To some, yoga seems like a static practice in which you hold a pose for a few moments before moving on to the next one. And even though many poses in intermediate and advanced series are quite complicated and require loads of strength in the upper and lower body, a lot of people view yoga simply as a means to stretch and lengthen the body, and perhaps even relax and restore.
But the truth is that yoga does a lot more than stretch and tone your body. It can actually promote weight loss too. Want to learn how? Continue reading for five ways that yoga promotes weight loss.
1. Yoga elevates your heart rate and burns calories
Many yogis regularly practice poses that open up and stimulate the heart chakra, but your physical heart can also benefit from a yoga flow that gets your blood pumping and your heart rate up.
While workouts like running can increase your heart rate, they can also add stress to the nervous system, and this can eventually result in adrenal fatigue. To lose weight more safely, it’s better to get your heart rate up in short bursts before allowing it to drop back down, and you can do that through a strong Vinyasa flow that has you moving smoothly from one pose into the next. With a solid Vinyasa sequence, you can burn roughly 450 calories in an hour.
2. Yoga builds muscles and increases your resting metabolism
A solid Vinyasa flow could have you doing a dozen chaturangas in an hour, if not more. Chaturanga, or low plank pose, is a tricep pushup that you hold before releasing your body to the ground. It’s a great pose for building arm and core strength and preparing for more difficult arm balance poses.
By practicing chaturangas, challenging balancing poses, and arm balances, you’ll strengthen your upper and lower body, as well as your core. Building up these muscles will increase your resting metabolic rate, and this translates to burning more calories while you aren't working out! This is because muscles require higher amounts of energy than fat does, so you'll be able to burn more calories even while at rest.
3. Gentle yoga is more than relaxation
Sure, gentle or restorative yoga is a great way to wind down and release tension and stress from the body and mind, but it can also work at helping you shed excess weight.
By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system that regulates hormones, digestion, and breathing, yoga helps your body slow down after rushing all day. Various parts of your body are finally able to rest for a bit. As a result, your hormones have a chance to rebalance themselves, any injuries you have can be repaired, and your digestion can also regulate.
A study by University of California, San Diego researchers found that obese women who took part in a 48-week program of restorative yoga lost significantly more fat over the initial 6 months of the study period, and kept losing it during a maintenance period, than women who completed a regular stretching program. One explanation for the difference may be that restorative yoga reduces levels of cortisol, which rises during times of stress and is known to increase abdominal fat.
4. Yoga helps you eat mindfully
When you’re able to slow down the mind, you can connect to the signals that come from within your body, such as those that tell you you’re hungry. We’ve all been there – after a tough week, most of us want chocolate or chips (good for you if you’re the unicorn who craves kale at these times!). If you can learn how to tell the difference between genuine hunger and emotional cravings, you can eat the foods that your body really needs, when it needs them. Healthier food choices lead to weight loss.
5. Yoga helps stimulate the organs and detoxify the body
Excess weight can be caused by consuming too many calories, but other imbalances can also lead to weight gain. Yoga can be used to rebalance various areas of the body:
- Certain yoga poses can target the liver. This will help detoxify the body and remove bad fats from your system.
- You can perform specific yoga poses that stimulate the thyroid, which regulates metabolism and can help you lose excess weight.
- Poses that get you moving and build up internal heat are able to burn fat.
- By helping to cleanse the colon, yoga poses can assist in purifying the body and getting rid of excess bloat and waste that can lead to weight gain.
- Yoga poses that help restore the ideal pH in the body will prevent the storage of fat that can occur as a result of an acidic pH.
Ready to get started?
If you’re ready to get healthier, dive into yoga. Start slowly and safely, and to get the full benefits, be consistent and practice on a regular basis. You’ll gain balance in mind and soul while also increasing your physical strength and well-being.
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