Yoga and Weight Loss

Ask the Expert

Q:

Can doing yoga help me lose weight?


A:

Yoga, an ancient form of exercise, focuses on uniting the body, mind and spirit. It's rated as a "moderate" physical activity, according to guidelines set by the American College of Sports Medicine and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That means you will burn calories by doing yoga, but probably not burn enough calories to promote weight loss. To achieve that goal, you need vigorous activity (jogging, running, race walking, and such) to give your body a heart-pumping cardiovascular workout. Other factors, including nutrition, also factor in to successfully losing pounds and maintaining a healthy weight.

During a yoga class, the instructor will lead you through different poses to strengthen your body, increase flexibility and release tension. You perform yoga exercises while focusing on your breathing and internal sensations to help clear your mind. The physical movement and body awareness of yoga practice help reduce stress and can bring about positive changes in your overall physical and mental health.

By lowering your stress, yoga also may help with weight control—reducing the triggers of emotional eating and helping you recognize your body's internal hunger and fullness signals, as well as enabling you to make better food choices.

So, enjoy a regular yoga practice. To help with weight loss, I recommend you also add two or three cardiovascular workouts to your weekly physical activity routine.

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