As we are continuously discovering, the benefits of yoga are boundless. Many yoga classes can aid relaxation, help us to achieve better sleep and avoid stress and anxiety. However, in addition to these important factors, yoga can also help us to burn unwanted body fat and ultimately lose excess weight.
Here we look at the most effective ways to use yoga in order to lose body fat, when combined with other healthy lifestyle choices.
How can yoga burn body fat?
When most of us think of losing weight, we imagine hours in the gym on a treadmill, whilst eating nothing but salad leaves and drinking herbal tea. However, this is not a realistic plan for the majority of us, nor a healthy one at that.
Many of the asanas, or poses, that we practice in our yoga classes help to strengthen our muscles, which will in turn help burn excess fat. Our muscles work together which leads to increased heart rate and calorie burn.
In addition, practicing more active and intense yoga styles such as Hot Yoga, Vinyasa or Yoga Flow can contribute to an increased rate of fat burning and also increased endurance, helping us to improve our overall fitness levels.
Which yoga poses are best for weight loss?
When it comes to burning calories and turning fat into muscle, some yoga poses are more effective than others. Here we have selected three poses/sequences that can be most useful:
1. Down Dog/Knee-to Nose-Repetitions
From your Down Dog position, inhale your right leg high into the sky with a straight leg. On an exhale, start to bend your right knee, drawing it down and in towards your nose. Draw your naval in towards your spine as you squeeze in. Inhale your leg back into the air, whilst straightening. Complete 10 rounds this way, then repeat the sequence with your left leg.
2. Dolphin Push-ups
From a table top position, place your forearms on the ground shoulder-distance apart. Tuck your toes and lift your hips into preparation for Dolphin pose. From here, start to lower your chin down towards your thumbs on an exhale, coming almost to a forearm plank (You won’t be able to lower down this way completely as your feet will be too close to your elbows for that) On your inhale, lift up to dolphin again, raising your hips back towards the ceiling. Complete 10 rounds of push ups and then rest in Child’s pose.
3. Chair Pose
Chair pose is one of our all-time favourites. Not only does it tone the leg muscles excellently, but it also strengthens hip flexors, ankles and calves too. From a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees and sink your hips as if sitting down into an imaginary chair. Look in front of your knees and make sure you can see your toes. If you can’t, sit back until you can. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and put your hands into prayer position at your chest or raise up both arms, straight and facing upwards. Take five long, deep breathes in this pose and then stand up again. Repeat two more times.
When is the best time to practice yoga?
Many people prefer to practice yoga early in the morning, before starting their working day. Practising early yoga has several benefits. Not only will it help you to start your day in a positive and energetic way, but it will also give your metabolism a boost, which contributes to more efficient calorie burn, and ultimately weight loss.
Combine with Healthy Eating Habits
Although yoga and getting fit can be very effective in helping to achieve long-term weight loss, the most important factor in losing weight is changing your eating habits. We should all aim to eliminate the majority of processed foods and sugary drinks that have almost no nutritional value, replacing them with wholesome fruit and vegetables plenty of water and protein-rich sources, such as fish, grains, mushrooms, beans and tofu.
If you live in Harrogate or the North Yorkshire area, then come and try one of our Hot Yoga or Vinyasa classes and let us know how you feel afterwards.