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Celebrities such as Elle Macpherson and Madonna as well as everyday people have long used yoga for weight loss and general well-being. Yoga is not just for hippies nor is it an Indian religion. Hatha yoga, the branch of yoga best known in the west, is a form of physical training which can develop physical and mental control as well as relaxation. Yoga can help improve your hormonal system so that all important glands including the thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary and adrenals work efficiently. This is one way in which yoga can help with weight loss.

In addition, yoga can help you develop will-power to turn away from calorie laden food which you know is bad for you. When you feel stressed, yoga gives you the tools to relax rather than turn to eating for comfort. It can give you the strength of mind to stick with an exercise program when youd rather watch TV. Or to keep exercising even if you feel a bit uncomfortable. For all these reasons try yoga for weight loss.

Yoga also tones up the muscles, increases flexibility and improves circulation.

The poses (called asanas) are precise. It is important to make all movements slowly and gracefully. Its also important to breathe slowly and deeply while doing yoga. It is common to find that a few weeks or months of careful practice of yoga and breathing correctly leads to a feeling of inner peace a calm and more stable emotions. The ability to help manage emotions is another reason to use yoga for weight loss.

If you havent studied yoga before, it is best to attend a class if possible. Try to find a class with a qualified teacher who does not just demonstrate the poses but who observes the students carefully and gives individual help to students who need it. You also need a teacher who enjoys teaching beginners and who checks that beginners do not strain too hard to copy the pose of the instructor as this can cause injury. While it is important to perform the asanas as well as we can, the good teacher knows that the most important work done in yoga is not visible, it is internal. The deep relaxation gained from yoga may be one reason why research in Alternative Therapies found that weight loss is greater among people who practice yoga frequently lose more weight than people who dont. (Keeping stress levels down is a very important way yoga can help with weight loss.)

Yoga for weight loss can be very effective but unless the form you choose is a very active one such as ashtanga yoga, ki yoga , bikgram yoga or Iyengar yoga it will not burn many calories. Speed up your weight loss by also doing some aerobic or cardio exercise as well as doing yoga. If you are not losing weight, try four aerobic or cardio sessions each week and one of yoga.

One important tip is not to reward yourself with food after your workout or you will undo all your good work. Here is a yoga exercise for you to try.

Breathing

According to yoga beliefs, most people do not breathe correctly. Overweight and obese people in particular, tend to have shallow breaths, using only the top part of the lungs. Sit upright and cross-legged, against a wall if this is more comfortable for you. Put a cushion under each knee if this makes you more comfortable. Alternatively, sit in a chair with your feet on the ground. It is important that in this breathing exercise you are not distracted by bodily discomfort.

Breathe in slowly, filling first the lower lungs, then the middle and finally the upper lungs. Let your stomach expand so that the air can move into the lungs. Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth and hold your breath for a few moments.

Then slowly breathe out, emptying the lungs. As you breath out, pull your stomach in.

Repeat this cycle five times.