Doing yoga regularly offers many benefits, including making you feel better about your body as you become stronger and more flexible, toning your muscles, reducing stress, and improving your mental and physical well-being. But will it help you lose weight?
Answer: Practicing any type of yoga will build strength, but it may not raise your heart rate enough to make it the only form of exercise you need. In order to lose weight, you must eat healthily and burn calories by doing exercise that raises your heart rate on a regular basis. Some types of yoga, such as Iyengar, in which yoga poses are held for several minutes with a resting period between each pose, will build strength, tone muscles and improve your posture, but will not give you the cardiovascular workout you need to lose weight. More vigorous yoga styles can provide a better workout, but many people still choose to combine yoga with running, walking or other aerobic exercise in order to reach their weight loss goals.
What Kind of Yoga Will Help Me Lose Weight?
The most athletic yoga styles fall in the vinyasa or flow yoga category. These styles usually start with a fast-paced series of poses called sun salutations, followed by a flow of standing poses which will keep you moving. Once you are warmed up, deeper stretches and backbends are introduced. Vinyasa includes many popular, sweat-drenched yoga styles, such as:
Ashtanga yoga is a very vigorous style of practice with a few distinct advantages for those who want to lose weight. Ashtanga practitioners are among the most dedicated of yogis, and beginners are often encouraged to sign up for a series of classes, which will help with motivation. Another advantage is that Ashtanga follows the same series of poses each time. Once you learn the poses, you can practice anytime at home or join a Mysore-style group, in which there is a teacher present but each student goes at their own pace.
Power yoga is extremely popular at gyms and health clubs, though it is widely available at dedicated yoga studios as well. Power yoga is based on building the heat and intensity of Ashtanga while dispensing with fixed series of poses.
Vinyasa yoga done in a hot room ups the ante by guaranteeing you’ll sweat buckets. Be aware that Bikram and hot yoga are not synonymous. Bikram is a pioneering style of hot yoga, which includes a set series of poses and, indeed, a script developed by founder Bikram Choudhury. These days, there are many other styles of hot yoga (Moksha, for example) that make use of the hot room but not the Bikram series.
Keep in mind that if you are just starting to do yoga, are very overweight, or are quite out of shape, always choose a beginner-level class.
Yoga Workouts at Home
Keep yourself exercising by doing yoga at home on the days you can’t make a class. Follow along with a video or audio recording if you are new to yoga. When you are ready to plan your own workouts, use these yoga sequencing ideas to help you come up with yoga sessions of varying lengths that will fit your schedule.
Pros and Cons of Yoga – The Advantages
- Yoga increases strength and flexibility as it awakens many areas of your body. It can help a rigid body become flexible. The more you use Yoga, the stronger and more flexible you’ll become.
- Yoga works on the whole body. Besides the obvious differences on the outside, Yoga improves your internal functions as well, allowing blood to flow more freely to all organs.
- Yoga transforms your flabby muscles. The stronger your muscles become with Yoga, the more they will tone your body and rid it of excess fat.
- Yoga is a natural detoxification process. With increased blood flow to all areas, it helps to eliminate toxins from your body.
- Yoga can alleviate pain. More and more physical therapists are recommending Yoga for at home therapy.
For instance, if you’ve hurt your back, a physical therapist can recommend very specific Yoga movements to help alleviate pain and strengthen the problem area.
- Yoga relieves stress. This is probably one of the biggest benefits of Yoga. Because of the breathing methods and stretching techniques you practice during Yoga, you can actually feel stress leaving your body.
- Yoga harmonizes your body and mind as one. With your mind aware of what your body is doing, you can reap the rewards of a whole body and mind workout.
Yoga classes often have relaxing music and dim lighting so your whole body and mind can relax and focus on the movements.
- Yoga stabilizes emotions. With Yoga, you’ll find yourself in an almost meditative state that helps your endocrine system and emotional make up. No other exercise routine does this as well as Yoga.
- Yoga works well on arthritic areas. If you suffer from arthritis, Yoga can help stretch your muscles so they can move more freely.
Pros and Cons of Yoga – The Disadvantages
As mentioned above, the disadvantages of Yoga are few; however, there are some important points to note:
- Use caution with Yoga headstands. Some optometrists have warned that Yoga headstands could lead to glaucoma, but there haven’t been enough studies on this to draw a firm conclusion.
- Dahn Yoga, a Korean Yoga idea, may be nothing more than a sales pitch to get your money by putting the word “Yoga” in there. It seems to include a lot of counting and chanting with no focus on breathing.
- Bikram Yoga, or “hot” Yoga, is performed in a hot room. Some doctors say this isn’t good for your body, while others say it is. You can avoid this controversy by simply sticking with the basics.
Overall, practicing Yoga with a trained instructor can benefit your mind, body, and inner self. With Yoga, you’ll be able to relieve stress, strengthen your muscles, and promote your health and well-being. Give it a try, you’ll be glad you did.