Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

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 full.

"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 you breathe."

Edison concedes power yoga may help some people lose weight, but she questions whether it could work for the yoga novice, or the average out-of-shape dieter.

"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 significant level.

"It's just not medically feasible – it's not going to happen," he says.

Still, Brett and Singh say they've seen firsthand that it can work, even for beginners.

"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 your life."

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:

  1. Practice in a room without mirrors, and put the emphasis on your internal experience rather than your outer performance.
  2. Learn to experience the sensation of movement, down to the tiniest micro movement.
  3. 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.
  4. Give yourself permission to rest when you're tired.
  5. Combine your yoga session with positive self-talk. Appreciate your efforts and praise your inner goodness.
  6. Go to class faithfully. If you work out at home, set a specific day and time for your yoga session and stick to it.
  7. Recognize that you are not only working on your body, but are also working to develop qualities like patience, discipline, wisdom, kindness and gratitude.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Realize your efforts are not just inspiring you, but also inspiring others as you become more attuned to who you are, inside and out.

 

1|2
Reviewed on July 21, 2006

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

Wet feet on shower floor tile
Slideshow
Flat Abs
Slideshow
 
Build a Better Butt Slideshow
Slideshow
woman using ice pack
Quiz
 

man exercising
Article
7 most effective exercises
Interactive
 
Man looking at watch before workout
Slideshow
Overweight man sitting on park bench
Video
 

pilates instructor
Slideshow
jogger running among flowering plants
Video
 
woman walking
Article
Taylor Lautner
Article