Is Yoga Helpful For Weight Loss?

Yoga has many known benefits. For example, helping improve mental health, increasing flexibility & strength, as well as creating a better mind-body connection. However, is yoga helpful for weight loss too?

Obviously, the answer is….sure, it can be! 

is yoga helpful for weight loss


How Yoga Helps You Lose Weight?

To understand yoga for weight loss, we have to think about the “weight loss” portion of the question. To lose weight, you need to create a caloric deficit, it’s as simple as that.

This means your body is burning more calories than you are taking in. It goes without saying that just physical exercise is probably not enough. Eating a well proportioned meal and managing your diet, is essential for what we would call “healthy” weight loss. 

Things like understanding heart rate zones can also become an important step in the process. However, people often get caught-up in terms like “fat burn” zones. Here’s a good read on this concept: Fat Burning Heart Rate: What It Is and How to Target It.


What Types of Yoga Are We Talking About?

Fact is, yoga can come in many different forms. For example, restorative yoga (that involves a slower pace, with more lengthy asana holds), hatha yogahot yoga, even more modern twists on yoga like combining boot camp with yoga

In fact, even with more subdued styles, you can truly work-up a calorie burn and sweat from advanced asanas. For beginner yogis, you may be in for an intense session, and come to realize some poses are not as easy as you may think. 


Related Article: Advanced Yoga Postures and Asanas


Truly, with proper physical exercise (like yoga), diet and a healthy state of mind, the practice can be a tremendous addition to your weight loss endeavors.  One of the added benefits of doing yoga or adding yoga into your daily routine for weight loss, is that it may add a more gentle, relaxing approach for a calorie burn. 


What Does The Research Say On Yoga For Weight loss?

One study set out to better understand yoga interventions and how they help to improve obesity related outcomes. For example BMI (body mass index), body fat, and waste circumference. Within the study, multiple themes were identified of those individual’s who used yoga for weight loss. This included:

  • “a shift toward healthy eating,
  • impact of the yoga community,
  • physical changes,
  • psychological changes,
  • and the thoughts that yoga for weight loss was different then past weight loss experiences”. 

The study sums up not just some of the benefits of yoga and weight loss, but yoga on any practitioner, regardless their end goal. Yoga has the potential to impact an individual in not just physical ways, but also behavioral and psychosocial ways. 

losing weight with yoga

 A published article on AJMC, discussed more physiological findings. For example, that restorative yoga practitioners lost significantly more subcutaneous fat then those involved in stretching exercises over the same time period. As stated in the article, types of yoga, like restorative yoga, are great for individuals who are overweight, because it focuses on holding poses for extended periods of time, with aids like supported blankets or cushions


Related Article: Yoga Techniques: Stretching With Yoga Blocks


There are other potential benefits as well. For example, feeling less anxious, focusing on breathing more effectively, as well as feeling as if this is a less daunting task, then traditional aerobic-type exercises. This could be especially true if you are relatively new to exercise.

Short term yoga programs also have provided benefits. For instance, subjects who underwent just a 10-day yoga-based lifestyle intervention, showed significant reduction in weight from baseline, as well as BMI, and systolic blood pressure. The research study concluded that even a short intervention “may be an important modality to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease”. 

Other studies have compared yoga to other exercise techniques, like simple walking. One study compared a 15-day, 90 min/day supervised walk, to supervised yoga session(s). Both showed significant changes in BMI, waist circumference, hip circumference, lean mass, body water and total cholesterol. The yoga group also showed a reduction in LDL’s. 


What Types Of Yoga Are Ideal For Weight Loss?

It’s no secret if you get your heart-rate up with more intense exercise, you are likely to burn more calories. However, like we discussed above, starting with forms of yoga, like restorative, may be better for your body, at first. 

If you are looking to elevate your chances to induce weight loss (when combined with proper nutrition), you might want to try your hand at forms such as hot yoga or Bikram yoga, which add another layer with heated rooms.

However, many individuals may prefer power yogaashtanga, and vinyasa yoga to lose weight. These are popular, more active forms of yoga, creating a lot of movement for extra calorie burning. Hence, would be better characterized as moderate to intense forms of aerobic exercise.

Targeting larger muscle groups, staying consistent and frequently changing up your yoga maneuvers, can also contribute to huge benefits as far as weight loss is concerned. Challenging yourself with more complex poses may help amp-up the intensity for more calorie burn as well. 


Ready For A Quick Burn?


Is Yoga Helpful For Weight loss, Final Thoughts!

Of Course You Can You Lose Weight With A Regular Yoga Practice!

However, like other forms of exercise, you sometimes get out, what you put in. Continuing to concentrate on other lifestyle modifications, like diet, is however critical. Not just will this contribute to your weight loss goal, but also aide in recovery from yoga itself, or other exercise programs. Thus, keeping you ready to conquer your next challenge.

More active forms of yoga (similar to aerobic exercise) will most likely help you the most with this specific goal. On top of losing weight, yoga can also contribute to a more toned physique, and improve your metabolism.

Additionally, getting the proper amount of sleep can help you perform better, and recover faster. Good health involves a full life change, so don’t neglect other areas of your life!