Yoga has become an extremely popular workout choice for many women due to the gentle nature of the practice as well as the relaxation and calming effects it can have on the mind both on and off the mat. Many women swear by Yoga as their main activity in their weight loss journeys, but others say that Yoga is a waste of time that doesn’t burn enough calories to truly make a difference in weight loss. So let’s take a closer look. Does Yoga actually help you to lose weight, and if so, how?
A typical, gentle Yoga practice burns about 150 calories per hour. This is only a fraction of the calories that could be burned in the same amount of time with more intense workouts such as running, lifting weights or circuit training. This fact has led many people to discount Yoga’s weight loss abilities, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Many forms of Yoga such as Bikram, Power and Flow are actually much more intense and physically demanding than gentle Yoga and can burn three to four times as many calories. If you’re looking to lose weight with Yoga, choose these more intense forms of Yoga that require constant movement and strenuous poses.
More strenuous forms of Yoga also require difficult, intense poses that help to strengthen muscles and increase overall muscle size and tone. When you increase your overall muscle mass, as you would with an intense Yoga practice, your body automatically burns more calories throughout the day whether working out, at work, or even taking a nap. It’s hard to calculate the exact amount of calories burned throughout the day, but the more muscle you have, the more calories you’re burning and the higher your metabolism will soar.
Yoga is more than a workout, it is a way of life. In the practice you focus inward and learn to respect your body and your soul. It puts you in touch with your true self and brings about a new awareness of your own beauty and power. This increased awareness often leads women to subconsciously (and consciously) make better choices that affect their health throughout the rest of the day. Think about it. You’re not going to spend an hour and a half intensely focusing on yourself and your inner goddess and then go down a greasy triple cheeseburger. Many women that have lost weight with Yoga report that the focus Yoga gives them, the attention to their bodies and the permission to respect themselves has been the catalyst for change that has helped them finally lose weight. Yoga can give you that focus you need to obtain your weight loss goals.
One of the most powerful effects Yoga can have on the body is the reduction of stress. We are all stressed. With work, kids, chores, school and activities, there is barely time to breathe. Taking a gentle, relaxing Yoga class can put you in a calmer mindset that allows for mindful eating instead of emotional eating. It can allow you to eat based on your actual hunger rather than frustration or anger or anxiety. In addition, being relaxed from a Yoga class allows your body to work more efficiently. The stomach digests foods better, the liver removes toxins more efficiently. Belly fat in particular can be triggered by excess cortisol, the stress hormone, and the relaxation that comes from Yoga can help to reduce cortisol production in the body.
So while Yoga may not be as intense or strenuous as a boot camp workout or kickboxing class, the overall effect of building muscle mass, focusing on your inner goddess and reducing stress can help any woman lose weight. And many women actually find that they can stick to a Yoga regimen more easily than other intense, demanding workouts, leading to greater weight loss and maintenance of a healthy lifestyle.