Yoga is a great way to lose weight if practised regularly using the right form. It is light on the joints and the chances of injury – if done initially under the guidance of a trained professional – are minimal. Moreover you don’t have to waste thousands on that expensive gym membership; yoga can be practised from the comfort of your home. (Read: Here are 10 different forms of Yoga you should try)
All you need are some comfortable clothes and a yoga mat and you are good to go. So to start you off on your weight loss journey, here are 12 yoga poses:
1. Ardha Chandraasana or the half moon pose
Benefits: This pose is great to tone your buttocks, upper and inner thighs. The added stretch on the sides of your tummy, help burn off those unsightly love handles and strengthen your core, helps with weight loss. Calculate how much weight you can lose in a month here.
Avoid this pose if you have digestive disorders, a spine injury or high blood pressure, avoid doing this pose.
- Stand with your feet together.
- Raise your hands above your head and clasp your palms together, extend the stretch by trying to reach for the ceiling.
- Exhale, and slowly bend sideways from your hips, keeping your hands together. Remember not to bend forward and keep your elbows straight. You should feel a stretch from your fingertips to your thighs.
- Inhale and come back to the standing position. Repeat this pose on the other side.
2. Veerbhadrasana 1 or warrior pose
Benefits: This aasana stretches your back, strengthens your thighs, buttock and tummy and helps you lose weight.
Avoid this pose if you have high blood pressure, shoulder, knee or back trouble, please perform this pose under the guidance of a trained teacher.
- Stand with your feet together and hands by your side.
- Now extend your right leg forward and keep your left leg extended backwards.
- Gently bend your right knee so that you get into the lunge position.
- Twist your torso to face your bent right leg.
- Slightly turn your left foot sideways (about 400-600) to give you that extra support.
- Exhale, straighten your arms and raise your body up and away from your bent knee.
- Stretch your arms upwards and slowly tilt your torso backwards so your back forms and arch.
- To get out of this pose exhale and straighten your right knee. Now push off your right leg and come back to your original position. You can use your hands to support you. Do not rush out of this pose; you might injure your back or legs. Repeat this aasana for the other leg as well.
Veerbhadrasana 2 or warrior pose 2:
Benefits: This aasana is great to strengthen the muscles in your back, thighs, abdomen and core and also helps you with weight loss.
Avoid this pose if you suffer from diarrhea or high blood pressure.
Steps to do this pose:
- Follow the same steps as Veerbhadrasana I, but instead of raising your hands above your head twist your torso so you face sideways and raise your hands to either side (so your fingers are extended and are parallel to your extended right and left leg).
- Now, turn your head so your eyes are facing in the same direction as your right hand. Repeat this posture for the other leg as well.
3. Utkatasana or the chair pose
Benefits: It strengthens the core muscles, thighs and tones the buttocks.
Avoid this pose if you have a knee or back injury.
- Stand straight on your yoga mat with your hands in namaste in front of you.
- Now raise your hands above your head and bend at the knee such that your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Bend your torso slightly forward and breathe.
- Stay in this position for as long as you can. Gently go back to the standing position.
4. Vrksasana or tree pose
Benefits: This aasana is great for the muscles of your abdomen and tones the thighs and arms.
If you have injured your knee or back please do this aasana under the supervision of a trained expert.
- Stand with your legs together.
- Now put most of your weight on one leg and a little weight on the other leg.
- Now raise the leg with the least weight such that your foot is facing inwards, towards your opposite knee.
- You can hold your ankle to help you pull up the leg.
- Place the heel of your foot on your inner thigh of the other leg, as close to the pelvis as possible.
- Now gently raise your hands above your head making sure your fingers are pointing towards the ceiling.
- Make sure you focus your mind and try to maintain your balance.
Breathing steadily and focusing on one spot in front of your eyes helps in maintaining the pose and not falling over. Do not try to hold a chair or wall for support while doing this pose. It will only reduce the intensity of the aasana.
5. Uttanasana or forward bending pose
Benefits: This aasana stretches the hamstrings and puts pressure on the muscles of the abdomen. It also makes the blood rush to your head, helping your body switch from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system, helping you relax.
