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Will Doing Yoga Help Me Lose Weight?


Updated June 16, 2014

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Question: Will Doing Yoga Help Me Lose Weight?

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 studies show that yoga does not raise your heart rate enough to make it the only form of exercise you need to shed pounds. In order to lose weight, you must eat healthily and burn calories by doing exercise that raises your heart rate on a regular basis. More vigorous yoga styles can provide a better workout than gentle yoga, but if weight loss is your primary goal, you will want to combine yoga with running, walking, or other aerobic exercise.

How Yoga Can Help

Yoga can still help you lose weight by bringing you to a better in tune with your body, improving your self-image and sense of well-being, and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Yoga exercises will tone your muscles and improve your posture, which may in turn improve your appearance. If you are just starting to do yoga, are very overweight, or are quite out of shape, always choose a beginner-level class. To minimize the risk of injury, make sure find good teachers and listen to your body first and foremost.

What Kinds of Yoga Are the Most Vigorous?

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, sweaty yoga styles, such as:

  • Ashtanga:

    Ashtanga yoga is a very vigorous style of practice and its practitioners are among the most dedicated of yogis. Beginners are often encouraged to sign up for a series of classes, which will help with motivation. Since Ashtanga follows the same series of poses each time, once you learn the sequence, 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:

    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.

  • Hot Yoga:

    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 that make use of the hot room but not the Bikram series.

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. To maximize yoga's benefits, it's great to do a little bit each day.


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