Yoga helps with weight loss and maintenance in several ways. The mindfulness of yoga can help you to slow down and make better food choices. It also helps you to sleep better, and there is a growing body of evidence that sleep helps keep our metabolism active.
Did you know that the practice of yoga burns calories? Not just hot yoga (bikram yoga), but all types of yoga Read on to learn about which poses to practice for burning calories and to get the most out of your yoga practice.
11 Strong Yoga Poses That Burn Calories
Power Yoga and Ashtanga are both practices that boost your energy, but there are poses in all classes that challenge your metabolism, burn more calories, and help you lose weight. Taking time each day to use the poses below will help you burn more calories, manage your weight, and live your best life.
1. Chaturanga (4-Limbed Staff Pose)
For some, Chaturanga is the pose you move through to get to Up Dog. Chaturanga, or the 4 limbed staff pose, is also a great pose to stimulate your metabolism.
From a plank position, press your weight through your pointer finger and thumb, making sure your shoulders are above your wrists. Push through your heels to activate your legs. Pull your belly button into your spine.
While keeping your elbows close to your side, lower yourself down until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Breath into the pose for 5 long, slow breaths.
2. Bakasana (Crow Pose)
Crow Pose is an upper-body balance pose that forces you to engage your entire body. You can start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), engaging your core and legs before lowering your self down into Garland Pose (Malasana).
From Garland Pose, place your hands on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Spread your fingers and press your weight into your pointer and thumb side of your hands.
Lean forward while working your shins toward the back of our arms. Keep your thighs close to your chest. Round your back while tilting your pelvis in and engaging your core.
Look to the front of your mat, lift onto the balls of your feet, and lean forward while exhaling and inhaling deeply.
If this pose is difficult for you, start by only lifting one foot at a time until you can lift both. Crow pose is challenging both physically and mentally. You need to foster trust in yourself to master this pose.
3. Plank Pose to Vasisthasana (Side Plank)
Plank and side plank work the muscles of your core, arms, and shoulders. To get the most out of these poses, you want to hold each for five full breaths, move from plank to right side plank, back to plank, and then to left side plank.
From plank pose, shift your weight to your right-hand while extending your left hand into the air. At the same time, rotate your left foot to the top of your right foot.
4. Paripuna Navasana (Boat Pose)
Boat pose is another full-body posture. If done correctly, the boat pose will work all the muscles of your body. Start in a seated position with your feet close to your hips and your knees in the air.
Engage your core as you tip backward and come to a resting position on your glutes as your body keeps a V shape. From here, extend your legs and straighten your arms over your head. Hold this pose for 10 breaths.
Focus on extending your arms through your fingertips and extending your legs through your toes.
5. Three-Legged Dog
Start in Adho Mukha Savasana (downward dog) and press into your hands to stabilize your shoulders. Engage your core and extend your right leg behind you. Reach through your heel and raise your leg as high as you can while remaining comfortable.
Take 10 full deep breaths, keeping your shoulders square to your hips. Make sure you do the pose on both sides.
6. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)
From Tadasana, move your right foot about a 3rd of the way down your mat. Your right foot should be parallel to the back of your mat.
Bend your left leg so that your thigh becomes parallel to the floor. Do not let your knee move forward of your ankle. As you inhale, raise your arms to shoulder height.
Your hips and shoulders should be square to the side of your mat. Tuck your tailbone and engage your core as you turn your head to look over your right fingers.
Hold the pose for 10 breaths, then do the same pose on the other side.
7. Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III)
Warrior III is a full body pose that also focuses on your balance. From Tadasana, slightly shift your weight to your left leg. Engage your core and bring your hands to prayer position at your heart. Now raise your right knee to your chest.
To maintain your balance, find a focal point, maintain your gaze at that point, and engage your core.
Hinge at your hips and move your upper body so that it is parallel to the floor. After you lower your upper body, extend your right leg out behind you so that it is parallel to the floor. Your toes should point to the ground and press through your heel.
You can now extend your arms over your head so that your entire body is parallel to the floor. Hold the pose for 10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
This pose is challenging if you struggle with your balance. Bring your arms out to the side to make it easier to balance.
Turn to face the side of your mat, with your toes, hips, and shoulders all square to the side of your mat. From this position, turn your toes out 45 degrees.
Reach your arms over the top of your head and extend your body skyward. As you exhale, bring your elbows down, creating a goal post or cactus shape with your arms. Your hands should face out from your body.
Take a breath and exhale as you bend both of your knees, lowering your body down. Focus on keeping your knees open and back and be careful to not let your knees go over your toes.
Breathe for 10 full deep breaths. It’s normal to notice yourself rising and lowering with your breath.
9. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
From Tadasana, inhale and exhale as you fold forward. As you inhale, drop your hips down to a position similar to sitting in a chair. Raise your arms above our head and take 10 breaths.
The key to the power of this pose is to keep your chest lifted and your core engaged. Extend through your fingers as your ground your feet into the floor. Keep your knees even and behind your toes.
10. Bridge Pose
Lie on your back, as you do in Shavasana/Savasana or corpse pose. Keep your gaze at the ceiling as you bring your heels towards your hips, with your knees pointing to the sky.
Engage your core and press your knees away from your body while lifting your hips. Your knees should stay parallel to each other, and your toes should point away from you.
You can also move your shoulder blades together while interlacing your fingers and pressing your palms to the floor. Hold the pose for 10 breaths and then slowly lower yourself back to the ground.
If you would like to increase the challenge of this pose, raise one leg and then the other. Hold the raised leg as long as you can keep your hips even.
11. Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle)
From Warrior II, hinge at your hips and drop your right hand to the floor, allowing your left arm to rise above your body.
Press into your legs and engage your core. If this pose is challenging due to limited flexibility, you can place your hand on a block if it won’t reach the floor. To burn the most calories in this pose, do not rest your hand on the floor or block. Use your core to support your upper body.
Whichever yoga pose or practice you choose, the more you stay present, the more energy you will burn. Focus on engaging your entire body in the pose.
Do You Need a Yoga Studio that Understands You?
Yoga helps burn calories, calms your mind, and leaves you feeling refreshed and recharge. Join us at our central London location to take your yoga routine to the next level.
We offer classes of all styles (yes, we offer hot yoga/bikram yoga). Try them all and find the one that works best for you. If your goal is weight loss, carve out 5-6 days a week to visit the studio. The more you practice, the faster you’ll start to see results.