Yoga Can Add A New Dimension To Weight Loss Efforts
In the fight to lose weight, Americans have turned to a variety of extreme methods, including over-the-top exercise routines, fad diets and even harmful fasting. And thanks to these extreme methods, pseudo doctors and TV hawkers have become rich while unsatisfied dieters look for the next weight loss answer.
By searching for easy solutions, many weight conscious people are ignoring one of most effective weight loss methods available – yoga.
Many people may not associate yoga with effective weight loss. Thanks to late night TV ads and self-described weight loss experts, a lot of us have been led to believe that strenuous exercise routines are the only way to effectively get in shape and “feel the burn”. They try to tell unsuspecting people products such as pills, powders, creams and outrageous diets can help them lose the weight but only succeed in helping them lose money.
To be sure, diet and exercise have an important role in weight loss. Yoga, however, is an often untapped resource in the exercise regimen that has the real potential to help you lose weight. Not all forms of yoga are useful in helping you lose weight, however, because some lack the movements that can raise the heart rate and get the calories burning in a manner that facilitates weight loss. But there are forms of yoga than can get you close to these levels and (when combined with other forms of exercise) can create a workout regimen that can help you shed pounds and keep them off.
Also, it’s possible to yoga as your primary form of exercise with the goal of losing weight. But to do this, you must engage in a yoga class of at least 90 minutes that includes movements and positions that can raise your heart rate to fat-burning levels at least three days a week. And when you combine this type of yoga exercise with other types of aerobic workouts like running or brisk walking, you not only lose weight but get stronger as well.
So how can you lose weight with yoga? Well, the most strenuous forms of yoga includes a fairly rapid series of movements that not only tone the muscles but can raise the heart rate and help the practitioner work up a pretty good sweat. Studies have show that yoga not only lowers the stress levels but helps increase insulin sensitivity, which delivers a signal to your body to use the food you eat as fuel and not simply store it as fat. In addition, yoga experts point to the way yoga can improve digestion (and thus reduce the likelihood of water retention, bloating and constipation) and improve the circulation of blood to the glands that control appetite as more evidence that it can aid in weight loss.
For the most effective weight loss through yoga, you need to participate in vinyasa or “flow yoga”, which incorporates the series of poses known as sun salutations. In vinyasa yoga, there are subsets of yoga that incorporate a number of strength-building poses that require you to exert yourself. Among the vinyasa yoga styles are: Ashtanga yoga, a style of yoga that emphasizes synchronized breathing and postures that elevate the heart rate and help create a detoxifying sweat.
Power yoga, a strenuous form of yoga closely related to the Ashtanga form and stressing strength and flexibility. Created in the U.S. in the early 1990s, power yoga is credited with bringing yoga to the body building gyms of America.
Yoga instructors also stress several specific positions that are beneficial to weight loss. Included in this group is: The Cresent: From a standing position, inhale and raise your arms overhead, with your fingertips pointed toward the ceiling. Bend forward at the waist while you exhale and bring your hand to the ground. Breathe in then exhale as you take a step back with your right left into a lunge position (left knee bent and over your ankle while the right leg rests on the ball of your foot). Inhale and lift your arms overhead and look straight ahead. Hold the pose and then return to a standing position, then perform the move again, this time for the opposite side of your body.
The Willow: Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Place the bottom of your left foot on the inside of your right thigh, with your knee bent and pointed to the side. Bring your palms together in front of your chest and breath deeply two times. As you inhale a third time, lift your arms over your head with your fingers pointed to the sky. Exhale and inhale again, this time while bending your midsection to the left. Inhale as your straighten up and then repeat the movement. Now perform the movement for the other side of your body.
Rocking Boat: Sit on the floor, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor while resting your hands on your thighs. Lean back 45 degrees and lift your feet off the floor so that the lower part of your leg is in line with the floor and your toes are pointed ahead. Inhale and extend your arms and legs (keep your legs together), forming a V shape. Exhale, then inhale and lower your torso and legs a few inches so that they form an even wider V. Exhale and raise your torso and legs again. Perform this position between 3 and 5 times.
Hover: Get into a position similar to a push up, with your feet resting on your toes and your arms straight. Make sure your hands are below your shoulders and your body is in line. As you exhale, lower your chest to the floor, making sure to keep your elbows bent and your arms tight to the side of your body. Tighten your abs and hold the position a few inches above the floor.
Chair: Stand with feet together and pointed forward, arms at your side. Take a breath and raise your arms over your head, making sure the palm of your hands are facing. Exhale and lower yourself into a seated position (about 45 degrees), with your knees behind your toes and your abs tight.
When combined with proper nutrition and a regular schedule, yoga can be a welcome addition to your weight loss program. If you are already a member of a yoga class, speak with your instructor to learn what types of yoga can help you lose weight. And if you’re not already in a yoga class, find out about joining one and discover a new partner in your weight loss efforts.
Linda Adams enjoys all things health related.
One of the most excellent yoga websites Linda has found is Yoga Fitness Kamloops, which is a exceptional mix of yoga and exercise.
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