How to Lose Weight Doing Yoga

By William McCoy

Practicing yoga can lead to a multitude of health benefits, but you might not want to exclusively count on this ancient form of exercise for helping you melt off the pounds. It is possible for yoga to play a role in weight loss but it's not as effective as other exercise due to its slow caloric burn. However, if you practice yoga frequently enough and do the types that burn more calories, like vinyasa and ashtanga, it can have a positive impact as you work toward the caloric deficit needed to lose weight. In addition to yoga, pay attention to your diet and perform other types of exercise, including regular cardiovascular exercise and resistance training.

Understand Calories and Weight Loss

Weight loss takes place when you burn more calories than you consume.It's often possible to reach this state, called a caloric deficit, by cutting your caloric intake, boosting your caloric burn through exercise or, ideally, through a combination of both factors. You must achieve a significant caloric deficit to experience noticeable weight loss. A deficit of 3,500 calories, which you can strive to accomplish over the course of a week, results in the loss of 1 pound.

Feel the Burn

If you've decided to increase your physical activity to work toward a caloric deficit, there are many ways to burn calories faster than yoga. Although some types of yoga provide a heightened burn, the slow, calm movements you experience in many yoga classes aren't often enough to lead to a increase in your heart rate and, consequently, a rapid caloric burn. A 40-year-old woman who weighs 155 pounds and takes a 60-minute hatha yoga class, for example, burns just 195 calories. This burn is significantly less than the person would experience during aerobic activities such as jogging or swimming. The same woman burns 428 calories in 60 minutes of swimming at a moderate pace or 707 calories during a 60-minute jog at 6 mph.

Some Types Help More With Weight Loss

Certain types of yoga are more conducive to a weight-loss workout regimen. vinyasa yoga, for example, and power yoga and ashtanga yoga, which incorporates standing and seated poses -- typically in quick succession -- that test your flexibility and strength. While they're not typically suitable for the complete beginner, these classes can provide a heightened caloric burn, which helps your body move closer to a caloric deficit. The same person who burns less than 200 calories during a relaxing 60-minute hatha yoga class burns more about 363 calories in an hour of practicing power or ashtanga yoga.

Use Yoga for Weight Loss

If you're determined to use yoga to help you lose weight, it's time to get busy. A form that has a heightened caloric burn is best, but don't jump into a vigorous class until you're experienced. The frequency with which you practice yoga depends on your level of aptitude, but "Yoga Journal" magazine suggests two to three 60- to 90-minute sessions per week. You can eventually increase the frequency of your workouts; some people practice yoga daily to keep in shape. These workouts can contribute to you burning several hundred calories as you work toward a caloric deficit. Once you're familiar with the basics of the exercise, you don't have to visit a yoga studio; you can fit this workout into your day first thing in the morning, over your lunch break at work or shortly before bed.

Enjoy the Many Benefits

The many benefits of yoga spread beyond its caloric burn. A yoga workout requires minimal equipment and is possible to perform at home at virtually any time of the day. It also helps to improve your flexibility, strengthen your muscles and improve bone health and blood flow. This emotional benefits of yoga are also a valid reason for including it in your workout plan. A single yoga class can reduce your stress, help you sleep better, provide you with more energy and even help you with self-esteem issues.

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