Yoga is known to improve the flexibility of human body, and also improves muscle tone. But does it actually helps in weight-loss?
The evidence is equivocal. It would not seem to be a good match for calorie burn. An hour of yoga burns approximately 150 calories in an hour, less than half of the 300 calories that would be burned in an equivalent 3 MPH walk in the same hour. However, one 2005 study showed a correlation between yoga and weight loss. The study consisted of surveys, which I always find a bit suspect, as people tend to be notoriously bad at tracking themselves, and claims to have outruled confounding factors, but the article I linked doesn't elaborate on what they did to do so.
The mechanism via which it might help someone lose weight ranges from woo-ish answers such as the yoga "supercharging" the body with ki to more practical answers such as that practicing yoga, especially in places filled with skinny people in skintight outfits, may motivate some to keep at it, or to quit if they're not the sort to easily lose weight in general. Somewhere in the middle is that yoga, when practiced properly, involves a lot of body consciousness, which may result in people being more aware of bad habits like overeating, or sitting around too long.
Another possibility is the tie that exercise has with diet. It has been shown that regular exercise reduces some of the negative effects of a bad diet even if you're not burning as many calories as you're taking in. From that perspective, even if yoga isn't actually forcing you to expend many calories, it is making you work a bit, which signals the body to be more efficient. But it would also imply that any consistent exercise would be doing the same. Nevertheless, if yoga is something you can stick with, that makes it superior to a more intensive workout that provides better fitness benefits but is not something you can stick with.
The only thing that will make anyone lose weight is a caloric deficit. Simple as that. As long as you are in a deficit you can even exercise at all and still lose weight. This means eating below your TDEE, measuring EVERYTHING you eat in grams and ounces (not cups and teaspoons); everything needs to be weighed on a scale. This includes condiments, olive oil, fruits, veggies. Everything that goes in your mouth. As long as you eat in a deficit you will lose weight regardless of what exercise you do or even if you exercise at all.
As long as you eat over your maintenance calories it doesn't matter what workout you do; you still won't lose weight.
There are a number of variables related to this question, but a blanket answer of yes may suffice in conjunction with active weight-loss habits when 'off the mat'.
Obviously with attempting to lose weight, be mindful of the food you're consuming (minimal grains and pre-packaged food, lots of veggies) and drink plenty of water.
With yoga, it will depend on the style as to whether it will help you with weight loss. Yin yoga is lots of stretching, long holds, and relaxation - not helpful in losing weight. Hot yoga, like Moksha/Modo or Bikram yoga will aid in weight loss as the heat makes you sweat a lot more than you would in a non-heated class, elevates the heart rate, boosts your metabolism, and rids your body of toxins. This helps to shed unwanted pounds.
If the hot room isn't your style, any vinyasa-style class will help in weight loss as it is a cardiovascular work out, gets your heart rate up, and aids in gaining/ toning muscle.
Yoga is probably the only type of excercise that affects all glands of the body: endocrine glands, external secretion glands and mixed secretion glands (pancreas,s ex glands ). Thus, naturally, when you achieve hormonal balance balance, your internal and external appearance significantly improves (an weightloss might be one of the improvements). Also, metabolism accelerates, especially with the breathing practices, as a well-oxygenated blood moves intensively and evenly through the blood vessels, carrying all the necessary nutrients to all organs.
Besides, a number of asanas (postures) improve digestion, stimulating the internal organs. What's more, with yoga food habits change naturally, appetite and craving for junk food gradually decrease. In particular, as stress resistance increases, it becomes easier for you to prevent any overeating.
Thus, yoga helps to lose excessive weight, fighting the factors that cause it.
To understand the importance of yoga and its relationship with the human body, I got in touch with a well-renowned yoga practitioner as well as a fitness expert, Seema Sondhi. On being asked how yoga helps in losing weight, she proposed to start from the very basics of the practice.
According to her, before we target weight loss, it is important to understand the various factors that contribute to weight gain. Apart from faulty dietary habits, one should identify that weight gain also stems from the inefficient functioning of various bodily functions. Yoga has some of the most basic breathing practices at its base which aims at cleansing, balancing, and rejuvenating our inner organs and their functions. Various breathing exercises and basic asanas help in increasing metabolic and heart rates. Once you are healed from within, the focus then shifts towards the outer body.
"I can't really pinpoint any specific set of asanas for weight loss. Almost all of them aim at cleansing your inner mechanism, strengthening your core and stamina, increasing flexibility, and upping your metabolic rate," says Seema.'
She explains how yoga aims at making you fit by increasing flexibility. It involves twisting the body, forward and backward bends, inversions, and other poses that help in opening up the otherwise rusted muscles and thereby facilitate weight loss.
- Surya Namaskar
- The warrior pose or Veerabhadrasana
- Triangular pose or Trikonasana
- Upward plank or Purvottanasana
- The boat pose
- The bridge pose