We often think of yoga as a slow and meditative form of exercise. But if you want to burn fat and shape your body you should do something else. Right?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The fact is, practicing yoga is a great way to rev up your metabolism. Writing for Gaiam, Gwen Lawrence perfectly describes how it works:
Metabolism consists of the chemical processes that create energy in the body that are regulated by the endocrine system, especially the thyroid. Yoga has a powerful stimulating and strengthening effect on the endocrine organs and thus can boost metabolism to burn more calories. Twisting and compressing yoga postures massage the endocrine and abdominal organs, regulating their function, improving local circulation and cleansing them of old stagnant toxins.
Along with the physical postures, breath techniques such as Kapalabhati Pranayama (breath of fire) and Ujjayi Pranayama (ocean sounding breath) help warm and energize the body, further boosting metabolism. In addition, the three-part breath helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which adjusts hormonal imbalances.
In this post I want to share some active poses that you can add to your routine today to help speed your metabolism along.
Yoga Postures That Help Boost Metabolism
As we discussed above, the very act of doing yoga will help your metabolism. Yet after reading through some of the more popular yoga blogs and health sites, there seem to be a few postures that are recommended especially for those of us who want to burn calories.
Twisted Chair Pose
I've also heard this one called twisting chair pose, but it's the same thing. This posture is a staple of lots of vinyasa yoga classes.
Writing for Shape, yoga guru Kimberly Fowler discusses the benefits of this posture, and how to do it:
Twisted Chair pose helps increase circulation by not only using every muscle in your body but also twisting, which wakes up your internal organs and aids in digestion.
How to: Stand with your feet and legs together. Begin to bend your knees and sink your hips down and back as if you were sitting in a chair far behind you. Bring your palms together in front of your chest. Rotate your spine to bring your right elbow to your left knee. Try to keep your chest lifted the whole time. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Twisted chair is a good one for beginners, and it's safe to do on your own if you practice solo. Many popular home yoga programs (such as this one) will frequently use twisted chair.
A bit more advanced are inversions, which require a bit of experience and are best done with an instructor if you're a beginner. One pose that keeps being mentioned is plow pose.
Plow is another posture that's frequently used in vinyasa practices. Beth Shaw writing for MindBodyGreen recommends it for boosting metabolism:
Plow is most effective in near the end of class, when your body is thoroughly warm. Because Plow compresses your throat, it is believed to stimulate your thyroid gland, increasing metabolism, along with strengthening your abs while stretching your glutes, lower back, and hamstrings.
GETTING INTO THE POSE
Lying on your back, use your abdominals to bring your legs over your head. Support your lower back with your hands as you slowly straighten your legs and place your toes on the floor.
HOLDING THE POSE
Keep your legs straight. If your feet don’t touch the floor, support your lower back with your hands. Breathe into your throat.
Again, if you're new to yoga, I recommend doing inversions under supervision until you're comfortable with the posture.
Sun salutations are fun, challenging, and are effective for building strength and changing your body composition.
Don't take my word for it, though. This has actually been researched. A 2011 study in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine concluded this:
From our observations we conclude that sun salutation can be an ideal exercise to keep oneself in optimum level of fitness.
So how do you do a sun salutation? Here's a video from renowned yoga instructor Rodney Yee:
(I found this video on the Gaiam website here. It is not my own.)
The best written description of how to do a sun salutation that I could find is this one from Yoga Journal. Worth taking a look if you're less of a visual learner.
If burning fat is your goal, you can't go wrong with yoga. Whether you practice in addition to your other favorite exercises, or if it's your main source of exercise, the metabolic benefits are proven.
And of course these are just a few of the many postures that will keep your metabolism going. Don't limit yourself to just a few poses! Try as many types of poses as you like and you'll soon see what works best for you.