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Can you lose weight by doing yoga?

Depending on the yoga practice, you’ll see changes in body weight and overall health benefits.

Yoga for Weight Loss: Does It Work? | Juniper

To lose weight, the most sustainable results come from healthier eating and incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle.

It might seem relatively straightforward, but when it comes to finding a workout you enjoy enough to do consistently, the process of elimination can leave you feeling exasperated with limited options. 

While aerobic exercises like running, cycling, and high-intensity interval training have long been championed for weight loss, they aren’t practical (or enjoyable) for everyone. But can you practice low-impact alternatives like yoga for weight loss?

If you’ve found yourself wondering if a yoga regimen can see you hit a healthy weight, you’re not alone.

It might emphasise the connection between mind and body with restorative yoga classes, leaving you feeling refreshed, but it can also burn muscles and see you increase muscle mass. Depending on the yoga practice, you’ll see changes in body weight and overall health benefits.

Here, we break down all you need to know about the benefits of yoga, its varied poses, and what type is best suited for those looking to lose weight.

What are the benefits of yoga?

When it comes to practising yoga, the benefits are numerous and range from the physical changes you’ll see in your body to the mental health benefits, like greater clarity and mindfulness.

While it’s been shown to reduce anxiety, increase strength and flexibility, and improve mental health, the key benefits of yoga for weight loss include: 

Yoga promotes restful sleep

Mindfulness has long been hailed as an important tool for mental health and wellbeing, but it also helps promote restful sleep.

The link between sleep and weight loss has been shown in several studies, including a 2018 study that revealed those who sleep less than the recommended 7 hours a night are more likely to develop higher-than-average body mass indexes and obesity than those who slept more [1].

Yoga relieves stress

Many people who turn to yoga don’t just love the benefits it provides in terms of muscle tone and fitness, but its ability to relieve stress and leave you feeling recharged, too.

According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Obesity, exercise that promotes mindfulness can help lower stress and maintain or lower your body fat [2]. This is because stress has been shown to cause your body to store fat, particularly around the midsection. 

Yoga burns calories

Yoga might not be the highest calorie burner compared to exercises like running or cycling, but it does burn calories.

Different practices will burn a varied amount of calories, but you can expect a 30-minute class to see you burn 120 calories or more. 

Can yoga help you lose weight?

While yoga isn’t the most effective exercise when it comes to burning calories, a consistent yoga practice coupled with a healthy, balanced diet is sure to promote weight loss.

So, in this regard, yoga can be a great exercise to incorporate into your lifestyle and support your weight loss journey. 

Most studies on the effectiveness of yoga for weight loss have only examined the practice as part of a healthy lifestyle, as opposed to the sole strategy one employs for weight loss.

According to a study of 11 people medically classified as overweight and 9 people of standard weight, it was found that yoga encouraged them to adopt healthy lifestyle changes that then led to weight loss [3].

These habits include less stress eating and more mindful eating, fewer food cravings, an increase in self-esteem, more muscle tone and a leaner physique, and general interest in healthy living. 

With its focus on mindfulness and developing a greater mind-body connection, yoga can greatly reduce stress and anxiety while also helping individuals become more mindful of their eating habits and unhealthy behaviours.

This is evident in a 2018 study that showed that when incorporated with healthy eating, a regular yoga practice can help individuals manage emotional eating and increase their capacity to be active [4].

What's the best type of yoga for weight loss?

There are a range of yoga practices available, with some promoting mindfulness and others targeting strength and mobility. When it comes to the best type of yoga for weight loss, you’ll want to find a style that challenges your body and helps to build muscle. 

Muscle burns more calories than fat, even at rest, so if you can see muscle growth, you’ll be decreasing your body fat percentage and burning more calories at the same time.

Yoga styles that focus more on dynamic movement and physically vigorous flows include: 


In vinyasa classes, you’ll work through continuous movements that see you hold positions for longer. While it has mindfulness principles, it’s a challenging class that will see you greatly increase your strength. 


With a focus on the flow and breath between movements, Ashtanga sees you work through a specific sequence of advanced poses. It’s a dynamic class and demands athleticism, which makes it a physical challenge. 


While hatha yoga classes will vary in speed and intensity depending on the instructor, this class involves a combination of sitting and standing sequences that can be challenging. Power Hatha classes target large muscle groups for greater strength and a greater calorie burn. 

Power Yoga

With an emphasis on building strength and endurance, power yoga will see you move through a series of poses that challenge your athleticism. With a faster pace and higher intensity, it’s a strenuous yoga style that will see you sweating. 

