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Most people imagine that yoga is something gentle and mindful, not a form of exercise that will help shed excess pounds. But it’s also a fantastic way to get, and keep, the body you want.
There’s not just the anecdotal evidence of many yoga devotees who say it helps them stay trim and toned. Scientific research is increasingly backing up the link between yoga and weight loss.
Researchers in one U.S. study, for example, followed more than 15,000 healthy men and women aged between 53 and 57. Those who started out overweight but did at least one session of yoga a week lost about 5lb over ten years, while those who didn’t gained almost a stone.
In another study, a group of heart patients with narrowed coronary arteries were put on a low-fat vegetarian diet and told to practise yoga regularly. They recorded almost 24lb of weight loss over the first year, and five years later had maintained more than half of that original loss, as well as reversing the heart disease.
The American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, which recently reviewed several studies of yoga and weight loss, also concluded that yoga is a successful slimming tool, not only burning calories and enabling people to improve their performance in other sports, but making them more mindful of their bodies, which in turn may lead them to eat better.
All this week, in a brilliant new series, the Mail is focusing on yoga and its many benefits for old and young, fit and unfit. We are showing how you can incorporate simple yoga routines into your daily life in the comfort of your home.
The beauty of yoga is that it can be adapted to virtually anyone’s needs — so no matter what your age, shape or fitness level, you’ll be able to take part.
So how can it help you to lose weight?
For a start, there are several styles of yoga that are highly vigorous. If you want to join a class specifically with the aim of burning calories, look for Ashtanga yoga classes — a series of fast-paced postures — or Bikram yoga, a sequence of 26 postures performed in a room heated to around 40c (104f).