How to Use Yoga for Losing Weight When You are a Beginner to Fitness
Did you know that yoga can assist you with weight loss? That’s right! While many people believe that yoga is mostly stretching, the practice can actually be a great way to burn fat and build muscle. Any form of movement in general can assist in losing weight.
When you exercise and stay moving, you are burning calories. For those who are just starting out with fitness, gentle yoga can be a great way to take your time working up to more intense practices. Any movement at all, even in restorative yoga, is better than sitting around and doing no exercise at all.
Since yoga has classes for all levels, it can be a great way to get you started on your wellness journey, and it can even help you to lose weight as well!
To understand how yoga can help to lose weight, let’s take a look at what is involved in weight loss. What makes you lose weight? What causes weight gain?
Weight loss takes place when you limit your calorie intake to less than you are burning off. For example, if you burned off 2,500 calories in a day and only ate 2,000, you could expect to start gradually losing weight at around a pound a week.
If you eat more calories than you burn, you can gain weight. So, if you burn 1,000 calories in a day but you are eating 2,500, you likely will not see the results you are looking for.
Some people cut their calories down to a very low number and burn weight very fast. The problem is that these types of crash diets are not a sustainable way to lose weight, and make it very easy to gain it back quickly.
In addition, if your body is not getting enough of specific foods, like healthy fats, you might find you are retaining weight. This is due to the fact that your body would be getting the signal that it does not have enough fat and, therefore, must hold onto the fat it has. The same can be said for protein and carbs. If your body is not getting enough of something, it might hold onto what it has in fear of losing it. However, eventually, if the body does not get enough calories, it might start to eat away at what it already has. Many crash diets promote this, having you cut out the majority of calories or cut out specific foods your body needs.
An example of this can be seen with the keto diet, but the problem with this diet, especially if it is the only thing you are doing to lose weight, is that when you go back to your regular food intake, the weight will likely come back. The keto diet involves cutting out any and all foods that have carbs in them, and eating only fat and protein. Over time, the body would then go into ketosis because it feels it is not getting enough of what it needs to create energy. When this happens, the body will eat away at the fat it has to create more energy. Many people see fast results this way, but as soon as the diet stops (and it is not sustainable long term) the weight will often be put right back on if there is no lifestyle change.
So, with all of this in mind, how can yoga help with weight loss? If you are new to yoga, how can you get started with the goal of weight loss in mind?
If you are a beginner to yoga and you are looking to lose weight, you can check out some of our many weight loss tips here! Body By Yoga offers many yoga tips and videos for people of all levels and abilities!
How Can Yoga be Useful for Losing Weight
As we now know, any movement can be helpful for weight loss. If you are sitting around a lot, and you just need to get started moving, yoga can be a great way to begin.
Yoga in itself can also be used as an exercise, especially when it comes to fast-paced vinyasa classes, or, better yet, power yoga.
Let’s take a look at some of the many ways that yoga can help with weight loss!
Low Impact- When it comes to weight loss, building lean muscle mass is going to be one of the most efficient ways to help you burn excess bodyweight and keep the pounds off. To that end, weight lifting is often recommended as the best way to lose weight. Trouble is, weight liftng can be very hard on your joints. if you are brand new to fitness, have not exercised in a while, starting to age, or have a history of back pain, lifting weights may not be a viable option for you. Instead, yoga can help you put on lean muscles mass in a low impact way.
Strength- A yoga practice can build strength through bodyweight resistance traini. As your muscles become stronger, your metabolism will become faster. That is why weight lifting can be a great way to lose weight. Yoga is actually a low impact alternative to weight lifting. In fact, other than pulling exercises, yoga can be a substitute for most resistance training.
Alternative to Cardio- While cardio can be helpful in losing weight, too much of it can also lead to increased appetite as you burn calories. When you burn a lot of calories fast, your body might make you feel hungry to try and regain some of those calories. Our body creates energy with food, and if it believes it does not have enough in its system, it will try and give you the signal to eat more. Yoga, on the other hand, is a good alternative to cardio, helping to burn calories without feeling as hungry afterwards.
Improves Recovery– Many people have trouble working out multiple days in a row. In fact, it is important to sometimes have recovery days. Yoga is a practice that is less intense on the body, allowing you to be able to do it more often. Yoga can also be used on recovery days as a gentle exercise. In addition, yoga will often soothe sore muscles and help to release tension from the body.
