Yoga for Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?

When you’re trying to lose weight, it makes sense to combine a healthy diet with regular exercise. But, of course, in order to maintain healthier habits, they have to work for you. If you don’t like sweating on a stationary bike or treadmill, it’s understandable that you’d want to try something like yoga for weight loss. Of course, yoga is all about finding your spiritual center and your mind-body connection, but it’s also a form of exercise that can help you burn calories.

“Yoga may offer some benefits in terms of weight loss,” says Fatima Cody Stanford, an obesity medicine physician and associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Research supports this. Yoga appears to be most beneficial for weight when combined with behavioral interventions for weight management, she said, citing a 2021 study showing that the practice, combined with a diet that reduces calories and fat, can help with weight loss.

In addition, Dr. Stanford notes that, in addition to promoting weight loss, yoga can also improve cardiorespiratory fitness. Research also links yoga to weight loss after weight loss.

But its effect on weight loss really depends on the type of yoga, says Alli Bradley, a yoga instructor at Private Yoga Soho, adding that there are many different types. “If people are looking for yoga as a weight loss tool, I recommend Vinyasa rather than restorative yoga because it’s more active,” she explains. “It creates more calories and muscle.”

Meet the experts: Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in obesity medicine. Her work has received many awards, including from the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians. She teaches at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Alli Bradley offers private yoga classes that combine a variety of styles, including Vinyasa and restorative yoga. She completed 200 hours of yoga training in a studio in New York City, and has also trained in dance, soma, and energy healing.

The benefits of yoga

Yoga has many benefits, but there are specific aspects of the practice that make it beneficial for weight loss.

It burns calories. It’s hard to pin down an exact number of how many calories a yoga torch has, because there are so many different exercises out there and how each class is different.But Dr. Stanford says you can expect 120-calorie 30-minute class“In general, yoga burns fewer calories than many forms of exercise,” she says. “However, higher-intensity workouts that last longer may burn more calories.” But keep in mind that if weight loss is your goal, you should do some exercise in addition to yoga. “The type of exercise most likely to promote weight loss is high-intensity interval training,” she says.

It can eliminate stress. Stress can cause your body to store fat, especially in the belly, says Dr. Stanford.According to published in 2011 Obesity Magazine“Yoga is considered a stress-reducing mindfulness practice,” says Dr. Stanford.

It can help you sleep. Being mindful and reducing stress can improve your sleep, leading to better regulation of pathways in the brain that regulate weight, Dr. Stanford noted.According to a 2018 study published in the journal, people who regularly sleep less than the recommended seven hours a night are more likely to have higher average body mass index and obesity than those who sleep more BMJ Open Exercise and Sports Medicine.

How to start practicing yoga at home

GoYoga 7 Piece Set

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You don’t really need much. Bradley recommends getting a high-quality yoga mat, one that provides enough cushioning for your body so you can perform movements comfortably without slipping. You may also benefit from blocks and straps if you have tight hamstrings or hips.

Finding the right yoga class and instructor for you is personal. Many towns have local studios, but you can also find yoga classes you can stream online, such as on the Peloton app. Ultimately, it may take some trial and error to find a source you like.

7 Yoga Poses to Try at Home

Yoga is a series of poses strung together to help create an experience, but some poses are better for building muscle and losing weight than others. Bradley suggests adding the following to the mix to help you out.

  • Downward dog. Downward Dog lets you bend your body into a V shape, with your feet on the ground, toes facing forward, and your hands on the ground. Holding this pose can help work your arms, legs, and abs.
  • plate. This pose involves keeping your body on a level line with your hands and toes on the ground. Holding this pose activates your core, Bradley says.
  • side panel. A side plank is similar to a “regular” plank, except that one arm and one leg are on the ground while the other is balanced on it. It also activates your core, as well as some of your lateral obliques, Bradley says.
  • chair pose. Begin standing, then bend your knees while pushing your hips back as if you were sitting in an invisible chair. “You’re going to get great glutes and quad activation,” Bradley says.
  • warrior 1. This includes standing with feet rooted to the ground. Your back leg is behind you in front of you, leaning your back foot out as your front foot points forward. Your front knee should be bent and your back leg straight. Your upper body should be straight, with your head and torso pointing in front of you. Your arms and hands are above you. “All warrior poses are great for activating your legs and core,” says Bradley.
  • warrior 2. Warrior 2 poses similar to Warrior 1. However, your arms should be in a straight, horizontal line and your torso should be flared to one side.
  • Warrior 3. Fighter 3 involves shifting your weight forward from Fighter 1 so you can balance on a straight leg. Your arms are usually straight in front of you, level with the ground.

    Likewise, if you’re interested in trying yoga for weight loss, it’s usually best to pair it with another form of exercise, such as HIIT. However, adding yoga to it can help you lose weight and gain a healthier mind in the process.

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