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The benefits of doing yoga for weight loss

Woman rolling out blue yoga mat
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What are the benefits of yoga?

Making exercises such as yoga part of your lifestyle has vast benefits and is extremely important, not only can it help you to maintain a healthy weight but it can also help to boost your mood and general wellbeing. Finding a sport, class or gym that you love will allow you to make exercise part of your daily or weekly routine, making it a joy not a chore. If you’re trying to lose weight exercise can help you reach your goals quicker, and practices such as yoga or pilates are a great way to strengthen your body and focus your mind.

Yoga is an ancient exercise that originated in India centuries ago and not only focuses on exercising your body but also improving your mental wellbeing.

Yoga can also help to:

  • Increase your flexibility
  • Tone muscles and help you lose weight
  • Improve your posture and balance
  • Reduce your stress levels and help with sleep

Is yoga good for weight loss?

If you’re beginning a weight loss journey then yoga is a great form of exercise to add to your plan. Rather than being a cardiovascular exercise, yoga focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing techniques. This is not to say that you won’t elevate your heart rate during certain routines or poses, but rather many yoga classes are slower paced and influenced by your ability, whether you’re a beginner or have tried yoga before.

The best poses for weight loss include:

  • Plank - Yoga incorporates a lot of plank poses, including Vasisthasana (side plank), and these make up many sun salutations too. Planking is great for abs and arms, you might find that you shake as you try to hold plank for any length of time as the pose is challenging.
  • Chair pose - If you want to work on your thighs and glutes, then chair pose (utkatasana) is a great pose, it’s the yoga equivalent of a squat and really works to strengthen your legs.
  • Boat pose – Ideal if you want to work on your core strength to tone your abs. Holding your legs and arms out straight to avoid straining your back and concentrate on using your stomach muscles to hold the position.
  • Warrior two – Although it may feel challenging to your thighs, this strong position, allows for a deep side stretch. Elongate along your arms and holding them straight in front and behind you to tone shoulder and arms muscles.
  • Downward dog – Strengthening and toning your arms and biceps. This weight-bearing pose can take some getting used to but is great for opening shoulders and releasing tensions in your hamstrings.

What different types of yoga are there?

There are lots of styles of yoga such as Ashtanga and Sivananda for you to choose from and explore, some are more energetic than others. It all depends on what you want to do, whether you want to concentrate on breathing techniques or run through a fast paced series of moves. The type of yoga you decide to do will also be influenced by your motivation; do you want to lose weight or release aching muscles, tone muscles or increase your flexibility?

Yoga styles such as Bikram yoga are performed in hot rooms; you’ll run through yoga poses and routines in 40 degree heat and humidity which is thought to cleanse your body and aid detox. It can also help with weight loss too, for beginners hot yoga can be daunting, but remember to stay hydrated throughout your practise, if you start to feel too hot make sure to take a break and grab a drink.

Do you need to be fit to do yoga?

No, if you’re interested in trying yoga join your local class or see if your gym hosts yoga practices. You may need to join a beginners class, or find one to suit your age group, but whatever your fitness level you’re sure to love the benefits of yoga.

Can yoga help with stress?

Yoga poses are coupled with breathing techniques, meditation and relaxation. You might find that your sessions help you to clear your mind and relax; you can also use the breathing techniques outside of classes to help calm you down if you are feeling tense or anxious.

How many days a week should you do yoga?

When starting a new exercise routine and weight loss journey it is best to be realistic and find a plan that you can stick to. Even if you can only do one yoga class a week you will be able to feel the benefits and perhaps notice your fitness and flexibility improving.

Can I track yoga sessions on my smartwatch?

Fitbit’s range of fitness watches allow you to track yoga work outs and classes, whether you are at home or the gym. The band can automatically detect when you start, or you can manually set the watch to track your yoga poses. In your app you are be able to see your heart rate and calories burnt among other stats.

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