There are endless “fat-burning” diets, exercises, and supplements that promise fat-burning results. Keeping up with the newest trend, fad, or “quick-fix” can be more exhausting than the workouts you’re dreading. Some of these diets or exercise routines may even work for a time, but then, inevitably, the weight creeps back.
You’re not alone! It is challenging to lose weight and keep it off. That’s because weight is influenced by so many different things like your:
- sleep patterns
- calorie intake
- exercise routine
- muscle tone
- and even your mindset.
It’s the reason why calorie-cutting isn’t quite cutting it! What you need is a fat-burning plan that tends to all parts of YOU.
On top of that, you need something that you’ll realistically stick with. What good is it to find the “perfect weight-loss solution” if it’s impossible for you to keep up with?
So you’ve landed here because you wonder, “can yoga burn fat?”
We believe yoga is a great solution for burning fat in a sustainable, healthy, and enjoyable way. It’s not a quick-fix plan, but it is effective and can provide you with a wide variety of benefits outside of just losing weight. Let’s explore the benefits of yoga for weight-loss so that you can burn fat, build confidence, and keep the weight off for good.
How Can Yoga Burn Fat?
Yoga is an excellent solution for burning fat and overall weight-loss. There are so many different types of yoga that can support a wide range of needs. You’ll not only receive the physical benefits of yoga as a source of exercise, but you’ll also support your mental, emotional, and physical needs on a deeper level. It’s an ideal combination for overall health and wellness that you’ll find enjoyable, sustainable, and impactful. Let’s explore the top 5 ways that yoga can support your fat-burning goals.
#1 Better Sleep
You might be surprised to find that better sleep is at the top of our list of ways that yoga can help you burn fat!
It might sound too good to be true! But, if you’re not getting enough rest at night, you might be sabotaging any exercise or dieting efforts you make during daytime hours. A lack of sleep or restless sleep can hinder your body’s natural ability to burn fat. Sleep deprivation can actually increase your hunger and cause your body to retain more fat.
This means without even realizing it, you’re more likely to feel hungry during the day which can lead to cheating on your diet or consuming more calories.
Yoga is an excellent way to improve your sleep. One study found that a regular yoga practice resulted in improved sleep due to movement, oxygenation levels (due to the focus on breathwork), and stretching. According to this study, “Yoga exercises involve stretching and relaxing of muscles causing significant physical and mental exertion resulting in less sleep latency, more deep sleep, fewer sleep disturbances, and better sleep efficiency.”
Our Favorite Yoga Postures to promote deep sleep:
Benefit: Child’s pose helps to calm the nervous system by bringing the head in line with the heart while grounding you for a good night’s sleep. It calms your mind, eases fatigue, and allows you to release and relax as the floor supports you.
Getting into the pose: To get into the posture, start on all fours. WIden your knees as much as you’d like towards the edges of the mat. Press into your palms as you allow your hips to sink back towards your heels. Allow your forehead to rest on the mat. Arms can stay extended towards the top of your mat, or you might bring them alongside the body so they reach toward your heels.
To deepen your relaxation in Child’s Pose, focus on your breath. As you inhale, notice the ribs and back body expand. While you exhale, focus on letting go of any tension you may be feeling in your back, hips, and abdomen.
If you’re looking for some modifications, you can roll a towel or blanket behind your knees to reduce any joint tension.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose (with props)
Benefit: This posture will allow you to settle down after a busy day while opening the hips and the front body. It’s a great counter to the sitting many of us do throughout the day.
Getting into the pose: Start in a seated position, bend your knees to bring the soles of your feet to touch. Knees fall out wide (for added support, place yoga blocks between our outer knees and the mat). Place two yoga blocks behind you to support your shoulders and your head. Another option is to use a yoga bolster at the base of your spine with a blanket or towel on top. Lie back on your blocks or onto your bolster. Allow your arms to rest, palms facing up, on the floor beside you. Allow your eyes to shut and stay here for at least 10-15 breaths (or more!). To get out of the posture, roll gently onto either side and push yourself up to sitting.
