Use yoga blocks to boost your practice if your flexibility is limited or you have a joint or back injury. Foam blocks made by Gaiam or Fledo make your practice more effective and injury free. Another helpful tool is a yoga strap to increase your range of motion. Straps are available in a variety of lengths to fit your needs. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing and practice yoga in your bare feet. If you are performing yoga for weight loss at home, create a relaxing atmosphere by exercising in a quiet room, with dimmed lighting and inspiring music. This encourages daily practice to move you toward your weight loss goals.

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