Beyond Zen: How Yoga Helps You Lose Fat

Calorie burned for calorie burned, yoga is not the most effective way to bring your body into that immediate caloric deficit commonly associated with weight loss. HIIT workouts, running, and spinning burn more calories off the hop than most yoga classes. This said, incorporating yoga into your exercise regime is one of the most powerful long-term strategies to support fat loss.

Here's why.

1. Yoga Balances Hormones

High intensity exercise is great for your mind and body. We of all people are not disputing that claim. However, too much high intensity exercise can cause your cortisol levels to rise and stay peaked, and over time keeping your stress hormone in the danger zone will cause your body to retain fat, especially aroound the midsection. This is due to overstimulation. If your body is constantly working to its limit, it thinks it is under attack and will begin to store fat to ensure survival. Incorporating yoga into your existing routine can do wonders to bring your body and brain back to balance so your metabolism can run more efficiently.

You can incorporate yoga into your rest days, or, if you prefer to use your rest day for active living (i.e. going for walks, cleaning the house, doing yard work, generally staying active but not doing any structured exercise) then swap out one of your higher intensity days for a yoga session.

Three or four high intensity sessions per week is enough to see significant lean gains. Sure, you can do more, but you’ll need to ensure you’re balancing out your system. Incorporate a little yoga after your sweat sesh. Even 5 minutes can work wonders to strengthen and align your body, reduce stress and increase feelings of well-being.

2. Yoga Helps You Avoid Plateaus

Workout variety is one of the keys to avoiding plateaus or busting through them if you find yourself on one. Fitness plateaus happen when your body and/or mind become bored with your current intensity or type of training, and as a result, your fat burning engines can stall. Yoga can provide a much-needed change of pace, offering up a different way to strengthen and challenge your body. Don't think just because you don't feel like you're going to puke by the end of a yoga session that you haven't worked hard: you've worked incredibly hard -- just in a different way.

3. Yoga Improves Athletic Performance

There's a reason top athletes do yoga. It has been shown to drastically increase athletic performance, helping you run faster, jump higher, get lower, push faster and get stronger. The result? Yoga can help you dig deeper during your higher intensity training, and this means you'll expend more energy and ultimately, burn more fat.