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Yoga for Weight Loss – 15 Poses That Work

by Mina SinaiYoga is about more than stretching and achieving a sense of calm. Yoga for weight loss is officially a thing…

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If you want to hit the mat in order to lower the numbers on the scale, try these poses for weight loss:

1. Downward Dog Pose

Who knew one of the most fundamental yoga poses would be great for weight loss? This yoga classic is a great workout for the core, upper and lower body, meaning it is an effective way to burn fat no matter your problem area!Downward Dog PosePerfect your pose:

  1. Start on your hands and knees. Spread your palms and fingers evenly onto the mat, with your index fingers parallel. Turn the toes under to prepare for the next movements.
  2. Press your body’s weight firmly into your hands and lift your knees away from the mat, keeping knees slightly bent and heels lifted.
  3. Lift your tailbone towards the ceiling, as if a string is pulling you upwards, elongating your arms and legs until fully straight. Be careful not to lock out your knees, which could lead to pain and discomfort in this pose.
  4. Keep the index fingers pressed firm into the floor. Try to bring your shoulder blades close together to open and stretch your chest.
  5. During the pose, avoid letting your head hang freely. Keep it active, positioned between your arms in line with your spine.
  6. Hold this pose for 30 seconds before releasing.

2. Three-Legged Dog Pose

Just like the downward dog pose, the three-legged dog pose will burn calories by working the core and upper and lower body. This takes the downward pose one step further by forcing you to further use your core muscles to lift the leg upwards, meaning you’ll shed even more weight by switching things up with a three-legged dog pose.Three-Legged Dog PosePerfect your pose:

  1. Once your body has achieved the downward dog pose above, make sure weight is placed evenly in both hands.
  2. Slowly lift your left leg straight up into the sky, keeping the balance of weight on both sides of your body.
  3. Flex the foot and pretend you are kicking upwards to keep the foot and thigh active throughout the pose.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute before bringing the left foot down and repeating on the other side.

3. Upward Facing Dog Pose

For the ladies who carry their weight in their hips or thighs, the upward facing dog pose will do you wonders! This pose activates every muscle from the waist down, meaning you’ll get a toning and calorie-burning workout all in one pose.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Lie with your stomach flat on the floor, with legs stretched behind you and feet and toes pressed against your mat.
  2. Stretch your arms slightly in front of your shoulders, and firmly press your hands into the mat.
  3. Using the energy from your firm press into the mat, lift your torso, shins and thighs up off the mat until arms are straight.
  4. Feet should remain firmly pressed to the ground, but the rest of the leg should be lifted.
  5. Open your chest by pushing your shoulder blades together and consciously keep shoulders down away from your ears.
  6. Take 3-5 deep breaths before releasing from this pose and laying flat, belly-down on the mat. Repeat 3-5 times. 

4. Wheel Pose

This pose not only burns calories, but strengthens muscles in the glutes, thighs and arms while helping you increase flexibility through the spin and shoulders. Not only will this pose help you reach your weight loss goals, it will also improve your posture, making you look longer and leaner overall.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Start by lying with your back flat on the mat and arms by your side.
  2. Bend your knees, planting your feet firmly on the floor and moving the heels as close to the butt as possible without straining your muscles.
  3. Bend the elbows, taking the forearms perpendicular to the floor with fingers pointing towards the shoulders.
  4. Keeping thighs in a parallel alignment, take a deep breath and lift your butt off of the floor.
  5. Once you feel you are steady and balanced in this position, begin to push firmly into your hands, and let this momentum lift your upper body and head off of the mat, keeping your arms parallel.
  6. Let the head hang. Make sure to keep shoulder blades close together and the weight distributed evenly between the fingers and feet.
  7. Hold for 30 seconds and gingerly release back onto the mat.