Mindfulness- A very important part of wellness is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the process of being fully aware and focused on the present moment, here and now. When using mindfulness with exercise and eating, you can increase your awareness of your food intake, whether or not you are hungry, and if the foods you are eating actually make you feel good. With fitness, mindfulness can help you become more aware of how your body is feeling. This can help to notice if you feel sluggish or have been sitting around too much. This can also help you to become more aware of your posture and any soreness within the body that you might otherwise ignore. Yoga uses meditation and deep breathing to promote mindfulness which, in turn, can help with weight loss.
Stress Relief- Yoga is a great way to relieve stress. By using meditation, breathing techniques, and mindfulness, yoga can help to relieve stress and refocus the mind. Did you know that stress can actually prevent weight loss? When you are feeling stressed, your cortisol levels will rise, and this can actually lead to weight gain and exhaustion. Cortisol can actually increase your appetite and slow down your metabolism.
Prevents Injuries- Yoga improves flexibility and muscle strength, making it easier to prevent injuries. Many people, when just starting out with fitness, might try to do more than their body is capable of. With yoga, you will be able to increase the flexibility throughout your body, making it harder to pull muscles, tendons, and ligaments. In addition, by strengthening the soft tissues of the body, your bones will be more protected and held in place.
Promotes More Intensity with Other Training- By being more flexible, more mindful, having more strength, and creating more ways to recover after training, yoga actually makes it possible to do more in the long run. This allows you to go harder with your other training, helping to lose more weight while being safe and aware of your body.
Best Types of Yoga for Weight Loss
The truth is that most yoga practices can offer you some form of weight loss, especially if you have not done a lot of exercise leading up to it. Gentle practices can promote movement so you can build up to other practices, but certain types of yoga will yield faster and better results than others.
Vinyasa Yoga- Many quicker paced vinyasa practices involve a lot of movement, offering some cardio benefits.
Ashtanga Yoga- Ashtanga yoga is a practice that involves a lot of repetition, taking you through specific routines again and again. Because of the repeated poses and constant movement, ashtanga can also be great for weight loss.
Power Yoga- Power yoga is probably one of the best yoga practices for weight loss. It is a more intense type of a vinyasa yoga class, and involves holding poses for longer to burn fat and increase muscle.
How Often Should You Do Yoga if Your Goal is to Lose Weight?
So, if you are looking to lose weight, how often should you be practicing yoga?
This honestly varies depending on your specific goals and abilities. If you are doing quicker practices (under ten minutes), then you might do yoga daily. If you are doing longer, more intense practices, it is probably better to spread them out throughout the week. In this case, doing yoga at least two times a week, if not more, is a great option. You just do not want to do so much that your body is too exhausted to do more.
If you are doing yoga in addition to other exercises, it can be used on low impact or recovery days. If you are using yoga as your only form of exercise, practicing more often can yield faster results.
The amount you should be doing depends on what kind of yoga you are practicing, how long each class is, and whether or not it is combined with other exercises.
How to Combine Yoga with Running and Working Out if Your goal is Losing Weight
Since yoga by itself is not typically meant to give you all of your cardio, doing it in addition to running can be a great option. You can also tie yoga into your fitness routine, working out at the gym some days and doing yoga on others. Combining yoga with running and other cardio exercises can be a great way to create a routine for yourself.
Yoga Before a Run- Doing some gentle yoga stretches before a run can be a great way to warm up your body without exhausting it. If you do choose to practice before a run, stick to gentle poses so that you do not over-extend right before putting pressure on the muscles during your run.
Yoga After a Run– After you have finished your run, yoga can be very helpful for cooling down and resting. This can prevent sore muscles and injuries.
Yoga on Rest Days- Running and other forms of cardio can be intense on the body, so having a way to recover on slower days can give your body the boost it needs to keep going. Perhaps, you focus a lot on strength training at the gym, and choose to use yoga to increase the flexibility in your muscles as you build them up. This is a great way to use both types of exercises together in your overall routine.
There are many ways to include yoga in your fitness routine. You just have to find the best option for you.
Finding Yoga Classes for Weight Loss VS Following Along to a Structured Program
There are many classes out there when it comes to yoga. Some might be focused on weight loss while others might be more gentle. There are also many programs that help you to build your way up in yoga.
