Health and Fitness: Doing Yoga at Home for Weight Loss

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Yoga can be a great help to a person trying to lose weight, improve posture and increase self-confidence. Here are some tips on ways to get started at home.

Yoga is a wonderful practice for all sorts of reasons. It can help you relax as you gain flexibility, balance and control over your body. It improves your posture, makes you more graceful and more self-assured. It is a great way to stretch the body in preparation for sports, or following a more rigorous workout to prevent muscle soreness. Yoga is also a great exercise in its own right and can help you to loose weight and feel better about yourself, no matter what size you are.

But doing yoga in a class can be intimidating, especially when you are first starting out in the practice. It can be hard to turn off the competitive part of your brain, the part that notices everyone else can stretch farther or hold longer without falling over instead of recognizing that almost everyone starts off inflexible and it is only through practice that you become more flexible. It tends to take a little while for beginning yoga practitioners to realize that the only person who matters in your yoga practice is you; it only matters what you can do and that you see progress within yourself.

But if taking a yoga class does not appeal to you, for whatever reason, you can still get the benefits of yoga by working at home with books, videos and even instruction from the Internet.

If you want to use yoga for weight loss at home, you will need to do rather high-intensity yoga, also known as power yoga, which will make you sweat and give you a cardiovascular workout. The positions used in power yoga are not necessarily difficult but they are performed quickly, using fluid motions and changing between positions quickly. Perhaps the most well known sequence of poses that is used in this kind of yoga is known as Sun Salutation, a series of 12 different poses worked through in a continuous flow. None of these poses are difficult, but you may find keeping up with a tape too much at first. If you want to try this series, find a book or a description of the poses on the Internet, or watch the video to see the different steps and perform it more slowly yourself.

There are also tapes available that are made specifically to help people lose weight. Some of these are based on the power yoga principles, while others are more like aerobics sessions than yoga classes, and still others are just good general yoga tapes that show people with a variety of shapes performing the poses. If you have a good video store in your vicinity, you might be able to rent a few of these tapes (or check them out from you local library) to see which ones work best for you.

When evaluating a yoga tape, watch it through at least once before attempting to do the poses or follow along. This gives you a better grasp of what the poses are supposed to look like, since you will not always be facing the screen while you are doing the poses. It will also show you how fast the pace is and if there are any poses you have not seen before or moves that look very difficult. If you see things you don’t think you can do, you’ll want to give the video a pass. A good sign is a tape that shows different variations depending on skill level, or one that shows you have to do the poses with props, which makes them a little easier.

After you have watched it and are comfortable that you can do the poses involved at or near the speed involved, give the tape a try. Register how you feel as you work through the tape. Does it feel like a workout? If it honestly feels too difficult for you then you may need to try a more basic program, but if it’s hard but doable that’s the kind of workout you want. And it will get easier the more you do it.

If you are looking to lose a lot of weight, you may not want to use yoga as your only form of exercise. It can certainly be helpful as a part of your health regime, but it is not necessarily going to produce big results on its own. It will help you carry yourself better and give you more energy and confidence, which should help you want to exercise more.

Yoga is a great activity for before or after a rigorous workout, or it can be used by itself on off days in your workout schedule (say you go for a walk or to the gym three days a week, do yoga the other days). In conjunction with other exercise and a moderate diet plan (meaning eating a healthy diet with all things in moderation), yoga can be a great help in reaching your weight loss and fitness goals.

But there really is something deeper to using yoga while you are trying to lose weight. Yoga, in its traditional sense, is very much a spiritual practice. It encourages people to live in the moment and be mindful and accepting of everything in their present state. That includes your surroundings, the way your body feels, your moods, even your weight. As you do yoga more and especially if you delve into the spiritual side of the practice (not meaning religious, just dealing with reality beyond the physical body) you will begin to accept yourself as you are more. This is not to say you won’t care that you are overweight, you might even care more as you become more connected to your body. It just means that you will begin to see it more as a gradual process, much like your success in yoga. It is something that cannot be rushed and must take its own time.

Yoga will burn calories and help tone and shape your body, but it is not the only piece of the puzzle. To lose weight you must eat less, move more, have a positive attitude and patience with yourself and your body. Yoga can help with many of these things.

By: Sarah White

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