Whether you like it or not, shedding that extra weight and tightening up your body is going to take a little bit of cardio. And as it turns out, most of us have a love/hate relationship with cardio…which we often associate with HIIT sprints, stationary biking, jump roping, burpees, etc. It’s understandable most people aren’t dying to do an hour of mindless cardio, but time and time again, us fitness bloggers, trainers, and other self-proclaimed professionals recommend more cardio. It’s like the four-year old who wont eat his broccoli..instead of giving him a carrot, we keep trying shove more broccoli down his throat.
Well, I’m here to say, enough is enough. If your inability to commit to a fitness plan that has loads of sprinting, biking, and/or jump roping is keeping you from reaching your goals, I’ve got another solution – yoga. That’s right, using yoga for weight loss isn’t something most people think of, but it can be so very effective. Most of us associate yoga with flexibility, getting “toned”, or mental relaxation. But, if the lesson is designed in the appropriate way, it can have the same calorie-blasting benefits as that run or bike ride. After consulting with a couple of our favorite yogi’s, we were able to put together this five-part yoga for weight loss series that promises to deliver loads of heart-pounding, sweat-dripping goodness.
Not Just for Cardio Haters
The great thing about this five-part yoga for weight loss series is that it’s great not only for those who hate traditional cardio, but also for those with bad knees, ankles, or other joints that make the high-impact nature of most forms of cardio something to be avoided. Using yoga as your cardio session is going to open up some benefits more traditional cardio just can’t deliver. Whereas standard cardio, like distance running, can actually lead to a loss of flexibility, uptempo yoga sessions are going to actually increase your flexibility. This of course results in longer, leaner muscles, better protection from injury, and increased blood flow and improved circulation.
So if you find you have a flexibility problem – and if you’re like most of us, you do – I’d suggest giving this yoga for weight loss series a try. Even if it’s only for a couple of weeks, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much better your body seems to move and flow.
Yoga for Weight Loss…Why it Works
Have you ever examined the body of someone who practices yoga regularly? We all probably know these people, so think hard for a second. What do nearly all of them have in common? Long, lean muscles? Check. Great body awareness and flow? Check. Low levels of body fat? Check. An overall high-level of health and well-being that just oozes from them? Check.
It’s no surprise the bodies of hardcore yogi’s are so fit and lean – yoga really is a great transformer. A regular dose of yoga is going to help shed pounds, specifically body fat. Since yoga incorporates a great deal of resistance training, in the form of body weight exercises, you’re going to actively hit your muscles while simultaneously burning those calories. This unique combination of body weight resistance training combined with a sustained elevated heart rate, is going to provide a fat burning, weight loss workout like few things can.
You see, regular cardio, such as running, is all about bumping your heart rate and burning calories. While this is great for overall weight loss, many people tend to have issues with muscle loss – which puts you on the fast track to a sluggish metabolism and soft, squishy exterior. That’s right, too much cardio can actually make you fat and soft. To combat this, it’s a great idea to include workouts that not only bump your heart rate, but also hit your muscles hard at the same time. Things like metabolic conditioning, circuit training, or this yoga for weight loss series, are great alternatives to the endless bouts of cardio that spell death for many a metabolism.
How We Developed this Yoga for Weight Loss Plan
Just because you’re doing yoga, doesn’t mean you’re doing yoga for weight loss. As you probably know, there are dozens of forms of yoga, each with its own specific focus and format. If you’re looking to specifically use yoga for weight loss, there are two main things that must be considered.
To be a great yoga lesson that promotes fat loss and a high calorie burn, these two requirements are:
- Elevates heart rate to 60-70% maximum heart rate
- Targets major muscles groups through the use of sustained body weight holds and poses
To recap the above, we’re looking for yoga lessons that are uptempo enough to elevate your heart rate so your body sufficiently burns calories, while simultaneously targeting your major muscle groups and leaves you with a great muscle burn. This two-pronged approach is going to prove instrumental in helping you burn fat, lose excess weight, and tighten up.
With those requirements in mind, I hooked myself up to my Polar heart rate monitor, and got to work. I cycled through some of our OnDemand yoga lessons, worked with a couple of our yoga instructors, tried some new yoga lessons out, and ultimately found five awesome yoga classes that meet the above criteria. For someone who is well accustomed to high-intensity training, but not so much yoga for weight loss, this proved a real challenge, but something I was so happy I tried. I was hitting my body in a way it really hadn’t seen before, which was great for pushing my limits and burning loads of calories.
So check out this five-part yoga for weight loss series below and give each yoga lesson a try on its specific day. Remember, because yoga is actually quite gentle on the body, you can feel free to work this yoga series into any of our other workout series. Or, if you’re one of our FitPlan members, feel free to use these yoga lessons as your “extra credit” workouts.
Yoga for Weight Loss: The Ultimate 5 Day Plan
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Day 1 – Yoga Fundamentals
Your practice today is led by Merrin, and is a perfect starting point for anyone with relatively limited experience with yoga. You’re going to learn the importance of the yoga breath, learn how to move through some fundamental yoga positions, as well as strengthen your upper body and core with body weight holds…all while burning calories as Merrin keeps a quick pace in this 30 minute lesson.
Day 2 – Power Yoga
Today’s lesson incorporates some dumbbells into a standard yoga flow. Really hit those muscles hard, while getting a great calorie burn with this lesson from your instructor Jenn. To maximize the benefits of this class, do your best to maintain the pace and intensity that Jenn has set for you. This class is just 22 minutes long, so feel free to run through this lesson twice, circuit-style, for over 40 minutes of fat blasting fun!
Day 3 – Yoga Core
Your yoga practice today takes an advanced approach to hitting your core muscles while also providing you with a great flow and uptempo pace. Perfect for building that tight and toned tummy, Yoga Core should be a staple in any yoga for weight loss series.
Day 4 – Power Vinyasa Flow
Your flow today is led by Joy, and she takes a calculated approach to calming your mind while invigorating your body. Expect to really push your limits, and your endurance, in today’s 50 minute session designed to strip away fat and leave you with a calmed, happy, and open mind.
Day 5 – Detox Yoga
While just a hair under half an hour in length, today’s detox yoga practice is no joke. Carolina leads us through our practice today, complete with a variety of body twists and inversion holds to really bump that heart rate, pound those muscles, increase flexibility, and completely cleanse your body and mind.
Give these classes a go, let us know how it’s working for you, and if you have any questions how you’re going to work these yoga sessions into your total plan, leave a comment below, or if you’re a FitPlan subscriber, contact your trainer for advanced support!
Have any experience with yoga for weight loss? Want to share a success story or offer up some words of wisdom? We’d love to hear from you – just leave a comment below!