The truth about weight loss and yoga – and the best poses for burning fat and toning up

So, can some regular downward dogging actually help to shift the pounds?

Yoga is as much a mental exercise as it is physical, and there are different types of yoga – from slow and stretchy flows to energetic cardio workouts.

And you don't necessarily have to sweat it out in a hot yoga studio either.

"As with any form of exercise, yoga can be amazing for weight loss!" Kundalini yoga teacher and Wanderlust Festival ambassador, Harriet Emily, tells The Sun.

"There are so many varieties of yoga, with different sequences and postures.

Many modern yoga classes are now designed to offer more of a fitness class feeling, as there’s a huge demand for using yoga to help with weight loss at the moment."

Simon Avis, yoga teacher at Virgin Active tells The Sun that since many of his students started yoga, they've had an "increased motivation to consume healthy foods and in some cases turn veggie/vegan, as well as making other lifestyle changes such as giving up drinking and smoking which definitely boosts weight loss".

So it's not just about the physical practice – it's about the other stuff that comes with practising yoga.

"What a lot of people don't realise is that yoga is meditation. The two are intrinsically linked," Simon explains.

"We are so obsessed with the physical practice that it's important to realised that the yogis of 5,000 years ago used the physical poses simply to bring the mind to stillness and would then spend several hours a day meditating."

He says that just being more mindful about breath during the course of a class can offer massive benefits.

"Most of my students who practise yoga on a regular basis often tell me that they have a greater self-respect towards their own bodies which in turn encourages them to lead a more healthy lifestyle."

Harriet says that in her experience, all forms of yoga contain fat burning potential.

"It all depends on the layout and design of the class, which the teacher has planned.

"If you’re drawn to one type of yoga in particular, such as vinyasa, and you want to use it to help boost your fitness levels – my greatest suggestion is to actually look into the level of the class (beginners or advanced), or contact the teacher to find out more about what they’re offering.

"Either way, you can definitely use all types yoga in a way that works for you and your goals."

What are the best poses for weight loss?

While Simon says that no one pose offers specific weight loss benefits, "the most important physical benefit to yoga is developing a strong core. Most yoga poses require us to engage the tummy and lower back muscles throughout the practice".

"We need a strong core for everyday functional movement," he added.

"I actually find that the key to losing weight through practicing is from the flow of the sequence.

"Ideally, if you’re looking to lose weight, then you want to pick a dynamic routine with a variety of postures so that you can get your body moving and get your heart rate up and burn more calories.

"Postures tend to be more powerful for focusing on and toning specific body parts, for instance – boat pose is a great posture for toning your abs."

How often should you do yoga for weight loss?

You want to be building up a sweat every day to create a regular, consistent routine.

The best results are always built upon consistency.

So, anything whether it’s 15-30 minutes a day, where you can build up a sweat – is guaranteed to create results over time.

Can yoga help you shed pounds on its own?

But Harriet argues that because there are so many different types of yoga, you could use it as part of a weight loss and fitness regime or the main activity.

If you’re looking for a cardio experience, then you can find a hot class for that. If you’re looking for something gentle and relaxing, then there’s a yin class for that too.

Harriet says: "Yoga really offers a well-rounded experience, which is always unique and gives you something to learn from. So, if you only want to practice yoga, then it can definitely be enough. However, if you’re into other sports and practices, then it makes a great add on to your routine!"

Is it OK for weight loss to be your main goal of yoga?

It's an odd question but bearing in mind yoga is supposed to be about connecting body and soul together, it can feel a bit…wrong to talk about weight loss being an aim.

But both Simon and Harriet insists that any goal is great.

"The main thing is that you’re creating a practice built upon you caring for your personal health and wellbeing – and that you enjoy the process!" says Harriet.

"The ultimate goal is that you love and take care of your body."

Simon says that starting yoga for whatever reason can only be a good thing – but that yoga is also a lifestyle.

You might start off thinking about weight loss but if you keep it up, you'll also experience "emotional, mental and perhaps sometimes spiritual" awakening."

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