When we think yoga, we think about calming our nerves, relaxing our mind and body, building immunity, and stamina, but not weight loss. Did you know yoga can help you burn calories and lose weight too? In fact, studies show people who practice yoga daily can lose up 55 pounds of weight in one year.
What are the best types of yoga for weight loss and toning? Some of the best types of yoga for weight loss include:
- Vinyasa Yoga
- Ashtanga Yoga
- Bikram Yoga
- Hatha Yoga
- Power Yoga
- Rocket Yoga
In addition, a variety of yoga poses can aid in toning, including Chakki Chalan or Bhekasana.
Not all types of yoga can indeed help lose weight or tone the body, but some asanas or yoga exercises that are more energetic can help. The remainder of this article will discuss the health benefits yoga offers and the types that are best for weight loss and toning, specifically.
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Health Benefits of Yoga
Yoga has been around since ancient times and is considered one of the most effective forms of workout and meditation to stay healthy. Yoga has been known to offer many health benefits:
- Healthier body – By bringing your attention to your body and teaching you to listen to your body, yoga helps you attain not just a slim but healthy body. It helps you strengthen your muscles, organs, improves blood circulation, etc. that ultimately lead to a fit body.
- Eating habits – Once you start listening to your body, you will realize that stress-eating or binge eating reduces too. Yoga makes you a mindful eater. You are able to avoid overeating, sugar cravings, and untimely snacking.
- Increased flexibility – As mentioned, yoga makes the body agile. All the poses focus on increasing your body’s flexibility by stretching different parts of the body.
- Heart health – Yoga has a positive effect on your heart. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases by lowering your blood pressure, reducing hypertension and restoring hormonal balance.
- Higher stamina – All the variations of yoga (like Hatha, Ashtanga, etc.) have one thing in common – they test your limits and build your stamina. Since yoga involves holding your poses for a longer time, it helps builds muscle strength and improve stamina.
- Detoxifies the body – Workouts make you sweat and clean toxins from the body. Yoga does a little more. It not only cleans the body of any toxins through sweating, but it also helps you clear your mind through regulated breathing.
- Reduces stress – 2 in 5 people suffer from stress. Yoga is a sure-shot way of reducing stress. Relieving stress is important for both physical and mental wellbeing.
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6 Best Types of Yoga for Weight Loss
A recent study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information or NCBI shows that all the physical and mental health benefits one gets from yoga aid in weight loss too. The key is finding the most active types of yoga to burn your calories and fast track your weight loss. For example, at least six variations of yoga exist that can aid in weight loss:
It is common knowledge that if you want to lose weight, you need to cut down calorie intake and burn a ton of calories during your workout. Vinyasa, or “flow yoga,” as it is popularly known in the west, is a series of fast-paced yoga moments. The idea is to move from one asana to another quickly in order to burn as many calories as you can.
The focus lies on making your body more agile and flexible over a period of time to accelerate calorie burn. Each session could last from somewhere between 60 to 90 minutes, ensuring that each session is like a high-intensity workout. It is suggested to start with two to three sessions a week and gradually increase the intensity of your workout by holding your poses longer or moving faster.
If you are new to yoga, it is important to find the right yoga school to get started with. Start at the beginner’s level and make your way up. Paying attention to the postures and doing them right is not only important for seeing results in your weight-loss journey but also important for your health since yoga directly affects your heart and organ health. If you plan to practice this yoga at home, play some music to keep things lively, and set a routine.
Apart from doing vinyasa yoga regularly, you also need to keep in mind these simple steps to really see a transformation in your body:
- Avoid doing yoga in an air-conditioned room – When performing yoga or any type of workout, it is important to let your body sweat. If the air conditioning is on and your body stays cool, you won’t burn as many calories, and your weight-loss process will be slowed.
- Gradually increase your routine – As a beginner, it is recommended to follow the routine for at least 45 minutes, three times a week. As you begin to get comfortable with the routine, increase your time limit to 60 minutes, and try and go up to 90 minutes. You could also try and do it more regularly or every day.
- Amp it up – If you feel your body doesn’t feel any stretch and it has grown comfortable with the routine, push yourself harder. Try to increase the intensity by going faster. You could even try modifications to various poses like using stretch bands, etc.
