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Weight Loss with Yoga Practices: The Path to a Healthier and Happier Life

When you think of doing yoga for weight loss, do you wonder whether it'll actually work or not? Well, you're not alone. Most of the time when people want to change their body, thoughts of resistance training and cardio workouts spring to mind, not... chair pose, right?

Is it possible to lose weight by practicing yoga?

Short answer, yes. Regular movement and being in a nutrient-focused calorie deficit is the key to healthy weight loss and yoga can absolutely play a part in that. Yoga creates a deeper awareness of your physical and mental state, linking the breath to the movement of the poses (asanas).

This deeper awareness creates a stronger intuition and connection with your body, a key factor in weight loss - whether through making healthier dietary choices or knowing when to "slow down" to prevent excessively high levels of cortisol in the body, which are a serious obstacle to weight loss. Cortisol, known as the "stress hormone," can play a significant role as an inhibitor of weight loss, as shown by a 2016 study on women with overweight. This study demonstrates that restorative sessions or Yin yoga can lead to significant weight loss over a period of 12 weeks. But how? By reducing cortisol levels in the body through regular relaxation via a consistent yoga practice.

How often should you practice yoga to lose weight?

If you're determined to lose weight, it's best to consider your life as a whole - including stress levels, diet, alcohol consumption, and the balance between work and personal life. Yoga practice should be seen as a way to relax, connect with yourself, and make time for space and perspective. Once you calm your nervous system and reduce cortisol levels, your body is in a much better position for organic weight loss. Again, that word "cortisol," right? It seems that our nervous system plays a huge role in healthy and sustainable weight loss. But if you're already at a stage where you feel ready to incorporate regular movement into your life, what level of workout frequency should you aim for?

Our suggestion would be to practice yoga between 3-5 times a week, incorporating at least one restorative yoga session within that. Try to take daily walks to stay mobile and spend time outdoors, as this will also positively impact your mindset and nervous system.

Another important thing to note is that depending on the type of yoga you practice, your body's ability to sustain it regularly will vary. Stronger practices require a significant amount of physical strength and allow you to stretch and move your body in ways that develop stronger and more defined muscles - as well as causing fatigue. For more intense styles like Ashtanga or Power yoga - which burn more calories - we recommend three to four times a week.

Which styles of yoga are most suitable for weight loss?

Focusing on dynamic practices like Ashtanga and Power Vinyasa will help you effectively burn calories while working towards your goals of a healthier body composition.

Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic and physically demanding practice that follows a specific sequence of 26 poses designed to purify the body by generating heat. On the other hand, Power Vinyasa Flow is a fast-paced practice that creates deep internal heat while also emphasizing proper alignment with thoughtful and creative sequencing. The continuous aerobic movement and pace of the practice are what contribute to increased calorie burn.

But what if you're a complete beginner?

Sun Salutations are the best place to start as they are easier to perform and stimulate the entire cardiovascular system. Sun Salutations consist of cycles of postures, and you can increase the intensity and number of cycles to increase the physical challenge. Just make sure you're breathing while moving.

Is there anyone who shouldn't practice yoga?

Since there are so many different types of yoga, there isn't a specific type of person who shouldn't practice yoga. However, there may be certain circumstances that help you decide what's best for you and your body.

If you are pregnant or have recently given birth, it's important to practice specific pre/post-natal yoga that ensures your body isn't in any compromising positions. If you're returning from an injury or surgery or suffer from a condition that affects your blood pressure, it's important to move slowly with any exercise as your body needs time to adapt, so something like Yin would be advisable over a more intense practice.

Benefits of regular Yoga practice

Physical well-being: Yoga helps maintain excellent physical shape, develops balance, coordination, and flexibility. It strengthens and tones muscles, joints, and the spine, improving overall body health.

Mental well-being: Practicing yoga supports mental health by providing space to release stress, improving concentration, and calming the nervous system. This can contribute to reducing stress, anxiety, and enhancing overall well-being.

Improved circulation and digestion: Yoga stimulates blood circulation and improves digestion through postures and breathing. This can improve the function of the cardiovascular and digestive systems while aiding in the elimination of toxins from the body.

Enhanced mobility and flexibility: Yoga increases body mobility and flexibility, improving muscle and joint flexibility. This can help prevent joint diseases and facilitate movement in daily life.

Improved respiratory function: Yoga focuses on proper breathing, which can improve respiratory function and the quality of breathing. This is essential for overall health and well-being.

These are just some of the many benefits that yoga can offer. It is important to note that regular practice is key to achieving maximum benefits.

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