Yoga: For Flexibility? Weight Loss? Animals?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Does doing yoga help you to lose weight or keep your body flexible?


Tigers need yoga too

It should be named Down Tiger. I ate the dog.

Alexandra: Your question caught our eye because today we saw some photos of a colleague who leads a Doga Yoga class for people and their dogs. I’ll answer the first part of your question and leave the flexibility to Kymberly.

Doga Yoga

Pleeeeeease Give Me Some of that Pretzel Bread *wag wag*

I’m going to answer from a backbend pose and say, “Almost any exercise will help you lose weight to some degree; the question is ‘how much?’” Now I’ll take a stance–yoga is meant to be about relaxation, better breathing, focusing the mind, balance and flexibility, although there are some types of yoga that can improve strength. In two independent studies (both discussed here), calorie burn and aerobic benefits of Hatha and Power yoga were tested. Answer–no substantial aerobic benefits. If you want to lose weight, I’d say park your car far from yoga class and run there, ride your bike to the store to buy a yoga DVD, or dance in your kitchen before downloading a yoga video.

Kymberly: Who believes Alexandra was in a backbend throughout that reply? Well, she was and still is. In fact, I doubt she will ever get up. If she did more yoga she’d be flexible AND strong enough to rise… like the bread she is baking (for me, no doubt).

A: That was quite some pretzel logic!

bread in yoga pretzel pose

Yoga – It’s Pretzel Logic

K: Onto you, Chen and all readers: Yes, yoga will enhance your flexibility. We suggest you visit My Yoga Online (see their logo in our sidebar to the right? Scroll up if need be. Click on it and check out their offerings.) Well-designed yoga classes alternate or balance forward bends (such as the “down dog”) with backward bends (“cat pose” or “up dog pose”) partly to maintain balance and improve flexibility.

Yoga adds flexibility

You call it Yoga; I call it Cattercizing

K: Are you sensing an animal theme in today’s post? Ever noticed how flexible animals are? Coincidence or great planning centuries ago?  See how well I stretched out my answer, which could have been handled by “no to significant weight loss and yes to flexibility”? My work here is Ommmmmmm-most done.

Dear Yogis and Posers: What name shall we give the yoga pose (asana) that the cat is demonstrating above? And “cat pose” is currently oversold, so make up something else.

Photo Credits: Creative Commons

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