Is Yoga a Good Exercise to Lose Weight or Is It Mostly to Tone Up & Reenergize Your Body & Mind?

Is Yoga a Good Exercise to Lose Weight or Is It Mostly to Tone Up & Reenergize Your Body & Mind?

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Yoga can be one of the elements that helps you lose weight.

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You can lose weight with yoga under the right conditions. Holding the Hatha yoga pose Seated Forward Bend for up to two minutes is not one of them. But, participating in a vinyasa or flowing yoga practice like Ashtanga, Jivamukti or Kundalini for up to an hour, several times a week, will help you shed weight. That being said, the weight loss through yoga alone will not be as significant if you don't commit to a regular fitness regimen that includes aerobic and strength training along with eating a healthy diet.

Weigh the Options

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that healthy adults should make fitness a part of their lifestyle. That means spending 150 to 300 minutes a week on moderately intense aerobic exercises that elevate your heart rate, along with at least two sessions a week using your own body weight, dumbbells or weight equipment at a gym to strengthen your muscles. All of that activity alone will improve your health, but combining that with a healthful diet, cutting out the useless calories from sugar-laden treats and serving yourself smaller portions will help you lose weight.

Yoga's Role

Fast-flowing movements performed in time with your inhalations and exhalations are the basis of the "fat-burning" styles of yoga. Even the rest periods during a vinyasa-style class are limited to the space of five breaths. These classes are exhausting, exhilarating and classified as intermediate to advanced. If you've never practiced yoga before, it's not recommended that you start with a style like Ashtanga. Until you learn the basics of Hatha yoga poses, you cannot look forward to losing weight with yoga. When you are ready to join a vinyasa class, you can't sacrifice form in your eagerness to lose weight. One wrong twist of the ankle, or trying to support your body weight on two hands alone before your core or shoulders are conditioned, will sideline you and your weight-loss goals.

Mind Over Matter

Yoga, any type of yoga, if practiced whole-heartedly and on a regular basis will lower your stress levels. Stress can be one of the factors preventing you from losing weight. Whether you find comfort in food or are too exhausted from thinking about your problems to do much more than veg on the couch or in front of the computer, you could experience weight gain from prolonged stress. It's not just the physical postures of yoga -- the complexity of which occupy your mind -- but the deep and regulated yogic breathing practices that can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and stop the flood of neurotransmitters like adrenaline from over-taxing your system. With yoga you have the opportunity to change how you react to stress. Over time, you'll not only develop physical, but mental strength, and that's one of the tools necessary for weight management.


If you are significantly overweight, have weight-related health issues or haven't exercised in a long time, check with your health-care provider before beginning yoga. Quite a few yoga poses will be next to impossible for you to achieve if you are very overweight. That could be just the type of discouragement you don't need on your path to losing weight. Begin your fitness program first -- if given the go-ahead by your doctor -- and then incorporate yoga slowly into your regimen.