5. Child’s Pose

The child’s pose is typically used as a way to cool down and slow your heart rate during flow or power yoga classes. How does this help with weight loss? Engaging in high-energy poses followed by a cool down in child’s pose will simulate interval cardio training, where your body generally goes into high gear and burns more calories.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Start on your hands and knees, spreading your knees wide about the distance of your yoga mat if this is comfortable, keeping your big toes touching.
  2. Lengthen your torso and push your shoulder blades back by deeply inhaling, and then bow forward on the exhale.
  3. Rest your chest on top or between your thighs, with your forehead resting on the mat or floor.
  4. Bring your arms on either side of you, with palms facing up, and hands resting by your feet. If this is not comfortable, adjust the pose by stretching your arms out long in front of you, palms facing down towards the mat and arms resting flat on the mat.
  5. Hold this pose for about a minute, or as long as you need to feel relaxed and stretched out. Remember to lengthen your back and neck throughout the duration of the pose.

6. Low Crescent Lunge

This pose not only helps with posture, but it also helps burn calories by working the lower body and the core. A bonus? It’s a great way to stretch out the shoulders, chest and spinal parts of the body, so lunge away!

Perfect your pose:

  1. Start in a standing position and adjust your feet apart by about 3.5-4 feet, lowering your back leg straight with your toes pressed against the mat.
  2. Raise your arms parallel to each other but perpendicular to the floor. Throughout the pose, keep hands active by reaching towards the ceiling to engage the core.
  3. Adjust your right foot so the toes are facing forward.
  4. Square your hips towards the front of the mat.
  5. Exhale and bend your right knee over your right ankle.
  6. Lift your ribcage and elongate your torso. Keep the head gazing forward and relax the muscles in your face.
  7. Begin to slowly pull your torso back to create a slight backbend. Allow your gaze to travel upwards towards the ceiling if you can keep the balance.
  8. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute before repeating on the other side.

7. Fish Pose

The fish pose helps improve the posture, lengthen the spine and aid digestion in the abdomen, three secrets to looking and feeling lighter and leaner overall.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Lie flat on your back with your arms stretched out on either side of you.
  2. Lift your hips and pelvis off of the floor, placing your hands (palms down) against the mat underneath your seat.
  3. Keep forearms and elbows close to your body.
  4. Rest your seat onto the backs of your hands.
  5. Pressing firmly through your forearms and elbows, lift your upper torso and neck away from the floor. Avoid placing too much weight in the head so you don’t stress the neck muscles.
  6. Hold for 15-30 seconds before slowly releasing back to the mat.

8. Boat Pose

Want to seriously work your midsection? Shift into a boat pose, a surefire way to slim down your tummy and work every ab muscle in your body. This pose can also be found in pilates or barre classes, but is rooted in the yoga practice.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Start by laying flat on your back with your arms stretched out on each side of you and legs stretched flat in front of you with toes pointed.
  2. In one movement, lift the upper body and lower body up at a 45 degree angle, keeping both the lower body and the torso as straight as possible.
  3. Reach arms straight forward with active hands.
  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds before slowly releasing. Feel free to work your way back and forth from the boat pose to a resting pose until you’ve exhausted your ab muscles.

9. Cobra Pose

Slither into the cobra pose to activate the abdominal organs and muscles and crank up the calorie burn in your yoga practice. Similar to the upward facing dog pose, this variation focuses more on opening the chest than balancing the burn between the upper and lower body.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Lie with your stomach flat on the floor, with legs stretched behind you and feet and toes pressed against your mat.
  2. Stretch your arms slightly in front of your shoulders, and firmly press your hands into the mat.
  3. Using the energy from your firm press into the mat, lift your torso up off the mat until arms are straight.
  4. Feet, shins and thighs should remain firmly pressed to the ground.
  5. Open your chest by pushing your shoulder blades together and consciously keep shoulders down away from your ears.
  6. Take 3-5 deep breaths before releasing from this pose and laying flat, belly-down on the mat. Repeat 3-5 times.

10. Spinal Twist Pose

This pose forces your body to twist your spine as if you are wringing out a sponge. How does this help with weight loss? During the intense twist, your abdomen is massaged which allows for improved digestion and an increased metabolism.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Sit on the ground, drawing your left knee into your chest. Place your left foot on the ground right outside of your right knee.
  2. Slowly bring your right foot in towards your tailbone.
  3. Place the left hand behind you, in line with your lower back and gently wrap your right arm around the outer side of your left leg.
  4. Shift the weight of your body into your left foot and hand as you pull your torso to lengthen completely. Twist as far to the right as you can without straining.
  5. Stay for five deep breaths before repeating on the other side.

