Yoga is an incredibly versatile exercise that can help you both physically and mentally – but is it helpful for weight loss?
Most people think that if exercise doesn’t involve you moving quickly and breaking a sweat, it won’t help you lose weight. Yoga doesn’t seem like the most likely exercise for those wanting to shed a few pounds, but the benefits could surprise you.
Losing weight and toning up is easiest when you find a regime you genuinely enjoy doing. Could yoga be the one for you?
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Yoga is a form of exercise that can be used to achieve any number of goals: it can help you get stronger or more flexible; it can be calming or spiritual. It involves a series of different positions that test your body while you control your breathing. The practice originated in ancient India and spread across the globe to become popular with people from all walks of life.
The best part about yoga is that you can do it pretty much anywhere as it takes up very little space. Some people take classes in yoga, some yogis go to the park to practise their poses, while others prefer to stay in the comfort of their homes (or yoga studios).
There are many different types of yoga, all of which help your body and mind in different ways.
Hatha and Yin yoga are more gentle and aim to balance your mind and body.
There are also more energetic forms such as Vinyasa Flow and Power yoga which raise your heart rate and burn calories.
While gentle yoga maybe good for unwinding, more energetic yoga will be better for weight loss.
In simplest terms, weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you eat. This is why
many people turn to cardio to try and shed the pounds, as it uses up a lot of energy all at once. Cardio exercises, such as running and swimming, only burn calories for as long as you’re doing them. Once you step off the treadmill, and plonk yourself back on the sofa, your fat burning stops.
This is why it is recommended that you put in some strength training into your routine. Studies have shown that weight lifting can jack up your metabolism beyond your workout, burning calories even after you are finished. However, doing rep after rep of lifting dumbbells and doing squats can be a little boring.
Stretching your muscles may not seem like the most strenuous of activities, but yoga is so much more than that. It combines exercising and toning your muscles, by using your body weight, with holding positions for extended periods of time. This combination can help you to shred fat and tone up.
There are two different methods that will help you to exercise and tone your body when it comes to yoga. A fast-paced session where you are holding poses only for a couple of seconds before moving to the next pose will be good for raising your heart rate, while a slower pace will engage and tone your muscles and build your stamina.
Both methods are beneficial — to maximize your calorie burn you may want to consider trying both methods interchangeably.
A beginner may find yoga incredibly physically challenging due to the flexibility and strength required for some of the poses. That’s why it’s important to find a type of yoga that suits your level.
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To have a big effect on your body, yoga has to be done right. If not, you’ll find that while you may feel calmer and more flexible, you’re not getting any slimmer or more toned. Your body will tell you if the intensity of your yoga session is right for you.
If you are feeling out of breath, you’re doing a good cardio session, while if you muscles start to shake and get sore, you are working them out well. The best yoga sessions will involve minimal sitting positions, instead getting you to use your legs, arms and core in order to hold your position.
A running or cycling session may burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, while lifting weights will help you to bulk up. It may not be the most effective form of exercise, but if integrated into your routine it can help you build the strength and flexibility you need to perform.
Many people do yoga as they find it calming. You take time out of your day to focus on your mind, body and breathing, giving you time to reflect. Some say that this also aids weight loss as you connect your body and mind.
A quick burst of yoga can help you avoid emotional eating or gear you up for a workout. The relaxation techniques can help lower blood pressure. It can even alleviate chronic pain such as back pain and arthritis.
Why not try out yoga for yourself? Join a class or watch a couple of YouTube videos and try it at home to see if it works for you!
Remember that the most important part of exercising for weight loss is that you find an activity you enjoy. Use yoga to calm yourself and connect your mind and body, and you will be able to keep it up for a long time.
EHI Primary Care is run by Cathy, a 20-something fitness guru and yoga enthusiast. This is my blog, where I cover all sorts of topics around my healthy lifestyle.