What You Need to Know
Not only can there be a cardio element to a yoga practice, but the mindfulness that yogis cultivate can help curb mindless eating—in fact, yoga can do a lot for your brain. Yoga for weight loss also promotes the discipline you need to make healthful living a permanent lifestyle habit.
“Yoga is about lengthening muscles and integrating muscles to your bones,” says Olivia Young, the founder of Box + Flow, a workout studio that combines yoga and boxing. “Yoga uses body weight to engage every muscle using strength, core integration, alignment, and stability making it great to boost weight loss.”
To bring a cardio element to the yoga flow outlined by Young, think of this series of movements as a circuit where one move flows into the next (read: don’t take breaks!). Young recommends doing each move for about 30 seconds (so each set of six is about three minutes). Repeat the six-move flow five times.
Start the flow in downward facing dog: Hands and balls of the feet planted on the mat, and imagine a string attached to your tailbone lifting your rear into the air. Make sure your hips are up and back. It’s very important you keep your core tight (think belly button pressing into the spine). Your hands should be firmly grounded and your heels should be pushed as close to the floor as possible. Your gaze should be towards your feet. “Every muscle should be engaged,” says Young. “Take deep breaths—inhale and exhale—to heat up your body.”
Roll your weight forward and straighten your body into high plank pose. Your hands should be pressing firmly down, your thighs squeezing together, and your ankles pressing towards the back of the room. Suck your belly into your spine and make sure your hips are in line with the floor. “Everything should be pulled into the centre line of your body with this move,” says Young. She reminds you to breathe deeper. “You will start to feel your body shake. Lower down to a forearm plank—a belly fat reducer!—and hold.” Take care to keep your elbows directly under your shoulder. Hold for a few breaths and then go back up to high plank. Alternate high and low plank.