10 Yoga Poses For Weight Loss
by Vicky Wilcox on Jun 01, 2023
As an experienced yoga teacher, I know that one of the many wonderful benefits of yoga (and trust me, there are loads), are the poses can really help to aid weight loss. It’s not something that is hugely talked about as a result of the practice, as the physical aspects of yoga are not traditionally the core focus. However, it’s a great benefit that should be shared!
How can yoga make you lose weight?
- It’s easy to say yoga can support weight loss – but if you are interested in the how I’m happy to share that with you! Even though not traditionally seen as a form of exercise (as yoga slows the heart rate down vs forms of physical exercise that usually speed it up), it can help you to burn off fat.
- One way yoga can do this is through physical poses. A lot of the asanas that twist the abdominal muscles are massaging your internal and digestive organs, promoting faster digestion as a result.
Are you ready for the science bit?
- Cortisol levels in your body are produced by your adrenal glands (that sit just at the top of your kidneys). Cortisol helps your body respond to things like stress, regulate blood sugar levels and fight infections.
- Research shows that high cortisol levels can lead to weight gain.
- Yoga can help regulate these cortisol levels through some postures that massage your adrenal glands. By stimulating these glands, you can trigger or release positive hormones around the body to replace any negative ones. It’s the replacement of these negative hormones that can lower the levels of cortisol circulated around the body.
- Yoga can help with balancing energy levels, increased flexibility, strength, tone, and just be feeling refreshed and more energetic you can help burn extra calories as well.
For those starting out, and if you want to use yoga as a way to support weight loss, I have pulled together some key poses or asana’s that if practiced regularly (and safely) can definitely help support you in your weight loss journey.
As well as this, the poses below are designed for beginners, and they can also support increased flexibility, strength, and tone. The poses have some careful instructions on how to get into the posture and the specific benefits from each pose.
I would always recommend a gentle yoga warm-up before going straight into some of these postures, so your body is more ready and open to them.
Sitting Half Spinal Twist (Ardhmatsyendra Asana):
- Sit on a mat with your legs stretched out in front of you and place your hands on the floor palms facing down next to you for support.
- Bend the left leg at the knee and let it fall to the side, and then tuck the left foot under the right thigh/glute (so you are almost sitting on your left foot).
- Bend the right knee and then take the right foot to the outside of the left knee or thigh – wherever is easiest to get it to (it’s a bit like leg twister!)
- Inhale and raise the left arm up and turn or twist your torso to the right-hand side, placing the left hand on the floor next to your left foot and on the outside of your right leg, with your right hand behind you on the floor for support.
Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana):
- Lie on your back with your whole body relaxed, palms facing down
- Inhale deeply and as you exhale bring both legs up vertically, bending at the hip, making a right angle to the body. Keep the knees straight.
- Inhale and as you exhale start to lift up from the hips, taking the hands to the lower back for support (avoiding the spine).
- The neck and shoulders remain on the floor and the gaze is to your toes, with the chin resting on your chest. All weight to be in your elbows and shoulders only.
Forward Fold (Paschimottasana):
- Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you, toes touching, place hands on the floor next to you for support.
- Inhale and lift the arms up over the head, and exhale fold forward from the hips.
- Let the hands fall wherever is comfortable, don’t over-stretch or strain to reach your toes.
- To go deeper, take and inhale to lengthen the spine and exhale walk the hands further down the legs, keeping a straight spine. When you have reached your maximum, drop the head.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana):
- Stand on the floor or mat, with your feet slightly apart.
- Stretch your hands in front of you with palms facing each other.
- Bend your knees and gently push your pelvis down – as you if you are about to sit on a chair. Inhale and as you exhale lower your glutes as far as they will go – you should be able to wiggle your toes off the floor.
- Ensure that your hands are parallel to the ground.
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana):
- Stand with your legs more than hip-width apart, toes facing forward.
- Turn your right foot out at a 90-degree angle and bring your back foot in 15 degrees.
- Bring your arms up to shoulder height and lean forward into your right side as much as possible. Inhale and as you exhale, bring your right hand down to the inside of your right foot, left hand extends up shoulder height. Turn your gaze to look at your left hand (or keep looking down to avoid straining).
- Repeat on the other side.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana):
- Stand up straight with your legs spread 3-4 feet apart.
- Turn your right foot outward at 90 degrees angle, and your left foot inward by about 15 degrees, so your back foot is at a 45-degree angle.
- Spread out your arms, parallel to the ground, on both sides, at shoulder height, with palms facing downwards. Turn your gaze to your front right hand, focus on the middle finger.
- Hold the position for about 30 seconds. Exhale to release, and then repeat on the other side.
Bow Pose (Dhanurasana):
- Lie down on the floor on your stomach with your face down.
- Bend your knees and hold your left foot with your left hand, right foot with your right hand on the outer edge of the foot.
- Inhale and lift up both your hands and feet from the hips, also raising your thighs and chest, and head at the same time. Exhale to lower down and release.
Bridge Pose (Sethu Bandha Sarvangasana):
- Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart. Arms are down by the side of your body, palms facing down, fingers pointing to your toes.
- Inhale as you lift up from your hips, squeezing your glutes as you do, using your palms for support.
- Exhale as you lower down.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana):
- Lie on the floor on your stomach, face down.
- Spread your hands on the floor, taking the palms shoulder height.
- Stretch your legs back, top of the feet touching the floor and toes are pointing backward, and slowly inhale and lift up your upper body, raising your gaze forward to not overstretch or strain your neck.
- Roll the shoulders back and away from your ears pulling the shoulder blades down the body to give your neck some space.
- Start by lying on your stomach, bring both hands palms facing down just under your shoulder.
- Come onto all fours so you are in a tabletop position. From here step your right leg back and then your left leg, feet hip-width apart.
- For ease, you can drop onto your forearms for more support in this pose. Engage your core, breath, and hold for 30 seconds or more.
For more beginner poses, or if you want a more in-depth practice and want to find out more, then drop me a line.