Yoga can help you lose weight. Yes, when weight loss is talked about, yoga is not the first exercise that comes to mind. Weight loss and exercise are usually accompanied by the idea of moderate to strenuous exercise to burn more calories than what is taken in. It’s surprising to learn then, that there are three ways that yoga can actually be an effective way to lose weight.
First, doing yoga strengthens muscles and improves muscle tone but it’s also a way for the mind and body to relax. Being relaxed means having less stress and less stress lessens the tendency to eat calorie-dense comfort foods. Being less stressed is also the ideal recipe for decreasing symptoms of depression. The less depressed you are, the more likely you are to be more active, thus the more likely you are to lose weight.
The second way that yoga can help with weight loss is the fact that yoga wards off belly fat. When doing yoga, it has been shown that the levels of cortisol are lowered. Cortisol is the hormone that contributes to belly fat. Finally, doing yoga has been found to improve sleep quality. Better sleep has been found to increase the hormone leptin, a hunger-suppressing hormone, which makes it easier to resist high-calorie food. With those three reasons in mind, try these exercises and see what yoga can do for you.
1. Sun Salutations
Benefit: Great warm-up exercise, stretches the whole body Mountain Pose Raised hands pose Forward bend pose Flat back pose Knees, chest and chin pose Cobra Pose Downward dog pose Flat back pose Forward bend pose Raised hands pose Mountain Pose
2. Standing forward fold
Benefits: Lengthens/stretches hamstrings Standing position, bend forward from the pelvis (not back) into a forward bend. Microbend knees. Press palms flat to the floor. Let head hang.
3. Downward dog pose
Benefits: Helps relieve back pain. Strengthens/stretches the whole body. On hands and knees – curl toes, push up from knees, straightening legs. Spread fingers on the mat. Let head hang
4. Warrior II
Benefits: Strengthens legs and arms, tonnes abdomen From downward dog, move the right foot to inside of the right hand, bend right knee, the thigh is parallel to the floor. Pivot left foot to face forward, stand with arms outstretched.
5. Warrior III
Benefits: Builds core strength, improves balance, strengthens legs From standing position, lean forward from the pelvis, keep the spine straight until torso is parallel with the floor. Balance on left foot, bring right leg out behind until it’s parallel with the floor. Swing arms outward until they are reaching away from the head. Keep face towards the floor. Hold 5 breaths. Repeat another side.
6. Half Moon
Benefits: Builds core strength, improves balance, strengthens ankles and thighs, stretches hamstrings From triangle pose, inhale. bend right knee and reach the right hand forward. Slide left foot forward along floor about 6 inches. Exhale, press right hand and heel firmly to the floor while straightening right leg. Lift left leg parallel to the floor with toes pointed. Rotate upper body and stretch left arm up making a straight line with right and left arms. Balance, hold five breaths. Repeat another side.
Benefits: Core strength, back strength Hands flat on the floor, arms straight, shoulder length apart, body straight, toes on the floor. Use arm and abdominal muscles to bend forward to the floor until arms are at a 90-degree angle.
8. Side Plank
Benefits: Improves balance, core strength, arm, and back strength From plank pose, rest weight on right hand and raise left arm toward ceiling. Roll to the outer edge of the right foot. Keep body in a straight line not letting hips sag. Hold 3-5 breaths, return to plank pose. Repeat on another side.
9. Tree Pose
Benefits: Improves balance, strengthens core and legs Being at mountain pose. Hands at heart, palms pressed together. Slide right leg up left to inner thigh. Hold 5-10 breaths. Repeat on another leg.
10. Dancer Pose
Benefits: Strengthens legs, improve balance, core strength, stretches shoulders Begin in mountain pose. Bend the left knee, grasp instep of left foot with left hand. Lift right arm straight to the ceiling. Lift left the leg behind you.
11. Twisted high lunge
Benefits: Strengthens/stretches legs, groin, and hamstrings From downward dog, bring left foot to inside of the left hand. Bend left knee, pivot or right foot with heel lowered to the floor. Flatten right hand. Twist torso toward left knee. Lift left arm toward ceiling. Look toward left hand. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Switch.
12. Chair Pose
Benefits: Strengthens thighs From mountain pose, bend knees, keep butt low, lift arms up. Hold 5-10 breaths
13. Triangle pose
Benefits: Stretches groin, hamstrings, and hips, strengthens legs From warrior II, straighten front leg, lower right hand to the floor, gaze up to left fingertips. Repeat with left leg.
14. Eagle Pose
Benefits: Strengthens legs, glutes, improves balance, core strength From awkward chair pose, wrap the right leg around left hooking right foot around left calf. Cross arms. Hold 5-10 breaths, Repeat on another side.