Yoga’s ability to bust stress is well documented. Ditto its power to improve flexibility. But yoga has a hidden gem that might surprise you: Its benefits extend to your waistline too.
A growing body of evidence shows a strong association between doing yoga regularly and greater success at maintaining a healthy weight—even losing weight. Why? It’s not only the physical act of moving your body but also the fact that yoga teaches you to become more mindful, helps improve your mood, and allows you to feel more connected to your body. Together, these positive changes can help people eat less and become more aware of when they’re full.
“With yoga, you’re more in tune with your body and more mindful about your actions and self-thoughts,” says Dashama Konah Gordon, Florida-based founder of the Pranashama Yoga Institute, FitFusion.com trainer, and creator of the 30-Day Yoga Challenge. “Yoga helps people make better food choices, and it can even make overeating a thing of the past.”
Ready to hit the mat? These five yoga poses are ideal for getting you on your way. Done together they’ll lengthen and strengthen your entire body as they help you to move closer to your weight goal. If possible, consider taking a few yoga classes, as it’s there that you’ll more quickly grasp the mind-body connections that can help you make the kinds of positive lifestyle changes that will result in lower numbers on the scale.
Kneel on floor with knees hip-width apart. Press thighs inward slightly and place palms behind you on top of glutes, fingers pointing down. Push pelvis forward to lengthen tailbone as you open chest to sky. For more of a challenge, reach back and rest hands on heels, fingers toward toes. Keep head neutral or let it drop back. Hold 30 to 60 seconds.
Pose: Standing extended spinal twist
From a standing position, shift weight to right foot and lift left foot off floor, bringing knee toward belly until knee is hip height. With right hand, grasp outer edge of left knee as you extend left arm to side at shoulder height. Move left knee to right as you rotate torso to left and extend left arm further behind you, looking over left shoulder. Hold 30 seconds. Release and switch sides.
Pose: Revolved side angle
Stand with feet together. Step right foot back about three to four feet, up on ball of right foot. Bend left knee until thigh is parallel with floor. Either stay here or for more support, lower right knee to floor. Bring hands together in front of chest (as if you’re praying) and twist torso to left. Keeping hands together, place right elbow on outside of left leg and press right arm into left leg. Lift from chest and keep head in neutral or look over left shoulder. Hold 30 to 60 seconds. Release and switch sides.
Pose: Warrior III
Stand with feet together. Lift left foot off ground and hinge forward from hips as you lift left leg behind you to hip height. Extend arms forward so they’re parallel with each other and the floor. (If balance is an issue, hold onto back of chair, pushing chair forward and away as you lift back leg). Look forward and lift from chest. Hold 30 seconds. Release and switch sides.
Lie face up on floor, arms to sides, palms down, and feet flat on floor so knees are bent. Scoot feet close enough to glutes that you can touch heels with fingers. Press feet and arms into floor and lift hips off floor until they’re parallel with knees. Wiggle shoulders to move arms underneath you; if possible, clasp hands together. Hold 30 seconds. Roll slowly back to floor to release.