Will Yoga Help You Lose Weight?

Why does it seem like everyone and their cat is doing yoga?

Can Yoga Help You Lose Weight?

Not surprisingly yoga can help you improve your flexibility and balance. Why is this important? Because improving your flexibility and balance can help you improve your other workouts too. Yoga can also help you improve your strength. One study even showed it can help you increase your deadlift strength.

Yoga usually involves some type of meditation. So it can help you better deal with stress and anxiety. Also, people doing yoga feel like they have a better quality of life versus people who don’t.  This potentially can help you feel better all day. Personally, I had never had much luck with learning how to meditate until I started doing vinyasa yoga. My yoga teacher at the time always spent the last 5 minutes in class on meditation. And that’s how I started getting into meditation too. If you’ve been trying to figure out meditation too, yoga could be your back way into it.

What Can’t Yoga Help You With?

Yoga won’t help you improve your cardiovascular fitness, i.e it won’t help you get heart healthy or lose weight. Sad, I know, I’m a cardiologist. It also won’t help you live longer.

My opinion on why yoga doesn’t help you get heart healthy or lose weight is that most forms of yoga don’t increase your heart rate. However, I think that if your yoga is more rigorous and increases your heart rate it might help you get more heart healthy and help you lose weight. Unfortunately, there’s no great medical data for or against this idea right now.

Ask Again Later

The jury is still out on whether yoga improves your cognitive function, i.e. whether or not it helps improve your memory and focus. Some studies show it does, some studies show it doesn’t.

Part of the problem with knowing the benefits of yoga is that there are a limited number of studies on it. Many aspects of yoga haven’t been studied enough to really know whether or not it helps. Unlike medications which have big pharmaceutical companies funding all of their research, yoga studies don’t seem to have the same level of funding from the yoga industry. Maybe they’re all too busy doing downward dog.

New or New-ish to Yoga?

If you’re new to yoga and afraid of looking stupid in a class, you can try it out at home first. There are a lot of videos on YouTube. I like Tara Stiles’ videos (I have no affiliation with her) because she has a lot of short (15 minutes or less), beginner ones.

If you’re trying a class for the first time, start out with room temperature yoga. Usually, this will be a yoga class that doesn’t have Bikram in the title. The first time I tried Bikram yoga I had muscle spasms for the next few days, despite drinking lots of electrolytes and water. In my experience, the least crowded classes are usually mid-morning on weekdays. If you can, try to make it to one of those classes so you can get more one on one help from the teacher.

Although yoga probably won’t help you get your revenge body, it’s worth checking out because the balance, flexibility, and strength benefits should help you with your other workouts. The mental benefits can help you with your head game at work and in your personal life.

Originally published on Thrive Global June 23, 2017.

One thought on “Will Yoga Help You Lose Weight?”

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