Can yoga boost your metabolism and help you lose weight?
Yoga offers many physical benefits, including strengthening muscles, and increasing flexibility, to name a few. Research even suggests yoga is helpful in the management of obesity. In one randomized controlled trial, practicing yoga for a year resulted in significant improvements in body weight and density.
If you want to add yoga to your weight loss regimen, try the following yoga routine to rev up your metabolism, increase energy, and— bonus!—decrease your stress levels.
Warm Up and Energize with Sun Salutations
Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskar, awakens the energy of the sun, warms the body and cultivates inner fire. This sequence of postures will warm-up and stretch your entire body. Start slowly, connecting each pose with a deep ujjayi breath.
- Begin in Mountain Pose, Tadasana. Evenly distribute your weight over both feet.
- Inhale into an Upward Salute, Urdhva Hastasana. Stretch your arms out to the side and then overhead, reaching for the heavens and turning your face up to greet the sun.
- Exhale into a Standing Forward Bend, Uttanasana. Keep your legs firm and bend at the hips, bringing your hands to the floor or the back of your ankles.
- Inhale into a Standing Half Forward Bend, Ardha Uttanasana. Straighten your elbows and arch your torso away from your thighs as you push down with your fingertips and gaze forward.
- Exhale into Plank Pose by stepping your feet back, being sure that your wrists are shoulder distance apart and feet at hip distance. Take one full breath in Plank pose.
- On your next exhale, lower into Four-Limbed Staff Pose, Chaturanga Dandasana. With straight legs, slowly lower your torso towards the floor. Hold your elbows in towards your sides as you look forward.
- Inhale into Upward Facing Dog, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Lead with your heart, sending your chest forward and pulling your shoulders back to open your collarbones.
- Exhale into Downward Facing Dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana. Press your hips back and up with firmed upper arms, shoulders externally rotated. Feet should be parallel and your head should hang loose and heavy.
Repeat this sequence 5 – 10 times, depending on your level of fitness, increasing your pace to get the cardiovascular benefits of Sun Salutations.
Target the Thyroid Gland with Inversion Poses
The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones that play a significant role in metabolism and energy regulation in the body. Thyroid health is important for a healthy metabolism and body weight; underactive thyroids are associated with weight gain. Inversion poses that press the chin to the chest push blood from the thyroid. When these poses are released, fresh oxygenated blood refills and circulates around the thyroid gland. (Inversions like supported shoulder stand, fish, and plow pose are best practiced under the guidance of an instructor.)
Bridge Pose, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Begin by lying supine on the floor. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, as close to your sitting bones as possible. Exhale, firming the buttocks and lifting your tailbone, pressing down with your inner feet and arms. Knees should be directly over heels, and hands can be clasped beneath the pelvis area. A block or bolster can be placed beneath your pelvis and a folded blanket beneath your shoulder area for extra support. Inhale and exhale with ujjayi breath for up to 1 minute.
Supported Shoulder Stand, Salamba Sarvangasana
Like preparing for bridge pose, begin with a folded blanket beneath your shoulders, head on the floor, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Exhale, pulling your thighs towards your torso and pressing your arms into the floor. Curl your pelvis to bring your knees closer to your face, and place your hands against the back of your torso. Lift your bent knees towards the ceiling, and straighten your legs, pressing your heels up towards the ceiling. Soften your throat. Hold the pose for 30 seconds if you are a beginner or up to 3 minutes for more advanced level students.
Plow Pose, Halasana
From your supported shoulder stand, slowly lower your toes towards the floor above and behind your head, bending at the hip joints. Lift your top thighs and tailbone toward the ceiling and soften your throat.
Fish Pose, Matsyasana
Lay supine on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Inhale, and lift your pelvis slightly, slide your hands beneath your buttocks, palms facing the floor. Release your pelvis so your buttocks are resting on the top of your hands, and your forearms and elbows are hugging your torso. Inhale, lifting your upper torso and head up off the floor.
Rest and Relax
End your practice with deeply restorative poses, like supported child’s pose and a lengthy stay in yoga corpse pose, savasana. Restorative yoga poses help with weight loss by reducing stress that can lead to increased cortisol production. Cortisol increases sugars in the bloodstream and can lead to the accumulation of visceral fat that accumulates in our abdominals around our organs. You heard that right: relaxing away your stress can actually decrease dangerous belly fat. Add this yoga routine to your day and you may just find yourself more relaxed, energized, and inching ever closer to your weight loss goals.