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9 Weight-Loss Yoga Poses [With Pictures & Instructions]

12 min read
a woman is practicing warrior II pose, weight-loss yoga poses
Elyce Neuhauser post Reviewer Elyce Neuhauser post Reviewer
Verified by Elyce Neuhauser
Yoga Expert, E-RYT 500, Certified Meditation Coach
Natasha Caleel post Reviewer Natasha Caleel post Reviewer
Verified by Natasha Caleel
MS in Occupational Therapy, BS in Kinesiology, Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist, CrossFit Level 1 Coach

Try these 9 weight-loss yoga poses that create a great sequence for beginners. Follow the instructions from E-RYT 500 yoga expert.

Table of Contents

Yoga is a popular choice among beginners searching for effective weight loss and overall well-being. As an approachable, beginner-friendly, low-impact activity, yoga is ideal for those just starting out on their fitness journey.

But can it really help you lose weight and provide you with a sufficient activity level? 

In this article, we’ll explore how yoga compares to high-impact workouts and reveal the best weight-loss yoga poses for beginners.

Can You Lose Weight By Practicing Yoga?

While it may not be as intense as high-impact workouts like weightlifting or traditional resistance training, yoga is suitable for weight loss and is especially great for beginners. Plus, it offers a holistic approach to weight loss that focuses on overall well-being. 

Let’s take a closer look at some reasons why yoga can be effective for weight loss:

Great for Developing a Habit

When it comes to physical activity, developing a habit of regular movement is more important than the type of exercise itself. Yoga is highly accessible and low-impact, and starting a regular practice may help you transition to more challenging forms of exercise to accelerate weight loss.

Enhanced Mindfulness

Yoga promotes mindfulness and self-awareness, which help to create the fundamental shifts that lead to lasting transformation. Changing your eating habits is an important part of addressing weight loss goals, and by paying attention and tuning in to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, you are more likely to eat in moderation and make healthier food choices.

Plus, the conscious practices of yoga teach self-acceptance and how to approach the body with more compassion and understanding.

Increased Metabolism

Certain yoga poses and sequences, such as dynamic flows and inversions, stimulate the digestive system and increase blood flow. This can help boost metabolism and burn calories, leading to a decline in weight, waist circumference, and other markers of good health. [1] [2]

Muscle Tone and Strength

Yoga poses engage various muscle groups and can help build strength and increase overall muscle tone. As you build more lean muscle mass, your body’s calorie-burning capacity increases, even at rest. This can contribute to weight loss by promoting a higher metabolic rate. [3]

Enhanced Stress Management

The deep breathing and relaxation techniques of yoga activate the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing stress and promoting emotional balance. [4] Yoga helps to balance hormones, [5] promote better sleep, and manage stress levels that oftentimes contribute to weight gain. 

Improved Flexibility and Mobility

Yoga is a great addition to weight lifting as it increases the range of motion and promotes better alignment and proper form, leading to more efficient movements and weight loss. It also improves flexibility and mobility, allowing you to engage in other physical activities more effectively.

Is Yoga Enough to Lose Weight?

Indeed, yoga is a beginner-friendly weight-loss activity. However, with its lower intensity and stronger concentration on flexibility and balance rather than cardio fitness and building muscle, there are certain factors to consider when it comes to losing weight.

Let’s take a look at some limitations of a yoga program for weight loss.

Caloric Expenditure

Yoga generally burns fewer calories than high-intensity cardiovascular exercises. While certain dynamic and physically demanding yoga styles can still contribute to burning moderate to high amounts of calories, yoga may not be the best for rapid weight loss or body recomposition

For example, in 60 minutes, a 70-kilogram person can burn a range of calories in various activities such as [6]:

  • Hatha yoga – 287 Cal
  • Low-impact aerobics – 395 Cal
  • High-impact aerobics – 502 Cal
  • Stair stepper workout – 430 Cal

Yoga Styles

When you think about weight loss yoga asanas, you may imagine some relaxing practice that won’t even make you sweat. Although there are myriad health benefits to the many relaxing postures of yoga, more intense and dynamic variations like yoga sculpt, power yoga, or Ashtanga may consist of more asanas that contribute to slimming down more effectively than slower-paced styles.

Limited Progressive Overload

While you can progress in your yoga practice by going deeper into certain postures or moving faster in sequences, this progression is eventually limited compared to classic resistance training or weight lifting. 

