Yoga isn’t just good for stretching — nearly every pose has a positive impact on the internal organs.
This is great news if you’re looking to lose weight.
By stretching, twisting, and contracting the digestive organs, yoga postures can improve digestion and boost metabolism.
According to yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, healthy metabolism and weight loss are dependent upon a properly functioning digestive fire. If this subtle fire is in any way impaired, food turns into toxic buildup rather than healthy body tissues and can cause weight gain. This can be prevented by caring for the digestive fire through diet, lifestyle, herbs, and of course, yoga.
If you’re looking to boost your metabolism, add these 7 yoga postures into your yoga routine:
1. Seated forward bend pose (Paschimottanasana)
Commonly thought to be a great stretch for the hamstrings, the biggest impact seated forward bend has… is on the digestive fire. Deep abdominal breathing combined with compression of the abdominal organs stokes the digestive fire much as a bellows stokes a real fire.
- Begin sitting on your mat with your legs outstretched and feet touching. Relax your feet — no need to flex them to get the metabolic benefits of this pose.
- Inhale and reach your hands toward the sky.
- Exhale and reach forward and down, gently grasping the outsides of your feet, ankles, shins, or thighs. Relax your neck so that your head is in line with your spine. Make this a passive forward bend.
- Now, breathe deeply into your belly and back as if you’re inflating and deflating a balloon.
- Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds and up to a minute for maximum benefit.
2. Boat pose (Navasana)
Not only does boat pose strengthen the core (you’ll feel the burn in your abs!) but the strong contraction of the abdominal muscles ignites the digestive fire, boosting metabolism.
- Begin sitting on your mat with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Hold on to the backs of your thighs near your knees. Slowly lean back as your lift your feet from your mat.
- Bring your shins parallel to the floor and point your toes. You can release the backs of your legs so that your arms are also parallel to the floor. If your hamstrings are flexible, straighten your legs.
- Engage your core to keep your spine as straight as possible. Hold the pose for 30 seconds as you breathe normally.
3. Raised legs pose (Uttanpadasana)
By contracting the abdominal muscles in raised legs pose, the abdominal organs receive a gentle and stimulating pressure. This improves digestion and boosts metabolism.
- Begin lying on your back with your legs together. Either rest your arms alongside your body or slide your hands underneath your bottom, palms down, to support your lower back.
- Inhale and slowly raise your right foot until your leg is at a 90 degree angle.
- Exhale and slowly lower your foot, hovering it a few inches above the floor.
- Repeat this five more times, then change legs. For an extra challenge practice lifting and lowering the legs together.
4. Bow pose (Dhanurasana)
In bow pose, the abdominal organs bear the weight of the body and receive a gentle massage. The pose also stimulates blood flow to the organs and improves their process of secretion.
- Begin lying on your stomach.
- Bend your knees and grasp the outsides of your ankles.
- Inhale and kick your feet away from you as you lift your head and chest from the floor. Try to balance on your navel, and be sure to continue breathing in the pose.
- Hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds.
5. Locust pose (Salabasana)
Much like in bow pose, in locust pose all body weight is focused on the abdominal region. This massages the digestive organs and improves their functioning.
- Begin lying on your stomach. Rest your arms alongside your body, palms facing up. Inhale and lift your head, chest, feet and hands from the ground.
- Stretch your head and feet away from each other.
- Take normal breaths and hold the pose for 10 to 20 seconds.
6. Half lord of the fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Twists are wonderful for improving digestive function. When twists are released, a fresh supply of blood rushes in and nourishes the organs. Twists like half lord of the fishes also encourage natural detoxification.
- Begin sitting on your mat with your legs outstretched. Bend your left leg and place the sole of the foot flat on the ground, just outside of your right knee.
- Gently push your left fingertips into the floor behind you to straighten your spine.
- Inhale and reach your right arm toward the sky.
- On the exhale bend your arm and push your elbow against your left knee to help you twist to the left. Look over your left shoulder.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute, breathing normally. Untwist on the exhale and change sides.
7. Thunderbolt gesture 2 (Vajranasana Yogamudra 2)
In this variation of thunderbolt pose direct pressure is applied to the abdominal region. Soothing for both gas and constipation issues, the pose also stimulates the digestive organs and improves their functioning.
- Begin sitting with your legs folded underneath you.
- Place your left palm just below your navel and your right palm over the left.
- Exhale and bend forward, bringing your forehead toward the floor.
- Point your elbows toward the sky. Breathe normally and hold the pose for 30 seconds.
By incorporating these 7 poses into your yoga practice a few days a week, you’ll ignite your digestive fire and boost metabolism to reach your weight loss goals much more quickly.
Which of these poses is your favourite? Share in the comments section below.
PS: Want to build a home yoga practice but are not able to stick to it?