The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has a lot going for it, but there are a few particular aspects of the practice that make it good for weight loss.

It burns calories. It’s hard to put an exact number on how many calories yoga torches, given there are so many different practices are out there and how different each class can be. But Dr. Stanford says you can maybe expect about 120 calories for a 30-minute session. “Overall, yoga burns less calories than many forms of exercise,” she says. “However, higher intensity sessions with a longer duration may burn more calories.” Keep in mind, though, that if weight loss is your goal, you should do other workouts on top of yoga. “The type of exercise that has the highest likelihood to promote weight loss is high-intensity interval training,” she says.

It busts stress. Stress causes your body to store fat, particularly in the midsection, Dr. Stanford says. Exercises that promote mindfulness like yoga can help lower levels of stress and can help you maintain or lower your body fat, according to a 2011 study in the Journal of Obesity. “Yoga is considered a mindful practice that reduces stress,” says Dr. Stanford.

It can help with your sleep. Being mindful and less stressed can improve your sleep, Dr. Stanford points out, and that leads to better regulation of the pathways of the brain that regulate weight. People who regularly slept less than the recommended seven hours a night were more likely to have higher average body mass indexes and develop obesity than those who slept more, per 2018 research published in the journal BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine.

The takeaway. Make a commitment to yourself and your practice if you want to use yoga to lose weight. Make small, gradual changes and set modest goals so you’re more likely to stick to them.

As you deepen your practice and awareness, you may find yourself naturally attracted to healthy foods and ways of living. While it’s not guaranteed that you’ll lose weight, it’s definitely likely, and your positive results may extend far beyond weight loss.

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