Yoga for Weight Loss?
It can help you find your bliss, and some say yoga may also help you shed those extra pounds.
How Does It Work? continued...
Adds Edison: "Yoga makes you more susceptible to influence for change –
so if you are thinking you want to change your lifestyle, you want to change
the way you think about food, you want to get over destructive eating patterns,
yoga will help give you the spiritual connection to your body that can help you
make those changes."
Another idea is that yoga forges a strong mind-body connection that
ultimately helps make you more aware of what you eat and how it feels to be
"Essentially, in yoga you learn your body is not your enemy, and the
conscious awareness of the body that you gain translates into better appetite
control," Edison says.
Power Yoga: The New Attitude
While some say yoga is too tame for extreme weight loss, many devotees of
the practice known as "power yoga" disagree.
Power yoga is an Americanized version of traditional Kundalini techniques.
Instructors like Singh and Brett believe it can offer all the fat-burning
potential – and heart benefits -- of an aerobic workout.
While traditional types of yoga are based on breathing techniques paired
with static poses, Singh says, power yoga combines meditative breathing with
faster, more active movements. The result, he says, is a workout that can be
more aerobic than . . . aerobics!
"Aerobic means to exercise in the presence of oxygen, so when
you are doing the traditional yoga breathing along with the more active
exercises, you're doing exactly that," he says. "Our 'breath of fire'
technique, for example, is one of many we use to help you burn calories while
Edison concedes power yoga may help some people lose weight, but she
questions whether it could work for the yoga novice, or the average
"Can yoga build muscle? Yes. Is a fast-paced, power class aerobic?
Sometimes. And can you sweat out water weight in a 105-degree room? Sure. But
can the average overweight person effectively shed pounds through a
one-size-fits-all physical yoga practice? Not realistically or safely,"
Edison tells WebMD.
What about using power yoga to jump-start a weight loss plan? Kristal says
even the most forceful power yoga techniques won't equal the health benefits of
a cardiovascular workout -- nor will yoga ever burn calories quickly at a
"It's just not medically feasible – it's not going to happen," he
Still, Brett and Singh say they've seen firsthand that it can work, even for
"People come to yoga for many different reasons, but we have seen many
success stories in terms of losing weight and learning to control weight,"
says Brett. "Active yoga, even for the novice, can change your body and
Making Yoga Work for You
One thing all our experts agree on is that yoga can be a terrific
introduction to the world of fitness.
To help get you started, they offer these tips:
- Practice in a room without mirrors, and put the emphasis on your internal
experience rather than your outer performance.
- Learn to experience the sensation of movement, down to the tiniest micro
- Always try to find your "edge" -- the place where your body feels
challenged, but not overwhelmed. When you achieve this, keep an open, accepting
state of mind.
- Give yourself permission to rest when you're tired.
- Combine your yoga session with positive self-talk. Appreciate your efforts
and praise your inner goodness.
- Go to class faithfully. If you work out at home, set a specific day and
time for your yoga session and stick to it.
- Recognize that you are not only working on your body, but are also working
to develop qualities like patience, discipline, wisdom, kindness and
- Look for a teacher (in a class or on video) who you feel offers a balance
between gentleness and firmness, and who inspires you to practice.
- Recognize that simply buying a yoga DVD or attending the class is a step
toward creating a better you. Use it as momentum to keep going.
- Realize your efforts are not just inspiring you, but also inspiring others
as you become more attuned to who you are, inside and out.