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Yoga and weight loss - does it help?

As the swimming season approaches, many people want to lose a few kilos to achieve the desired bikini figure. Does yoga help you lose weight? This is a legitimate question and in this article I explain why it may not have a direct effect on the scales, but still has an indirect effect. 

Is yoga only for slim people?

What doesn't help you lose weight? 

How does yoga help you lose weight?

Is yoga only for slim people?

Let's be honest... many yoga flyers, yoga websites and social media posts about yoga often depict thinner people. This leads many people to think that yoga is mainly suitable for these body types.

In our part of the world, thin is often associated with health and fitness, while being overweight is seen as unhealthy. It's also the case that in many "hip" yoga studios you often come across thin people and some yoga teachers there may not even know how to teach people with a higher BMI or what to look out for and that these people then feel a little out of place. 

However, yoga is suitable for people of all body types and fitness levels and not just for the slim ones.

And being thin does not mean being healthy. 

What doesn't help you lose weight?


If you want to lose weight, you get what feels like 1000 diet tips, miracle pills or power food ideas and whatever else. Crash diets that aim to lose a lot of weight quickly are not sustainable in the long term and lead to the infamous yo-yo effect. 

Skip Food Groups

Even if you completely avoid certain food groups, such as carbohydrates or fats, this can lead to malnutrition and unbalanced eating behaviour.

Cardio-Training only

If you think to yourself, "I'll just do a lot more cardio training now and then I'll lose weight", you're not quite right. Cardio training burns calories, but that doesn't make for a healthy body. It also requires strength training, as this builds muscle mass, which in turn is important for boosting the metabolism and improving body composition.

Weight Loss pills

Unfortunately, swallowing weight loss pills and not moving from the sofa is not a good idea either. Anyone who is prescribed such medicine by a doctor will also be sent for nutritional advice and given a programme of suitable physical activity. So if you see something like this on the internet - please keep your hands off it, you'll do yourself more harm than good. 

Emotional Eating

Emotional hunger or eating out of boredom is very common and is often done unconsciously. Perhaps we were soothed as a child with something sweet or a bottle and these behavioural patterns are still stuck in us. This is why we turn to food when we are stressed or emotionally frustrated. 

Poor sleep

Lack of sleep can slow down the metabolism, increase hunger and increase cravings for unhealthy foods, which can have a negative effect on weight loss.


When stressed, the body releases cortisol (the "stress hormone"), which can cause us to crave more high-calorie and unhealthy foods. Chronic stress also slows down our metabolism, which means that the body is less efficient at burning the calories we put into it. The body then stores the excess calories in fat, often as belly fat, which is linked to various health problems such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

Breathing incorrectly

If you breathe incorrectly, i.e. shallowly or irregularly, this leads to an insufficient oxygen supply and slows down your metabolism with the negative effects on weight loss mentioned above. 

How does yoga help you lose weight?

Depending on the style of yoga, you will sweat more or less and burn more or fewer calories accordingly. I have already described above in the article that burning calories is not the only weapon for weight loss. If you simply want to get a good work-out and burn a few calories through yoga, it's best to look for an intensive flow yoga or power yoga class.

However, if you want to work on all the levels that help you lose weight (building strength, reducing stress, training mindfulness, breathing properly), look for a yoga studio that incorporates these levels into its yoga classes and yoga sessions. 

At The Yoga Place in Zurich, we don't teach yoga as a work-out, but our Alignment Yoga is a work-in. For us, yoga is a holistic story. Yoga rests on 8 pillars, we can divide them into 3 sections and they all have a positive influence on us as a holistic being. 

The first two pillars are ethical values and standards of how I treat myself and others. Adhering to these values brings emotional stability and reduces stress. Here I also learn to accept myself as I am and that I don't have to constantly compare myself with others. 

The next 3 pillars include yoga exercises (asana), breathing techniques (pranayama) and relaxation techniques. Practising these techniques promotes mental and physical health. 

The last three pillars are related to meditation, perception, concentration and mindfulness, which lead to the ultimate goal of yoga, the unity of body, mind and soul. In our yoga classes, these elements are integrated into the physical yoga exercises. 

In our yoga classes in our Alignment Yoga studio in Zurich, you do "something" with your body. But there is much more going on in the background than just stretching and strength!

You meditate, learn mindfulness and work on your ability to concentrate - this calms you down, reduces stress, improves your sleep and, over time, you learn to make better decisions for yourself and your health.

And that's what yoga is about, not about being slim!