Another very effective way of losing weight is Ashtanga. It is a variation of the Vinyasa yoga and involves intense strength training with a focus on strengthening the core. It is a highly energetic type of yoga but still focuses on balancing the mind, body, and soul. Ashtanga’s asanas increase the body heat due to which you end up sweating a lot. The asanas, when paired with quick motions, burns enough calories to enable the breakdown of fat in the body leading to weight-loss.
Ashtanga yoga is made of eight cleansing practices comprising of ethical guidelines, self-purification, sharp postures, focused breathing, a sense of control, improved concentration, meditation, and belonging. You could start a class that focuses on all physical aspects, but experts say that to see any actual results, it is important to pay attention to all the eight practices.
Since the Ashtanga cleansing practices are very well-defined, this yoga style is the same across the globe, which means no matter where you are, you will find the exact same steps and sequences being taught in this yoga. However, as a beginner, you are required to master one practice at a time before moving to the next one.
Many yoga schools specialize in Ashtanga yoga. If you are new to yoga, start with regular yoga to get in the flow, and once you are comfortable with the basic postures, move to Ashtanga. You could also start out with at-home yoga programs before signing up for more strenuous classes.
Things to keep in mind while practicing ashtanga yoga:
- It’s hard – Ashtanga yoga is a difficult form of yoga, don’t expect to get everything right the first time.
- Don’t try everything at once – As mentioned above, it is very important to master one practice before moving on to the next one otherwise it won’t be effective.
- Focused breathing – Ashtanga yoga focusses on the breathing. Poses are also dependent on your breathing, so if you get that right, your poses will automatically fall into place.
- Don’t push too hard – This yoga is all about aligning your body, mind, and soul. So don’t get too hard on yourself if you take longer to master a pose. It is important that you get one right and then move onto the next to get the maximum out of this yoga.
Started in the early 1970s by Bikram Choudhury, this is the original ‘hot’ yoga. Considered to be one of the most intense yoga workouts, it consists of 26 routines that you need to follow through in a room that’s heated to 105 degrees. The reason behind this is to speed up sweating so your body detoxifies, and you burn calories faster.
If you are a regular at the gym and can withstand a highly intense workout that leads to excessive sweating, then Bikram yoga is the way to go for you. A single session can help you burn up to 1500 calories! It is recommended to do at least three sessions a week to see progress soon.
In fact, many hot yoga classes recommend following a strict diet to supplement your weight-loss journey. While Bikram yoga doesn’t come with any specific diet, there are some guidelines to follow to see quick results. Some of these are:
- Stick to eating light meals throughout the day at regular intervals instead of the regular breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Increase your protein intake to keep your energy up without depending too much on carbohydrates.
- Cut down on caffeine, fatty foods, sugar, and dairy as they all need more time to digest completely and hence, sit heavy on the stomach.
- Avoid spicy food and alcohol if you want to see results fast.
- Drink a lot of water, up to 1.5 gallons a day. Add lemon or citrus fruits to your water since vitamin C and potassium make you feel refreshed as well as fight muscle cramps.
4. Hatha Yoga
One of the more traditional styles of yoga, Hatha yoga is actually the source of the more common types of yoga, including Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Bikram. Hatha yoga combines the physical aspects of yoga with all the breathing postures to create a seamless flow of energy and prepare the body for physical and mental growth.
Hatha Yoga aims to provide a well-balanced workout by combining various yoga techniques, breathing, and a regulated diet to aid weight loss without making any drastic changes to your diet or fitness routine. It involves following a slow-paced yoga routine and focusing on basic postures.
Hatha is the most commonly practiced yoga, making it comfortable for beginners. Thanks to the focus being on exercise and diet both, Hatha Yoga leads to weight loss. The results are not as fast or drastic as Bikram yoga, but with Hatha yoga, the reduction in weight is consistent because the focus is on a healthier lifestyle rather than just weight loss.
When starting Hatha yoga, it is important to get a good grounding in the basics before you take it to the next level. These tips will help:
- Warm-up is important – Hatha yoga may be a slower form of yoga, but that doesn’t mean warming up is not important. Since this form of yoga is technical, it is very important to properly warm up your body to avoid any injuries.
