Extra belly fat poses an increased risk of many health conditions, including certain types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. The only way to get rid of this unwanted weight is to burn more calories than you consume. Making healthy changes to your diet and exercise routine allows you to create this calorie deficit. Yoga burns calories and is a good addition to your weight loss routine, though you'll likely have to combine it with other forms of exercise for the most benefit.
In general, yoga doesn't burn as many calories as other forms of exercise. At just less than 200 calories per hour, it would take several lengthy sessions each week to burn enough calories to get rid of excess belly fat. However, yoga builds muscle, offers stress relief and is a good addition to a well-rounded workout routine. Rather than relying on yoga for weight loss, combine it with other exercises that get your heart rate up, such as jogging, walking, dancing, swimming or biking. These options burn more calories and aid in weight loss.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting at least two and a half hours of cardiovascular exercise each week combined with at least two strength training sessions. Many exercise experts consider yoga a form of strength training, so fitting it in twice per week offers benefits for building muscle in your stomach. Creating lean muscle mass in your belly, and elsewhere on your body, boosts your metabolism, helping you burn more calories for losing your belly fat.
Most yoga sessions involve a series of poses that focus on each of your major muscle groups. While those that target your stomach may not cause fat loss on their own, they will tone and define your belly muscles, helping your waist look smaller and trimmer. Many poses work your stomach muscles and are appropriate additions to your routine. Full Boat pose, Chair pose, Cobra pose, Crane pose, Triangle pose and Firefly pose are particularly good options because they challenge your balance, activating the muscles in your abdomen.
Yoga has a good place in a weight loss routine, but part of any healthy plan includes a low-calorie diet. Cutting calories from your diet contributes to the calorie deficit that aids in belly fat loss. Choose a variety of foods from each food group, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. These foods are low in calories, but high in nutrients and satiety. Avoid fast food, frozen dinners, soda, candy and processed snacks, which hinder belly fat loss and don't offer the nutrients needed to fuel a yoga session.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.