If you are trying to start a yoga journey that is ongoing, but you need some guidance, having a structured program can be helpful for you. We offer many Body By Yoga programs for you to choose from. Check them out here!
Finding a weight loss based yoga class can still be helpful, especially if you are looking to practice it one time or do it just once a week. However, if you are looking for an ongoing program that keeps you moving and building your way up to more, a structured program might be best for you.
As you now know, every yoga practice is a little different, and the best one for you might not be the best one for someone else. Learning about yourself and what will help you the most is key in picking the right practice
5 Best Yoga Poses to Build Lean Muscle for Weight Loss
1. Boat Pose
Boat pose is a great way to increase strength in the core and start building abs. To do this pose. Start sitting down on a mat with your legs out in front of you. On an inhale, bring your legs up, bending your knees, and on an exhale, reach your hands up towards your legs. You can either stay here, or you can straighten your legs out completely, reaching closer to them with your hands. Whichever version you choose, make sure to keep your spine long and your core engaged so that you do not round the back. The longer you hold this pose, the more you can build up your abs. Hold for at least five breaths and then come down on an exhale.
2. Chair Pose
This pose is also great for the core but, in addition, it helps to build the muscle in your legs and arms and especially in your glutes. Start with the feet about hip-width distance apart. From here, on the inhale, bring your arms up, and on the exhale, sit back as if sitting into a chair. Use your muscles here to stabilize you and hold you in place. Reach your arms up at a diagonal, as if reaching to where the wall and ceiling meet. Engage the thigh and glute muscles here. Hold this for at least five breaths and then inhale to rise back up. If you need a bit more support here, you can bring a block between the thighs or use a wall or a chair to hold onto.
3. Warrior II
This pose can be very helpful for strengthening and stabilizing the muscles of the hips and legs. To do this pose, step one foot forward and one foot back with about four to five feet in between them. Turn one foot out and away from your body and turn one foot in at a forty-five degree angle. From here, bend into your front knees at a ninety-degree angle, making sure to keep your knee from leaning over the toes. On an inhale, bring both arms up into warrior I and on an exhale, rotate to bring your arms out to the sides, squaring your hips to the side as you reach your front arm over your front leg and your back arm over your back leg. Your arms should create a straight line from the tips of your fingers on one side to the tips of your fingers on the other side. Engage all of the muscles here and take deep breaths, holding the pose for at least five breaths. When you are ready to come out of the pose, inhale to straighten the legs and exhale to bring the feet facing center. Repeat on the other side.
4. Locust Pose
This is another great pose for the core, but it also helps to strengthen the arms and legs as well. To do this pose, start on your belly and bring your arms out in front of you and your legs behind you. On an inhale, bring your arms and legs straight up, using your core to balance you. Hold this pose for multiple breaths and then come back down on an exhale. If this is too much you can lift the legs and arms separately. You also have the option to bring the arms down by the sides as you lift them and your legs up. You can repeat locust pose multiple times, taking a few breaths as a break in between.
5. Three Legged Downward Facing Dog
This variation of downward dog helps to focus on the muscles in each leg individually. You would start this pose by simply coming into a regular downward facing dog. To do this, you would begin on the hands and knees and tuck your toes, inhaling as you press into the hands and lift the knees to come up, and exhaling as you press the hips back. Make sure to keep the spine long here. If you cannot easily keep your spine long, then bend into the knees instead of working the feet all the way to the ground. The goal of this pose is to bring the stretch into the back and core while strengthening the arms and legs. If this is a deep stretch for you on its own, and anymore would be too much, feel free to stay here. If you are ready to deepen the stretch, carefully bring one foot up, pressing into the hands and foot for balance. Take your time as you bring your leg up, keeping your foot flexed, and opening through the hip. Hold this pose for about five breaths and then come back down on an exhale. From here, switch and do the other side.
3 Best Yoga Poses to Build Mindfulness for Weight Loss
There are many yoga poses that promote mindfulness. In fact, just about any yoga pose can help one to increase mindfulness. Some of the more common gentle poses for mindfulness would be easy pose (sitting cross legged), child’s pose, or even corpse pose (laying down on the mat for the final meditation). However, we will look at three yoga poses that are great for building mindfulness and, in turn, can help you on your weight loss journey.