- Do it daily – Even if you’ve joined a class that happens two to three times a week, practice your poses daily. The best time to do it is in the morning, even if it is for 15 minutes before you begin your day.
- Comfortable gear is important – This should go without saying but wearing comfortable, stretchable, breathable clothes are important in any yoga, even Hatha yoga.
- End every session properly – Hatha yoga ends with the savasana or the corpse pose where one needs to lie down still with their eyes closed. While this may seem useless, it is not. Doing this ensures that your body temperature goes back to normal, and your breathing regulates too. Skipping this pose could have you feeling tired the whole day!
5. Power Yoga
One of the most popular forms of yoga, especially for weight-loss, power yoga is called such because it is the most athletic form of yoga. Power yoga focuses entirely on being supercharged and active throughout the session, with a focus on all standing poses to burn maximum calories by increasing the heart rate.
In the late 1980s, Beryl Birch and Byran Kest practiced and taught Ashtanga Yoga in New York. She modified the poses to help people stretch more and get more flexible. The modification was a form of yoga that was parallel to any cardio workout and began to be known as power yoga.
Power Yoga is effective because apart from being more like a cardio workout, it also is more competitive in nature. It is fast, aggressive, and challenges you to keep moving and doing more. Every advancement in power yoga is more sweaty and athletic. Instead of focusing on the breathing and connection, it focuses on ‘turning up the heat.’
Getting started with power yoga is easy, but it’s important to:
- Find a teacher with the right knowledge – Power yoga may not focus on the basics of most other forms of yoga-like breathing, etc. but it is still important to train with someone who is knowledgeable in different forms of yoga. If someone is only focused on the cardio-workout aspect, they may not be able to impart all the benefits of yoga to you
- Know your intention – Power yoga is great to lose weight and keep yourself fit, but in the long run, it won’t give the other health benefits of yoga, such as improved organ health, reduced stress, etc.
- Less is more – It is a highly competitive, fast-paced workout where every session in itself is sufficient. Don’t try to do more than required; otherwise, you may end up feeling burnt out very soon.
6. Rocket Yoga
A derivative of ashtanga yoga, it is much faster and less strict. Styled to suit the western audiences by Larry Schultz, this yoga breaks down the rigidity of classic ashtanga poses and is quick and easy to learn and adapt to.
It involves different types of standing and seated poses, including stretches, bends, and turns. In order to differentiate between different expertise levels, rocket yoga is divided into three different stages:
- Stage 1 – This stage is similar to the primary stage of Ashtanga, focusing on core strength. This helps tone the arms and legs.
- Stage 2 – This involves more complicated poses – with forward- and backward- bending in order to stretch the waist and stomach muscles. This is helpful in losing inches from the tummy area.
- Stage 3 – This involves combining the poses from stages 1 and 2 for a more “overall” workout. This helps you further your weight-loss by introducing more complexities into your poses.
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Best Types of Poses for Toning
Now that we know the different variations of yoga that can help lose weight and get toned let’s see what different poses can do. If your purpose of joining a yoga class is to lose weight and tone, then make sure you sit with an expert to identify your target areas. Depending on what areas of the body you want to or need to lose fat from, your instructor could create a routine that works for you.
Some poses that you could try for overall weight-loss and toning are as follows:
- Chakki Chalan or Mill Churning pose
- Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward-Facing Dog pose
- Bhekasana or the Frog pose
- Setu Bandha or the Bridge pose
- Kumbhakasana or Plank pose
- Trikonasana or the Triangle pose
- Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations
- Paripurna Navasana or Boat pose
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana or the Upward Facing Dog pose
- Jalandhara Bandha or Chin Lock
- Bharadvajasana or the Seated Twist pose
- Bakasana or the Crane pose
- Mayurasana or the Peacock pose
Chakki Chalan – (Mill Churning pose) for the Tummy
Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you in a way that your feet touch. Clasp your palms together and make circular motions stretching out towards your legs as far as possible. Make sure you keep your neck straight and bend your back in a way that you feel a slight pressure on your tummy. Do this 25 times in clockwise and anticlockwise direction.
