Yoga can help with long-term weight loss, here’s how

Yoga has many mind and body benefits and research says it can also help to effectively manage weightloss

Woman practices yoga in a bright apartment space
(Image credit: Getty)

The practice of yoga combines breathing, meditation, mindfulness and physical activity. People like to use it for many health-related purposes whether that is to improve flexibility, to help with injury recovery or to help reduce anxiety and stress. And science has also found it has the potential to help with weight loss.

The good thing about yoga is that you can learn to do it via an in-person class or online. If you do want to take up the activity you only need a yoga mat, and you can find a best yoga mat for budget friendly prices as well as more expensive branded ones, depending on what you are looking for.

A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (opens in new tab) analyzed the weight management behavior and attitudes of young adults in relation to the practice of yoga and what impact this had on weight related health.

For the study, respondents who reported they engaged in yoga at least 30 minutes per week were identified as yoga practitioners and those who didn't practice yoga regularly or had never tried it were considered non-practitioners.

Following a series of qualitative interviews about their views on yoga and how it impacted their eating behaviour and level of physical activity the results revealed 90% of respondents said yoga had a positive impact on their eating behavior. Meanwhile 75% of respondents agreed that yoga had a positive influence on their activity levels. 

Through analyzing the eating behaviours of the study cohort it was discovered that regular practice of yoga was linked to a higher intake of fruit and vegetables as well as an increase in hours spent engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. All the while regular yoga sessions led to lower consumption of sugary drinks, snacks and fast food.

Woman sits on a yoga mat with a bowl of cereal by her

(Image credit: Getty)

The study identified five themes relating to the impact yoga had on the respondents eating behaviors'. Read below:

  1. Motivation to make healthier choices: participants found themselves making healthier choices because they didn't want to negate the benefits of yoga practice
  2. More mindful eating: this was related to having a greater appreciation for food and practicing being more mindfulness towards eating
  3. Management of stress and emotional eating: respondents said they yoga improved stress levels and as a result they developed better eating habits
  4. More healthy food cravings: a number of the cohort said they more naturally craved healthy foods after a yoga class
  5. The yoga community: participants said they felt exposed to a new community where healthy eating was commonplace and they picked up on feelings of connection to the body and food

This study shows that yoga could be a promising intervention for weight management.

Taking on regular practice of yoga could help to improve eating habits, encouraging a healthier, well-nourished diet as well as promoting higher levels of physical activity. 

Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 


When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.