When you think of trying yoga for weight loss, do you wonder whether it will work? If yes, you are not alone. We often relate resistance training, burpees, and cardio workouts to weight loss. But don’t dismiss yoga just yet. Yoga can help you shed kilos if that’s your goal. The add-on? The breathwork can get you in a suitable mental space to curb emotional eating and get the most out of a workout. 

In addition, yoga creates a deeper awareness, linking the breath to the movement of the pose. This more profound understanding of the physical and mental state creates mindfulness, which is crucial when making healthier eating choices or knowing when to step back to prevent too much cortisol (stress hormone) in the body. Science backs it up: A study published in the American Journal of Managed Care proved that cortisol could significantly inhibit weight loss.

Research has shown that breath is a crucial factor in weight loss. But how? Well, by releasing burned calories with every exhale, releasing toxins and lowering cortisol levels. The yogic breathing techniques also increase the oxygen flow in your body’s cells, boosting metabolism and aiding fat loss.

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Yoga for weight loss: Breathing techniques to boost metabolism

Consistent practice of the following yogic breathing exercises or pranayama suggested by Dr. Rohit Sabbarwal, Senior Art of Living Faculty can help in healthy weight management.  

Deep Belly breathing:

  1. Sit down with your legs crossed and place one hand on your tummy.
  2. Place your right thumb near the naval and your left hand higher on your chest.
  3. Take deep breaths and ensure your chest doesn’t rise at all.
  4. Only allow your abdomen to fall with each deep breath.

This breathing technique will curb emotional eating and get the most out of a workout.

Image credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer/Flickr

Diaphragm breathing:

  1. Lie down on your back and relax.
  2. Take a deep inhale, exhale, and notice how your chest and stomach move.
  3. Continue taking deeper inhales and exhales. 

This technique will not only improve your digestion but also boost your metabolism.

Skull Shining breath (Kapalbhati). 

  1. Sit comfortably with your spine straight. 
  2. Place one hand on your knees with your palms facing the sky. Place the other hand on the abdomen. 
  3. Inhale deeply and contract your lower belly as you exhale. Then, force out the breath in a short burst. 
  4. You will feel your abdominal muscles contract. Release your abdomen and allow your breath to flow into your lungs. 
  5. Take 20 breaths to complete one round.
  6.  Then, relax with your eyes closed and observe the sensations in your body.

This technique helps reduce the cortisol level in the body. That cortisol word again, hey. Our nervous systems have a huge role in sustainable and healthy weight loss. 

Which yoga styles are best for fat loss?

Dynamic practices such as Power Vinyasa and Ashtanga help burn calories efficiently as you work towards healthy body composition goals. For example, ashtanga yoga follows a sequence of 26 poses designed to detoxify the body by generating heat. On the other hand, Power Vinyasa Flow is a fast-moving practice that creates deep internal heat whilst burning calories in the continuous aerobic flow.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Think holistically about your lifestyle if you wish to lose weight – stress levels, diet, and work-life balance. Once your cortisol levels are under control, your body is in a much better position to lose weight organically. As Hong Kong-based Yoga Expert and Founder of Harmonise Yoga Studio says, ‘Balance is the key to everything’.

(Hero and feature image credits: Wikimedia Commons)

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: Which yoga styles are best for fat loss?

Answer: Dynamic practices such as Power Vinyasa and Ashtanga help burn calories efficiently as you work towards healthy body composition goals.

Question: How to lose weight with yoga?

Answer: Yoga practices such as Power Vinyasa and Ashtanga combined with breath work and a healthy lifestyle can help lose weight.

Question: Do breathing exercises help lose weight?

Answer: The yogic breathing exercises also increase the oxygen flow in your body's cells, boosting metabolism and aiding fat loss.

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