While yoga calories burned are the first focus of a yoga practice, many students attend yoga in hopes of losing weight. To address this, I’ll offer a few ideas to implement during class.
In the twelve years I have instructed yoga, I’ve seen many types of people come and go in my classes. One thing remains constant for most practitioners, especially the beginners, and that is a lack of awareness. Many people are more worried about following the sequence in time or finding the perfect pose, than they are of truly experiencing the effects of the asana they are doing.
We have a saying in yoga, ‘where the mind goes, the prana flows’. Prana is the energy of all life. Asana is practiced with the intent of raising the levels and circulation of prana. Not only does increased prana eventually lead to greater understanding, it also helps to propagate the body’s natural daily process.
How this affects calorie burning is through the Agni, the purifying fires of the body. They are intensified, thereby improving the dismantling of wastes and destroying more unneeded calories.
To make sure this occurs in your practice, you must learn to envision and move the prana through your body. Imagine a white smoke or particles of light entering the nose when you breathe. Then watch and guide this light to the region of the body being affected in the asana. This helps in asana practice, as well as in healing and meditation practices.
An additional calorie removing mechanism is actively engaged muscle energy. Asana is never meant to be passive. Practitioners should fully activate all the muscles needed during the entirety of the movement. When moving into tree pose for instance, the legs should be rock hard, the shoulders fired, forearms and hands extending overhead and the torso strong. Using this forceful energy is guaranteed to heighten the caloric disposal. Time spent in lax postures is wasted time.
A fuller range of motion will also help in burning extra calories. Stretch through your tendons and joints, but be conscious not to over extend into injury. Proper muscle engagement will protect your joints and ligaments. Move into and out of the asana with focused intention. Take the time to make it an attentive effort.
Lastly is the ujjayi breath. This special breath is specifically designed to heat the body. Adding ujjayi to almost any of your classes is a good idea. Stop only if your instructor tells you to. Warming the body through a natural ujjayi breath will absolutely bring you the calorie removal you desire.
Infuse these techniques into your practice and it will not only help ensure more yoga calories burned, it will improve your overall asana practice exponentially.