Can yoga help me lose weight?

It absolutely can. Just as any physical activity, yoga increases caloric expenditure thus causing weight loss. There are many different types and intensities of yoga, with the most vigorous forms will result in more weight loss. Yoga has a strong emphasis on body awareness and that attentiveness to the body will also help with weight loss.

Anne Spicker
Fitness Specialist

When we practice yoga we incorporate pranayama, or breathing exercises. We also turn our focus inward to pay attention to sensations within our body as we practice. These have additional benefits that enhance the physical exercise we experience during our practice. Deep breathing helps us to slow down and become mindful of how we are feeling. With continued practice we can carry this beyond our yoga mat into other aspects of our lives. Being mindful in regard to the food we eat can help us tune in to our hunger and fullness cues so we are less likely to overeat. Cultivating mindfulness helps us form better eating habits as well as become aware of emotional eating patterns.

It absolutely can! BUT it depends on the yoga that you do. As with any fitness program, we are all individual bodies and we must figure out what we respond best to when working out. Restorative yoga, though awesome for dousing cortisol levels which helps control belly fat, is more for relaxing the outer body than strengthening and toning. I believe in an ALL YOGA approach, and I allow my most physical practices to be balanced by more restorative ones.

The human body is always seeking balance, and weight loss is no different. Many forms of yoga have a cardio component to them as they change the level (think of the ups and downs of sun salutations) and use large muscle groups. This effect is then balanced by the strengthening of holding postures and the stress relief of moving with fluidity and meditation. Yoga is also a wonderful way to re-learn how to breathe properly. The breath is also a key component to weight loss as the body is more apt to let go of what it does not need (excess body fat) when it is cared for by receiving those cleansing breaths.

Yoga also makes each of us more aware of what we fuel our bodies with. While not every yogi is a strict vegan or vegetarian, yoga does promote a kinder approach to the diet. Yoga can bring you more in touch with the inner workings of your body and keep you in tune with the balanced diet that works for you.

In order to get the most weight loss out of yoga, you may choose a style that is just a bit more physically challenging (without the joint strains and competitiveness of other athletics) such as Ashtanga, Core Yoga, Baptiste Power Yoga, hot Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Kundalini yoga, etc.

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One of the many benefits of a consistent yoga practice is an increase in body awareness, specifically—not only what we put in our mouths, but more so how particular foods affect our body. We start to make healthier choices. Weight loss is simply taking in fewer calories than we expend throughout the day and being conscious of what goes into your body is a very important part of this equation. Additionally, yoga builds lean muscle and increases your metabolism, helping you to burn off additional calories.

Sadie Lincoln
Sadie Lincoln on behalf of barre3
Fitness Specialist

Yes. Yoga can definitely help to aid in weight loss. There are many varieties of yoga available to us, and while some are more vigorous than others, the universal principals found in almost all forms of yoga help us to connect to our body's wisdom. This connection is paramount in how we live our lives outside of the yoga studio. Being aware of our body and it's needs helps to make the right decisions around everything from nutrition to mental health.

Yoga poses themselves help to lengthen and strengthen the entire body while enhancing everything from digestion, circulation, respiratory health and even skin quality! 

The key to achieving all of the benefits yoga has to offer, including weight loss, is to maintain a regular practice.

Yoga may help with weight control in certain ways. Yoga, an ancient form of exercise, focuses on uniting the body, mind and spirit. It's rated as a "moderate" physical activity. That means you will burn calories by doing yoga, but probably not burn enough calories to promote weight loss. To achieve that goal, you need vigorous activity (jogging, running, race walking and such) to give your body a heart-pumping cardiovascular workout. Other factors, including nutrition, also factor in to successfully losing pounds and maintaining a healthy weight.

During a yoga class, the instructor will lead you through different poses to strengthen your body, increase flexibility and release tension. You perform yoga exercises while focusing on your breathing and internal sensations to help clear your mind. The physical movement and body awareness of yoga practice help reduce stress and can bring about positive changes in your overall physical and mental health.

Yoga also may help with weight control by lowering your stress. It can reduce the triggers of emotional eating and help you recognize your body's internal hunger and fullness signals, as well as enable you to make better food choices.

So, enjoy a regular yoga practice. To help with weight loss, you should also add two or three cardiovascular workouts to your weekly physical activity routine.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.