Yoga is the only physical exercise that I do. I’ve almost always maintained a normal weight, but when I do put on extra pounds (physical and emotional), I look to my yoga mat for guidance. As a yoga teacher I know that it’s possible to lose excess weight with a regular yoga practice that focuses on toning muscles, strengthening the core, and improving flexibility. Yoga increases your body awareness, your understanding of what suits you best to maintain a healthy body weight. With a regular yoga practice, you will not only lose weight – but improve posture, increase lung capacity, strengthen knees and joints, increase flexibility, and it also improves your ability to cope with stress and anxiety.
Tip 1: Keep it Simple! The best calorie torching yoga sequence is variations of Sun Salutations.
By one estimation, one round of suns alutations burns up to 13.90 calories for an average weighing person. Start with three each day and work your way up. I promise you, 6, 12, 18 Sun Salutations each morning is more than possible. The bonus of this is that it’s also portable for traveling! If you want to burn fat and keep it off, power yoga and hatha vinyasa flow can be a good place to start. See my video below where I give detailed instructions for Surya Namaskar Yoga for Weight Loss.
Having more weight than you want can be one indication that something is out of balance in your life. Excess stress is a big contributor to weight gain and is implicated in emotional baggage. Just ask me, I know! Yoga has the ability to transform you from the inside out. I can tell you about that too! Through a dedicated practice, you will begin to see things in a new light that helps you to make healthy lifestyle changes– including consistently choosing good food and getting enough sleep at night. These are lifestyle changes that are guaranteed to help you lose weight and feel better. You might even decide that you don’t need to lose weight after all! Yoga helps you to be more relaxed, reducing your overall cortisol levels. This will help the excess weight fall off naturally.
Tip 2: Practice mindfulness as you practice yoga.
I teach Hatha yoga and I believe that is one of the best types of yoga for mindfulness! Hatha trains the attention on connecting breath with motion. It’s hard to let the mind wander if you are focusing the attention on the breath! Mindfulness off-the-mat means that you take this same awareness to all of your actions – particularly eating! This is an important aspect of weight loss because you won’t eat as much if you shut your iPhone, laptop, other electronic devices and focus on the taste, smell, and flavor of your food. Mindful eating helps with to distinguish between hunger and conspicuous consumption – and ultimately portion control. You also will be less likely to eat foods that aren’t good for your body when you look at the package, for example, and realize that you cannot pronounce any of the ingredients on the label. There are no other special skills needed! See my short post on how to start yoga!
Tip 3: Detoxify the body.
Detoxifying your body can help you lose excess body weight and emotional baggage. Yoga offers hundreds of asanas (postures) with a countless number of flows or sequences. All postures deliver a variety of physical benefits. Additionally, almost every pose addresses detoxification on some level. Detoxification encourages the purification of both the body and mind. Eagle Pose (Garudasana) is excellent for detoxification. It removes toxins from your circulatory and lymphatic systems by reversing your blood flow. Calms your brain and helps to relieve stress and mood symptoms. Improves digestion. See my flow below (intermediate to advanced level).
Practicing yoga is an excellent place to start detoxifying your body. Yoga tones up the inner organs and helps them to work optimally again. This directly affects weight loss as it eradicates the stagnant junk in the body that weighs us down.
Tip 4: Build your yoga practice by alternating dynamic series of asanas with static postures.
I teach my yoga classes this way. The first 20 minutes or so are cardio – rapid sun salutations, dancing warrior, runner’s lunge sequence. This is followed by balancing and coordination. Finally, we end with yin yoga poses relax the connective tissues and strengthen the tissues and bones. These poses help disperse oxygen-rich blood enabling it to reach the tissues most remote from the surface of the body and boost metabolism, along the way help to burn fat effectively. Studies found that yin (or restorative) yoga helps with weight loss as it helps you to be more relaxed (reducing cortisol levels). Use a bolster to help you relax into the poses. See 7 tips for yoga beginners.
Tip 5: Plank! Stop doing crunches and plank every day!
Start where you are and build up to 60+seconds. Everyday! This asana is a core strengthening exercise that works the transversus abdominis muscle, arms, booty, legs – it’s a full-body exercise, which is also portable for business trips and holidays. This awakened state directly affects weight loss because it encourages the elimination of unhealthy habits that are keeping you from reaching your goal of weight loss! I’ve been a vegetarian since my yoga teacher training and it has helped me to feel better physically and emotionally. Those of you who know me, know that I’ve struggled with anxiety at various levels depending on the circumstances. I believe that excluding meat from my diet has reduced my anxiety levels, as I am no longer taking on the fear and anxiety of the animal. Becoming a vegetarian did not help me lose any unwanted pounds. What has helped has been for the most part dropping dairy and gluten. Some days, I don’t care – I just eat that ice cream or pizza and suffer the consequences later! You know we all do that; however, my yoga practice helps me to do that less, and less.
We all have our journeys to make. While weight loss may appear like the journey of a thousand steps, yoga can greatly shorten that number in a healthy manner. There are many different forms of yoga – some more fast paced than others. But faster is not always better, and I’m of the impression that you don’t need a fast-paced yoga to lose weight. Why? Yoga targets the body and mind. Even if you are at your desired body weight – you still might be carrying around a whole lot of extra emotional baggage that can have an impact on your physical health. If approached from a balanced way, yoga can the mind, body, and spirit. When these are in harmony- it will be easier to achieve your weight loss goals.
I wish you the best on your weight loss journey! I know that yoga will help you figure out what you desire, why, and the best way to go about obtaining it!