Yoga for Weight Loss: Vigorous Sun Salutations

Yoga for Weight Loss: Vigorous Sun Salutations

about yoga for weight lossBy Kimaya Singh

Practicing Yoga for weight loss is a great way to tone, shape, and sculpt your body. Not only does Yoga help to increase your range of movement and flexibility, but it also helps to strengthen your entire body. There are many different Yoga postures or asanas that one can practice. Yoga practice can be tailored to energizing you or relaxing and restoring your vital life energy. If you are focusing on weight loss, practicing Yoga postures and sequences that raise your heart rate to an aerobic level will help you to burn more calories and lose weight. There are also strengthening techniques that can be incorporated into a traditional Yoga flow to increase the sculpting and toning benefits of the practice.


Basic Sun Salutation

The Sun Salutation is a basic vinyasa or flow series in Yoga routines. This series of foundational poses warm up all of the core muscle groups in the body. The Sun Salutation also increases optimal blood flow to all areas of your body, including areas that may be tight or contracted from stress and tension. The ensuing release of tension will increase your energy level dramatically. If you move at a pace that is quick enough to raise your heart rate to a moderate aerobic level, you will burn calories and improve the functioning of your cardiovascular system.

Does it Work?

Are flowing yoga postures enough to keep weight off? The simple answer is yes, but there’s more to it than that. Like any physical activity, the key to reaping the benefits of yoga for weight loss lies in consistency and regular practice. That said, even if you only practice yoga once a week, you will still see positive changes in your body and mind. Incorporating a few basic Sun Salutations into your daily routine is a great way to get started with yoga for weight loss.


Seriously – Yoga for Weight Loss

Sun Salutations are a flowing yoga sequence that can be done relatively quickly, making them ideal for busy people who don’t have much time to spare for a longer yoga practice. Not only will Sun Salutations help to increase your overall fitness level and reduce stress, but they’ll also give your metabolism a boost, which can lead to more effective fat-burning and weight loss. So, if you want to start seeing results from your yoga practice, add some Sun Salutations into the mix!


Many poses part of the Sun Salutation flow series are also very strengthening.  A great way to increase the aerobic and strengthening effects of the Sun Salutation is to incorporate strengthening moves as you link the poses together with a vinyasa flow. One way to do this is to practice leg raises while in Downward Facing Dog before moving into the next standing posture.


Adding Leg Raises into the Sun Salutation

After warming up with several basic Sun Salutations, you will be ready to include leg raises into your Yoga flow. In Downward Facing Dog, pause and shift your left foot a few inches toward the center of your mat. With your body weight evenly distributed between your hands, raise your right leg behind you with your next inhale. Keep your toes pointing towards the floor.

Further Instruction

Slowly bring your right knee towards your right arm. Hold for several seconds, and then raise your right leg behind you again. Repeat twice and then transition into your next standing posture by bringing your right leg forward on your Yoga mat. When you are ready to move into the same asana on the left-hand side, pause in Downward Facing Dog and practice three leg raises with your left leg. If you incorporate three leg raises on each side before each standing asana, you will effectively tone, sculpt, and shape your body.


Yogic Lifestyle

Yoga for weight loss is a reality with flowing postures, but that’s not the whole story. A yogic lifestyle with healthy eating, regular walking, and regular sleep patterns can combine to help anyone at any age. Please know that we are not referring to an instant or yo-yo-type diet. Yogic diets are plant-based and wholesome and offer complete nutrition. This does not mean you have to become a vegan or vegetarian. That said, many health problems would be less prominent if we took a good portion of healthy vegetables first while cutting back on refined carbohydrates and processed food.


Walking as a Strategy

Adding walking or running to yoga for a weight loss program is a big plus. A healthy diet and regular exercise are essential for weight loss, but adding some extra cardio to your regime can give you an extra edge. Sun Salutations, a basic yoga flow, is a great way to start your day or use it as a quick workout. It helps build heat in the body, improve flexibility, and tone muscles.

Brisk Walking

Walking is a great form of cardio that can be easily added to your yogic lifestyle. Taking a brisk walk before or after your yoga practice can help you burn extra calories and speed up the weight loss process. If you’re looking to lose weight, toning up your legs and butt is probably high on your list of priorities. Walking is a great way to do just that. Not only will it help you slim down, but it will also improve your overall cardiovascular health.


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Related Research

A. M. Bernstein, J. Bar, J. P. Ehrman, M. Golubic, and M. F. Roizen, “Yoga in the management of overweight and obesity,” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 33–41, 2014.

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S. McIver, M. McGartland, and P. O’Halloran, “‘Overeating is not about the food’: women describe their experience of a yoga treatment program for binge eating,” Qualitative Health Research, vol. 19, no. 9, pp. 1234–1245, 2009.

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Related Studies

K. A. Dittmann and M. R. Freedman, “Body awareness, eating attitudes, and spiritual beliefs of women practicing Yoga,” Eating Disorders, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 273–292, 2009.

C. F. Emery, K. L. Olson, V. S. Lee, D. L. Habash, J. L. Nasar, and A. Bodine, “Home environment and psychosocial predictors of obesity status among community-residing men and women,” International Journal of Obesity, vol. 39, no. 9, pp. 1401–1407, 2015.

K. Elfhag and S. Rössner, “Who succeeds in maintaining weight loss? A conceptual review of factors associated with weight loss maintenance and weight regain,” Obesity Reviews, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 67–85, 2005.

Sharpe PA, Blanck HM, Williams JE, Ainsworth BE, Conway JM. Use of complementary and alternative medicine for weight control in the United States. J Altern Complement Med. 2007;13:217-222.

A. R. Kristal, A. J. Littman, D. Benitez, and E. White, “Yoga practice is associated with attenuated weight gain in healthy, middle-aged men and women,” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 28–33, 2005.

A. Ross and S. Thomas, “The health benefits of yoga and exercise: a review of comparison studies,” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 3–12, 2010.

T. R. Carei, A. L. Fyfe-Johnson, C. C. Breuner, and M. A. Brown, “Randomized controlled clinical trial of yoga in the treatment of eating disorders,” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 46, no. 4, pp. 346–351, 2010.

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