We all have a pair of yoga pants that have seen more time on the couch or lounging around the house than they have actually doing yoga. Even some of the most active fitness buffs may not give yoga the attention it deserves, a common idea being that it is a practice revolving around mental health and spirituality as opposed to physical health. Of course, yoga does wonders for the mind, but as people continue to discover, it can do wonders for the body as well. Yoga can be a serious workout, right up there with intense cardio sessions and weight-training, and it can be especially valuable for weight loss.

 

Read on to see how yoga can contribute to weight loss in a variety of ways, and consider incorporating it into your own workout routine to keep things interesting and to challenge your body in new ways. With incredible physical benefits in additional to mental, yoga is the ultimate mind-body workout!

 

Boosting Your Metabolism

Yoga’s effects on metabolism are primarily linked to its impact on the endocrine system, or more specifically, the thyroid gland in the base of the neck. Certain positions in yoga, such as the camel pose or the bridge pose, along with yoga’s strong focus on proper breathing, can all work to stimulate the thyroid glands, which release a hormone that regulates the metabolism. Because a healthy metabolism is a key factor in facilitating weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight, yoga’s ability to promote thyroid health can be fundamental in achieving these fitness and health goals.

 

Building Fat-Burning Muscle

As a workout that essentially engages the entire body through body weight training, a good yoga routine can be the perfect way to build and tone the most commonly targeted muscles in your arms, legs, and abdomen, as well as muscles that do not always benefit from many weight training regimens. Not only does performing various movements and holding difficult poses contribute to your body’s building of strong, lean muscle, but the stretching and emphasis on improving flexibility in yoga also promotes muscle elongation and tightness. Yoga’s effects on muscle ultimately lead to higher levels of fat-burn in your body as building muscle causes your body to burn more fat on a regular basis, even while at rest.

 

Bringing Up Your Heart Rate in Bursts

While the common notion about weight loss may suggest that the most effective way to lose weight is to boost your heart rate and keep it consistently high throughout your entire sweat session before bringing it back down during the cool down, this is actually not the ideal weight loss approach. Studies have shown that weight loss is actually achieved most successfully when a workout focuses on getting the heart rate up in short, intense bursts. Various yoga routines, such as Vinyasa flow, are great for doing just that, as the combination of holding deep, strong poses and performing fluid movements can lead to this fluctuation in heart rate that optimizes weight loss.

 

Alkalizing Your Body

Yoga has the power to restore a proper pH balance in your system, i.e. regulating acidity levels, which if too high can cause your body to store excess acid in fat cells to keep it out of the bloodstream. Yoga comes into play here because stress levels have a considerable impact your body’s pH balance, with lower stress levels encouraging proper alkalinity. Through its ability to reduce stress and relax the mind and body, yoga thus has the power to promote a healthy alkaline/acid balance and encourage fat-burn as opposed to storage.

 

Improving Self-Awareness and Discipline

Yoga is all about creating ultimate mind-body synchronism, and by opening and relaxing the mind, it can essentially lead to far higher levels of self-awareness and self-discipline. This, in turn, plays largely into the psychological and mental components of weight loss, namely that you are sure to become more mindful of your actions and by extension are more likely to kick unhealthy habits, such as emotional overeating or binging.

 

Do you practice yoga as part of your regular workout routine? How do you feel the effects of yoga compare to those of other workouts? Comment below or tweet me @tamarahoumi