To develop strength and build muscle mass, you may need to combine yoga with other forms of exercise or adopt a more vigorous workout routine to continue to challenge your body and prevent plateaus.

You Still Need to Change Your Diet

Weight loss primarily relies on maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet with a slight calorie deficit. Without proper attention to food choices and portion control, the weight loss benefits of yoga, or any physical practice for that matter, may be limited.

Limited Cardio Benefits

While certain styles of yoga can elevate heart rate and provide a cardiovascular workout, traditional yoga practices are generally not as intensive as dedicated cardio routines. Consider combining some yoga practices with cardio workouts and strength training to maximize weight loss.

Note that the goal of yoga is not to achieve the perfect shape but to cultivate mindfulness, deepen self-acceptance, and increase body awareness. While yoga can be valuable for weight management, combining the practice with other forms of exercise and a healthy eating plan is key to achieving desired results.

9 Weight-Loss Yoga Poses for Beginners

Practice these weight-loss yoga poses in sequential order. The first eight poses comprise the beginning of a Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar A.

To bring awareness and understanding to proper alignment, hold each one for 3-5 breaths, or explore how long to hold yoga poses in an appropriate way for your level. 

You’ll also find two yoga sequences for weight loss based on these poses later in the article.

Before you get started, use this yoga warm-up to increase circulation, blood flow, and body heat.

#1 Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Mountain Pose (Tadasana)_weight-loss yoga poses

The equanimous stance of Mountain Pose provides the foundation for every yoga posture. It teaches us how to stand strong and is the primary pose in the Sun Salutations series. Providing a stable base of support, it improves posture, helping you look taller and more toned, while it strengthens the feet, legs, and muscles around the spine.

How to Practice:

  • Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. Create a smooth and steady rhythm of breath.
  • Hug and lift the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.
  • Cultivate a buoyant lift from the arches of the feet all the way up to the crown of the head without locking the knees.
  • Allow the palms to face forward to broaden the collar bones, and keep the shoulder blades on the back.

#2 Upward Hands Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Upward Hands Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)_weight-loss yoga poses

Upward Hands Pose is an energetic variation of Mountain Pose with the arms elevated overhead. This action alone increases the heart rate, which aids in cardiovascular engagement, ultimately assisting in weight loss. 

How to Practice:

  • In a swift movement from Mountain Pose, inhale to bring the arms up and overhead. 
  • Keep the spine long, collarbones broad, and the shoulders on the back.
  • Lengthen through the side waist without hunching the upper body.

#3 Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)_weight-loss yoga poses

This is the third posture in Sun Salutations; one that provides a cooling moment of pause in this cardiovascular sequence. It stretches the spine and backs of the legs and helps to bring awareness to engaging the abdominal muscles.

How to Practice:

  • From Upward Hands Pose, exhale to fold forward from the hips, reaching the arms out and down to the ground. If your hamstrings or lower back are tight, keep the knees bent.
  •  As you descend, keep the spine long and core muscles engaged. 
  • Lengthen the crown of the head towards the ground and allow your fingertips to come to the floor or onto blocks. 
  • At the end of the pose, allow the head to be heavy and the upper back to gently round, while keeping the shoulders on the back.

#4 Half-Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Half-Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana)_weight-loss yoga poses

Ardha Uttanasana is a more energetic variation of Forward Fold. The halfway lift engages the core muscles, including the transverse abdominis and obliques, while strengthening the legs and muscles around the spine. 

How to Practice:

  • From Forward Fold, inhale to lift the torso parallel to the ground.
  • Bring the fingertips to the ground, framing the feet, or place the hands on blocks.
  • Engage the core, soften the knees, and spread the toes, keeping the weight evenly across the soles of the feet. 
  • Elongate the neck and keep the shoulders on the back.

#5 Plank Pose (Phalakasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Plank Pose (Phalakasana)_weight-loss yoga poses

Plank Pose is one of the best weight-loss yoga poses for beginners as it engages and strengthens the core muscles, as well as the back and shoulders. It activates the entire body and helps improve stability and posture while boosting metabolism.

How to Practice:

  • From Ardha Uttanasana, step back to a high push-up position with your hands directly under your shoulders and legs fully extended.
  • Engage your core muscles, keeping your body lengthened from head to heels.
  • Keep your gaze slightly forward, your neck aligned with your spine, and the shoulders on your back.
  • Beginners may modify the pose by placing one or both knees gently down on the ground.

