A lot of people are turning to yoga for weight loss. And their decision makes complete sense. Yoga is an ancient exercise program that is relatively easier to perform once you get a hold of the postures (also known as asanas in Sanskrit). Instead of risking muscle injuries by lifting weights, you can burn calories by performing postures and bodyweight exercises. There is hardly any chance of you getting injured.
Also, yoga is probably the only effective weight loss solution for people who have long term physical injuries. Whether you have back problems or your wrist aches due to over-usage of a computer keyboard, you can always perform easy postures like downward dog, cat-cow, or baby cobra. Yoga works on both your mind and body. It ups your metabolic rate by stabilizing the endocrine system.
Is Yoga Useful for Weight Loss?
There is plenty of research suggesting the usefulness of yoga for weight short. Over the past two decades, several experiments have been performed to prove the efficacy of yoga as a wellness and weight loss exercise program. Almost all studies have proved yoga to be a great solution for reducing abdominal fat and also overall weight (in obese individuals).
Before we dive into the studies, we would like to call your attention to the fact that there is no magic pill solution for weight loss. Going to a yoga class, three times a week isn’t going to make you slim if–for the rest of the time–all you do is sit around and eat unhealthy food. Weight loss is driven by your lifestyle and food choices.
Are you willing to go for walks every morning? Would you mind if you had to maintain a calorie deficit of 250-300 for the next six months? If your answer to both the above questions is yes, then you are on the right track. Further, we would also like to inform you that, body weight and body mass index (BMI) are not reliable metrics to measure the condition of your health. Do not fall into the trap of thinking a slim body is a healthy body.
So, how do I know that I am healthy? How do I make sure that my yoga routine is working for me? Interestingly, the best way to find out of you are generally healthy or not is by evaluating the physical, mental and social aspects of your life. Healthy people not only look great but they are also in total control of their life. They have a good vibe radiating from them which attracts other people with similar energy.
What Does the Research Say?
As you would already know, abdominal obesity (also known as belly fat, beer belly or dad bod) is one of the biggest concerns overweight people have. Even the ones who do not fall into the overweight or obese category suffer from this condition. Ever heard the term “skinny fat”? We are about to share a study done by the University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany to investigate the effect of yoga on waist circumference in women.
60 female participants took part in this study. They all suffered from abdominal obesity. On average, they had a waist circumference of 88 cm and body mass index (BMI) as 25. These parameters may not be an ideal indication of their health but they are key when it comes to performing scientific trials.
The German researchers asked 40 out of 60 female participants to partake in yoga sessions for the next 12 weeks. The remaining 20 women were referred to as the control group. Over the course of the experiment, they continued to attend the university lab to go through tests. Also, the women in the control group were asked not to make any radical changes in their lifestyle.
After 12 weeks, in the group that performed yoga exercise on a regular basis, there was a significant reduction in the average abdominal circumference compared to those in the control group. The reduction in the abdominal circumference was 3.8 cm. The researcher also found improvement in other fitness parameters like waist/hip ratio, body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, body muscle mass percentage, mental well-being, confidence level, stress, awareness.
How Many Calories Does Yoga Burn?
Now, let’s address the most important question. How many calories does yoga burn? We found several sources who performed an experiment to find out the exact number of calories burned during a yoga session. However, one study published in HarvardHealth stood out from the rest. In this study, researchers recorded calories burned during several different exercises like hatha yoga, swimming, running, cycling, weight lifting, other outdoor activities like camping, hiking and so forth.
They recorded colored burns in 30 minutes for people of different weights. Results indicated, the more the weight of a person, the more calories they burned.
The following are the results for hatha yoga.
- 125-pound person: Lost 120 calories
- 155-pound person: Lost 149 calories
- 185-pound person: Lost 178 calories
The most number of calories were burned during stationary biking (done in vigorous mode). The following are the results for calorie loss during stationary biking or spinning.
- 125-pound person: Lost 315 calories
- 155-pound person: Lost 391 calories
- 185-pound person: Lost 466 calories
I hope things are more clear now. If you can, by all means, you should add stationary biking or “spinning” to your exercise routine. Even riding longboards can help. This way, you can lose more calories per week and also form a mind/body connection with the practice of yoga. You can do 3 sessions of yoga and 2 sessions of stationary biking or spinning per week.
We would suggest hatha yoga poses like mountain pose, cobra pose, downward dog, upward dog, lunge and reverse lunge for weight loss. However, these poses can be challenging to perform if you suffer from a hip or wrist injury. Hatha yoga poses require you to balance your entire body on your limbs and breathe in unison.
If you have too many injuries and still want to practice yoga, we recommend you to take a look at Yin Yoga. It is a slow-paced style of yoga that originated from traditional Chinese medicine.
Yin yoga incorporates Taoist principles which consider Yin to be permanent, stationary, feminine, passive, and indifferent. Exactly opposite of Yang. Hence, the exercises are not that difficult to perform.