Yoga for Weight Loss: Poses and Positions

3 Great Yoga Routines for Weight Loss

Sun Salutations

This isn't just one move; it's actually a sequence of several postures that takes you from a standing position down to the mat and back up. Sun salutations are a great beginner routine to get your heart rate up and to work your core and upper body muscles, says Saidman Yee. There are many variations for sun salutations, but a basic one might follow this sequence:

  • Start in Mountain Pose, reaching your arms overhead.
  • Dive forward into a Standing Forward Bend, hinging at the hips and reaching toward the ground.
  • Plant your palms on the ground and step or hop back into Plank Pose.
  • Lower halfway, as if you were doing a push-up, to Chaturanga.
  • Roll over the tops of your feet and straighten your arms into Upward Facing Dog.
  • Tuck your toes and push your hips back to Downward Facing Dog.
  • Step or hop to the front of your mat and roll up to Mountain Pose, repeating the sequence from the beginning.

Sun salutations often include lunges and balancing postures, like Warrior I, II, and III, that will build strength and help you work up a sweat, as well. Saidman also suggests warming up by standing in Mountain Pose and windmilling your arms in different directions; not only will it loosen you up, but it will also increase your heart rate, too.

Abdominal Work

"Yoga can help you lose weight all over, but I think it's particularly good at helping to firm up the muscles of the core," says Herbert. She recommends incorporating moves that require abdominal contractions -- like Side Plank, Boat Pose, and Dolphin Plank Pose -- but also mini backbends that stretch and stimulate the abdominal organs, like Locust and Sphinx Pose.

Sleep-Inducing Postures

Restorative, relaxing poses -- especially when they're practiced at night -- can help you get a good night's sleep. This is critical for anyone who wants to lose weight, since the body cannot burn fat as efficiently when it's sleep deprived. (Not to mention, the body also craves junk food when you're tired) Saidman recommends Standing and Seated Forward Bends, Legs Up the Wall, Plow Pose, and Supported Headstand or Shoulderstand to get you prepared for bed.

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  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "Regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating." August 3, 2009. (April 27, 2013)
  • Hensrund, M.D., Donald. "Can Yoga Help Me Lose Weight?" Mayo Clinic. (April 27, 2013)
  • Herbert, Sophie. Yoga instructor. Personal interview. March 21, 2013.
  • Saidman Yee, Colleen. Yoga instructor. Personal interview. April 21, 2013.

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