Exercise

Can You Lose Weight Doing Yoga?

Can You Lose Weight Doing Yoga?

Yoga involves less movement compared to other exercises. Hence a lot of people believe that yoga cannot help them lose weight. We’re going to discuss the benefits of yoga for weight loss and some beginner friendly poses to help you get started.


Yoga Health Benefits

Relief from stress & anxiety

One of the most popular benefits of yoga is that it can help relieve stress and anxiety.

For example, in a 2018 study, 52 women underwent regular hatha yoga sessions three times a week for 4 weeks. Results revealed a significant reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression in all of them after 12 sessions [1].


Sleep

Regular practice of yoga can not only help you sleep properly, but it can also increase the quality of your sleep. A 2017 study conducted on women with type 2 diabetes found that yoga was more effective in improving sleep quality than aerobic exercises [2].


Migraine relief

Yoga can help improve migraine symptoms. A 2014 study found that migraine patients who practiced yoga had a greater reduction in headache frequency and intensity compared to those who were in conventional care [3].


Back pain

When practiced correctly, yoga can help improve back pain and help strengthen your spine [4].


How Can Yoga Help You Lose Weight?

Yoga can help you burn calories, strengthen and tone your muscles, but that’s not the only way it can help with weight loss.

What makes yoga different from other exercises is that it can help improve your mindfulness.

Yoga can help you become a mindful eater by making you be more aware of your eating habits. It can help you see when you're eating because you're bored, or when you're having an emotional breakdown.

It can help you make better lifestyle choices without being self-judgemental.

As mentioned earlier, yoga can help improve your sleep which in turn can help with weight loss.

Another way that yoga can help you lose weight is by reducing stress.


How Often Should I Do Yoga to Lose Weight?

100-150 minutes per week or 3-5 sessions per week is ideal to lose weight with yoga. The majority of yoga weight loss studies have been carried out for at least 12-14 weeks before the results were analyzed.


21 Best Yoga Poses You Can Do at Home for Weight loss

1. Downward Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Adho means forward, Mukha means face, and Svanasana means dog pose. It’s one of the most popular asanas practiced in modern yoga and offers many great benefits such as strengthening the abdominal muscles and improving blood circulation.

woman-doing-Adho-Mukha-Svanasana-yoga-pose-on-a-matresse-in-a-gym

Duration:

1 to 3 minutes

How to do it:

  1. Slowly get on the floor on your hands and knees, resembling a table like structure.
  2. Exhale and slowly lift your knees and hips up towards the ceiling.
  3. Keep a shoulder-width distance between your hands and legs and keep your palms pressed on the mat.
  4. Feel free to raise your heels off the floor a little bit and move your feet in a slow paddling motion if you need to.
  5. Pay attention to your shoulders and make sure they’re straight and not round.
  6. Breathe and relax as you observe your posture.
  7. When you’re ready to finish, slowly come back on the floor on your legs with your hands stretched out and head still facing down.
  8. Lift your head and body up slowly to avoid getting a headache or dizziness.

2. Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

The upward facing dog pose is great for your arms and back. It’s also a great asana to improve your body posture.

woman-doing-Urdhva-Mukha-Svanasana-yoga-pose-on-a-matresse-in-a-gym

Duration:

10-30 seconds

How to do it:

  1. Lie on the floor with your belly and the top of your feet facing down.
  2. Allow your arms to rest on the sides.
  3. Press your hands firmly on the mat and slowly lift your upper body as if you’re doing a push up with your torso facing up.
  4. Inhale as you do this and slowly tilt your head back after you’ve gained control of your posture.
  5. Hold the post for a few seconds, breathe out and slowly release back to the floor.

3. Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)

The boat pose can help strengthen your abdominal muscles, hips, and spine. It can also help improve your focus.

woman-doing-Paripurna-Navasana-yoga-pose-on-a-matresse-in-a-gym

Duration:

A few seconds - 1 minute.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down on the mat with your hands stretched upwards.
  2. Inhale and slowly lift your body and legs above with your hands stretching forwards in a straight line.
  3. Your legs should be above at 45 degrees and your body will be resting on your buttocks and tailbone.
  4. Your arms will be facing forward in a parallel angle.
  5. Hold the pose for 10-30 seconds or up to a minute and exhale as you slowly release.

4. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

The cobra pose, also known as Bhujangasana is a part of the sun salutation poses (Surya Namaskar). This asana is considered to be great for your digestive, reproductive, and urinary systems. It’s also great for your spine.

Woman-Practicing-Cobra-Pose-in-a-gym

Duration:

10-30 seconds

How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on your stomach with your arms and palms facing the floor next to your shoulders.
  2. Raise your head slowly and lift your torso above and slightly tilt your head upwards.
  3. Keep your feet and legs together while you’re doing this pose.
  4. Hold the posture for about 10-30 seconds and slowly release back down.

5. Warrior 1 Pose (Virabhadrasana 1)

The warrior 1 asana is a great exercise to strengthen your legs, arms, hips, and chest.

Group-of-Women-Practicing-Virabhadrasana-1-in-a-gym

Duration:

10-20 seconds

How to do it:

  1. The warrior 1 is quite similar to performing a lunge but the back leg will be stretched out instead of being bent forward.
  2. Stand with one leg bent forward and slowly stretch the other leg backward.
  3. Life your arms up while you get into this position and slowly push your chest forwards to create an arch.
  4. Make sure your shoulders are facing forwards and not rotating.
  5. Hold the pose for 10-20 seconds and then slowly put your hands down and release back.

6. Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)

Vrikshasana, the tree pose, is one of the beginner-friendly yoga poses you can do. The tree pose is a great way to improve your balance, focus, and coordination.

woman-practicing-yoga-Vrksasana-pose-in-front-of-a-window-in-a-gym

Duration:

5-10 repetitions with 30 seconds - 1 minute on each leg.

How to do it:

  1. Stand straight with your arms to the side of your body.
  2. Bend your right knee and rest your right foot on your left thigh while you’re standing.
  3. Breathe in and slowly raise your hands towards the ceiling and keep your hands in a prayer position.
  4. Look straight to focus and hold the position.
  5. Make sure to keep your back straight and slowly bring your legs and arms down as you exhale.

7. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

The chair pose is similar to squats, and it’s a great exercise for your legs, spine, and chest muscles.

woman-doing-yoga-Chair-pose-at-home

Duration:

30-60 seconds

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your legs apart.
  2. Stretch your arms forward and keep them straight while lowering your body to a squatting position.
  3. Breathe normally and relax your mind while you perform this pose.
  4. Raise your hands towards the ceiling as you get into the chair pose.
  5. Hold the pose for 30-60 seconds and slowly release.

8. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

The bridge pose is an excellent way to strengthen your back, posture, and relieve stress.

group-of-people-doing-Setu-Bandhasana-in-yoga-class

Duration:

30-60 seconds and you can perform this asana 5-10 times.

How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on your back and slowly bend your knees.
  2. Bring your feet close enough to grab your heels with your hands.
  3. Raise your buttocks slowly and arch your back upwards.
  4. Make sure your head is resting on the floor without any pressure.
  5. Hold your posture for 30 seconds to a minute.
  6. Inhale as you raise your body upwards and exhale as you release.

9. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

Dhanurasana pose offers great benefits for your back and abdominal muscles.

Young-sporty-attractive-woman-practicing-yoga-doing-Dhanurasana

Duration:

10-20 seconds

How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on your stomach with your face down on the floor.
  2. Bend your legs upwards and hold your ankles with your hands.
  3. Slowly raise your thighs and chest as if you’re trying to make your feet touch your back.
  4. Inhale as you do this and keep your head facing forward when you’re trying to raise your thighs and chest upwards.
  5. Hold this posture for a few seconds to a minute.
  6. Exhale as you slowly release back to the floor.

10. Wind Relieving Pose (Pavanamuktasana)

The Pavanamuktasana pose is believed to be therapeutic for your digestive organs, abdominal muscles, and digestion. It can also help tone your thighs, buttocks, and abdominal muscles.

woman-doing-Pavanamuktasana-pose-isolated-on-white-background

Duration:

10-60 seconds

How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on your back with your arms resting on your sides.
  2. Fold your legs and bring your knees close to your chest.
  3. Wrap your arms around your legs and slowly bend your neck and try to touch your knees with your forehead.
  4. Hold the pose for a few seconds to a minute and make sure you breathe in while you’re performing it.
  5. Breathe out and slowly bring your head and legs back down.
  6. You can repeat this asana for three to five times.

11. Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)

The butterfly pose is believed to be great for your reproductive system and your overall blood circulation. It’s also useful for back pain.

woman-in-baddha-konasana-pose-in-qym

Duration:

1-5 minutes

How to do it:

  1. Sit straight and keep your legs stretched forward.
  2. Draw your leg one by one so the soles of your feet are touching each other.
  3. Bring your hands closer to your back with your fingers pointing away from your body as if you’re trying to support your posture with your hands.
  4. Bring your shoulders back and keep your head facing forward.
  5. Breathe in and breathe out while you hold this posture for 1-5 minutes.
  6. Release your arms first and then stretch your legs out one by one when you’re ready to finish.
  7. Shake your legs while you’re sitting down to release any pressure in your legs and feet.

12. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Trikonasana can help strengthen your legs, chest, and arms. It can also help improve your physical and mental stability.

women-doing-Trikonasana-pose-in-yoga-class

Duration:

30 seconds and 3-5 repetitions on each leg.

How to do it:

  1. Stand straight with your feet apart and raise your arms to your shoulder level as if you’re about to perform a star jump.
  2. Slowly bend towards your right foot and place your right hand below your right foot.
  3. Keep your head and your other arm up towards the ceiling as you perform this pose.
  4. Hold the posture for a few seconds before going back to the initial position.
  5. Release your arms and repeat the triangle pose on your other leg.

13. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

The seated forward bend pose is useful for stress and depression. It can also help improve blood pressure and insomnia.

Group-of-people-in-paschimottanasana-pose

Duration:

30-60 seconds

How to do it:

  1. Sit with your legs stretched forward.
  2. Slowly bend forward and try to hold your toes with your hands.
  3. Bend your head downwards so it rests on your knees or just below.
  4. Hold the posture for a few seconds to a minute.
  5. Slowly release back.

14. Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

Ardha Chandrasana pose can help improve your balance and focus. This asana can also help strengthen your abdominal muscles, legs, and spine.

woman-practicing-yoga-doing-Half-Moon-exercise

Duration:

15-30 seconds on both sides. You can repeat this pose 3-5 times.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet together.
  2. Pull your stomach in and bring your chest out a bit.
  3. Inhale and bring your hands together towards the ceiling.
  4. Press your palms together and make sure your head is slightly tilted upwards.
  5. Lengthen your arms and slowly bend to your side as you exhale.
  6. Hold the posture for 15-30 seconds.
  7. Inhale and come back to your initial position with your hands still up.
  8. Repeat on the other side.
  9. Slowly release your arms down when you’re ready to finish.

15. Crescent Pose (Anjaneyasana)

The crescent pose can help strengthen your buttocks and thigh muscles. It can also help improve your balance and mental clarity.

woman-practicing-yoga-standing-in-anjaneyasana-pose

Duration:

15-30 seconds on each leg

How to do it:

  1. Kneel down and bring your right foot forward in a lunge position.
  2. Place your hands on the sides of your right foot and slowly stretch your left foot backward.
  3. Now keep your body and head straight.
  4. Inhale and raise your hands backward with your palms facing each other and slightly tilt your head back as well.
  5. Arch back as far as you comfortably can and observe your breathing.
  6. Hold the posture for 15-30 seconds before slowly releasing back.

16. Upward Plank (Purvottanasana)

The upward plank asana is a great workout for your back, legs, and arms.

woman-practicing-yoga-doing-Purvottanasana-yoga-pose

Duration:

30 to 60 seconds

How to do it:

  1. Sit straight with your legs stretched forward.
  2. Place your arms behind you with your fingers facing away from your body.
  3. Press your palms firmly, inhale and slowly raise your body up.
  4. Keep your head hanging straight.
  5. Keep the soles of your feet pressed on the floor.
  6. Hold the posture for 30-60 seconds.
  7. Exhale as you slowly release back.

17. Half Spinal Twist Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

This asana is beneficial for your spine and back. It’s also believed to improve the functioning of your digestive organs and improve blood circulation.