1. Cobra Pose
Cobra pose is great for strengthening the core, back, shoulders, arms, and glutes, and it can also help to increase mindfulness. To do this pose, start on your belly with the hands flat on the ground by the chest and your elbows tucked in. From here, press into your hands and inhale as you rise up. Only come as far up as you comfortably can using the back muscles. If you are not sure whether or not you have pressed up too far, take the hands up and see if you can hold the pose without the hands on the ground; then bring them back down. The reason you want to focus on only coming up so far is so you do not over extend and strain the muscles of the back. Once you have found the perfect level to rise up to, focus on opening through the heart and lifting through the top of the head. Keep the legs and the tops of the feet flat on the ground. Lifting the knees would turn the pose into upward facing dog which is the only time it would be safe to straighten the arms fully here. While you have the option to do that pose for strengthening the muscles, staying in cobra pose is a great way to focus on the body, to notice which muscles you are using and how much pressure to put on them, and to become more aware of the body in general. Hold this pose for about a minute if you can and then exhale to come back down. If this pose is too difficult, you can always use blocks under the hands or roll up a blanket to place under the chest. You can also do sphinx pose instead if cobra pose is absolutely too much. This involves bending the elbows and keeping the forearms flat on the ground instead of coming all the way up.
2. Bound Angle Pose
This pose is more gentle but gives a deep stretch for the hips. To do this pose, start by sitting up on your mat and bringing your feet flat together, keeping your knees out to the sides. If your knees do not reach the ground, never force them. If a stretch is too much, press the feet further away from the body, and if you need more of a stretch, bring them closer in, keeping the muscles of the legs engaged. If you need support under your knees, feel free to bring a block beneath them. You can either stay here, engaging the core, and sitting up tall, or, on an exhale, you can slowly fold forwards over the legs. Only come as far forwards as you can without rounding the back. You can place the hands on the ground or to a block. You can also carefully hold onto the feet as you fold. You can hold this pose for at least a minute or as long as it feels good for you. To come back out of it, inhale to rise back up, and exhale to gently bring the legs back out in front of you.
3. Mermaid Twist
This is a great gentle twist for the body and helps to become aware of the posture and the core. Start sitting with the legs out in front of you and then tuck them over to one side. From here, bring your hands over to the opposite side, walking them around and back behind you. With each inhale, sit up taller, opening through the vertebrae, and with each exhale, see if you can twist further, never forcing the twist, but just allowing it if possible. If you cannot reach the ground easily here, feel free to use a block to rest the hands on instead. Once you have come as far into the twist as you possibly can, spend some time here just breathing as you look all the way back behind you. How does this twist feel for you? Are you keeping the core engaged? Can you feel the toxins releasing and the lymph nodes draining? Just notice and spend some time here, and when you are ready, on an inhale, slowly unwind to come back to center and on an exhale, bring your legs back out in front of you. Repeat on the other side.
If this is too much to do while sitting on a mat, you can also do this twist in a chair, either keeping the legs in front of you and you twist side to side, or bringing the legs to one side of the chair as you twist towards the other side.
3 Short Mini Yoga Routines to Burn Calories and Lose Weight
Are you ready to try out some quick yoga routines to lose weight? Did you know that Body By Yoga offers many free routines and other helpful yoga videos on youtube?
Let’s take a look at three mini yoga routines to help you burn calories and lose weight.
1. The video below is a power yoga routine that is great for energizing you while increasing strength and helping to burn off weight. This is a good practice to do when you get a free moment during the day. You might even try this during your lunch break. Check this video out below!
2. This next video is about fifteen minutes and is a beginner’s power yoga that can help you to lose weight. If you are new to yoga but looking for a quick, intense routine that can help you turn fat into muscle, check out this next video.
3. Finally, if you are looking to increase your core strength and start building your abs, this next video is a great one for you. This quick practice is about ten minutes long and walks you through multiple core strength building poses. Check it out below!
Best Body By Yoga Programs for Losing Weight
We offer many programs for yogis of all levels. Our best program for weight loss would be Yoga Body Strong. This program involves a slow burn power yoga for total body conditioning, and includes three levels of workouts for beginner, intermediate, and advanced yogis. Our workouts focus on targeting three areas: your upper body, lower body, and total body. Check out this program here!
In addition, if you are a beginner looking to start your yoga practice, check out our Yoga Sweat program. Yoga sweat is a beginner’s power yoga workout. It is twenty-five minutes long, making it the perfect length for beginning your practice and repeating the class as many times as you choose. Check it out here!