If you are someone looking for yoga for easy weight loss, I may not recommend you read this. Yoga is something that needs consistency and patience. Have you tried everything, including various exercises and fad diets, for weight loss and nothing seemed to work? Then, you need to understand that obesity/weight gain is caused by various factors. Family history, a sedentary lifestyle, a diet incorporating processed foods high in sugar and fat, stress, and medications are the major factors that contribute to weight gain. Yoga is a recommended practice if you are trying to lose or maintain weight. Yoga helps in weight loss and maintenance by controlling stress, improving mood, and curbing emotional eating.
You might have noticed social media is flooded with various recommendations for weight loss and false weight loss promises. Rather, I would suggest yoga for your weight loss goals. This article is based on my experience with yoga for weight loss. While practising yoga for weight loss, I tried to do some intermittent fasting as well since I have some limitations in doing heavy poses due to my hip issues.
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Is yoga effective for weight loss?
Yoga, especially active forms, can be very effective for weight loss. It not only burns calories but also increases your muscle mass. Practising yoga regularly can become a lifestyle change, which increases your physical activity, reduces stress, and decreases emotional eating. All of these can help with weight maintenance. Energy expenditure, reduced back and joint pain, increased mindfulness, improved mood, and reduced stress are all factors that help with weight loss and weight maintenance when you practise yoga.
Importance of yoga in weight loss
Yoga is an effective tool that improves your overall well-being. If done right, yoga not just helps weight loss, but also offers a plethora of health benefits. Let us explore some ways in which yoga can help you in your weight loss journey.
Yoga and Calorie-burning
Yoga is widely considered to be less vigorous than other forms of exercise, but some types of yoga can help you with weight loss. Burning calories is possible with some intense forms of yoga, which also improves your metabolism and develops muscle tone. Even restorative yoga is quite effective in losing weight. More physical types of yoga, such as Hatha, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, and Ashtanga can burn calories, which will help you lose weight.
Yoga and Mindfulness
Yoga works not only on the physical level but also on the mental and spiritual levels. Practising yoga develops mindfulness and increases your awareness on many levels. Achieving mindfulness will help you resist your urge to eat unhealthy foods as well as comfort eating. Yoga also helps you connect with your body on a deeper level that you will notice when you are full to avoid excessive eating.
When you practise mindfulness, you also become more aware of your eating habits. Mindful eating means understanding signs of hunger and limiting binge eating. With consistent practice, you will be able to avoid foods that energise you but often have negative effects. Such habits will help you stick to a weight loss plan and encourage you to make healthier food choices. By making changes in your eating behaviour, you can stay from disordered eating patterns, which will help you lose weight.
Yoga and Stress Management
Stress is one of the major factors that contribute to weight gain. If you are suffering from chronic, unmanaged stress, then it might be difficult for you to lose weight. Meditation and breathwork are two key elements of yoga, which can improve your mood, boost energy, and lower stress levels. Elevated cortisol levels in your body can make weight loss extremely difficult and can also cause sleeping troubles and stress-eating. Breathing exercises can help manage stress and undo some of these negative effects that can make losing weight harder. Through meditation and breathwork, your body goes through physiological changes, and mindfulness exercises can help decrease cortisol levels in the body.
Yoga poses for faster weight loss
If you start doing yoga for weight loss, you can feel refreshed and energised from within and also enhance your mental well-being. Here are some yoga poses that can help you lose weight and achieve a toned body.
Phalakasana (plank pose)
Doing a plank pose can strengthen your core, shoulders, back, buttocks, and thighs. To do a plank pose, start from the tabletop position and then extend your feet back with heels lifted. Now, you are in a position of a push-up. Put pressure on your elbow, hands, and wrist. Once you bring back your body to a straight line pose, engage your core, arm, and leg muscles. Keep this e position for as long as possible to better results.
When performing this pose, your body should look like a boat. It may sound easy, but to hold the pose, you need balance. To get into a boat pose, start by sitting on the ground. Now lift your legs straight in front of you and lean back slightly. Balance your weight on your sitting bones and tailbone. Extend your hands parallel to the floor. Try to maintain the pose for 10-20 seconds.
