Top 5 Yoga Poses for Weight Loss

Yoga offers many potential benefits for dedicated practitioners. It can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase immunity, and improve digestion. All of these play a factor in finding and maintaining a healthy weight. A consistent Yoga practice has been shown to support weight loss efforts, when combined with an overall healthy lifestyle that includes eating appropriate amounts of nutritious food and plentiful rest.

Here are five Yoga asanas (poses or “seats”) that are particularly helpful for weight loss. Note that you will want to move through these poses in the context of a full practice that includes a centering meditation, warm-up, poses that move the joints and spine in every major direction, integration/cool-down period, and a Savasana. Remember to breath deeply throughout the whole practice.

Plank tones the abdomen, quadriceps, triceps, and pectoral muscles. It also activates the abductors and gluteal muscles when practiced with proper alignment.

From a hands-and-knees position, step both feet back until the legs are extended and you are only on your hands and feet.

Press firmly through the inner palms, being certain that the hands are flat with no space under the palms. This protects the wrists and activates the upper arms.

Draw through the tailbone, extending it towards the heels. This will engage the lower abdomen, open the lower back, and wake up the legs. You should feel like the lower belly is working and the lower back is lengthening.

Keep the shoulders, hips, and feet in one long line.

Extend strongly through the inner heels. Let the legs take as much weight as the arms.

Stay for 8 to 12 deep breaths, then transition to Downward Facing Dog or Child’s Pose

  1. Parivrrta Anjaneyasana – Revolved Twisting Lunges

Twists stimulate the digestion and metabolism by squeezing old blood and toxins out of the organs. This pose combines the rejuvenating, fat-burning effects of twists with the toning of a lunge.

From Downward Facing Dog, step the right foot forward until the ankle is under the knee.

Extend back through the left inner heel, keeping as much weight in the back leg as the front. The heel will be off the ground to keep the hips square.

Draw the tail towards the ground and draw the right hip back a little to move the pelvis towards a neutral position. This will engage the lower abdomen while also opening and protecting the lower back.

Keep pressing firmly through the left heel as you reach the arms out to the sides and up overhead. Keep the shoulders relaxed as you reach up through the fingertips.

Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.

Fold forward, bringing the right hand to the right hip crease and left fingertips to the mat inside the right foot.

Inhale to lengthen both sides of the waist forward.

Exhale as you rotate towards the right. Initiate the twist from the navel, not the head. Turn the belly, then the ribs, then the chest towards the sky. Extend the right arm straight up. Check that both shoulders are relaxed.

Stay for 7 to 8 deep breaths.

Release and come into Downward Facing Dog (or move through a Sun Salutation).

Repeat the lunge and twist on the left side.

  1. Virabhadrasana II – Warrior Pose 2

This pose increases strength and mobility in the adductors, abductors, calves, and pelvis. It also opens the chest and upper back while strengthening the shoulders and triceps.

From Downward Facing Dog, step the right foot forward until the ankle is under the knee.

Keep the right knee directly above the ankle (do not let it fall inward) as you bring the left heel down and rise up into a wide-leg, open-hip position with a tall neutral spine.

The left foot should be turned so the toes and knee face the same direction.

Drop the tail, engage the lower abdomen, and press down firmly through both legs.

Extend the arms out to the sides, keeping the shoulders relaxed as you extend through the fingertips. Palms face the ground.

Hold for 7 to 8 deep breaths.

Return to Downward Facing Dog, hold for a few breaths, then repeat Warrior 2 on the left side.

  1. Navasana – Boat Pose

Boat tones the abdomen and cultivates strength through the entire core.

From seated, lengthen up through the spine, bend the knees, and lift the feet off the mat.

Shift your weight forward until you are on the front of the sits bones (upper thighs). This will reduce your range of motion but move the work deeper into your lower abdomen.

If you are less strong, hold onto the upper thighs with the feet just hovering over the mat, and lengthen the front spine.

If you are stronger, release the legs and extend the arms forward, keeping the shoulders back. You can even extend the legs, but do not lean back or hunch the shoulders. Keep the chest open and your weight on the front of the pelvis.

Hold for 5 deep breaths, rest for 1 breath and repeat, for a total of 3 to 4 repetitions.

Bring the legs onto the mat and transition into Staff Pose.

  1. Setu Bhanda Sarvangasana – Bridge Pose

Bridge tones the back while opening the chest, abdomen, psoas, and quadriceps.

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the mat, near the hips. Hips, knees, ankle, and feet should all be in a line.

Bring the arms down alongside your hips, and work the shoulders towards each other under your back.

Press into the feet and shoulders into the ground and lift your hips and chest towards the sky. You may keep the arms where they are or interlace fingers beneath the hips and walk arms closer to each other.

Draw your tailbone towards your knees and sternum towards your chin.

Stay for 7 to 8 deep breaths.

Slowly lower the hips and rest with the hips and feet on the mat for a few breaths.

It is important to understand that the way Yoga inspires weight loss is gradual and subtle. It boosts functioning of the metabolism and slowly increases muscle tone. It also squeezes all areas of the body, inspiring detoxification and greater lymphatic circulation. But it is not a huge calorie burner.

To lose weight you still need to keep your daily calorie intake lower than your expenditure and choose nourishing, plant-based foods as the base of your diet. But Yoga can help set a new foundation, and support you in loosing weight in a sustainable way.