Bikram Yoga

Typically 90 minutes in length, this practice sees you continually move through 26 poses that are ordered in a sequence to challenge your strength and posture and get your heart rate up.

Some classes are heated, so you’ll work up quite a sweat, but it’s the fast pacing that will see you burn more calories. 

Though these types of yoga are certainly more inclined to see you burn calories, research has found that when practised consistently and paired with a balanced diet, yoga is a great tool to assist in your weight loss journey — no matter the type. 

The key is finding a type of yoga that you like and feel motivated to practice with consistency throughout the week.

According to a 2022 review published in Diseases, 22 studies have found yoga helps to reduce total body weight, body mass index, body fat percentage, and waist circumference among participants with obesity, regardless of what style of yoga is practised [5].

How often should you practice yoga for weight loss?

Consistent yoga practice can greatly help with losing weight.

If you’re solely doing yoga as your exercise routine, look to do 3-5 sessions per week for about an hour in length. Though you’ll keep the duration of the workout the same, you can vary the intensity by choosing a different type of yoga practice depending on your energy levels, headspace, or need for recovery. 

If you’re looking to incorporate yoga into a weekly exercise routine that already includes resistance training and cardio, 1-2 sessions per week is recommended to ensure you’re not overtraining around these high-intensity activities. 

What are the best yoga poses for losing belly fat?

As a practice, yoga involves a series of poses that flow together to create a workout.

Depending on the type of yoga, the sequence of poses will vary, with some being more suited to building muscle and raising the heart rate for cardiovascular endurance and others promoting deep breathing, mindfulness, and relaxation. 

When it comes to losing belly fat, here are a few yoga poses to include in your practice. 

Plank pose

Whether balancing on your hands or forearms, you want to keep your body in a straight line with your hands and toes on the ground to form a plank pose. Activate your core and hold the position. 

Side plank

The same with the above, only this time you’ll be balancing on your side with one arm and leg on the ground, with the other balanced above and your hips raised. This targets your core and obliques. 

Warrior 1

With both feet planted on the ground, your back leg should be behind your front, with the foot slightly angled outward as your front foot points forward.

Slightly bend your front knee and keep your back leg straight. With your upper body straight and your head and torso angled in front of you, hold your arms and hands above your head to activate your core and leg muscles. 

Boat pose

With a strong emphasis on your core and deep abdominals, the boat pose is great for belly fat.

Lie on the ground and slowly lift both feet above the ground as you bring your upper body off the floor. With both hands straight, stretch out between the body and knees as you hold the posture. 

Cobra pose

Targeting your shoulders, back and core, the cobra pose is great for toning the belly.

Lie flat on your belly with your head on the ground. With both hands on either side of your shoulders and palms touching the floor, gradually raise your body up from the torso and keep your shoulder blades pressed against your back. 

Chair pose

From a standing position, slowly bend at your knees while driving your butt back as if you are sitting down on an invisible chair. Hold the position as you feel your glutes activate and your quad muscles work to maintain stability. 

Downward dog

Kneeling on all fours, begin to straighten your legs as you lift your hips up towards the ceiling so your body is in an inverted "V" position.

Keep your head down and neck long as you try to straighten the legs by pushing your heels towards the floor. A downward dog or downward-facing dog elongates the spine, strengthens the upper body, and releases tension in the hamstrings and calves.

Bridge pose

A great pose for stretching your chest and abdomen while also strengthening your upper back and glutes, the bridge pose begins by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the mat.

Bring your arms to your side and gently press through your feet as you lift your hips. Clasp your hands behind your back, keep your shoulders down, and roll back.

Ultimately, when it comes to weight loss, you need to enter a caloric deficit. While you don’t need to cut back on the calories consumed drastically, simply eating less and moving more can lead to sustainable weight loss as you integrate exercise into your daily life with consistency.

Along with ensuring you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet filled with protein and nutrients, it’s important to find an exercise routine that not only works with your lifestyle but also motivates you to move each day. 

Yoga is a great practice for those looking to gain greater strength, mobility, and muscle mass and learn key elements of mindfulness and breathing exercises to help you achieve greater clarity throughout the day.

But while yoga can assist in your weight loss journey, as a singular strategy it might not be enough to see you reach your goals which makes Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme something to consider.

Not only do we offer breakthrough treatments to kick-start your journey, but you’ll also receive hands-on support to make the lifestyle changes required to lose weight. 

Whether you’re looking to kickstart your weight loss journey or adopt healthy habits guaranteed to see you hit your goal weight, Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme can help you achieve your goals sooner and stick to them for the long term.

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