I am often inquired about the credibility of Yoga as an effective weight loss tool. The question most often asked is ‘Can you do Yoga for weight loss’? It really depends on what type of Yoga you’re doing. If you’re doing introductory breathing exercises for 20 minutes daily, that isn’t going to help your cause. On the other hand, if you’re engaging yourself into an hour of intense Yoga with various advanced postures; you’re game!
In simple terms, weight loss is all about mathematics. As long as your energy expenditure is more than what you’re taking (As food), you will lose weight. Exercise creates a good caloric deficit in this regard. Yoga too, requires physical exertion, which in turn, causes consumption of calories. The fascinating thing about Yoga is that you don’t move much but still you burn a great deal of calories only by staying still. The secret is somewhat scientific. Yoga requires you to acquire certain postures. These postures actually take you out of your comfort zone (For example, the half moon or reverse warrior). To maintain such postures, your muscles and bones have to do work in order to maintain the required tension for these postures. This is where you lose calories.
Yoga may seem very simple to a person who has never done it but it can be surprising how much you sweat and how fast you breathe when you try to hold on to an advance posture. Every part of your body wants to go back to its resting position but working against the will of your body causes the weight loss in Yoga. Yoga is classically portrayed as ‘Calm in the storm’. Your body may be stagnant and your posture can look very majestic but the effort to hold this posture can be daunting.
Different types of exercise have different advantages. Cardiovascular exercises like running, swimming, aerobics training and even cycling are rated high as good potentials for weight loss. But if you’re interested in Yoga, you may go for it and still see results. Yoga may not be as effective as the cardiovascular routines I’ve just stated but it has many other advantages that these routines seem to miss. First, Yoga works on your flexibility. It is an excellent exercise to stretch, turn, twist and mold your body into different forms. This means that you’ll be working on all parts of the body (Unlike running where the major part is played by your legs). Another advantage is that Yoga works on your weak spots; spots that are missed by other exercises; lower back, neck and even fingers are taken care of, in Yoga. This way, Yoga can prevent your body from multiple injuries like chronic back pain, muscular tension in the legs, problems in the groin (Various other sports injuries).
To conclude; if Yoga is something that makes you jump off your bed every morning and onto your workout mat, then go with Yoga. It does require a great deal of physical exertion and hence it can be used for weight loss. If you’re a beginner, you may need time to get used to the bending and twisting required by Yoga so your weight loss may be very slow. A good solution would be to mix things up. Alternate between cardiovascular training and Yoga daily, this way you can be benefitted by all the advantages of Yoga and also increase the rate of your weight loss.