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Benefit: No need to pop into a fancy handstand to get the benefits of an inversion. This accessible posture helps with circulation, lymph flow, and reduces lower back pain while also helping to diminish stress and anxiety.
Getting into the pose: It’s as simple as it sounds to do. Bring your seat as close to a wall as possible. Lay back and kick your legs up the wall. Hold for several breaths. You may choose to stay here for several minutes.
#2 Burns Calories
All yoga will use up caloric energy, but if burning calories is your priority for burning fat, you’ll want to focus on high-intensity, vigorous yoga options like Power Yoga for Weight-Loss, Ashtanga, or Vinyasa. These styles of yoga will elevate the heart rate and burn more calories than a restorative class. Many of these classes can help you burn about 400-600 calories per hour. This is why heated and hot yoga classes tend to be popular for weight-loss as they raise the heart rate faster and provide external heat to promote flexibility and deep stretching.
While these “high-intensity” classes are good cardiovascular workouts, other gentler forms of yoga aren’t to be dismissed! Restorative or Yin Yoga practices can be great for mindfulness, calming the mind, and relaxing the body after your workout to promote good sleep and bring your heart rate back to resting.
#3 Build Lean Muscle & Strengthen your Core
Often burning calories isn’t enough to lose weight and keep it off. Most successful weight-loss regimens also include developing lean muscle and toning your midsection.
Yoga is an excellent way to develop your overall strength, without any fancy equipment. Yoga relies on your own body weight and resistance to help you tone, sculpt, and slim your physique.
Here are our favorite yoga postures for building muscle and strengthening your core:
High Plank Pose
Benefit: A high plank pose is a deceivingly simple posture but it fires up the entire body when done properly. It tones and engages your upper body, lower body, and your core all at once! High plank pose has also been known to improve your metabolism which can significantly influence your ability to lose weight.
How to get into the pose: Start on your hands and knees. With your fingers spread wide and your palms firmly planted on the mat extend both legs straight behind you. Heels will lift toward the ceiling. Make sure your shoulders are stacked over your wrists. Your shoulders, hips and ankles should follow a straight line, so be sure not to allow your hips to drop as you feel more exertion from the posture. Engage your core by pulling your belly up and in. Keep your gaze at the top of your mat to maintain a neutral neck. Hold for at least 1 minute.
If this feels too overwhelming as you start, begin with 30 seconds and scale your way up to 1 minute, 2, minutes, maybe even 3 minutes as you build strength and endurance. Be mindful of your breathing as you hold the posture.
The Yoga Push-up
Benefit: The yoga push up tones and defines the upper body muscles like your deltoids, triceps, and biceps. It also engaged your core and abdominal muscles while defining the glutes and quads of the lower body to help you slim and sculpt your physique.
Getting into the pose: Start from a plank pose. Keeping your core, glutes, and quads engaged begin to bend your elbows. Hug the elbows in toward the side body so they graze your ribs (they shouldn’t bow or bend out like a traditional pushup). Your biceps and triceps will engage as you slowly lower your body down. Once your elbows come to 90 degrees, pause and hold to increase the challenge. To develop even more strength, explore lifting yourself back up to plank without sacrificing the upper body and elbow alignment.
Benefit: This posture is known for its core-strengthening benefits. It can also build strength in your hip flexors while helping you develop balance and stability.
Getting into the pose: Start from a seated posture. With flat palms, frame your hips, bend your knees in front of you. Control your movement as you lift your legs and bring your shins parallel to the floor. Pause here and see if you can find balance on your tailbone as you bring your palms into a prayer position at the center of your chest. To increase the challenge you might extend your arms straight out, palms lifted to the ceiling. To engage your core even further, work towards straightening your legs, bringing your full body into a “v” shape.