Adho Mukha Svanasana – (Downward-Facing Dog pose) for Toning the Arms and Legs
One of the most commonly recognized yoga poses, the Adho Mukha Svanasana, when done correctly, gives the whole body a good stretch and helps tone the arms and legs. For this pose, start with your hands and knees on the floor. Your knees and hips should be in a straight line. Slowly lift your knees from the floor and push your thighs back to stretch your heels, pointing your hips towards the ceiling. Hold this triangular pose for 3-5 minutes and then relax.
Bhekasana – (Frog pose)
Another asana that provides sufficient stretch to the abdominal area for toning the tummy is the frog pose. Lie on your belly, stretch backward to hold your feet in a bow like a pose. Now lift your chest and squeeze your shoulders inwards while folding your feet towards your hips, feeling the stretch on your stomach and shoulders. Hold this pose for five breaths and gradually let go.
Setu Bandha – (Bridge pose)
Lie on your back and then lift your knees to point towards the ceiling. Place your arms next to your body with your palms facing up. Raise your pelvis area to knee level and then bring it back to the ground. Do this ten times. This pose massages your thyroid gland and boosts your metabolism. It also helps you tone your arm and leg muscles.
Kumbhakasana – (Plank pose)
No doubt holding a plank is one of the best ways to strengthen your core. However, when done with rhythmic breathing, it helps detoxify the body. It targets belly fat and also strengthens shoulders, arms, butt, back, and thighs. It’s a great yoga pose to start with.
Trikonasana – (Triangle pose)
The best workout your abs can get is through the trikonasana pose. Stretch out one foot and bend sideways to try and touch that foot with your arm. Raise the other arm towards the ceiling, perpendicular to the ground. Repeat this on both sides 25 times. This sideways motion stretches your ab muscles to improve digestion and burn fat in the belly. It also gives your arms and legs a good stretch to help tome your underarms. Bra fat? That’s taken care of too!
Surya Namaskar – (Sun Salutations)
A complete workout in itself, Surya Namaskar is one of the most popular and highly recommended yoga poses offering a variety of benefits, including weight-loss. Starting slow, it helps warm up the body and get the blood pumping. Repeating this pose 25 times or more stretches and tones all major muscles of the body. It is said that you could lose weight in a month by just doing 250 Surya Namaskars daily!
Paripurna Navasana – (Boat pose)
Give yourself an advanced abs workout and tone your hips with this pose. This pose requires you to stretch out your arms and legs and balance on your sitting and tailbones. Balancing, in the beginning, can bet tough, but regular practice will get you there.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – (Upward Facing Dog pose)
A back-bending pose, the upward dog yoga pose helps strengthen the spine, torso, and arms. It helps stretch the chin and spine but also firms the hips and thigs. By stretching the abdomen, this pose also helps in improving digestion.
Jalandhara Bandha – (Chin Lock)
Want to tone your facial muscles, get rid of double chin, and pop those cheekbones? This is the asana for you. It is one of the easiest asanas; it requires you to sit straight with your legs crossed. Stick your tongue out and press your chin into your chest.
Bharadvajasana – (Seated Twist pose)
This asana involves twisting your upper body to give yourself a good side stretch. It helps tone your upper body, strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and aid digestion. It also helps with concentration. It is a beginner pose, but be careful if you suffer from any spine, shoulder, or knee injuries.
Bakasana – (Crane pose)
As the name suggests, it resembles the posture of a crane. It is an intermediate level pose, so don’t try it if you are new to yoga. It helps increase mental and physical strength and improves flexibility. It helps get rid of belly fat by putting a lot of pressure on the abdomen area.
Mayurasana – (Peacock pose)
This pose looks like a peacock walking with its feathers trailing behind it. This is again an advanced pose and should not be tried if you are new to yoga. This pose strengthens your heart and lungs but also tones your arms, shoulders, thighs, and legs.
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All of the variations mentioned above of yoga and the different poses not only help lose weight but also offer all the other benefits of yoga.
Many people think weight-loss with yoga is a slow process, but thanks to so many variations, yoga now provides a full-body workout that is as effective as any cardio or HIIT workout. In fact, with so many additional benefits that yoga provides, it really is the way to go if you want a fuller, healthier life.