Most of us think of yoga as useful for meditation and balance rather than burning calories. Now a new study is showing a fat-burning connection between weight loss and yoga, reported Shape magazine on October 24. And here's the surprise: Scientists found that restorative yoga, rather than power yoga or cardio yoga, is the type that works for boosting fat-burning.
Researchers evaluated two groups of overweight women. One group took restorative yoga classes, while the other group took part in stretching workouts. They practiced twice weekly for 12 weeks, then twice a month for six months. For the final three months of the study, the women practiced on their own.
Results: The restorative yoga group lost significantly more subcutaneous fat than the stretching group. This type of fat lies directly under your skin, and the scientists noted that it's one of the more difficult types of fat to burn.
So what is restorative yoga?
Restorative yoga "does not feature flowing body movements or challenging balance poses…the postures focus on relaxation and stress reduction…poses are often performed in a reclined or seated position, with limbs and parts of the torso supported by blankets, pillows, or padded bolsters," said the scientists.
In addition, "poses are held much longer than in other styles of yoga...[m]easured breathing is emphasized, and many commercial classes feature meditative music."
How it works: Yoga reduces stress, thereby slowing your body's production of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that produces frustrating belly fat.
Want to experience the fat-burning magic for yourself? You can take a class at a local gym or YMCA, or try one of the following DVDs:
- "Element: Yoga for Stress Relief & Flexibility" (click for details) led by Ashley Turner
- "Gentle Restorative Yoga With Diana Ross" (click for details)
- "Yoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative Sequences ~ Laura Hawes" (click for details)
- "Restorative Bliss Yoga : Therapy for Life with Skyler Myers"