While most people wouldn’t associate yoga with weight and fat loss, even the most gentle yoga exercises can help you shed those unwanted pounds.
Yoga still requires movement, and even though it might not require the same rigor and endurance as sports, yoga works better, in some cases, since it involves quieting the mind and working on your breathing. In fact, multiple studies have shown links between yoga and weight loss, which actually baffles most scientists since many yoga practices don’t even involve breaking a sweat.
However, the studies suggest that by changing and moving the body through yoga, this changes the brain, which then changes behavior. The driving force behind the weight loss that people see from doing yoga, then, has more to do with one’s mental state than their physical one. Most of us live with an incredible amount of stress, and doing yoga can help you to better manage this stress so that you don’t give in to bad habits, such as emotional eating, bingeing, drinking too much alcohol on the weekends, etc.
Since we’ve shown you that yoga does indeed help with weight loss, we wanted to share a few poses with you that target the most stubborn area for most people – the belly.
10 Yoga Poses That Melt Belly Fat
Related article: 13 Yoga Poses That Melt Away Stress
1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
This pose works well for a warm-up to get your body loose for the rest of your practice. To do this pose, stand up straight with your feet flat, heels spread out a bit, and the your big toes touching. Keep your palms facing your body. Now, bring your hands to the front and put your palms close to each other. Inhale now, stretch out your spine, and then raise your hands above your head. Stretch your body out as much as possible.
If you’d like more of a challenge, try to lift your ankles a bit and stand on your toes, with your eyes facing upwards. If you don’t want to do this step, just keep your feet flat. Breathe deeply and try to hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds. On your last exhale, bring your feet slowly back to the floor. Repeat this pose ten times, with a 10 second rest in between each pose.
2. Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
Sun salutations are wonderful to start off your day with. They consist of twelve different yoga positions, helping to detox the body while aiding in deep breathing at the same time. Going through the 12 positions, start off by standing with both feet together. Take a deep breath and feel your chest getting fuller, while relaxing the shoulders. Upon inhaling, lift both your arms away from your sides, and on an exhale, bring both arms to the front of your chest. Put your arms into prayer position.
Then, take a deep breath in, raise your arms above your head, and do a stretch backwards. After this, exhale, bend forward, and attempt to touch your knees to your forehead. Then, with your left knee bent, stretch your right leg out behind you, with your palms touching the floor. Hold this breath and stretch out your left leg as well, getting into plank. Now, bring your body to the floor. Only your knees, chest, and chin should be touching the floor, however.
Now, inhale again, stretch the body forward, and bend backwards. Keep your hands on the floor, exhale, and then lean forward. Upon an inhale, this time bring your right leg forward in between your hands, and stretch up. Bring your left leg forward, breath in deeply, and stretch back from your waist.
3. Padahastasana (Standing Forward Bend)
To perform this pose, place your hands on each side of the body while your feet touch, including the heels. Stand up straight, inhale, and lift your hands above your head. Upon exhaling, bend forward so your body parallels the floor. Inahle, then exhale, and bend forward until your head is touching your knees (if possible). Try to touch the floor if you can, with your palms all the way on the floor, and also without bending your knees. If you’re a beginner, just try to touch your toes or ankles.
Hold your breath, suck in the belly, and hold for 60 to 90 seconds. Exhale and lift your body to the starting position. Repeat 10 times, taking 10 second rests between each two reps.
4. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
This pose is perfect for stimulating your core and burning belly fat. To start off, sit up straight on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Keep your feet pointed toward the ceiling. Inhale deeply, raise your hands above your head while your eyes follow your hands upwards, and keep your spine stretched. Now, exhale and bend forward all the way to your legs. Beginners can keep their hands on their ankles or thighs, but more advanced yogis should aim for the toes.
If you do touch your toes, pull them backward so you can feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Breath in, suck in the tummy, and try to hold for 60 to 90 seconds. Exhale and bring your body back up. Repeat this pose 10 times.
5. Pavanamuktasana (Wind Relieving Pose)
As you might’ve guessed by the name, this pose involves lying on your back with your knees touching your chest. This helps to alleviate gastric issues and aids in burning tummy fat. To begin, lie down with your arms and feet outstretched with the heels touching each other. Now, bend the knees, inhale, and upon exhale, bring the knees to your chest. Hold them in place by putting your hands under the thighs. Then, inhale again, exhale, and lift your head, bringing the chin to the knees.
Hold for 60 to 90 seconds. Then, exhale slowly, release the knees, and rest your head on the floor. Relax into Shavasana, and then repeat the asana 7 to 10 times.
Related article: Science Proves Yoga Helps Treat Depression & Anxiety
6. Naukasana (Boat Pose)
This is one of the best yoga moves for burning belly fat, as it directly targets this region. To do this, lay down on the yoga mat with your arms and legs outstretched and your toes facing up. Inhale, exhale, and then lift your head, chest and legs off the ground. Stretch out your arms so they’re parallel with your legs, and then look toward your toes.
Feel your ab muscles contract, and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Inhale, exhale, and then come back to starting position. Repeat five times to begin with, with a 15 second rest after each pose.
7. Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)
This pose works well to do right after the Boat Pose, as it will help to stretch out the ab muscles from their previous contractions. Start out in Vajrasana. Then, lift your body upwards from your knees so that the knees support your whole body. Exhale deeply, and then arch the back; then, reach your hands backwards and try to hold each ankle. Tilt your head back until you feel the stretch in your abs.
Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, working up to 60 seconds. Exhale, release, and come back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise 5 times, resting for 15 seconds between each.
8. Uttanpadasana (Raised Foot Pose)
For this pose, start out in the supine position. Then inhale and exhale, and bring your head back so it touches the floor. Keep your hands at their original position, on either side of your body. Stretch as far as you can, without hurting yourself. Now, inhale and raise your legs off the ground, making a 45-degree angle. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, paying attention to the breath. Inhale deeply and bring your legs back to their starting position.
Repeat 10 times, with a 15 second break between each rep.
9. Marjariasana (Cow Cat Pose or Cat Pose)
Start out in Vajrasana. Breathe normally and raise your body so that you’re resting on your knees and palms. The knees should be directly under the hips, and the palms under the shoulders. Keep your head up straight, and place the knees slightly apart so that your weight is evenly distributed. Inhale deeply, then push your back down. Expand your abs as much as you can by taking in a big breath.
Hold this pose for 15 to 30 seconds. Exhale, lower the head, and now arch your back upwards this time. Breathe deeply and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Exhale, come back to the starting pose, and relax the muscles for 15 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
10. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
This pose strengthens back muscles and stretches out the abs. Lie down on the mat with your chest down, legs spaced out a bit, and your toes touching the floor. Keep your hands on either side of your body with your palms touching the floor. Bring the palms underneath the shoulders, inhale deeply, and then slowly lift the chest and head off the floor. Your eyes should be on the ceiling, and your buttocks should be tightened. Take a deep breath and try to lift the body up as much as you can, bending backwards from the waist as much as possible.
Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Exhale and bring your body back to the starting position. Stretch your arms out to the front. Repeat this pose ten times, with a 15 second rest between each rep.
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