Can you lose weight just by doing yoga?

by Kelvin Wong and Christine Lau

What do the experts say?

Beth A. Lewis, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Kinesiology in Minneapolis:

"Regular yoga practice can influence weight loss, but not in the "traditional" sense of how we link physical activity to weight loss.”

Dr. Lewis Maharam, fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine:

"Yes … Yoga is a sophisticated tradition with physical, relaxation and breathing exercises.”
"If someone wants to lose weight in yoga class, they are going to have to be in a class that challenges them. They have to make sure that their heart is going to beat faster.”

How can yoga practice contribute to fat loss?

Traditionally, the aim of yoga is to connect the mind and body creating an overall spiritual and mental wellbeing than physical activity but with evolution this has changed. Over the years, different styles have been created by yoga teachers to cater to the growing demands of yogis and yoginis around the world - creativity is endless. 

Whilst there is no doubt that yoga, being an aerobic exercise, when done at moderate speed in a heated environment, can aid the burning of calories and help sculpt your body into shape, optimal results can only be achieved over consistent practice over a long period of time.

There is also another dimension to yoga when physical asanas are performed with breathing to prepare the body and mind for meditation. Yoga has the ability to foster an inward focus which heightens self awareness. This can cause a shift in the way we think about how we treat our bodies with the mindful choice of diet, avoiding over indulgence in order to make the correct choices about our lifestyle.

Having a healthy diet, or more importantly a diet that is appropriate for your daily level of activities, must go hand in hand with such physical activities to fast track results that are sustainable.

What can yogis consciously do to lose fat then?

Everyone wants to feel good and look good - losing weight should not be the end goal but merely a side effect of a healthy body, brought about by sensible eating and training. Constant tweaking of dietary intake and training routine is also crucial when your bodies change due to changes in fat/muscle ratio, age or changes in lifestyles.

1.  Start with choosing the best combination of yoga practice to aid fat loss

Different styles of yoga such as power (vinyasa), flow (slow flow), restore, hot yoga and yin all offer different benefits for the mind and body.  Work out what you need for your body to design an appropriate “yoga program”.

At our studio, we believe that everyone is unique hence we offer different styles of yoga to suit your needs in the pursuit of your personal goals.

a)  yPower Yoga

If your goal is weight loss, choosing the yPower is a really smart choice. Practised in a warm room heated between 25 to 28 degrees, not only will you benefit from weight bearing exercise for your bones but you will also burn calories, tone, stretch your muscles.

b)  yFlow Yoga

This class is ideal if you are after a gentler workout or are relatively new to yoga.  A perfect complement to our yPower class for experienced practitioners who want to reinforce their foundations, focus on proper alignment to concentrate on power and depth in yPower classes.

c)  yFlow (hot) Yoga

Our yFlow done at temperatures between 32–35 degrees Celsius will build physical coordination, mental focus and clarity. While burning fewer calories than yPower, this practice brings more challenges to the mind (with the added heat component). The heat also intensifies the practice by burning more calories than our yFlow classes.

d)  yYin Yoga

This class works deeply on the connective tissues, fascia, joints and ligaments. As life is all about balance: this class is the perfect complement to our yPower, yFlow and yFlow (hot) classes.

We are all wired differently and have our own unique needs. Whether you practise yoga for spirituality's sake or for the physical benefits that it brings, you are ultimately creating movements with your body, shedding kilograms off your waist and building strength in your body.  If you commit to your regular practice over a long period of time, your mind and body will go through a transformation - the former calmer and latter sculpted. But why leave it to chance? Why spend hours and hours practising not knowing when you will achieve your fat loss goal?

Combine yoga with cardio and strength training for measurable results today and take your first step by giving us a call on 8528 1001 or shoot us an email on mob@yogaxtc.com.au.

2.  Explore cardio and strength training to combine with yoga for a smarter training routine

Depending on the style of yoga that you practise, you may need to combine it with other different elements to lose weight. The key to losing weight and sustaining a healthy lifestyle is to get your mind set right and find balance. Combining yoga, fitness, healthy diet and adopting the 3D’s for weight loss – discipline, determination and dedication, your fitness goals will be smashed in no time. 

As proposed by Jen Cassetty, an American College of Sports Medicine certified Health Fitness Specialist:

“As with any activity program for weight loss, you should engage in this activity 4 to 5 times a week to see body changes with shaping, as well as keep a portion-controlled balanced diet. Then, yes, your metabolism will be raised through the activity and you can see body shaping changes and even weight loss.”

Whether you are looking at tweaking your current yoga practice or ready for some cardio and strengthening training, we will be able to help.

P.S. Stay tuned for our Fat loss Challenge due to be launched soon.