Although many people practice yoga to release stress and increase flexibility, certain yoga poses may also help you lose weight and tone your body. While there's not a lot of research to support yoga's benefits for weight loss, a study published in the July-August 2005 issue of the journal, "Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine" found that practicing yoga for four or more years was associated with either modest weight loss or weight maintenance in overweight study participants. In an online article for Shape, yoga expert Kimberly Fowler recommends performing specific toning, heat-building yoga poses to promote increased fat burn and improve your metabolism.
Revolved Chair Pose
Stand with your feet together and your hips directly over your feet. Lengthen your spine, relax your shoulders and stand up tall.
Exhale and bend your knees deeply, as though you are about to sit down in an imaginary chair. Keep most of your weight in your buttocks. Do not let your knees extend beyond your feet.
Join your palms into prayer position in front of your chest. Exhale and rotate your torso to the right, bringing your right elbow to rest on the outer part of your left knee or thigh. Expand your chest and bring your shoulder blades together.
Hold this pose for 30 seconds, then release and repeat on your left side.
Start on your hands and knees. Align your hands with your shoulders.
Step your right foot, then your left foot, back to come into a position that resembles the top of a pushup.
Contract your abdominal muscles to prevent your lower back from slumping. Your hips, torso and legs should be in one straight line.
Hold this pose for up to one minute, then release.
Lie face-down on your yoga mat. Stretch your legs out straight and rest your arms by your sides, palms facing up. Gently rock your head from side to side to release any tension in your neck.
Bend your knees and bring your feet toward your buttocks. Reach around with your hands to grab your ankles.
Raise your feet toward the ceiling, arch your back and expand your chest and shoulders. Your weight should be resting primarily on your hips. Look straight ahead.
Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute, then release.
Start on your hands and knees. Align your knees with your hips and place your hands on the floor slightly ahead of your shoulders.
Inhale, straighten your legs and lift your buttocks toward the ceiling, bringing your body into an upside-down "V" shape.
Lengthen your tailbone and press your heels into the floor. Expand your chest and press your shoulders away from your ears. Keep your weight evenly distributed between your hands and feet.
Stay here for 30 seconds to one minute. Exhale and release back to your hands and knees.
- If your hamstrings are not as flexible as you like, keep your knees slightly bent in the Downward-Facing Dog pose until your flexibility improves.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.