There are dozens of well-documented and undisputed benefits of yoga practice: improved flexibility, balance, reduced stress and anxiety, improved depression, and many others. But let’s be honest – the majority of people in the Western world who take up yoga these days have a primary goal of losing weight and getting in shape. Is there any reasoning to support this? Does yoga actually help you lose weight?

The answer, in short, is a qualified “yes”.

Yoga is not magically going to undo the damage a person is inflicting on their body with junk food and processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle. But when incorporated as part of a healthy (or simply healthier) lifestyle, yoga can certainly help you lose weight.

I often recommend that people who want to improve their health implement one change in their life at a time. Yoga could very well be one of the first steps for you, if you choose. If your lifestyle is sedentary right now, adding two yoga classes a week is a great start, even if you might not see dramatic results on the scale right away. Here are some of the ways yoga can help you lose weight.

  1. You’ll burn more calories while practicing yoga

Even a basic yoga class can be a challenge for a beginner. Yoga calls on lots of muscles that we don’t typically use in our daily lives, and a vinyasa or “flow” yoga class or a power yoga class will amp up the calorie burn further by getting your heart pumping and adding a cardio workout. All those extra calories burned can indeed lead to weight loss.

  1. You’ll build muscle that burns calories at rest

Yoga’s sustained positions or flowing vinyasas are great for increasing strength and muscle development. Unlike fat, muscle cells are actively burning calories all day and night, even when you’re sleeping. By building your muscles through regular yoga practice, you can naturally accelerate your metabolism.

  1. You’ll develop greater respect for your body

One of the foundational elements of yoga is understanding and listening to your body. Most people who practice yoga regularly for a period of time find that they develop a greater respect for their bodies, and as a result the way they treat their bodies changes. Yoga can help you get in touch with your body well enough to notice when it reacts negatively to junk food, and respect it enough to eat harmful foods or ingest harmful substances less often.

  1. Your mindfulness will improve

Another result of the mind/body connection that many yoga practitioners develop over time is a general mindfulness of themselves and the world around them. Being mindful of your food while you are eating can help you lose weight. Have you ever noticed how you can eat an entire bag of potato chips without even realizing it while watching TV? That’s because you’re not being mindful while you are eating. Yoga enhances your mindfulness and can help you only eat as much as your body really needs, helping you to lose

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