You know you need to incorporate exercise into your weight-loss plan, and you have heard that yoga can help you relax and focus. Can you kill two birds with one stone by using yoga as the exercise component of your comprehensive weight loss program?
The answer is not as simple as yes or no.
Types of Yoga
There are several types of yoga which can be practiced independently or in combination with each other. While all of these will help build muscle strength and discipline, not all will raise your heart rate enough to help you burn fat.
The yoga with which most Americans are familiar is called Ivengar yoga, in which poses are held for several minutes with a resting period between each pose. This is very good for building muscles and balance, so it can serve as a stepping stone for those whose muscles have atrophied or whose sense of balance makes more vigorous exercise dangerous, but it will not provide the aerobic workout needed to lose weight.
Vinyasa or flow yoga is less well known, but includes several styles which may be utilized for weight loss. Vinyasa involves movement through a series of poses, which can be done at various speeds and with differing degrees of intensity. Some styles of Vinyasa yoga include:
- Ashtanga is a very vigorous style of practice. Ashtanga classes allow for social motivation,
particularly for beginners, and can be practiced at home once the poses are learned.
- Power Yoga provides a vigorous cardiovascular workout. Some forms of Power Yoga employ periods
of jogging or walking in place of walking periods to maintain an increased heart rate.
- Hot Yoga is vinyasa yoga practiced in a hot room, which causes a raised heart rate and increased
loss of water weight through perspiration.
Including Yoga in a Weight Loss Plan
If you are just beginning to learn, are severely overweight, or are very out of shape, be sure the yoga class you choose is for beginners. Not only will this prevent certain health complications and injuries, but you will be able to connect socially with others who are setting out on a journey toward more healthy living.
On days when you cannot make it to class, you can keep yourself in shape by practicing yoga at home by using the positions you have learned in class. At first, follow along with a video or audio recording, then build a routine to fit your physical and scheduling needs.
If you cannot make a regular class, use a video or book to learn some basic yoga routines to perform during warm-up, resting, and cool-down periods during a cardiovascular workout to increase muscle strength.