If you're trying to lose weight, and the only change you make is to begin practicing yoga, you likely will not lose much, if any, weight. While you work hard during a yoga class, you will not burn many calories. However, yoga in conjunction with aerobic activity and a healthy diet can support your weight-loss goals, says Dr. Donald Hensrud, a Mayo Clinic preventive medicine specialist.
Losing weight doesn't have to be hard. You need to burn more calories than you consume. You burn calories through physical activity, and the more active you are, the more calories you'll burn. Eating fewer calories, or choosing more healthy foods like vegetables instead of chips, can also help you lose weight. You may not burn as many calories during a standard 55-minute yoga class as you would jogging for the same amount of time, but you will burn more than if you spent that same amount of time watching television or reading a book. According to a calorie burn calculator at HealthStatus.com, you can burn between 250 and 700 calories practicing yoga, depending on your current weight and the style of yoga you practice.
Your instructor may refer to postures, poses or Asanas. The three terms refer to the types of stretches and movements you make during a yoga class. To fully access a posture, you need good alignment, say instructors at Yoga Vidya Gurukul University in India. With proper alignment, you can modify a pose to increase its difficulty, which can help strengthen the particular muscle group the pose works. The stronger your muscles, the more lean muscle you have, which will help your body more effectively burn calories.
Yoga is not a place to rest, though you can access a resting pose if you get tired or feel sore. From the start of class to the end, you work, even when it appears that you're doing nothing. The work comes in the movement. You stretch, twist and bend your body into positions you likely aren't used to, which works your muscles in ways you usually don't. Most yoga styles incorporate movement, and this movement can become quite aerobic, especially in a power yoga class. This style of yoga links several poses into one continuous movement. вЂњAny activity is good activity,вЂќ says Hensrud. вЂњYoga will get you moving.вЂќ
Keep in Mind
During your yoga practice, spend time in poses that work your abdominal muscles and legs, like Plank pose and any of the three Warrior poses. You won't see benefits right away, but give your practice enough time and you can get the results you want - and maybe benefits you weren't expecting, like decreased stress and anxiety. Yoga is also a natural mood enhancer, says Hensrud, and how you feel about yourself may also support your weight-loss goals. But be aware -- you can hurt yourself during a yoga practice if you're not careful. Your instructor can suggest modifications if a pose is too difficult, if it causes you pain or if you want to intensify the pose to maximize its benefits.