Yoga for Weight Loss
We all have our problem areas – some of us might not like the way our arms look (read: the dreaded arm jiggle), the little holiday weight we may be carrying around our middle, or our not-so-perfect calves. While it helps to work towards feeling comfortable in one’s own skin (a body-positive image can do us all a world of good), there are certain things we can do to stay fit and tone up. While a vast majority might not consider yoga for weight loss or as the go-to fat-busting workout, many A-list celebrities swear by its efficacy and overall health benefits (Kareena Kapoor’s enviable figure in the movie ‘Tashan’ was the result of power yoga). Here is why you should give power yoga a try and how you can get the most out of your workout.
What is power yoga?
Power yoga is a more vigorous form of yoga (it is modelled on the traditional form of Ashtanga Yoga), where instructors can change up the sequence of various poses, depending on the health/fitness results desired. It is a high energy, intricate and fast-paced form of yoga that sculpts the body while also helping improve your mental focus. While a typical high-intensity cardio workout may burn more calories, it does not compare to the lean muscle building, posture improving, fat burning and body shaping benefits of an equivalent power yoga session.
Who can opt for power yoga?
Power yoga can be practised by anyone without any serious back or knee injuries or breathing ailments. This exercise form should also be avoided by women who are pregnant. If you love mixing up your fitness routine and generally want a leaner, fitter and healthier body, power yoga is for you! Even beginners with lower fitness levels can take it up (just remember to go slow and build on your strength).
What to keep in mind while practising power yoga?
Talk to your instructor before you embark on a new fitness journey – he/she will help personalize your power yoga session to suit your physical needs. An equal mix of cardio, strength training and power yoga combined with a healthy diet will help you lose all those extra pounds in no time!
The top 10 power yoga poses for weight loss
If you are new to this wonderful form of body sculpting, you might find it difficult to choose the right poses for your physical requirements (and sometimes, limitations). It is hence a good idea to start with the following postures before progressing into other, tougher asanas, and doing more. They are best practised under the supervision of an experienced fitness trainer.
Following are some yoga poses which can help you lose those extra kilos:
Yogi Hurdler’s Test
Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Extend one leg to reach behind your back with your knee at a 900 angle. Reach forward towards the toes of your other leg and hold the pose for 10 seconds. Stretch back over the bent leg to work on your quadriceps. Again, stay in this pose for 10 seconds. This pose can be modified by placing one foot facing the inner thigh of the other, in a half cross-legged position. The rest of the stretching procedure remains the same. Repeat with the other leg.
Benefits: The Hurdler’s pose stretches your hamstrings and loosens you up before a full session.
The Extended Side Angle
Stand on your feet and raise your arms. Bend sideways while moving one foot away from the other (on the side you are leaning to) – bend this knee at a 900 angle while keeping your other leg straight. Same goes for the positioning of your hands. Turn your head to look up.
Benefits: This extended side angle tones the back and legs while relieving stiffness. It also improves digestion.
Lie on your back and slowly bring your feet to touch the ground while bending your knees. Make sure that your hands are placed straight on the ground all the time. Push up on your feet and bring your body up with your head and shoulders still firmly on the floor (you can place a rolled-up towel to ease the pressure under your neck/shoulders). Hold this pose for 10 seconds and come slowly back down again.
Benefits: The bridge pose strengthens your spine, chest, and hamstrings. It also firms the buttocks.
Lie face-down on the floor – bring your palms to press down against the floor near your chest. Slowly lift the top half (waist up) of your body up till your upper back is off the floor. Do not let your head hang – look up while keeping your shoulder blades down and back. Hold this position for 10 seconds and come back down again.
Benefits: The cobra pose strengthens the lower back while also relieving stiffness. It also helps do away with menstrual irregularities and improves heart health.
Lie face-down on the floor and lift your head slightly while reaching behind your back
with your hands. Bend your legs at the knee to bring your feet up in the air. Grab hold of your ankles while resting on your belly and hips. Hold this pose for 10 seconds before going back down again.
Benefits: Stretches and opens the hips, upper legs, abdomen, chest and throat. Improves posture and conditions the digestive and reproductive systems.
Stand upright on the floor – slowly bring one foot forward while bending the knee at a near 900 angle. Let your other leg remain where it was – lean forwards in the direction of the leg in front while not bending this knee. Raise your hands and form a praying posture. Look upwards and hold the pose for 10 seconds. Repeat with the other leg after returning to the upright position.
Benefits: The warrior pose shapes the arms, legs and lower back while eradicating shoulder stiffness. It also improves overall balance and posture.
Repeat the steps of the Warrior pose, but instead of having your arms raised straight up, bend as far back as you can, so that your hands, back and legs are extended in the shape of a crescent.
Benefits: The crescent lunge helps tone and sculpt the leg muscles while improving spine alignment and general posture.
The name is self-explanatory – stand upright and raise your hands while bending your legs at the knees to reach a seated position in mid air (i.e. pose like you have a chair beneath you without actually having one). Hold this pose for 10 seconds and repeat.
Benefits: The chair pose adds strength to the back, quadriceps, arms and shins. It also works miracles on the Achilles tendons, triceps and calves.
Wind Releasing Post
Lie on your back, bring both your knees towards your chest and hug them with your hands.
Benefits: The wind releasing post helps burn belly fat for a flatter stomach!
Stand upright and raise your arms upwards. Reach down and touch the ground with your fingertips while keeping your knees straight. With your fingers still touching the ground, place your legs to resemble the Warrior pose waist-down (i.e. one leg that is bent at the knee ahead of the other leg that is unbent). Bring the leg that is in front backwards to form a plank position (with the whole body in one straight line). Lie face-down on the floor, and then go into the Cobra pose. With your palms pressing down against the floor, lift yourself up on your feet to form a Mountain pose – with your chest inwards and head facing down for an inverted V pose. Perform the semi-Warrior pose as described earlier (this is where the reverse sequence begins). Reach down and touch the ground with your fingertips while keeping your knees straight. Raise your arms and finally, come back to the initial position.
Benefits: The Surya Namaskar burns many calories to aid in weight loss. It also improves blood circulation and regularizes menstruation.
Now that you know a lot about yoga for weight loss, aren’t you excited to get started on your new fitness program? Let us help you achieve your weight goals – request for a Housejoy yoga instructor now!