A lot of people at the gym dismiss yoga because they view it as a passive practice and not a workout. That may be true for some types of yoga that are restorative in nature such as Yin, but other forms might give that athletic fix they’re looking for.  

Yoga alone may not be the solution to your weight-loss goals, but incorporating different kinds into your fitness routine gives you a wide range of benefits and can be that missing piece you need to drop more weight.

Choosing an active yoga
Yoga practices such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hot or Power can raise your heart rate, increase strength and burn calories equivalent to a brisk walk. The elevated temperature in a hot yoga studio can also give the perception of working harder as the body tries to regulate its core temperature and sweating increases.

These yoga practices are typically weight-bearing so it’s a source of strength work. If you’re generating more muscle, those muscles burn more calories, so your weight tends to go down.

People who love the euphoria they may feel from a tough workout might experience the same satisfaction after an intense yoga class.

The advantage of de-stressing
The frustration of exercising every day and not losing weight may not only be a deterrent to continue exercising, but it can also increase stress levels and push people to work harder, further adding to their stress.

What they need to realize is that stress plays a role in weight loss. Heightened stress levels can leave hormones unbalanced, elevating cortisol levels that affect glucose control. This can compromise our health, leading to irritability or lack of sleep and making it difficult to lose weight as this extra glucose can be stored as fat.

That’s where yoga can help. Choosing a yoga class such as Hatha that combines poses with breathing exercises can help you relax. If you do these classes several times a week and eat properly (that’s key, too), your stress level will be under control and your body will be more prepared to shed weight.

Promoting discipline
We all know that it takes discipline to stick to a fitness routine. One of the core benefits of yoga is that it teaches focus and discipline through doing poses in a particular sequence or holding them for a certain length of time. That discipline can carry over to better eating habits and a healthier lifestyle. You feel good after a yoga class, so you go have a power shake instead of eating a basket of fries and chili.

It can also translate into wanting to do more good things for your body, so you’ll eat healthier foods throughout the day, drink more water to hydrate and go to bed earlier and get that extra sleep that’s critical for our bodies.

The right kind of recovery
A lot of athletes such as triathletes are told they need an “active” rest or recovery day. Yoga fits that bill.

Active recovery can be found in a slow Hatha or restorative type of class that isn’t taxing on the muscles. It gets the body moving gently, increases circulation and provides an opportunity to create space in the body, opening joints and releasing fascia. Along with recovery, yoga may help prevent injury by keeping muscles supple. It can help correct muscle imbalances or alignment issues, release joint stiffness and increase range of motion.

Losing weight isn’t just about exercising as hard as you can. You need to prepare your body so that you get optimum results. Complement your workouts with yoga and you’ll be surprised at the increase in your weight loss.