Yoga for Weight Loss: A Beginner’s Guide

Yoga for Weight LossYoga is all about well-rounded health: it connects movements of the body with breathing techniques and meditative mental practices. Because of this, it is more than just a physical workout—it can help to reduce anxiety, relieve stress and pain, lower blood pressure and even improve your metabolism. Though all forms of exercise provide mental benefits and stress relief, yoga advocates say its unique blend of poses, breathing exercises and meditation are unrivaled in melting away the stresses of the day. Believe it or not, yoga is a popular exercise for people after weight loss surgery to get control of their muscles and connect with their own bodies.

The Many Faces of Yoga

Many people stay away from yoga, considering it something for smaller-framed, highly flexible people. Yoga poses can be modified to work for absolutely anyone, at any size and fitness level.

Yoga comes in so many different forms that it’s often difficult to figure out where to start. It also uses a variety of foreign words that may leave beginners scratching their heads. Here’s a breakdown of some popular forms of yoga to get you started:

  • Hatha yoga. Though the term can be applied to any kind of yoga with a physical element, hatha yoga is commonly used to mean yoga in its most basic form. A hatha yoga class will typically involve slow-paced stretching, simple breathing exercises and seated meditation, making it an excellent choice for beginners.
  • Power yoga. A Western version of the Indian Ashtanga Yoga, this form is as intense as the name implies. It focuses on a vigorous, full-body workout and holding poses longer to improve flexibility and endurance. Because of its increased intensity, power yoga may be best suited to those who have a higher level of physical fitness or have already become comfortable with basic yoga techniques.
  • Bikram yoga. Also known as hot yoga, Bikram is typically done in a room heated to between 95 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Though this may seem extreme, getting a vigorous workout in this kind of heat has been shown to help increase flexibility and strength. Just be sure to stay hydrated—this intense form of yoga tends to cause serious sweating.
  • Vinyasa yoga. Sometimes referred to as flow yoga, this form focuses on smooth transitions between poses, making the practice resemble a dance. Vinyasa yoga synchronizes its movements to your breathing as you move from one pose to the next while inhaling and exhaling. Classes can be slow or fast-paced, but will likely incorporate more movement than the slow stretching of basic hatha yoga.

If you’re new to yoga, the best way to get acquainted is to find a competent and caring teacher. Yoga studios are quite common these days and can be found in most cities. Talk to an instructor about any concerns you have about getting started. There are many classes designed specifically for large people working on flexibility so look for one of these classes if you are concerned about standing out in a crowd.

Most of all – enjoy yourself and know that you are taking care of your body the way it deserves.

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