Dhanurasana (Bow pose)
The bow pose can help you tone your belly and back. Performing Dhanurasana will strengthen your core and improve posture. For a bow pose, start by lying face down and bending your knees, then hold your ankles with your hands, ensuring your knees are hip-width apart. While holding your ankle, lift your chest and thighs off the floor. Inhale and exhale as you try to hold the pose for 20 seconds.
How often should you do yoga to lose weight?
If you are planning to do yoga to lose weight, then you should be consistent and practise for at least 1 hour, 3 to 5 times per week. You can try more relaxing and restorative yoga on other days. If you are new to yoga, don’t aim to do 1 hour of yoga on the first day. Start slow and do a 20-minute practice, and then increase the time gradually to build strength and flexibility and avoid any injuries. Remember to rest for a day each week for your body to recover.
Yoga and Sleep
Yoga is very helpful in improving the sleep quality. If you have trouble falling asleep, yoga can also enhance the quality of your sleep. According to many yoga experts I know, practising yoga consistently can help you fall asleep more quickly and enjoy deep sleep. Only if you get a good sleep for 6 to 9 hours each night can you achieve weight loss. Even if you limit your calorie intake without quality sleep, weight loss will be difficult. Yoga Nidra, a guided relaxation technique, can improve sleep quality and mindfulness. With good quality sleep and mindfulness, you will be able to achieve your weight loss goals faster.
Yoga for Face
Face yoga aims to stretch the muscles in the face and tone them naturally to fight the signs of ageing. For long, facial exercises have been used to improve muscle control in people with conditions such as strokes and Bell’s palsy. Face yoga can smooth fine lines and wrinkles, prevent sagging by lifting the skin around the eyes, plump and tone cheeks, sharpen the jawline, tighten the skin around the neck, and reduce muscle tension. Facial exercises such as Simhasana, Jalandhara Bandha, Bhujangasana, Ushtrasana, and Chakrasana are extremely great for losing face fat and toning your muscles.
Things to take care of while doing Yoga
To get the maximum benefits of yoga in losing weight, here are some things to keep in mind while you practise.
- Practise yoga only on an empty stomach.
- Empty your bowels and bladder before starting yoga.
- Choose a clean surrounding and start with a prayer or an invocation.
- Stretching before asanas is important to avoid injuries.
- Yoga should be performed in a slow and relaxed manner.
- Hydrate yourself before beginning your yoga practice.
- Wear light and comfortable clothing for easy movement.
- Choose a well-ventilated room for practice.
- Breathe through the nostrils unless told otherwise.
- Practise yoga only 2 to 3 hours after a large meal.
- Refrain from yoga in case of illness, sprains, or surgeries.
Diet to follow while doing Yoga
Making changes to your diet while you practise yoga will help with weight loss. Changing your diet suddenly can be challenging. Take your time and start making dietary changes slowly while you practise yoga for weight loss.
Eat fresh seasonal foods– Include fresh, seasonal, and locally grown foods in your diet. Avoid processed and packaged items.
Follow a vegetarian diet– Avoid eating meat and choose a plant-based and whole-food diet. You can also find high-quality protein in a vegetarian diet.
Eat at regular intervals– Giving at least five hours between meals will allow your system to fully digest your meal before the next one.
Consider fasting– Fasting is an important part of a yogic diet. Abstinence from food can cleanse your body. However, it is not recommended for people with poor digestion.
Biggest meal of the day should be lunch– As per Ayurveda, the digestive fire is the strongest at midday, and therefore, you can consume your largest meal at lunch.
Consume cooked foods at dinner– Rather than a raw meal, eat a cooked meal at dinner as it is easier to digest. Since the body absorbs cooked food easily, you can rest more after a meal.
Yoga can help you lose weight only if you stay consistent with your practice. If you are a beginner, set small goals and try to achieve them. Yoga is not just a form of exercise, it is a way of living where you make conscious decisions about how you live and the foods you consume. With a healthy diet and yoga will definitely find positive changes in your body apart from weight loss. A lot of Ayurveda hospitals in Kerala follow a holistic approach to well-being, with a blend of yoga promoting physical fitness and mental balance for a healthier and more fulfilling life. You can try them also if you want to practise yoga under the guidance of a doctor or trained professional.