The practise of yoga has many poses. Some of these are designed to increase body and joint flexibility and strength, while others may help to trim, tone and burn fat – essentially, helping with weight loss. But yoga can help with weight loss in other ways too.
Yoga, as a form of exercise, comes in many styles. Some of these practises are geared more towards weight loss than others, such as Hot26 (Bikram), Power Yoga, Ashtanga and Vinyasa. However, long-term, consistent practise of gentler styles, such as Hatha, will lead to strengthening, toning, greater flexibility and weight loss.
Yoga teaches a sense of self-awareness and mindfulness that may then extend into how people behave outside of the yoga studio. This could lead to more mindful-eating habits as well as an improved approach to living life in a healthier way. Yoga also helps to improve sleep and alleviate stress and anxiety, which, can otherwise, lead to emotional eating for some.
Yoga can be started at any age. In addition to stress-relief and body mindfulness, here are some postures that focus specifically on creating strong, lean muscles and burning fat. Practise these four moves below each day – it won’t take more than 10 minutes.
This pose is also known as the Four-Limbed Staff pose, also known as Low Plank. We practise lowering ourselves down into Chaturanga during transitions in Vinyasa, Ashtanga and Power Yoga. This pose is often followed by Upward Facing Dog and then Downward Facing Dog.
From a high plank, with your elbows tucked into your side, exhale as you slower lower yourself down into a low plank. Hold for five breaths.
This pose, aka Adho Mukha Svanasana, tones your whole body by paying a little extra attention to arms, thighs, hamstrings and your back. Holding this pose and concentrating on your breathing engages your muscles and tones them, as well as improves your concentration and blood circulation.
From high-plank pose, lift your hips upwards toward the ceiling and create a triangle-like shape with your body. Bring your chest closer towards your thighs. It doesn’t matter if your ankles can’t touch the floor, but stretch them towards the floor. Bend your knees a little if need be. Hold for 10 to 20 breaths. Use a mirror to help you check your posture.
High Crescent Lunge
From Downward Facing Dog, exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands, aligning your knee over the heel. Keep your left leg strong and firm.
Inhale and raise your torso upright. At the same time, sweep your arms wide to the sides and raise them overhead, palms facing. Don’t arch your back – keep your torso strong. Hold for five to 10 breaths and then move back into Downward Facing Dog before repeating the same on the other side.
Advanced: With your right leg forward, rotate your ribs to the right until your left elbow hooks on the outside of your right thigh. Bring your hands together in a prayer position, breathe into the back of your ribs, and twist above your navel to rotate. Hold for five to 10 breaths and then gently come back into the lunge before proceeding as indicated above.
Also called Utkatasana, this pose powerfully strengthens the muscles of the arms and legs, and stimulates the diaphragm and heart. It is also called a “fierce seat” and can really burn.
From standing position, inhale and raise your arms over your head so that your biceps are just slightly in front of your ears. Exhale and bend your knees so that your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible. Keep your inner thighs parallel to each other and sit your hips back, like sitting into a chair. You should be able to see your toes. Hold this pose for five to 10 breaths.