7 Yoga Poses That Work Weight Loss Wonders
When we’re looking to lose weight, we don’t immediately think of Yoga as the answer.
But we should.
Yoga may not be a mega cardio-blast. It’s not the calorie-burning workout that we assume necessary to shed pounds. However, losing weight isn’t all about intensive cardio. Yoga does burn calories, but it has a special impact on the internal organs and the sympathetic nervous system that gives it weight-loss powers.
To start, yoga stretches, twists, compresses, and contracts the digestive organs. It’s much unlike running or swimming, for example, where the abdomen barely changes position. In yoga we lie on our bellies, twist side to side, sandwich our torso to our legs, and use our abs to fly in arm balances. We practically bend ourselves into pretzels.
All of these moves have an impact on the digestive organs. Twists momentarily constrict the blood flow to the abdomen. When released, fresh blood rushes in and nourishes the organs. Forward bends do the same. Poses that require ab strength like Boat Pose contract the abdominal organs and stimulate their normal functions. Through these actions, yoga postures improve digestion and boost metabolism.
Healthy metabolism and weight loss are dependent upon a properly functioning digestive fire and yoga stokes the digestive fire — what Ayurveda calls agni.
If this subtle fire is in any way impaired, food turns into toxic buildup rather than healthy body tissues. These toxins can eventually cause weight gain. A healthy agni is needed to properly digest, assimilate, and absorb our food to maintain proper weight, and the 7 poses below stoke this digestive fire.
The deep belly breathing of yoga also plays a role in weight loss.
When we breathe fully and deeply, the diaphragm pushes downward and gently massages the digestive organs. When we breathe shallowly, the organs miss out on this natural massage. Although many people breathe incorrectly, yoga encourages us to reestablish healthy breathing patterns. We re-learn the deep belly breathing that we were born with and support our agni simply with the breath.
Slow, deep breathing also calms the sympathetic nervous system. When we’re stressed out or breathing shallowly, our fight-or-flight response (aka the sympathetic nervous system) kicks in. The body goes into high alert as if its under threat.
This is a great function should the body actually be under threat. Our adrenaline surges, we become hyper-aware, and we’re ready to self-protect. But if we’re triggering this response from daily stress and shallow breath, we’re needlessly sending a message to our body that it’s under attack. In turn, it diverts its attention away from secondary functions like digestion. Weight gain ensues.
By breathing slowly and deeply, we send a message to the body that it’s not under attack. The parasympathetic nervous system takes over and sends its energy to our ever-important weight loss function of digestion. This happens when we breathe slowly and deeply in yoga.
While all yoga aids in weight loss, add these 7 yoga postures into your yoga routine to boost metabolism to aid in weightloss.
Remember to breathe slowly and deeply, and hold the poses for at least 30 seconds so that the digestive organs receive the benefits described.
1. Seated forward bend pose (Paschimottanasana)
Commonly thought to be a great stretch for the hamstrings, the biggest impact seated forward bend has… is on the digestive fire. Deep abdominal breathing combined with compression of the abdominal organs stokes the digestive fire much as a bellows stokes a real fire.
- Begin sitting on your mat with your legs outstretched and feet touching. Relax your feet — no need to flex them to get the metabolic benefits of this pose.
- Inhale and reach your hands toward the sky.
- Exhale and reach forward and down, gently grasping the outsides of your feet, ankles, shins, or thighs. Relax your neck so that your head is in line with your spine. Make this a passive forward bend.
- Now, breathe deeply into your belly and back as if you’re inflating and deflating a balloon.
- Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds and up to a minute for maximum benefit.
2. Boat pose (Navasana)
Not only does boat pose strengthen the core (you’ll feel the burn in your abs!) but the strong contraction of the abdominal muscles ignites the digestive fire, boosting metabolism.
- Begin sitting on your mat with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Hold on to the backs of your thighs near your knees. Slowly lean back as your lift your feet from your mat.
- Bring your shins parallel to the floor and point your toes. You can release the backs of your legs so that your arms are also parallel to the floor. If your hamstrings are flexible, straighten your legs.
- Engage your core to keep your spine as straight as possible. Hold the pose for 30 seconds as you breathe normally.
3. Raised legs pose (Uttanpadasana)
By contracting the abdominal muscles in raised legs pose, the abdominal organs receive a gentle and stimulating pressure. This improves digestion and boosts metabolism.
- Begin lying on your back with your legs together. Either rest your arms alongside your body or slide your hands underneath your bottom, palms down, to support your lower back.
- Inhale and slowly raise your right foot until your leg is at a 90 degree angle.
- Exhale and slowly lower your foot, hovering it a few inches above the floor.
- Repeat this five more times, then change legs. For an extra challenge practice lifting and lowering the legs together.
4. Bow pose (Dhanurasana)
In bow pose, the abdominal organs bear the weight of the body and receive a gentle massage. The pose also stimulates blood flow to the organs and improves their process of secretion.
- Begin lying on your stomach.
- Bend your knees and grasp the outsides of your ankles.
- Inhale and kick your feet away from you as you lift your head and chest from the floor. Try to balance on your navel, and be sure to continue breathing in the pose.
- Hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds.
5. Locust pose (Salabasana)
Much like in bow pose, in locust pose all body weight is focused on the abdominal region. This massages the digestive organs and improves their functioning.
- Begin lying on your stomach. Rest your arms alongside your body, palms facing up. Inhale and lift your head, chest, feet and hands from the ground.
- Stretch your head and feet away from each other.
- Take normal breaths and hold the pose for 10 to 20 seconds.
6. Half lord of the fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Twists are wonderful for improving digestive function. When twists are released, a fresh supply of blood rushes in and nourishes the organs. Twists like half lord of the fishes also encourage natural detoxification.
- Begin sitting on your mat with your legs outstretched. Bend your left leg and place the sole of the foot flat on the ground, just outside of your right knee.
- Gently push your left fingertips into the floor behind you to straighten your spine.
- Inhale and reach your right arm toward the sky.
- On the exhale bend your arm and push your elbow against your left knee to help you twist to the left. Look over your left shoulder.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute, breathing normally. Untwist on the exhale and change sides.
7. Thunderbolt gesture 2 (Vajranasana Yogamudra 2)
In this variation of thunderbolt pose direct pressure is applied to the abdominal region. Soothing for both gas and constipation issues, the pose also stimulates the digestive organs and improves their functioning.
- Begin sitting with your legs folded underneath you.
- Place your left palm just below your navel and your right palm over the left.
- Exhale and bend forward, bringing your forehead toward the floor.
- Point your elbows toward the sky. Breathe normally and hold the pose for 30 seconds.
By incorporating these 7 poses into your yoga practice a few days a week, you’ll ignite your digestive fire and boost metabolism to reach your weight loss goals much more quickly.
Which of these poses is your favourite? Share in the comments section below.
And if you’re looking to either start your Yoga journey or to elevate your practice for health-related reasons, Zenward has yoga flows designed specifically for effective weight loss, less stress, longevity, and a more balanced life.
7 Yoga Poses That Work Weight Loss Wonders Reviewed by The Riddler on 8:00:00 AM Rating: