How to Shed Fat on the Yoga Mat

4 steps to weight loss with yoga

Think yoga’s just about finding your inner peace? Think again. You can shed fat with yoga just like you can shed pounds with other exercises. The first step is simply finding the right yoga workout plan for you. Once you’ve got that plan in place, you’ll be on the road to not only slimming down, but to overall self-improvement through the relaxation, strength training and agility that yoga teaches.

Step 1: Get clearance to start yoga

Although yoga is an exercise that is generally approved for most people, even those who have physical disabilities or are overweight, there are still some conditions for which yoga is not recommended. Check with your health professional before you begin a program.

Step 2: Choose a yoga class or video designed to help you lose fat

The two yoga practices that are most geared toward losing weight are power yoga and Bikram, which is heated yoga. Be sure to take a yoga class with a skilled teacher who can help you achieve your weight loss goals, use proper form and stay motivated. If you are just beginning, however, it is better to take a slower-paced class such as Hatha yoga to help you build up to a more advanced yoga practice. If taking classes is difficult due to your schedule or other concerns, yoga videos such as Gaiam’s Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss on DVD or online video or Yoga Burn on DVD or online video can help you correctly learn to do the yoga positions that will help you shed fat in the comfort and privacy of your own home.

Step 3: Lose the stress

The best way to lose weight doing yoga is to reduce stress right along with it. According to Timothy McCall, M.D., author of Yoga as Medicine, yoga can be effective for weight loss because it helps people de-stress and focus on taking better care of themselves. Prolonged and high levels of stress can increase the amount of cortisol, a hormone that affects metabolism, produced in the body. Among the many negative affects of increased levels of cortisol, such has higher blood pressure and lower immunity, is weight gain and increased belly fat. The Mayo Clinic recommends practicing yoga to relieve stress and prevent stress-related weight gain.

Step 4: Keep going

Whether you’re practicing power yoga that allows you to shed fat by burning more calories or you’re simply using other types of yoga to stay active and stress-free, keeping up this practice will help you lose weight and keep weight off. According to a 2005 Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine study, people between the ages of 45 to 55 who do yoga are more likely to lose weight and keep it off than those who don’t.

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