Warrior I & II
Benefit: These two postures engage the upper body and core while elongating the spine to promote a healthy posture. They build strength and endurance throughout the body. For weight-loss, they are excellent postures that can help you develop muscle tone in your lower body such as the glutes and quads.
How to do Warrior I: To get into Warrior I Pose, start in Downward Facing Dog. Step one foot forward, toes pointed toward the front of your mat, and land it between your hands. Ground your heel. The back leg stays extended, spin your back heel down to a 45-degree angle. Lift your arms up and bend into your front knee. Work to square your hips towards the front of your mat. Hold and breathe.
How to do Warrior II: To get into Warrior II Pose, start in your Warrior I posture. Allow your hips to open to the side of your mat (instead of square) and allow your arms to extend into a “t-shape”. Both feet and heels remain firmly on the floor. Actively extend your arms and fingertips to opposite sides of the room while lunging deeply (90-degree angle) into your front knee.
A regular yoga practice can help you develop a more mindful lifestyle. Yoga teaches us to be intentional about every breath, every movement, and every thought. We quickly learn how interconnected these seemingly separate parts of ourselves truly are.
A strong mindfulness practice on your mat will quickly seep into all other aspects of your daily life and can positively impact your weight-loss goals. The first place these benefits might show up is in your eating patterns. As you exercise more frequently, you’ll notice which foods do and do not feel good in your body. You’ll become aware of which foods give you more energy and which leave you feeling tired or sluggish. This can in turn influence the type of foods you choose and how much you decide to eat.
Our favorite yoga postures to promote mindfulness:
Benefit: Tree pose can help you find balance and stability while also developing your ability to focus and concentrate.
Get into the pose: With a steady breath, start by standing in Mountain Pose. Root into one foot and begin to shift your weight to this leg. Bring your opposite foot to the inside of your shin or bring the sole of your foot to the inside of your thigh. Find something still to focus your gaze on in front of you. You may bring your hands into prayer or up overhead as your stability and balance develop.
Benefit: Synchronize your breath and movement while you wind down and relax. Also ideal for bringing mobility into the spine.
Getting into the pose: Start in a tabletop posture. As you inhale, lift your gaze and your tailbone. As you exhale, pull your navel up and in as you round the upper shoulders and tuck your tailbone. Gaze at your belly button and actively press through the palms to stretch the upper shoulders. Flow through these two movements with one breath, one motion. Cycle through about 5-10 breaths.
#5 Mental Health
Yoga has also been known to improve mental health, which is closely linked to physical health. AKA the better your mood, outlook, and attitude, the healthier your body will be! Physical activity such as yoga increases endorphins, the “feel-good hormone”, in your brain! When you commit to a regular yoga practice, you’ll soon notice that you feel better.
In addition to boosting your mood, you’ll have more endurance and feel stronger physically while on your mat. As a result, this helps to build your overall confidence and self-esteem. Your commitment to your yoga practice will help you develop a sense of pride in your commitment to your health and wellbeing. The progress and enjoyment you experience from your yoga practice will help keep you motivated so you can stay on track and meet your weight-loss goals.
Start Your Yoga Practice for Weight-loss
If you’re looking for accountability and guidance as you begin your yoga journey we’ve got you covered. Body By Yoga has created three on-demand yoga classes specifically for fat-burning, weight-loss results.
Yoga Sweat was designed with beginners in mind. It will get your heart pumping and your muscles burning while helping you lay a strong foundation for your practice. We’ll focus on technique and breathwork to ensure you can get the most effective workout possible.
Yoga Body Strong offers a total body conditioning practice. Strengthen muscles that conventional exercises often neglect, increase your mobility & range of motion, protect your joints, and recover faster while shedding weight and building a body you’re proud of.
Yoga Max 33 is our most challenging yoga program to date. Who said losing weight has to be long, boring, or time-consuming? In just 33 minutes you’ll push your body with 4 engaging, fun yoga classes you’ll come back to over and over again on your weight-loss journey.
We hope to see you on your yoga mat soon!