Woman-in-Ardha-Matsyendrasana-pose

Duration:

30-60 seconds

How to do it:

  1. Sit straight with your legs crossed.
  2. Bend your left knee and place your right leg underneath your left thigh.
  3. Now fold your left knee over your right thigh and bring your left knee upwards towards your chest with your left hand.
  4. Raise your right arm up and bring it to the side of your left leg.
  5. Your chest should be facing the opposite side of your top leg.
  6. Now slowly turn your face towards the back with your left hand placed behind you.
  7. Hold the posture for 30-60 seconds and repeat with your other side.

18. Warrior 2 Pose (Virabhadrasana 2)

The warrior 2 pose helps strengthen your arms and leg muscles.

Woman-doing-Virabhadrasana-2-pose-outdoors

Duration:

30 seconds on each leg

How to do it:

  1. Stand with one leg bent forward and your other leg stretched backward.
  2. Stretch your arms out and keep them at shoulder level with one facing forward and one towards your back leg.
  3. Hold the posture for 10-30 seconds and then slowly release.

19. Warrior 3 Pose (Virabhadrasana 3)

The warrior 3 pose helps strengthen your whole body, especially your shoulders, back, and leg muscles. It also helps improve your coordination and balance.

Woman-doing-Yoga-Virabhadrasana-3-at-home

Duration:

10-30 seconds

How to do it:

  1. Stand straight and bring your right leg forward.
  2. Slowly raise and stretch your left leg out until it aligns straight with your body.
  3. Focus on one point and take your time to do this.
  4. Keep your arms bent in front of you to support your posture and slowly stretch your arms out with your palms facing each other.
  5. Face your head down while you hold this posture for a few seconds and then slowly release back.

20. Plank Pose

The plank pose is a great exercise to tone your abdomen, back and arms.

Young-Woman-Practicing-Plank-Pose--at-Home

Duration:

30-60 seconds

How to do it:

  1. Get into a pushup position.
  2. Keep your palms pressed firmly on the floor and your heels facing up.
  3. Keep your head facing down and hold this posture for 30-60 seconds before releasing back.

21. Child Pose (Balasana)

The child pose has been found to provide relief from dizziness, fatigue, stress, and anxiety. It’s also useful for your spine and shoulders.

Group-of-people-in-Balasana-pose-in-a-gym

Duration:

1-2 minutes

How to do it:

  1. Kneel down with your toes close to each other.
  2. Sit on your heels and slowly bend your body forward and rest your torso on your thighs.
  3. Keep your head facing down with your forehead closer to your knees.
  4. Stretch your arms out with your palms facing down.
  5. Hold this posture for 1-2 minutes and slowly release.

Things You Can Do with Yoga to Lose Weight Faster

Restrict calories

Going on a restricted calorie diet is a scientifically proven way to lose weight, and it can certainly be beneficial with yoga.


Eat more healthy fats

Not all fats are bad for you. Consuming healthy fat foods like avocados and coconut oil on a calorie restricted diet can help you lose weight by suppressing your appetite.


Reduce carb intake

Low carb diets like the ketogenic diet have been proven to be useful for weight loss [5].


Conclusion

Practicing yoga regularly can help you lose and maintain weight. Consider attending yoga classes to learn to do it the right way and to reduce the risk of any injuries.


Takeaways

  • Yoga has been proven to be useful for losing and maintaining weight.
  • Combining yoga with a calorie restricted diet can help you lose weight faster.
  • Avoid attempting to do intense yoga poses when you’re starting out.
  • Do yoga on an empty stomach or a few hours after your last meal.

References

  1. Shohani M et al. The Effect of Yoga on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Women. 2018 February - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5843960/
  2. Mohsen Ebrahim M, Guilad-Nejan TN, Pordanjani AF. Effect of yoga and aerobics exercise on sleep quality in women with Type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. 2017 April - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5612039/
  3. Kisan R et al. Effect of Yoga on migraine: A comprehensive study using clinical profile and cardiac autonomic functions. 2014 July - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4097897/
  4. Posadzki p, Ernst E. Yoga for low back pain: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. 2011 September - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21590293
  5. Dashti HM et al. Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. 2004 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/

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