When it comes to yoga, you rarely hear people talk about weight loss as the force driving them to take on yoga classes. When Indians first introduced the philosophy, their intention was to teach people how to connect and improve their physical and mental wellbeing. Because yoga involves some form of body activity, this prompts many to ask the question “can you lose weight by doing yoga?”
To most people, weight loss means high intensive training, weight lifting and a healthy diet as the key to calorie burning and muscle toning. Yoga, on the other hand, is mostly understood as a meditation or mindfulness practice. But does this mean yoga can’t help to lose weight?
The answer to the question “can you lose weight by doing yoga?” is yes, through ways including; high intensive yoga such as vinyasa and power yoga, reduction of cortisol the stress hormone and through mindfulness where one relates to their body to know the right kind of food that the body needs.
Before we into detail of the question “can you lose weight by doing yoga?” let us get some little background about yoga.
What is yoga?
According to Wikipedia, yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines that originated in ancient India 5000 years ago. Yoga is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical traditions. It has a variety of practices and goals.
Wikipedia denotes that in the western world, yoga means a modern form of hatha yoga and yoga exercises, consisting largely of sitting meditation postures called asanas.
Is yoga a workout?
As a matter of fact, yoga combines strengthening and muscle stretching poses. It involves the basic movement of almost all parts of your body.
Some types of yoga, for example, power yoga; involve dynamic and physically vigorous movements that make yoga qualify as a workout.
What is good yoga or gym?
Having looked at a simple background of yoga, we realized that yoga focuses on both the physical and mental wellbeing (mindfulness) of an individual. The gym, however, looks at only the physical part of the individual. This gives yoga an upper hand over the gym.
Here are some of the few reasons why we think yoga is better than the gym
1. Yoga teaches self-confidence
Yoga makes you believe who you’re, your strengths as well as your challenges. It teaches you self-acceptance. Unlike the gym, you may feel challenged if you fail to accomplish certain workouts.
2. Yoga focuses on both inside and outside your body
During the yoga class, the stretching, twisting, and folds benefit the digestive system, blood circulation, and the lymph system. The gym, on the other hand, focuses on building and strengthening muscles to burn more calories.
3. Yoga relieves body pain and aches
Yoga brings about flexibility in the muscles and joints. This keeps them healthy and lubricated hence relieving body pain. However, the gym may create strain, injuries leading to more pain.
4. Yoga is performed anywhere
Apart from the yoga studio, yoga can be done anywhere as long as you have a matt. Gym workouts, however, necessitate equipment and more workspace.
6. Yoga improves your breathing
During yoga, we carry out deep breathing, which involves the abdominal muscles. This offset stress and fatigue.
7. Yoga reduces stress
Yoga gives you the chance to meditate and clear your mind of the stressful thoughts throughout the day. With the gym, however, the loud music and intensive nature add up the stress instead.
8. Yoga encourages concentration
With yoga, you focus on breath, posture, and mind. Outside distractions are ignored. However, with loud music, groans and thunders from the falling dumbbells concentration are difficult.
9. Yoga is for everyone
Regardless of your age and health status, you can do yoga. Some yoga forms are therapeutic in nature, unlike gym workouts where the sick and the old may not do gym workouts.
How long does it take to learn yoga?
To be sincere, any form of learning requires patience, commitment, and consistency.
According to reviews from quora.com, Yuri Banens who has practiced yoga since childhood says “you should expect to practice regularly for about six months before you feel confident that you can perform fundamental poses steadily with some degree of the proper form”
Another review from quora.com by Andrea Beth yoga Teacher/Functional Wellness Coach says “yoga is not something you get good at. Yoga is a process of uniting your body, mind, and breath through a series of physical poses and other practices like meditation and healthy eating, etc. if you are becoming healthier and happier then you are getting good at yoga.”
Can yoga really tone your body?
Since yoga involves the use of bodyweight to do the challenging poses, this helps to tone and strengthen body muscles.