11. Forward Fold Pose

Think of the forward fold pose as the standing version of child’s pose. It helps lower the heart rate after an intense calorie burn, and soothes sore muscles before jumping right back into challenging poses. Plus, this pose also works to activate internal organs and speed up digestion.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Start standing in a mountain pose with hands resting by your sides and feet planted hip-width apart.
  2. Slowly raise your arms up above you pausing so they are straight above your head.
  3. Make sure hands remain active by reaching towards the ceiling.
  4. Keep shoulder blades together and shoulders away from the ears.
  5. Slowly fold your torso forward and bring it as close to your thighs as you can, bringing your arms downward with it.
  6. If your flexibility allows, wrap your hands around each leg and use your bicep muscles to pull the torso forward even more.
  7. Hold for 15-30 seconds before releasing.

12. Warrior I Pose

This pose requires a deep bend in the knee and a deep concentration in the mind. Using your core muscles to balance the entire body requires much more energy than you may expect. Slip into this pose and notice your heart rate increasing as the calories burn away.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Start in a standing position and adjust your feet apart by about 3.5-4 feet.
  2. Raise your arms parallel to each other but perpendicular to the floor. Throughout the pose, keep hands active by reaching towards the ceiling to engage the core.
  3. Adjust your right foot so the toes are facing forward and adjust the back foot to a 45-60 degree angle. Both heels should be aligned.
  4. Square your hips towards the front of the mat.
  5. Throughout the pose, keep your left heel anchored to the ground.
  6. Exhale and bend your right knee over your right ankle.
  7. Lift your ribcage and elongate your torso. Keep the head gazing forward and relax the muscles in your face.
  8. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute before repeating on the other side.

13. Chatarunga Pose

Also called the four-limbed staff pose, chatarunga is a staple to every yoga practice because of the major toning effects it has on the arms, legs and core. Introduce this into your daily practice and you’ll notice a firmer midsection and stronger upper body in no time.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Start in downward facing dog.
  2. Shift your weight forward to remove your body from the v-shape and into a high plank position, with your hands pressed to the mat directly under your shoulders. Legs should be stretched straight behind you, with toes tucked under and pressed into the mat.
  3. From the high plank position, keep your elbows tight into your abdomen and slowly lower your entire body closer to the mat without actually touching it.
  4. Go as far as you can until you feel the burn and hold this pose.
  5. Throughout this pose, it is essential that elbows stay close to the abdomen, so continue to check this positioning.
  6. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Push back up into high plank and repeat.

14. Standing Back Bend Pose

Just as the child’s pose is essential to weight loss, so is the standing back bend pose. This pose allows yogis to get a quick breather, while also stretching out the muscles most commonly worked throughout the practice. This helps with recovery the next day, as stretching will prevent muscle soreness.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Start standing in a mountain pose with hands resting by your sides and feet planted hip-width apart.
  2. Slowly raise your arms up above you pausing so they are straight above your head.
  3. Make sure hands remain active by reaching towards the ceiling.
  4. Keep shoulder blades together and shoulders away from the ears.
  5. Begin to reach the hands behind you as far as you can go without straining your back muscles.
  6. Once you’ve reached your maximum point, stay here and take 3-5 deep breaths before releasing.

15. Chair Pose

Once you feel the wobble and burn from a chair pose, you won’t ever question why it’s on the list of yoga poses for weight loss again. This intense lower body exercise will make you shake, quiver and pray for release, increasing heart rate and burning tons of calories.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Start by standing up right in a mountain pose with your hands hanging by your side.
  2. In this pose, you can either choose to keep arms parallel or adjust to move them in a slight V-shape. Either way, raise both arms to be perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Bend your knees and lower your body until your thighs are as close to parallel to the floor as you can go.
  4. Lean your torso forward over your knees slightly, with your knees staying over your feet.
  5. Prevent your butt from sticking out too much by consciously moving your tailbone down towards the floor.
  6. Stay in this position for 30 seconds before releasing back to a standing position.

Source: FYTSO

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