People often mistakenly believe that Yoga cannot lead to weight loss. That is not true- yoga, when done right and regularly-can give you a toned body and could even result in weight loss. In fact; coordination and balance exercises such as Yoga are often much better for strengthening the bones as compared to other exercises where your weight is balanced (such as cycling, swimming etc). So, if you want to lose weight and get in better shape, a healthy combination of Yoga, stretching exercises and the right balanced diet plan can help. Today, we will be discussing some of the best Yoga poses that are known to result in weight loss.
Before we begin
A word of caution: Yoga is best learnt under supervision. If possible, seek help from a certified yoga instructor. You can then do these yoga poses (asanas) at home. Also, always start each yoga session with warm up stretches discussed below. Thirdly, always exhale while going down (or away from the center of the body) and inhale while coming up (or towards the center of the body) in Yoga. This is the number one rule of Yoga. Breathing and mindfulness are also very essential while doing yoga, since the body and mind are intricately connected through the breath.
1. Warm up Yoga poses
Stand up on the yoga mat. Stretch your arms above your head and raise your toes. Stretch the upper body as much as possible while maintaining balance. Come back to the normal standing position. Next, bend backwards and forwards from the waist –remember to inhale or exhale accordingly. Now you can do some sideways stretches. Be aware of the breath all along the warm-up stretches. Remain aware of the body and mind as you stretch.
Suryanamaskar is an important component of Yogasanas as taught in the Hatha Yoga principles. It is a set of 12 poses that form one beautiful asana. You should ideally do at least 12 of suryanamaskar sets and if possible, increase it to 24, 36, 48 and so on. It is believed that the great Indian sage Swami Ramdas actually did 1000 Suryanamaskars daily! This helped him open up and activate all of his 7 chakras-the energy centers-which led to his enlightenment. Below is an image depicting the 12 poses for each set. Start from 1st pose and end with the 12th pose-that completes one set. Do at least 6 sets in the beginning and slowly increase to 12 or 24. This will surely lead to tighter abdominal muscles. Relax after this asana in the corpse pose or Shavasana.
This is the bow-and-arrow pose wherein you start by lying on your belly. Take hold of each of your ankles with corresponding hands. Lift your body upwards so that it rests on your navel and arch your back. Hold this pose for 10 seconds. All the while, continue deep breaths in and outwards. Relax and observe the sensations in your body and thoughts in your mind. Slowly increase the duration of this pose to up to 20 seconds.
This is the Cobra pose. You lie on your belly and keep your palms flat on the ground next to your shoulders. Lift only the upper part of your body up to the navel. Your arms will be bent at the elbows in 45 degree angles. Feel the stretch on the lower back and shoulders. Hold this pose for 10-15 seconds, all the while breathing in an out deeply. Relax and observe the sensations in your body and the thoughts in your mind.
The Boat pose: start by lying on your back. Slowly raise your upper body and legs at the same time. Your feet should be approximately 6-8 inches above the ground and the head and upper back should also be raised to approximately the same level. Feel the stretch on your abdominal area. This pose leads to tightening of the abs and helps reduce belly fat.
6. Ardha Halasana
This pose involves raised legs. Lie down on your back. Keep your legs joined and hands by your sides. Raise one leg at 90 degrees with toe pointing downwards towards your body. Hold for 20 seconds. Now bring the leg down and repeat with the other leg holding it for 20 seconds. Again raise the first leg up, then second. Repeat this exercise at least 5 times. It is ideal for burning belly fat and aids in weight loss.
Image: via G-Media News
Kneel on the yoga mat. Slowly bend backwards while holding your ankles tightly with your hands. (Thumbs should be inside and remaining four fingers should be outside). Push your back upwards and forwards. Keep the feet flat on the ground. Breathe in and out deeply. Hold the pose for 10 seconds.
8. Butterfly (Baddhakonasana) and cobbler pose
In this pose, you sit with your back upright and join the heels of your feet together. Hold the toes with both hands and start “flapping your thighs” up and down like the wings of a butterfly. After 7-8 flaps, bring your head down and try to touch it to your feet (cobblers pose). Hold this pose for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat the flapping. This exercise stretches the inner thigh muscles. Avoid doing this exercise if you have sciatica or neck problems.
9. Plank pose
This is a versatile yoga pose for strengthening the biceps, abdominal muscles, chest and back. Hold your breath and form a plank of your body by resting it on your palms and toes. No other body part should touch the ground. Breathe in and out normally. Hold this pose for at least 30-45 seconds. An ideal plank is formed when your head and toes form a straight line.
Image: Kristin Mcgee
10. Downward dog
Image: Yoga Touch Method
You do this pose in Suryanamaskars too. Lie on your back. Raise your body so that your hips are now at the highest point. Your feet will be flat on the ground and so will your palms. Your body should look like a triangle in this pose. This yoga pose stretches the arms, legs, hamstrings and calves. It has a slimming effect on the arms and legs.
Try these yoga poses for weight loss and see the difference.