While it doesn’t typically give you the calorie burn and cardio workout of, say, a long run or intense cycling class, study after study does show that yoga can be an effective weight loss tool. Consider the following stats: 

  • In one study of 15,000 adults in their 50s, those who were overweight and did yoga at least once a week for 4 years lost an average of 5 pounds. Their counterparts who didn’t do yoga gained 13.5 pounds.
  • Other research, published in the journal Qualitative Health Research, found that women who practiced yoga at home were able to reduce binge eating and increase “present-moment awareness” in just 12 weeks.
  • A National Institutes of Health study has found that women who practice restorative yoga, which involves holding yoga poses for a long time, burned two percent more body fat than those who just stretched for the same period of time.

Seeing how it encourages movement, emphasizes mind/body awareness, and helps reduce stress, it’s not hard to see how yoga can inspire weight loss. Today is International Yoga Day, the perfect time to give this ancient Indian science a try. Things to consider first:

  1. Look for an instructor who has completed at least 200 hours of training in his/her particular style of yoga. If you have a health condition like back problems or arthritis, also ask the teacher if she/he has worked with students like you.
  2. Choose a yoga style that’s right for you. If you’re looking for lots of stretching, consider restorative yoga. If you want something more invigorating, try Bikram yoga, which involves continuous movement performed in a room heated to 100+ degrees.
  3. Get over any self-consciousness. Maybe you think you’re unbalanced and uncoordinated (all the more reason to try yoga!), but even if you are, don’t worry about how you’ll look. Yoga takes concentration. The other students in the class will, undoubtedly, be focused on their own form, breathing, and inner feelings, not on you.


This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be an exhaustive examination of the subject matter nor a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your primary care physician or healthcare provider before beginning any diet or exercise program.