Yoga poses for managing weight

Strengthening core muscles

Strengthen core muscles with the boat pose

One of the most common well-being goals you’ve been telling us about, this new year, is a desire to lose some weight and tone up. So many people in fact have been asking how yoga can help them achieve this goal that I thought I would make the subject of the next couple of blogs.

Before we start, I am not a Fitness Instructor, the advice I am giving is coming from a purely yogic view point. Yoga is probably not the first exercise that you think of when you think of weight loss but there are many yoga practices that will help you manage weight and will complement beautifully any other exercise programme you might embark on, and help you to stick to your goals.

The most obvious comment to make about weight loss, is that calories in have to be less than calories out and getting moving is the way to burn calories.

Dru Yoga is great way to get you moving, boosting circulation, toning muscles and given your metabolism a kick start. If you wish to practice yoga at home always start with some activations, preparing your body to move. If you come to our classes you’ll know the sort of things we do – shaking the body out, hip circles, dynamic twists, cross patterning, shoulder scoops….all sorts of things to warm each part of your body. Put on some lively music and move!

In terms of classic yoga practices then to help you lose weight, I would first think about including the sun sequence in your daily routine. It will move your body from top to toe, working all the major muscles and joints, strengthen core, boost circulation and it has a balancing effect on the thyroid gland, which in turn balances your metabolism. Here are a few suggestions on how you can build on this sequence as you become more adept at it:

  • Increase the number of rounds you do and / or make your rounds quicker (remember, don’t sacrifice safe alignments for speed)
  • Play around with the postures to make them a bit more challenging, eg. lift back knee of the floor in runner position and make it a lunge, then flow the arms up, holding the low lunge. Hold Dog pose for a little longer, try lifting the legs off the floor (1 at a time!), as you hold steady. Hold Plank pose.
  • If you know it and it’s safe for you to practice, do some rounds of kappalbhati breathing as you hold some of the posture.

Other postures to consider are those that are going to work your gluteal (bottom) and thigh muscles. Number 1 has to be Goddess pose, always a favourite when we do it in class (or is that just in Isabel world?!) and a close second would be the fabulous squatting posture, Wood chopping (see notes below) – oh hooray I hear you all cry.

  • Come into a squat position with your heels on the floor. If your heels do not connect with the floor then rest them on a rolled up blanket. If squatting is not for you, from standing, bend the knees as far as is comfortable, keeping your heels on the floor.
  • Consciously draw up your pelvic floor, engage your core muscles. Arms rest in front of you, interlace the fingers.
  • Inhale as you raise the interlaced hands overhead, as straight and as high as you can. Lengthen your back, lift your sternum, keeping your hips low.
  • Pause at the top, smile at the lovely strength you have in your body (that may be an instruction too far, feel free to omit 😉 )
  • With a strong exhalation, keeping your body stable, bring your arms down to the earth, as if you were bringing an axe down to chop a log
  • Repeat a couple of times.

Warriors are also good to include, they bring strength to the legs, hips, tummy and bottom. I would also put in some tummy toning postures such as Boat, Triangles and Twists. Another useful posture to think about is the Fish. This helps to balance the thyroid gland and therefore your metabolism. It helps us to stop comfort eating and it will stimulate your appetite if you are not eating enough. I have always found that whilst it stimulates my appetite, it is for good wholesome foods and not junk and I am fuller for longer.

I’ve given you a few ideas for you to be getting on with. If you need help with these postures and how to practice them safely please ask your tutor. Next time I’m going to be looking at the importance of relaxation in managing weight. Enjoy your wood chopping! Ix

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