Yoga is a practice that provides a safe, sustained and healthy journey to weight loss. AN important part of weight loss is fat burn. Active and dynamic forms of yoga help burn excess fat, while slow and relaxing yoga styles improve mindfulness which corrects eating habits, and other factors which influence weight.
How yoga helps with weight loss
Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Power yoga are a few popular styles of dynamic practices and are effective yoga to lose weight.
The dynamic movements work on the core, strengthen the muscles and burn calories. Many movements include twists and bends which remove stubborn fat, and gradually have a toning effect on the body. A lot of yoga postures work on the abdomen, thus strengthening the core.
These styles of yoga work on boosting metabolism. When we move from one posture to another, and sweat, our endocrine system gets kicking, burning calories faster. The main systems involved in the metabolic process are our digestive and endocrine, and almost every yoga practice stimulates and regulates the organs in these systems. Asanas that involve twists and bends improve circulation, remove toxins and ensure good gut health. This strengthens the endocrine organs, boosting the metabolic process. Pranayama and meditation practices elevate oxygen levels, which also speeds up metabolism.
Slower, gentle and restorative forms of yoga improve mindfulness and bring about changes in our lifestyle and diet, which are effective yoga to lose belly fat.
Yoga is a promising way to inculcate behavioral changes, a healthy, active routine, mindfulness, and stress management. These factors help us make better decisions about diet, our lifestyle and way of living. Awareness improves, and there is a more conscious effort towards eating foods that are better for your system. In fact, a 2016 study showed that mindfulness developed leads to improved resistance to unhealthy food.
Managing stress in an effective way goes a long way in trying to control weight, and even burning fat. When the stress hormone is low or balanced, its effect on digestion and digestive process is minimal. When digestion is good, you will avoid gut related problems which contribute towards reduced belly fat. You will also sleep better, which will improve the digestive process, metabolic rate and contribute towards fat burning.
Yoga postures for fat burning
Wind Relieving pose or Pawanmuktasana
This posture helps burn the extra fat from the stomach and entire abdominal region. It aids in digestion and releases related problems.
How to do wind relieving pose:
- Lie down flat on your back. Keep your legs and feet close together.
- Breathe normally, and as you exhale, raise your legs off the floor.
- Bend your raised legs at the knees. Ensure that your legs are still close together.
- With your hands, grasp the parts of your legs right below the knees.
- Pull your knees back towards your head.
- Now, lift your head off the floor and move it forward till your forehead touches your knees.
- Take deep breaths and hold still for a few seconds.
Bow pose or Dhanurasana
This posture is very effective in removing excess fat from the stomach region. It massages and tones the abdominal organs, as well as strengthens them, especially the pancreas and liver. It also strengthens the thighs, chest and back, and improves blood circulation.
How to do bow pose:
- Lie flat on the stomach with the legs and feet together, and the arms and hands beside the body.
- Bend the knees and bring the heels close to the buttocks. Grip the ankles with the hands.
- Keep the knees and thighs firmly on the floor and the arms straight throughout the practice.
- Place the chin on the floor.
- Tense the legs and lift the feet backward while raising the head and chest as high as possible from the floor without straining.
- Use the backward movement of the legs to assist the raising of the body, allowing the back muscles to remain passive. In the final position, the gaze is upwards without compressing the neck.
Triangle pose or Trikonasana
This yoga posture is an intense side stretch that burns fat from the sides of the waist, arms and legs. It improves digestion as well as reduces stubborn fat in the belly and waist. It also stimulates and improves blood circulation in the entire body. It also improves balance and concentration.
How to do triangle pose:
- Exhale and take the Right leg in between the palms, turn the left toes out to 90 degrees
- Keeping the right palm on the ground or coming on the fingertips - slightly behind the right heel
- Inhale, extend the left arm up towards the sky, rotating the hip, abdomen and chest to the left side;
- Straighten the front knee, pushing the hips back, maintaining a lateral stretch on the left side of the body.
- Find your balance looking down, and then look up towards the left fingertips.
- Exhale, look Down and bring the left hand down on the floor. Inhale, take the right leg back, coming into downward-facing dog.
