Yoga has been getting more and more popular by each passing day. Still, people tend to look at it as a stretching and relaxing activity rather than an aerobic exercise which can help us lose weight. I’ve often asked myself will yoga help me get lean but was never able to give myself a definite answer until I found out that if I want to lose weight or create a leaner muscle mass there are far better alternatives. Even so, with the help of yoga I can help my body achieve my desired results in a faster and healthier manner.
Simply put, yoga isn’t the best way to lose weight. There are far more efficient exercises that help you burn through calories and put you in an aerobic state that will make your body reach for its fat supplies. Even walking will burn through more calories than a standard yoga session. Nevertheless, incorporating yoga into your training plan will help you deal with stress better, improve your muscle and joint health, make you more flexible, and greatly benefit your rest periods, ultimately leading to a healthier weight loss process.
To understand how Yoga can help us develop leaner bodies and stronger joints and muscles, we must first learn more about the types of Yoga that are the best geared towards these processes in our bodies.
Yoga Types That Help With Weight Loss
The four major types of yoga that I find to be most helpful with weight loss are:
- Bikram Yoga
- Yin Yoga
- Restorative Yoga
- Vinyasa Yoga
Bikram Yoga is the kind that will really make you break a sweat! Not because of its intensity but because it is performed in sauna-like rooms which can reach up to 105 degrees with a humidity of around 90%. This will heat up the body, increase your heart rate and respiratory rate, and therefore help with metabolism and calorie burning. It will also loosen up your muscles and joints and relax your motor system.
Yin yoga is basically the classic breathing in and out type. Here things are focused around the relaxation of your body and building up flexibility. It is a great place to start from if you are new to yoga and it mainly works with gravity.
Restorative yoga is the kind that I find the most beneficial to people who aim to lose weight and go through gruelling weekly training sessions. It will help you unwind and connect your mind to your body by holding different poses for longer periods (generally around a minute).
Pro Tip: You can use a cushion, blanket, or even a pillow to make the process more relaxing and better feeling compared to a hard floor or a floor mat.
With our last kind (Vinyasa) you will have your movements coordinated with your breathing patterns. This will create a flow-like feeling when you go from one position to another. Over the course of the session this will put a moderate strain on your muscles. Some of the types of Vinyasa yoga are:
- Power Yoga
Vinyasa can be a valid substitution to straight training if you like to make things a little more diverse in your workout plan. Now, let’s answer the million dollar question…
So, Does Yoga Burn Fat?
If you look at yoga as a form of exercise of your body then it undoubtedly can make you sweat and lose some calories. Still, it heavily depends on the intensity of the yoga you are performing and the conditions surrounding your body during that time but in general, any sort of moving will help you burn through a few calories.
An average yoga class will help you go through more than 200 calories. That may not seem like much but calorie burning has never been the primary focus of yoga in general. This is what I want to emphasize on – yoga helps your body recover and helps us normalize our hormone and enzyme levels ultimately leading to better recovery periods and more efficient weight cutting phases. This will without a doubt help us get leaner and the great thing is that as side effects we will get some great benefits which I will explain in a minute.
The conclusion which can be drawn is that energy-wise yoga is better than nothing, and practicing it a few times per week is better than not doing so. But if you are doing it solely for the purpose of losing weight then my advice is to look elsewhere, as there are some other faster and better alternatives.
Incorporating Yoga To Your Workout Program
Having yoga as part of your workout routine has a few major benefits…
- It helps with your recovery and boosts your body’s ability to normalize its hormone and enzyme levels after a day of stress and/or heavy workout. The recovery period is one of the (if not the) most crucial parts of your weight cutting phase and is what determines whether your body will burn through just body fat or you will lose muscle and bone mass as well.
- It improves the health of your digestive system. This is extremely important as it directly translates to your body’s abilities to absorb nutrients from the food that you are eating. The higher the absorption rate, the better you will metabolize certain foods, such as proteins. It helps with fat and carbs metabolism as well.
- It helps you maintain a healthy spine, as well as general bone and joint health and structural integrity. Joints and bones are the parts of our bodies that take the worst beating during workout intense weeks. This is why yoga is so crucial to our success as it helps us keep these parts healthy.
