Introduction to Yoga: Part 2: How Yoga Contributes to Weight Loss (by Yaz Rooney)

Welcome to this beginner’s guide to yoga, information that will demonstrate what yoga practice is all about. In this short series, you’ll learn about:

Part 2: How Yoga Contributes to Weight Loss

Yoga most certainly contributes to weight loss. A 2016 study (reported in the Complementary Therapies in Medicine journal) suggests that yoga exercises, when performed at a much faster pace than usual, can compete with aerobic exercise when it comes to fat-burning. A subsequent study done in 2017 took a closer look at the fat-burning process and concluded that the secret lay in the fast transitions from one pose to another, rather than the traditional ‘hold’ of the stretches that are typical of the yoga routine. In other words, the full health benefits of yoga as seen in Part 1 of this yoga series can be experienced whilst also losing weight.

Way ahead of the research, Zoe Bray Cotton, a certified yoga instructor and creator of the hugely popular YogaBurn program has mastered this yoga fat-burning process through a process that she calls Dynamic Sequencing. Dynamic Sequencing does exactly what researchers have discovered; it burns fat through faster yoga routines and transitions. People looking for a long-lasting, healthy approach to fat-burning, with all the benefits of yoga, will enjoy YogaBurn.

Similarly, in comparing the effects of yoga to aerobic exercise, the results of a comparative study of the impact of yoga and aerobic exercises on obesity demonstrated that obese subjects who took part in yoga practices over a one year period showed a higher reduction in BMI compared to those participants who were part of an aerobic group.

Far earlier studies (published in 2005) on 15,500 men and women on the impact of yoga on weight loss at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (led by medical researcher and yogi Alan Kristal), found that both over-weight and normal-weight adults who habitually practiced yoga over a minimum period of four years were less likely to put on extra pounds than those who did not practice yoga. Further, those who started out overweight and practiced yoga over a four year period lost an average of 5lbs, while the overweight sample of people who did not practice gained about 14lbs.

Alan Kristal and his research team found it difficult to explain why or how yoga can bring about weight loss considering that the discipline is not generally strenuous, although they did assume a link between the mindful eating that naturally arises out of the holistic approach to yoga and weight loss.

 Similarly, another study published in 2016 also showed baffling improvements in obesity-related outcomes including body mass index (BMI), body weight, body fat, and waist circumference due to yoga practices. Although researchers here observed increased physical activity because of the yoga practice itself, a resulting increased lean muscle mass, and changes in eating behaviors, they weren’t sure exactly what the weight loss could be attributed to. They concluded that ‘…yoga may offer diverse psychological, physical, and social effects that may make it a useful tool for healthy, sustained weight loss.’

Improved Attitudes to Food

In this second study, the yoga study participants reported an overall attitudinal shift that led to less emotional eating, a reduced appetite, fewer cravings, and a tendency towards more mindful eating. They reported increased muscle tone and an improved metabolism and described the yoga method of weight loss as being easier than other weight loss regimes. Participants also felt they could maintain their weight loss with yoga. 


Yoga has great weight loss potential, much more so when it is performed at a faster pace, such as with Zoe Bray Cotton’s YogaBurn technique. The greatest benefits lie in the way in which yoga brings together the body and mind in a pointed focus that heals at the deepest levels, as well as the way in which it transforms our view of ourselves and our place in the world. Weight loss, when achieved through such body-mind connection,  will most definitely endure if we allow it.

 Go to Part 3 to explore The True Meaning of Yoga

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