Plank pose or Chaturanga
A challenging posture, this is one of the best yoga postures to burn fat and improve core strength. It tones all the muscles and also works on the thighs, arms and shoulders, as well as strengthens the spine.
How to do plank pose:
- Lie on your stomach.
- Place your palms under your shoulders and lift your upper body, pelvis and knees up.
- Use your toes to grip the floor and keep the knees straight.
- Ensure that your knees, pelvis and spine are aligned
- Your wrists must be placed exactly below your shoulders with your arms kept straight
- Hold the final posture for a few breathes
Shoulder stand or Sarvangasana
This posture improves strength, digestion, metabolic process, and balances thyroid levels. It strengthens the upper body, abdominal muscles, and legs, improves the respiratory system, and sleep.
How to do shoulder stand:
- Lie on the back on a folded blanket. Check that the head and spine are aligned and that the legs are straight with the feet together. Place the hands beside the body with the palms facing down.
- Relax the entire body and mind.
- Contract the abdominal muscles and, with the support of the arms, slowly bend knees and raise the legs to a vertical position and straighten the legs now.
- When the legs are vertical, press the arms and hands down on the floor.
- Slowly and smoothly roll the buttocks and spine off the floor, raising the trunk to a vertical position.
- Turn the palms of the hands upward, bend the elbows and place the hands behind the rib cage, slightly away from the spine, to support the back. The elbows should be about shoulder-width apart.
- Gently push the chest forward so that it is pressed firmly against the chin.
- In the final position, the legs are vertical, together and in a straight line with the trunk. The body is supported by the shoulders, nape of the neck and back of the head. The arms provide stability, the chest rests against the chin and the feet are relaxed.
- Close your eyes. Relax the whole body in the final pose for as long as is comfortable.
Cobra pose or Bhujangasana
This posture works on the abdomen as well as back. It strengthens these regions and tones the muscles.
How to do cobra pose:
- Lie flat on the stomach with the legs straight, feet together and the soles of the feet facing upwards.
- Place the palms of the hands flat on the floor, below and slightly to the side of the shoulders, with the fingers together and pointing forward.
- Position the arms so that the elbows point backward and are close to the sides of the body.
- Rest the forehead on the floor and close the eyes.
- Relax the whole body, especially the lower back. Now slowly raise the head.
- Straighten the elbows, using the back muscles first, then the arm muscles to raise the trunk further and arch the back.
- In the final position, the pubic bone remains in contact with the floor and the navel is raised a maximum of 3 mm.
- The arms may or may not be straight; this will depend on the flexibility of the back.
Warrior pose 1 or Virabhadrasana 1
This posture tones the thighs, shoulders, and arms. It removes excess fat from the back, legs and arms, and improves core strength.
How to do warrior 1:
- Stand about 3 feet apart with your right foot facing forward while your left leg is straight behind you with your foot flat on the floor. The foot will be pointing outwards.
- Come into a lunging position with your torso facing forward for warrior one.
- Now raise your hands up and gaze forward. Make sure your front leg knee is in line with your foot and thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Engage the core, thigh muscles, abdominal muscles and take deep breaths. Keep the back straight, focus your attention on any stretch you are feeling in different parts of the body.
Apart from these posture, practicing Surya Namasakar or Sun Salutations regularly is effective in burning fat. The dynamic and fast movements in the sequence are useful in releasing toxins, blockages and in toning the body.
Cleansing practices to burn fat
Frontal lobe cleansing or Kapal Bhati
Since this practice strengthens the abdominal organs, it is effective in stimulating and balancing digestion. It improves blood circulation, thus improving the functioning of various organs. It releases stress and anxiety from the body and helps remove excess or accumulated fat from the body.
Watch this video on how to do the practice
Igniting the digestive fire or Agni Sar
This practice aids the metabolic process, and ignites the digestive fire which is responsible for how strong your digestion is. The practice helps burn fat, wakes up lethargic organs and nourishes the digestive system.
Watch this video on how to do the practice
While these practices help in burning fat and weight management, yoga as a holistic practice improves eating habits. You will notice craving reduction and a better inclination towards healthier food. Improved energy, a balanced metabolism, toned muscles, better stress management and improved sleep are all positive and motivating factors.