#6 Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)_weight-loss yoga poses

Of all the postures in Surya Namaskar, Chaturanga Dandasana is the most challenging. It is a full body strengthener, toning the arms, shoulders, chest, abdominals, and legs. Beginners may lessen the intensity by placing the knees down on the ground before bending the elbows.

How to Practice:

  • Begin in Plank Pose. On an exhale, bend the elbows and lower the whole body in one straight line from head to heels.
  • Pause halfway to the ground. Keep the abdominal muscles engaged and the hips and shoulders elevated.
  • If you need to modify, lower the knees to the ground as you descend. You may also take Chaturanga Dandasana all the way to the floor, lowering the whole body down into a prone position.

#7 Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)_weight-loss yoga poses

An energetic backbend, Upward Facing Dog stretches the whole front body as it strengthens the back muscles and stimulates the abdominals. Beginners may alternatively practice Cobra Pose, a simpler, less intense backbend that keeps the elbows bent and the pelvis and thighs on the ground.

How to Practice: 

  • From Chaturanga Dandasana, inhale to press the arms straight while stretching the chest forward. Keep the pelvis elevated,  the legs strong and kneecaps lifted, and the tops of the feet pressed into the ground.
  • Even though the front of the body is extending, keep the abdominal muscles toned to support the spine. Open the chest and keep the shoulders on the back.
  • Ensure that the elbows and knees are not locked; engage the muscles around the thigh bones. 
  • To modify Upward Facing Dog, stay low to the ground with Cobra Pose. Keep the legs and pelvis on the ground, the elbows bent and hugging into the waist as you stretch your chest forward for Cobra Pose. 

#8 Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)_weight-loss yoga poses

Downward Facing Dog is a fundamental pose that stretches and strengthens the entire body. It targets the arms, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves, increases circulation, and helps with overall body toning.

How to Practice:

  • For a modified transition from Upward Facing Dog or Cobra Pose, exhale to hands and knees and then lift your knees off the ground and your hips up towards the ceiling. Relax your head and neck.
  • Keep your arms and legs extended, forming an inverted V shape with your body. Lengthen your spine and engage your core muscles.
  • Press your palms forward and down into the ground as you lift the sit bones up and back. Hug the upper arm bones into the shoulder sockets. Press the heels down toward the ground. You may keep your knees bent, but lift the hips as high as possible, extending the spine and deepening the hip creases.

#9 Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)_weight-loss yoga poses

Warrior I is a foundational pose that builds endurance and stability while energizing the whole body. This strong standing posture engages the arms, core, and back muscles while deeply strengthening the hips, legs, ankles, and feet.

How to Practice:

  • From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot in between your hands, root your left foot to the ground, and lift your torso up, bringing your arms to frame your ears.
  • Square your hips, drawing your right thigh back and pressing your left hip forward. Firm your feet evenly into the floor. 
  • Engage your core muscles as you energetically reach your arms up; keep your shoulders on your back.

Weight-Loss Yoga Sequence for Beginners

As mentioned before, the first eight poses from the list above comprise the beginning of a Sun Salutation A. After a round of holding each pose for several breaths, move every pose on an inhale or exhale to intensify your practice. 

Sequence #1

To complete Surya Namaskar A, after Downward Facing Dog, inhale to step or hop forward to Half Forward Fold, then exhale to Forward Fold. As you inhale, rise to Upward Hands Pose, and exhale to Mountain Pose. 

sequence of weight loss yoga poses, sun salutations A, weight loss yoga poses

Sequence #2

To complete one round of Surya Namaskar B, after Downward Facing Dog, inhale to step your right foot up and rise to Warrior I. Exhale to bring hands down and inhale to Plank Pose, exhale to Chaturanga, inhale to Upward Facing Dog, and exhale to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat on the left side; after Downward Facing Dog, step up to the top of the mat. Inhale to Half-Forward Fold, exhale to Forward Fold. Inhale to Upwards Hands Pose and exhale to Mountain Pose.

sequence of weight loss yoga poses, sun salutations B, weight loss yoga poses

Wrapping Up

Yoga can be beneficial for weight loss and is suitable for beginners. It helps practitioners, including the sedentary, seniors, and those with or recovering from injuries, transition to a more active lifestyle, and form a habit of physical activity. With time, students may progress their practice to include more challenging postures and variations and reap the benefits of this holistic approach that focuses on not only physical but mental and emotional health. 

By practicing weight-loss yoga poses for beginners, you can achieve optimal body weight through increased strength, flexibility, stress reduction, and mindful eating.

Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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