- Doing yoga sessions will help you create a leaner muscle mass over the course of your cutting or bulking phases.
And most importantly – yoga does wonders for your mental state and mood. The techniques we can use to reduce stress levels are rarely as good as yoga. Maybe the only thing as effective that pops in my mind is breathing, such as the various Wim Hof methods.
When Is The Best Time To Practice Yoga?
I have always loved answering that question. As it is already clear that yoga isn’t a proper solution to your weight cutting issue we now agree upon the fact that it is there to help you keep things in balance with your mind and body.
This is why the right time to practice yoga is whenever your mind and body feel like it. If you wake up and feel like making a cup of tea and then doing a few yoga poses to power up the start of your day then so be it – that is the best time for you. Some people love doing it in the evening to release all the tension and stress accumulated during the work day while others prefer doing it in the middle of the day to help them handle the ongoing stress easier.
I, personally, am of the group of people that does yoga whenever I want. I used to visit a yoga group but now that I have sufficient experience in all the poses I prefer setting my own timer on my mood-fixing sessions. If I am having a very intense day I’d usually do one session in the morning right after I wake up and one just before bed.
Check out my ultimate Yoga Burn Review to see whether this program is worth your time and resources!
Is it OK to do yoga every day?
Even if you love doing yoga and your body feels great afterwards it really isn’t a good idea to do it on a daily basis. In fact, there isn’t a training program or an exercises that exists which is good when done every day. Our bodies need to be exposed to a flexible training routine and be exercised in a variety of ways for them to perform optimally. If you wonder what to include between your yoga sessions, I suggest going for walking, light weightlifting, or running.
If you really want to do it daily, at least make sure that you change the poses you practice a lot from day to day.
That actually brings us to the next most common question…
Do you need rest days from yoga?
A rule of thumb I follow is that for every three days of working out I get a rest day off. This is valid for people who only do yoga. Rest periods are great both for our bodies’ strength and our mental state and mood. For longer training phases, get a full week off every 8 weeks of training.
How do you get rid of soreness from yoga?
There are a lot of great and very successful methods when it comes to relieving your body from the tension and stress from frequent workouts, including yoga ones. Some of the best ones are:
- Proper hydration
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Reduce stimulants such as coffee and energy drinks
- Light exercise can help you recovering (stretching twice a day does wonders)
- Foam rollers are a good tool to loosen up your body
- Eating balanced and not overeating
- Hot and cold baths (either in the same time or a hot one followed by a cold one on the next day)
Is yoga considered a workout?
Normal yoga isn’t considered an exercise (aerobic or anaerobic). Still, there are varieties like Power yoga which do make you sweat quite a lot which slightly enters in the realm of aerobic exercises. Yoga improves strength and health on the long run, making it a worthy addition to any workout program.
Can you lose weight with walking?
Walking, just like any other activity can help you lose weight by putting you in a calorie deficit. If you are eating as many calories as your body needs per day but do 1-2 hour walks then you will easily fall a few hundred calories short of your daily goal. This will lead to your body burning through its fat supplies in the long run and will help you manage your weight better. Still, these types of weight cutting phases shouldn’t last more than a few weeks and should be alternated with bulking ones that help us build or regain lean muscle mass. Weight training has the best results when it comes to that.
Find out whether cardio burns fat in our bodies by going to my full review on the topic and see the various pros and cons of cardio training.
As a logical conclusion, I can say that yoga shouldn’t be viewed as a weight cutting exercise. There are types of yoga out there that will make you break a sweat but apart from them, yoga has entirely different goals and they are to make you feel better and create a better connection between the physical and metaphysical in your body. It will help you deal with everyday stress, keep your muscles, joints, and bones in a better condition and will have a generally uplifting effect on your system. That, on its own, will lead to your body wanting to exercise more frequently and more intense which will be the main key to your weight cutting success.
Will yoga help me get lean? Well, maybe not directly but it will certainly help in the process by affecting my rest periods and my overall body performance. Things like my metabolism, hormonal balance, and mental state will be greatly affected by a few yoga sessions per week. And when I say affected I mean it in a good way. The worst case scenario of trying out yoga, even if it isn’t specifically for weight loss, is that you will become more flexible and far more relaxed!