More and more people are turning to yoga as a form of exercise, and as a way of losing or maintaining their weight. It’s estimated that over 16 million people practice yoga in the US alone and that figure continues to increase as more and more people become aware of the benefits yoga can offer.
While weight loss is not one of the core concepts of yoga, it’s certainly true that regular practice of asanas can assist in weight control, but to see any real benefits there are 3 key concepts you need to be aware of. Specifically you need to ensure that you are practising the right style of yoga, that you are practising on a regular basis, and that you embrace yoga as part of a healthy lifestyle.
1. Style of yoga
There are many different styles of yoga, and some are far more valuable for weight loss than others. Static forms of yoga where postures are help for extended periods of time to build strength and balance, such as Iyengar yoga, will have minimal weight loss value. A faster, more flowing vinyasa form of yoga however, such as Ashtanga will get the heart and lungs working, the blood pumping, and will burn far more calories. So if one of your main goals from yoga is helping you lose weight, look for Ashtanga or Power Yoga classes.
2. Frequency of practice
It almost goes without saying, but popping along to a yoga class once a month really isn’t going to do much good, whether you want to lose weight or get any of the other benefits yoga can offer. Ideally you want to be practising yoga on a daily basis, but realistically you should aim for 2 good sessions of at least an hour, preferably 90 minutes, every week. If you can attend 2 90 minute classes each week, and find some time to practice sun salutations at home you will start to notice the benefits quite quickly.
3. Part of a lifestyle
Yoga is a lifestyle choice. All the benefits that yoga can offer, from weight loss, increased strength, flexibility and balance to reducing stress, improving self esteem and confidence, and aiding with relaxed sleep will mean nothing if you goggle a hamburger right after class, don’t get enough sleep, and fail to practice what you’re taught. The good news however, is that over eating is often largely emotionally triggered. Since yoga will help improve your self esteem and confidence, it is also likely to help you control your snacking, and you may well find that you’ll be able to keep your weight under control much easier as your yoga progresses.
Following these 3 key points – choosing the right style of yoga, practising on a regular basis, and including your yoga as part of a healthy lifestyle – will give you the best possible results.
Whatever the goals of your yoga practice, remember that yoga is about unity, and learning control of your mind and body. Yoga isn’t about rushing or forcing anything, so be patient, take your time, enjoy your yoga practice and the results will follow.
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