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Yoga can help you lose some weight, although results do vary, and also depend upon the type that you do. Probably the most beneficial weight loss type is power yoga, which combines greater cardiovascular activity with traditional poses. It is still not, in many experts’ opinions, as potentially successful as cardiovascular exercises like running, fast walking or swimming.
However, some find that power yoga is a great jumpstart to an exercise program. It may be more challenging for the person who is not in good shape to begin with. Learning this type may also require taking some gentle yoga classes first to learn familiarity with the poses.
Many have also posited that hot yoga, performed in a room set to 105° F (40.55° C) is excellent for weight loss. Studies do show that this type does cause temporary weight loss. As one sweats, one loses water weight. Yet this type of loss is not permanent, and it doesn’t necessarily burn a lot of fat.
Regular mat yoga, often called Hatha yoga, does cause some weight loss, over consistent practice of at least one class a day. It can also cause muscles to become more toned and flexible, a desirable benefit. A one-hour class does not burn the same amount of calories as one hour of fast walking. On average, the one-hour yoga class burns about 100 calories.
However, a study conducted by Alan Kristal in connection with the National Cancer Institute showed that those who practiced yoga one hour a week lost an average of 5 pounds over a four-year period. This data was compared to those who did not practice yoga and gained 14 pounds during the same time period. Thus practicing yoga, even once a week theoretically helps one shed a small amount of weight, while keeping weight gain at bay.
Some believe that yoga causes some weight loss because it focuses on mind/body awareness. Such awareness may translate to different eating habits, and more care regarding what kind of food one puts into the body. People who have greater body awareness may also notice when they feel full and stop eating. This belief actually suggests that it is not the exercise but the philosophy of regular practice that may result in weight loss.
Even if yoga does not offer huge weight loss benefits, it certainly offers fitness benefits, specifically for the muscles. Greater body awareness and honoring the body may also result in changing habits or attitudes toward eating. Further, it may encourage one to seek out cardiovascular exercise with more proven weight loss records.