A Pinch Of Thoughts

Yoga for Weight Loss and Toning

When one thinks about weight loss, the first three things that come to mind are diet, cardio, and weight training; and yes, those are effective! But we also see a huge section of society which believes that yoga aids in weight loss. Yoga for weight loss has always been a debatable topic.

However, there are some rigorous forms of yoga like Ashtanga Yoga and Power Vinayasa flows (a fasting moving aerobic flow that helps in burning calories) which have been known to help in weight loss and toning. Combined with proper diet and strong dedication, yoga has proven to be beneficial in aiding weight loss.

There are several online video tutorials that demonstrate ‘yoga flow sequences’ which one could see and practice at home. But how much do they really help?

Diving directly into yoga flow sequences may not be as effective if you do not have an idea of proper body alignment and the asanas that are used to create these dynamic flows.

Proper breathing techniques and body alignment is of utmost importance whilst practicing yoga. Given the current situation, if you are unable to attend any yoga classes, then I would suggest that you begin with watching videos that teach the fundamentals of basic asanas and then gradually progress into the practicing the flow sequences for weight loss.

Apart from weight loss and toning, yoga also improves the respiration, core stability, flexibility, stress management and cardiovascular health.

Before beginning your yoga practice, set your intention (in this case weight loss). Get rid of the clutter in your mind and be present on the mat. If you are new to yoga, you could also use the support of blocks, straps, chair etc depending on the asanas you choose to learn and practice. It is ok if you aren’t able to get into balance in the first attempt. It is ok to fumble or fall. Do not be disappointed. Practising yoga isn’t as easy as it looks!

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Listed below are few yoga asanas that could help in weight loss and also tone your muscles.

1 – Chaturangaandasana or The Staff pose or Low Plank

Planks are a part of any regular workout. And in yoga it is no different. But this pose is slightly more challenging than the regular plank pose. The Chaturanga is the foundational yoga pose.

  • First get into your high plank pose making sure that your shoulders are stacked above your wrists, core is engaged, and the legs are straight and strong.
  • Now draw your muscles to the midline and hug your elbows to your sides.
  • Now slowly shift forward on your toes and pull your torso forward making sure that now your shoulders are beyond your wrists.
  • Now slowly start lowering your body keeping your elbows hugging to your sides. Lower as slowly as you can and maintain control
  • Once your shoulders are in line with your elbows (do not drop your shoulders below your elbows), stop, and hold the pose. The elbows and forearms are parallel to the floor. Draw your navel to your spine and engage your core. Hold as much as you can. Remember to breathe. (This is not a push up, hence do not flay your elbows out. Keep it hugged to your sides).
  • Slowly exhale and lower completely on to the mat. Relax.
  • Repeat this by pushing your self back to the high plank pose.

I decided to explain this pose in detail because it is slightly more complicated than the regular plank pose, and this isn’t a pose where you use brute strength to come to the final position. It is a slow, controlled movement.

2 – Trikonasana – The Triangle pose

This pose is an intense side stretch which helps in weight loss by reducing the fat from the sides. This pose also helps burns calories. The sideways motion of this asana helps burn fat from the sides and helps strengthen muscles in the thighs and hamstrings. It also helps in reducing the fat around the belly and waist.

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3 – Garudasana -The Eagle pose

For those who want thinner thighs, legs, hands and arms, this pose is the perfect choice for weight loss. This greatly helps in improving muscle tone, strength, flexibility, and concentration. The more you focus, the longer you can hold this pose. If you find it difficult, you could initially take the support of a wall.

4 – Virabhadrasana – The Warrior pose

This pose is the most effective choice for achieving toned thighs and shoulders. The key here is to hold the pose for longer period of time. The more you hold, better the results. This pose becomes more effective when combined with the Warrior ll and Warrior lll poses. These could tone your abdominal muscles and back.

5 – ParivrttaUtkatasana – The Twisted Chair pose

The chair pose is quite similar to our regular squats. However, the twisted chair pose is a little more of an intense variation. It tones the abdominal muscles, glutes, and quads. This is a great pose for weight loss.

6 – Eka Pada AdhoMukhaSvanasana – One Legged Downward Facing Dog

Those who are used to yoga would be aware of the Downward Facing Dog- AdhoMukhaSvanasana which helps you tones your whole body.

However, the One Legged Downward Facing Dog is a little more intense as it stretches your hamstrings, hips and calves. It strengthens your quadriceps and ankles and also tones your arms and abdominals.

It is advised to first practice the simple Downward facing Dog pose and then gradually progress to the One-Legged pose.

7 – UrdhvaMukhaSvanasana – Upward Facing Dog

This pose is the most powerful and efficient way of toning your biceps, arms and triceps. This pose involves the stretching of arm muscles and balancing the body weight.

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8 – Navasana – The Boat Pose

This is a popular pose practiced for weight loss- especially while dealing with stubborn belly fat. This pose not only deals with belly fat but can actually build strength to the core of you very being.

9 – ArdhaChandrasana- The Half Moon Pose

Not a pose for beginners but with the support of blocks or a wall, this pose can be easily practised. Practicing this pose leads to strong abdomen, glutes and spines. It also helps in strengthening knees, legs and ankles.

10 – Dhanurasana – The Bow Pose

This back-bending pose helps in increasing the spinal flexibility and strength. This pose is greatly effective for getting rid of belly fat.

11 – Surya Namaskar – The Sun Salutations

Well, we all know that no practice is complete without doing Surya Namaskars. Surya namaskars are a blend of certain asanas and are excellent for warmups before you start your yoga practice. It is also a great cardiovascular exercise and once you gradually increase the number of rounds, you would definitely see your pounds disappear. This is one of the most efficient practices for weight loss.

These are just few asanas that could help you with your weight loss. There are many more which I would mention in the future articles.

A word of caution: if you suffer from any back or knee issues or injuries, make sure that you choose your asanas accordingly. If you are practicing yoga on your own, then make sure you read up on it or follow the instructions provided in the online tutorials.

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