- To perform this pose, stand straight.
- Raise your hands from the front to above your head as you inhale slowly.
- Then bend forward completely pushing your buttocks back till your palms touch the floor and your forehead touches your knees. Come up slowly to the standing position.
6. Surya namaskar or sun salutation
Surya namaskar is a set of yoga aasanas done in succession. It has amazing weight reduction properties since it employs various forward and backward bending aasanas that flex and stretch the spinal column giving a profound stretch to the whole body. Believe it or not this is a full body workout like no other. It has a deep effect in detoxifying your internal organs through copious oxygenation and has a deeper relaxing effect. Know more about the sun salutation or surya namaskar.
7. Ardha Matsyendrasana or Half spinal twist
Benefits: This aasana increases the capacity of your lungs so it can inhale and hold more oxygen. It stretches the spine and tones the thighs and abdominal muscles. It stimulates the digestive system helping you digest food more efficiently and lose weight.
- Sit up with your legs stretched out straight in front of you, keeping your feet together and your spine erect.
- Bend your left leg and place the heel of your left foot beside your right hip (optionally, you can keep your left leg straight).
- Now, take the right leg over your left knee and place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind you.
- Twist at the waist, shoulders and neck in this sequence to the right and look over the right shoulder.
- Hold and continue with gentle long breaths in and out.
- To come back to the starting position, continue breathing out, release the right hand first (the hand behind you), release the waist, then chest, lastly the neck and sit up relaxed yet straight. Repeat on the other side.
If you have a back injury, do this pose only in the presence of a certified trainer.
8. Badhakonasana or Cobbler pose
- Benefits: This aasana reduces fat on your inner thighs and strengthens your spine, muscles of the groin, knees and lower back. It also helps relieve menstrual discomfort and improves digestion.
- Sit on your yoga mat with your legs stretched out in front of you.
- Keep your spine erect and bend your legs at the knees, such that the soles of your feet are facing each other.
- Now with your hands pull your legs in so that your heels touch each other and they are as close to your pelvis as possible.
- While holding your legs at the ankles, move your thighs up and down, just like the wings of a butterfly. Do this as many times as you can.
Remember that the closer your legs are to your pelvis the greater the benefit of this pose. Do not push yourself, do as much as you can and your flexibility will improve with time.
Do not do this aasana if you have injured your knees.
9. Kapal bhati pranayam
Benefits: This is a form of breathing exercise that helps to oxygenate your body while strengthening the muscles of your stomach and abdomen. It helps in giving you that flat toned tummy, melts away love handles and improves digestion.
Avoid doing this pose if you have high blood pressure, a hernia or heart disease.
- Sit comfortably on your yoga mat. Keep your spine erect and your palms on your knees facing downwards.
- Now exhale through your nose and pull your stomach in towards your spine.
- When you loosen your stomach muscles you will automatically breath in.
- Quickly contract your stomach muscles again and exhale. Your stomach muscles should be doing the work of pushing out and pulling in air.
- Do this initially about 50 times, you can increase the number of repetitions as you feel comfortable.
After doing this form of breathing you will initially feel some soreness around the muscles of your stomach and abdomen. This is normal.
10. Kumbhakasana or plank pose
Benefits: It strengthens and tones your arms, shoulders, back, buttocks, thighs and abs.
If you have back or shoulder injuries or have high blood pressure avoid doing this pose.
- Lie flat on your tummy on the floor or your yoga mat.
- Now place your palms next to your face and bend your feet so that the toes are pushing off the ground.
- Push off your hands and raise your buttock into the air.
- Your legs should be flat on the floor as far as possible and your neck should be loose. This is known as the downward dog or adho mukha svanasana.
- Once here, inhale and lower your torso so that your arms are perpendicular to the floor and your shoulders and chest are directly over your arms. Remember to keep your fingers from flaring out and keep them close together. You will feel your stomach muscles tighten. Hold this pose for as long as you can.
- To get out of this pose, exhale and gently lower your body to the floor (just like you would come out of a push up). You can end this pose by either doing bhujangasana or simply roll to your side and push off your hands to the sitting position.