A one-stop shop for your body and mind, regular yoga practice not only burns calories to rid your body of mid, but also helps relieve the stress that can make that fat harder to lose.
Unfortunately, though, when it comes to specific yoga poses to melt lower body fat — well, there aren't any. That's because you can't pinpoint just one place on your body to lose weight; rather, you have to lose overall body fat and, eventually, the extra weight will come off your belly. Choose a vigorous, physically challenging style of yoga to burn calories, pick challenging poses and perform them at a fast pace to increase fat burn.
Choose the Right Type of Yoga
Weight loss is about creating a caloric deficit, or burning more calories each day than you consume. Any type of yoga that involves movement will help you burn calories, but more physically active types of yoga will help you burn more calories, which will lead to quicker results in your lower belly.
Some of the more vigorous types of yoga that are effective for weight loss include:
- Ashtanga yoga: One of the oldest styles of yoga based on ancient yoga teachings, ashtanga involves performing postures in a set series. It's a very physically challenging and vigorous practice that will build muscle and make you sweat.
- Bikram yoga: Including 26 postures performed in a room heated to 105 degrees, Bikram yoga gets your heart rate up and make you sweat for maximum calorie burning.
- Vinyasa yoga: This type of yoga links postures in a flowing sequence. Classes vary in difficulty from beginner to advanced, with the advanced classes being particularly challenging. Vinyasa yoga is sometime also performed in a heated room.
Maximizing Calorie Burn
Manipulate three variables in your yoga practice to increase the challenge and, thus, the belly fat-burning potential: pace, difficulty of poses and challenge of sequencing.
1. Increase Your Practice Pace
Pace is simply the speed at which you perform the postures in your yoga practice. Compare it to riding a bike — just like you ride a bike slowly or quickly, you can move slowly or quickly from posture to posture.
As with biking, the faster you move, the harder your body has to work and the more calories you'll burn. This doesn't mean rushing or racing through your practice; it simply means fitting more movement into less time to get your heart rate higher.
2. Add Challenging Poses
The harder you have to work in a pose, the more energy you'll burn. Once you have a solid foundation for your practice and you're comfortable executing a range of postures, begin to focus your practice around some of the more challenging poses. Some categories of poses and specific poses to work toward in your practice include:
- Balancing Postures: Standing on one leg is much harder than standing on two. By including more balancing postures in your practice, such as warrior III and eagle pose, you'll up the difficulty factor for belly fat-burning.
- Inversions: A pose that gets you upside down, such as a headstand or handstand, increases the difficulty of your practice.
- Arm Balances: Transferring most of the weight onto your arms and holding your body aloft is incredibly difficult. Try crow pose, eight-angle pose and firefly.
3. Make Your Sequencing More Difficult
Sequencing refers to the way poses are arranged in your practice, and it can make a difference in how many calories you'll burn. In some styles, such as ashtanga, the sequencing is already set for you; in other styles, like vinyasa, you can design your own practice to achieve maximum caloric burn. For example, sequencing standing balancing poses back-to-back really gets the heart rate up. Here's a sequence to try in your own practice:
- Start in tree pose on the right side. Hold for five deep breaths.
- Without touching your right foot to the floor, move into warrior III. Reach your hands out to the side like airplane wings, then extend them straight out in front of you. Hold for five breaths.
- Open up into half-moon pose, opening to the right side, stacking your right hip on top of your left. Hold for five breaths.
- Come back into warrior III for five breaths, then rise up to standing, bring your right leg through without touching it to the floor.
- Bend your knee and pull it in toward your chest. Grab your right tow with you index and middle fingers and extend your leg out in extended-hand-to-big-toe pose. Hold for five breaths, then open your right leg out to the side for five breaths. Come back to center and let go of your toe, but keep your leg extended out in front of you parallel to the ground. Hold for five breaths, then release your right foot to the ground.
- Perform the same poses on the left side.