In the Battle for Weight Loss, Yoga can be a New Ally

In the battle for weight loss, many people have turned to extreme methods: fad diets, over-the-top exercise routines, even starvation. 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. TV infomercials and internet spam from self-titled nutritionists have led many people to believe that sweat-enducing exercise is the only way to drop those unwanted pounds. 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. But yoga is an often-overlooked form of exercise that can actually 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. To do this, however, you need to enroll in a yoga class that meets three days a week for at least 90 minutes and includes movements and positions that help raise your heart rate. 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.

Yoga experts and practitioners agree that the most effective yoga-related weight loss program may include vinyasa or "flow yoga", a style of yoga which utilizes a series of positions called "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 form of yoga that is related to Ashtanga and emphasizes flexibility and strength 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. This group of poses include: The Cresent: Stand and inhale while raising your arms over your head, extending your fingers 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 position and return to a standing position, then repeat the move for the opposite side.

The Willow: Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Raise your left leg and place the bottom of your left foot on the inside of your right thigh, while pointing your bended knee out to the side. Place the palms of your hand together in front of your chest and take two deep breaths. As you inhale a third time, lift your arms over your head with your fingers pointed to the sky. Exhale, then inhale again while bending your torso to your left. Inhale as your straighten up and then repeat the movement. Reverse the movement for the other side.

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 and then inhale as you lower your torso and legs a few inches so that your body forms an even wider "V" shape. 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. Be sure to place your hands below your should and align your body. 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 up your abdominal muscles and hold the pose as you balance a few inches above the floor.

Chair: Stand with your feet placed together and your toes pointed forward, while you hold your arms at your side. Take a breath and raise your arms over your head, making sure the palm of your hands are facing. As you exhale, lower yourself down into a seated position (approximately 45 degrees) and keep your knees behind your toes and your abdominal muscles 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 enrolled in a yoga class, consider joining one as a new partner in your health goals.

Check out Yoga in Kamloops for more yoga info.

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