How Yoga Can Help You Achieve Weight Loss Goals — Both On And Off The Mat

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Rima Brindamour

Do your friends consistently ask about your yoga-plus-a-healthy-eating-plan secret to weight-loss success, but since you're so Zen now your only tangible answer is, "Trust the universe"? Since the only moment we have is now, take a pause (hint: that's one way yoga helps with fat burning) to understand how your practice supports dropping pounds on and off the mat.

Because you're into yoga, you might have a goal to lose weight mindfully. You've taken an honest look at whether or not you feel you need to "get shredded" (tip: track your progress with a comprehensive scale, as women's bodies fluctuate monthly from hormonal water retention and muscle is about 18 percent more dense than fat) and understand the basic concept of decreasing your energy intake and increasing your energy output.


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Is Yoga "Cardiovascular Enough" to Stimulate Weight Loss?

Let's get clarity on something right away — aerobic exercise (cardio) burns more calories than strength training during the activity itself, while anaerobic poses and moves in yoga build the muscle that cardio can also burn off (cardio doesn't solely metabolize fat and . . . sorry to break your fit, disease-preventing heart, but you also can't spot reduce).


That being said, if your goal is to lose weight with little or no regard to what that mass is comprised of, then doing yoga-HIIT or yoga-barre workouts could be your thing.


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What Is the Benefit of Yogic Breathing?

Perhaps more fascinating than the science how your physical yoga practice affects fat metabolism — which, efficiency-wise, depends on way more (nutrition, stress, hydration, insulin sensitivity, sleep, mental health, etc.) than just exercise — is how your breathwork helps, too.

Physiologically speaking, long pranayamic breathing resets your nervous system. Lucky for you,

The Slow Down Diet's Marc David explains the stress-metabolism connection: "The parasympathetic branch relaxes the body and activates digestion." Reducing your stress by flowing with breath also decreases cortisol.

How Do I Go About Yoga-Dieting?

Liquid green juice diets are not the holy grail of weight-loss through yoga. As you're beginning to see the light, you'll learn yoga-induced pound dropping is less about physicality and more about mentality. Welcome to your new diet: mental awareness. In his book, David also details some highly fascinating information on the cephalic phase digestive response (CPDR), part of which means how you think about, prepare, and consume food determines your body's tendency to either burn or store fat.


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When Do Yoga and Awareness Yield the Greatest Results?

Warning: incorporating a consistent yoga and nutrition program into your life could make you way more aware than those friends of yours going berserk on the Stairmaster right now (kudos to them though — it's hard work and yoga is about compassion). One aspect of your heightened awareness is an even greater knowledge of your "slimming" ideals contextualized within the social perception of "being fat."

Moving toward your desire to weigh less, you've now got some yoga-curated tools to consciously consider your rationale, approach, and journey. Meanwhile, take moments between classes to reflect on your own body positivity, and always consult your doctor before embarking on any major shift related to your health.

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