Monday, April 22, 2013
I donít believe there is ever only one thing you can do to lose weight. I certainly donít believe that all you have to do is begin a regular yoga practice to get a lean, toned bikini body. However, I do believe that yoga is a great TOOL to get the body you want.
I used to practice yoga for the physical benefits such as building upper body and core strength. Now I practice yoga to increase my flexibility, stability and balance, but I primarily practice yoga for the mental benefits such as relaxation and giving myself an hour, a few times a week to meditate and get really warm.
So regardless of why you practice yoga (or will, if you havenít started yet), there are undeniable physiological benefits to a regular yoga practice. Particularly if you choose a vinyasa or power yoga flow. This style of yoga is noted for itís continuous movement, breathing through every pose.
Iíve worn a heart rate monitor in class before and seen my heart rate go as high as 120 bpm. Itís certainly not high intensity, and it doesnít stay there long, but for those who arenít quite athletes yet, doing shakti kicks or chaturangas are definitely going to be quite tough cardiovascularly. A practice with continuous flow is going to help increase your cardiovasular capacity as well as endurance. Not to mention, the heart naturally works harder heat, and many yoga studios keep the room at a temperature between 95 Ė 105 degrees, as 80% humidity.
Donít let this scare you. As much as we are moving in yoga classes, we are focusing on taking calming deep breaths, that slow down your heart rate, as well as taking plenty of time relaxing in soothing poses such as forward folds. So for every minute you are working hard, you are spending the next minute relaxing, cooling and soothing.
Also, while there are no weight bearing exercises in yoga, holding poses like high push up, chair or horse will make your arguably stronger. I have to say, yoga has certainly helped my core and upper back get a lot stronger. You continuously have to keep your tummy tucked in. You do it in plank, side plank, chair, crow, side crow, etcÖ Iíve always said crow and crow variations are my favorite ab exercises. Not to mention inversions like headstand, forearm stand and handstands. You are always working your lower back strength, especially in poses such as locust. Anytime your arms are up, itís important to keep your traps out of your ears, so to do that you bring your shoulder blades back and down. Try holding that for 2 or 3 minutes and tell me your upper back isnít sore! This increases upper back strength so much. Also, my shoulders have definitely increased their strength from hanging out in downward dog for so long!
Not only can yoga help you lose weight because you are burning calories by working your cardiovascular system as well as increasing your strength, but anytime you find something you love to do, you will be far more likely to stick with it. I always say that if my choices were swimming or Zumba, I would be totally fat and out of shape. I donít like dancing and I donít like swimming. But I do like lifting weights and running, so I do that. The important thing is for you to find your passion. If yoga is your passion, then stick with it, and you will be much healthier. If you love something you will look forward to going and you will do it often, thus making it possible to help you lose weight.
Not to mention, if you are practicing yoga regularly, or doing any activity often, you will be more likely to take better care of your body in other aspects. For example, Iíve never met anyone who gets out of a sweaty yoga session and says ďwow, I canít wait to go eat a huge pepperoni pizza right now!Ē No.. I hear things like, ďwow.. Iím so thirsty.. I could go for an ice water right now.Ē After doing something good for your body it creates a snowball effect of more positive and healthy habits.
Iím not saying yoga is the only thing you should do, but if you are passionate about it and you do it often it can certainly help you lose weight because it does burn calories, it will increase your cardiovascular capacity and endurance, increase your strength and it helps create a healthy habit.
So whether yoga is your passion, or something else, create a healthy habit, do it often and you will lose weight!
Have you had success with yoga as a weight loss tool?
Leave me a comment below and let me know how it has helped you?
The Get In Shape Girl