Yoga for Weight Loss: Can Yoga Help You Lose Weight?

Yoga practitioners know how life-changing yoga can be. It can improve your posture and digestion, help you to maintain a positive outlook and improve your mind-body connection while encouraging you to stay mindful and in a state of patience and gratitude. But can it help you lose weight?

Which Kind of Yoga?

There are five major branches in yoga: Raja, Hatha, Jnana, Bhakti and Karma, but Hatha yoga is probably the only one we really need to discuss in relation to health and fitness.

Yogi Swatmarama, a fifteenth century Indian sage, developed Hatha yoga as a way to prepare oneself for intense meditation, by first subjecting oneself to intensive physical training. Whether or not a person's end goal is enlightenment, the physical benefits of the practice have proven to be effective.

Yoga for Weight Loss

Hatha Yoga is an intensive and low-impact exercise, consisting of mindful stretches and conditioning. These stretches and movements help the blood to flow throughout the body and it helps to maintain healthy digestion. One of the goals of yoga is maintain the intestinal organs to improve digestion and to minimize the amount of waste in our bodies.

Yoga is good for your mind, body, and soul. But does it help you lose weight?

For optimum weight loss, conventional wisdom would say to make sure that you are burning more calories throughout the day than you are taking in.

On a purely calorie-based anaylsis, a low-intensity yoga session will not burn as many calories as other workouts. An average woman may burn 150 calories in a one-hour Hatha yoga session, for example, and 300 calories from walking briskly for one hour. Ashtanga Yoga and Power Yoga, on the other hand, will burn about 300 calories per hour and Vinyasa Yoga (also known as "flow yoga") can burn up to about 450 calories per hour. Of course, each of these estimates will change from person to person and in the degree of intensity during the practice.

If you are just starting out with Yoga, you will likely wish to keep your routine slow and steady to start. So, for beginner yoga practitioners, especially, the quickest way you are going to see weight loss results is to combine your Yoga practice with a healthy diet plan and aerobic exercise.

It's also important to understand that weight loss is the result of a complex web of interrelated factors. A dedicated yoga practice can increase your sense of patience and your discipline. It can give you a better relationship with your body, which can really help you on the weight loss journey.

As you deepen your understanding of the way the mind and body relate to one another through a consistent Yoga practice, don't be surprised if your mindset and habits begin to change, which, in turn, can make it much easier for to make healthy changes in your body. Yoga is a great first step in a mind-body approach to weight loss, which will often be more likely to create lasting changes.

So why are Yogis so Thin?

In addition to the discipline and the healthy strong bodies that come with their yoga practices, yoga masters are often so thin because of their diet.

The traditional yogi diet is strictly vegetarian and free of caffeine. But you can learn to eat well from yoga without becoming a monk. Here are some simple rules for those of us not willing to give up our hamburgers and coffee just yet:

The Yoga Diet for the Everyday Yogi
 
- Drink lots of water

- Eat lots of vegetables and fruit

-Eat spicy foods and red meat only in moderation

Eat mindfully, with special attention to the way you are fueling your body. Have patience and take special attention to notice all the results, both in your body and in your mind.

Starting your Yoga Routine

What you’ll need to start yoga will be some comfortable clothes (nothing fancy, just some old sweats will do), and a mat. (Some yoga schools provide yoga mats.)

You can easily take a couple lessons and just practice yoga poses at home (or with a DVD), but one of the greatest motivators for any exercise program is to be a part of a group, sharing knowledge with one another and pushing each other to really dedicate the time and energy it takes to see results.

Learn more about Yoga

Basics of Yoga  
An introduction to Yoga's purpose, practice, and postures.

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