In addition to the active forms of yoga such as the ashtanga, vinyasa and power yoga, incorporating some form of resistance training or aerobics like walking and running; will involve your core, make you leaner and tone your muscles. This will eventually help you to burn more calories and hence weight loss.
Can you lose weight by doing yoga?
Weight loss is mainly based on body activity and healthy eating. I.e. Calorie intake less than calorie expenditure. So, with that in mind, most yoga practices burn fewer calories than traditional workouts.
However, yoga can improve the way one relates to their bodies (mindfulness), analyze what they eat and therefore make formidable changes to healthier lifestyle food that will enhance weight loss.
Secondly, there are also active forms of yoga such as vinyasa and power yoga which involve high intensive training. These involve your core, tone most of your body muscle and burn more fats which trigger weight loss.
Thirdly, it relieves stress. This is a pure weight-loss tool. Less stress implies less stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is an appetite stimulant. Whenever we have stress, we tend to overeat and crave unhealthy foods. With zero stress, you are less likely to overeat or pick on wrong food choices. This promotes weight loss.
What type of yoga is best for weight loss?
For yoga aimed at weight loss, experts recommend fast-paced vinyasa yoga. It consists of dynamic and physically vigorous flows from plank to push-ups and then to downward-facing Dog. This is associated with increased heart rate more muscle mass. More muscles imply more calories burnt.
Power yoga is another popular type of yoga for those already in shape. It is intense, fast-paced movement and more of the standing poses as opposed to vinyasa yoga
Power yoga will increase your heart rate burning more calories which is good for weight loss.
How much weight do you lose with yoga?
As a matter of fact, there is no magic trick to quick weight loss.
According to the centers for disease control and prevention, regardless of the type of exercise you are doing or diet you’re following, people who lose weight gradually are more successful at keeping it off.
This means that; weight loss depends on so many factors including; quality of sleep, lifestyle and what we eat.
When practicing yoga for weight loss, it is important that you take into consideration the type of yoga that you employ, what you eat, lifestyle, commitment, and consistency. All these will determine how much weight you will lose at a particular time.
What is the difference between vinyasa and hatha yoga?
The main difference between vinyasa yoga and hatha yoga is the pace and the intention of the two yoga practices.
According to LIVE STRONG.COM, hatha yoga is intended to align and calm your mind, the body, and the spirit. On the other hand, vinyasa involves coordinating body movement with breath, moving from one pose to the next. Its intention is to increase body activity, heat, and muscle strength.
Another important difference is the pace. Hatha yoga is carried out at a gentle pace while vinyasa is a characteristic of faster-paced coordinated body movements.
What are the other benefits of yoga?
- Apart from weight loss, there are a variety of science-backed benefits of yoga these include;
- Yoga eases stress and brings about relaxation by reducing the cortisol hormone which is a stress hormone.
- Yoga protects from injury
- Tones your muscles and increases strength
- Improves cardio and blood circulation
- Yoga increases flexibility and balance
- Athletic performance improves with yoga
- Relieves anxiety
- Reduces inflammation
- Promotes heart health
- Fights depression
- Helps to reduce chronic pain
- Better mental health
We also wrote an article about the best yoga mats, you can check it out here.
Does yoga have any side effects?
As a matter of fact, yoga is popularly known for its vast advantages. The benefits, therefore, outweigh the negative or side effects. However, every good thing has a dark side to it.
According to the literature review published in 2013 issue of PLOS ONE reported only 76 documented cases of negative side effects occurring due to yoga.
The few documented side effects include;
- Muscle strain i.e. a pull or strain of muscles
- A back injury where the forward folds irritate the disks in your back (lumbar spine).
- Increased blood pressure due to forced breathing and poses involving inversions.
- Glaucoma; which is the loss of eyesight due to pressure behind the eyeballs.
Yoga for weight loss requires commitment, consistency and some intensive forms of yoga such as vinyasa and power yoga.
Through mindfulness, you will eventually relate with your body, become aware of the healthy food your body needs as well as attraction to a healthy lifestyle. This will trigger weight loss.
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