Even though yoga is known to have mental and spiritual benefits, it's safe to say that most of the people who sign up for yoga for beginners class are in it for fitness reasons and to lose weight. Understandable, after all, yoga CAN be quite physically demanding and what's great about it is you won't just be getting help from yoga for weight loss, you will also gain other physical benefits such as flexibility, joint and muscle strength, and improved posture and spinal health.
Recommended Types of Yoga for Weight Loss
All styles of yoga engage the muscles as well as the mind. However, some specific types of yoga places more focus on getting physical results in that the practice is more vigorous and has a more fast-paced flow of movements. Here are some examples of those types of yoga for beginners classes you should consider if you want to do yoga for weight loss.
Power yoga is a practice derived from Ashtanga yoga and is characterized by a fast-paced and intense flow of movement and poses. Power Yoga is a Westernized style of practicing Ashtanga yoga and was introduced by two yogis, named Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest, who both had studied yogic practice under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
One of the main differences between Ashtanga and Power Yoga is that the latter does not strictly adhere to a specific series or set of poses. This means several different yoga poses may be incorporated into your Power yoga for weight loss sessions that are not necessarily classified under Ashtanga, but still coincide with the series of fast and fluid movement transitions. Power yoga is recommended if you want to do yoga for weight loss because it has several physical benefits which include increase in metabolism and burning calories.
Will yoga for weight loss programs alone help you shed pounds and achieve your target weight? No. Just like other fitness regimens, you can't expect to do yoga and continually lose weight if you don't supplement it with a healthy lifestyle. You can do yoga for weight loss and have a session everyday but still not lose any weight if you keep bingeing on sweets and fatty foods. For those who do regular cardio (jogging, brisk walking, etc.), two sessions of Power yoga weekly will be a good way to help you shed those pounds more effectively.
Hot yoga, as the name implies, is a style of yogic practice which incorporates the use of heat while doing the movements. What this simply means is that you may be doing the same poses used in yoga for beginners classes, but it's a more targeted style of yoga for weight loss because hot yoga sessions are held in a room usually heated up to 95-100 degrees. Hot yoga is often interchanged with Bikram yoga because the former uses movements or series of poses that are associated with, or commonly used in, the latter.
The logic behind Hot Yoga is that the heat will allow for more flexibility by loosening the muscles. Those who want to do yoga for physical fitness or to lose weight also choose Hot Yoga because you will sweat more if you exercise in a heated room. In addition to greater flexibility in the joints and muscles, and sweating buckets while working out, Hot Yoga is also effective in detoxifying the body by getting rid of these toxins through sweat.
If you're thinking of signing up for a yoga for beginners class for hot yoga, it's recommended you get a yoga mat that's sweat-proof and won't lose its grip even when you start to sweat on it. Students who take up yoga also tend to wear minimal, stretchable clothing so as not to trap heat inside the body. Also make sure you stay hydrated before, during, and after a session of Hot Yoga because you will be sweating a lot – making you more prone to dehydration. Hot yoga is not advisable for pregnant women.
Yoga for Weight Loss: Poses and Movements
In addition to certain types of yoga that are recommended for your aim of weight loss, there are also specific poses that yogis believe would help you shed pounds. By doing poses that engage the muscles in your target areas, you can get better results and work the areas you want to improve instead of the generic overall weight loss. This knowledge is useful for men and women who have "problem areas" that they find harder to tone and work out. Here are just a few examples of these poses and movements.
Kundalini Stretch Pose
The stomach and abdomen are among the areas in the body where fat deposits accumulate, making them two of the more common "problem areas" that men and women alike strive to work out. The Kundalini Stretch Pose targets these areas by engaging the core and abdominal muscles. To do the Kundalini Stretch Pose, lie on your back, your hands underneath your buttocks, with palms flat on the floor. Then lift your feet off the ground and raise your head and shift your gaze to your toes. Keep your toes pointed and hold the pose for at least 15 seconds as you inhale and exhale.
Boat Pose (Navasana)
This pose is also a good way of working the core and abdominal muscles, as well as stretching your back and engaging the thigh muscles. To do the Boat Pose, sit with your knees close to the chest, feet flat on the floor. Then slowly lift your feet off the ground and extend your legs while keeping your back straight and arms outstretched in front of you, palms facing each other. If you experience pain on your tailbone, you can use a towel or blanket to provide cushion and make it easier to hold this pose as you breathe in and out.
The types of yoga and yoga poses discussed here are just some of the ways to illustrate how you can do yoga for weight loss. We want to remind readers that not all types of yoga and positions are recommended for all kinds of people. For example, pregnant women are not advised to do Hot Yoga and those with certain back conditions and other physical ailments may not be able to carry out poses that can cause further strain to their bodies. It's also important to take things slow – don't be in a rush to master the movements thinking it will help you lose weight faster. Like any other discipline, yoga requires patience, persistence, and hard work to achieve the results you want.