We’ve all been there – seeing our reflection in the mirror and thinking “Oh boy, time to hit the gym”. Weight loss can be a lifelong journey.
If losing weight is a priority, this full-body yoga workout is a good place to start. It’s 30 minutes long & includes strength building and cardio. You’ll want both elements for long term weight loss: building muscle increases calorie burn, while cardio helps the body shed fat.
How to Do this Workout
The way to efficient weight loss is combining hard work with fun. You’ll find both in this workout: the poses will keep you interested while the Sun Salutations & floor poses will tucker you out.
To get the most out of your yoga workout, follow these guidelines:
- Pay attention to your breath. Breathing while moving will increase cardiovascular capacity over time and prevent exhaustion.
- Do the warmup. It might be tempting to skip straight to the exercises, but Sun Salutations will open your body & increase your heart rate to get things burning.
- Add a Sun Salutation in between the standing poses for extra cardio (more calories burned).
30-Minute Yoga Workout for Weight Loss
Warmup: Sun Salutations
The instructions below assume you have flexibility enough to bring your palms to the floor. If not, you’ll want to use blocks.
Place them at the front short edge of the mat to raise the floor when bending forward. The blocks are an excellent way to build proper movement patterns and flexibility over time.
Do each Sun Salutation three times.
Suyra Namaskar A — Sun Salutation A Pose
Stand at the front of the mat, feet together in tadasana, mountain pose.
Stretch the arms to the sky, biceps by the ears.
Bend forward, bringing the palms to the floor or the shins. Keep a slight bend in the knees.
Press the palms to the floor or against the shins, stretching the crown of the head forward to bring the back parallel to the floor.
Now, bend forward to bring the head towards the floor, pressing the palms. If hands are on shins, bend the knees until you can bring the palms to the floor.
Step one foot back then the other into a high plank.
Bend the elbows, and bring knees, then chest, then chin to the floor for supported chaturanga.
Keeping elbows bent, push through the palms to lift the sternum towards the ceiling for cobra pose.
Push back to hands & knees, then up to downward facing dog.
Step the feet forward to the front of the mat, back parallel to the ground, palms to floor or shins.
Stretch up to standing, arms straight towards ceiling, middle fingers pointing up, biceps by the ears.
Bring the arms down to the sides.
Suyra Namaskar B — Sun Salutation B Pose
Stand at the top of the mat.
Stretch the hands to the sky, bending the knees to come to utkatasana, chair pose.
Bend forward, hands to floor or shins.
Lift halfway up.
Press the hands to the floor and bring the feet back to high plank. Inhale in plank.
Bring the right foot forward in between the hands. Spin the edge of the left foot parallel to the short edge of the mat.
Roll the chest up, bend through the right knee and stretch the arms straight up for virabhadrasana I, Warrior I.
Hold Warrior I for 3 breaths.
Cartwheel the hands down to either side of the front foot. Bring the right foot back to meet the left for high plank.
Left foot forward between the hands for Virabhadrasana I / Warrior I on the left side. Hold for 3 breaths.
Cartwheel the hands down & come to high plank. Bring both feet forward in between the hands.
Lift halfway up.
Bend forward fully.
Stretch all the way up with the hands straight towards the ceiling then come to tadasana.
Now you’re warm from the Sun Salutations, it’s time to dive into standing poses. The poses build muscle in the entire body through activating specific muscle groups like hamstrings, quads, and triceps. They also increase flexibility, especially in the legs. Strong, flexible muscles burn calories.
The poses are given as standalone exercises. Add a Sun Salutation after the second side once you’re accustomed to the movements.
This will build more strength in the arms while increasing the cardio aspect of the workout, which will help with weight loss. You’ll end in tadasana ready to start the next pose.
You may choose to use two blocks for stability.
Trikonasana — Triangle Pose
Stand in the middle of the mat in tadasana facing the long edge. You may choose to have two blocks on the corners of the long edge.
Stretch the arms out parallel to the shoulders. Step the feet wide apart, about five foot-lengths.
Turn the right toes out 90 degrees. Turn the left foot 30 degrees in. Check your right heel to make sure it intersects the arch of the left foot for stability.
Now, squeeze the triceps & biceps in towards the bone, tuck the tailbone down, squeeze the kneecaps up to activate the quads, and stretch the right hand down to the shin or to the block.
The left arm is straight up, hand pointed towards ceiling.
Hold here for 3 breaths.
Come back up to the center. Turn left foot out & right foot in 30 degrees. Repeat on left side.
To finish, bring feet together in tadasana at the middle of the mat.
Virabhadrasana II — Warrior II to Revolved Extended Side Angle Pose
Stand in tadasana in the middle of the mat facing the long edge.
Stretch the arms out parallel to the shoulders. Step the feet wide apart. Turn the right toes out.
Squeeze the triceps & biceps in towards the bone to build the arm muscles.
Squeeze the left glute to bring the tailbone down. Bend into the right knee by activating the right glute & right hamstring to bring the thigh towards the floor. Activating the glutes is key for stability & strength in this pose.
Hold Warrior II for 3 Breaths
Now, bring the hands into prayer in front of the chest.
Spin the left heel towards the sky to turn your chest towards the front of the mat. You’ll end in a lunge. Keep pressing the left heel backwards to activate the legs.
Bend the trunk forward to bring the left arm outside of the right thigh for revolved extended side angle.
Your chest will open towards your bent right leg.
Hands stay in prayer to make it easier to press the arm & leg together.
Hold the twist for 3 breaths.
Slowly come back up to the lunge. Stretch the arms to the sides & spin the back heel down to go back to Warrior II.
Straighten the right leg. Bend the left knee by activating the left glute & hamstring. Repeat progression on left side.
When finished, come to tadasana at the middle of the mat.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthanasana — Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose
Stand at the front of the mat, feet together.
Pour your bodyweight into the left foot and activate the leg muscles.
Bring the right knee up towards the ceiling until you can grab it with both hands. Work on finding balance by pressing into the left foot, especially the big toe. Hold here for 3 breaths.
Slowly bring the right foot down, then lift the left knee up for the second side.
Virabhadrasana III — Warrior III Pose
Stand at the front of the mat.
Bring the hands into prayer. Pour the weight into the left foot & bend the right knee towards the chest as in uttitha hasta padangusthasana.
Now, tip the torso forwards, bringing the glutes together and squeezing the quads to lift the back leg.
Make sure the chest is parallel to the floor, no further. You’re flying like a superhero.
Stretch the right foot back until the leg is straight. Keep lifting through the right hamstring & quad.
Find balance here for 3 breaths.
Come down & switch sides.
Standing Splits with Leg Pumps
Stand at the front of the mat, feet together. You may choose to have blocks on either side of the feet & slightly in front.
Bend forward to bring the crown of the head towards the floor. Place hands in front of the feet or on blocks.
Bring the weight into the hands & into the left foot. Lift the right leg up until it is parallel to the floor or further, if flexibility allows. Engage through the quads.
Keep the right foot high for 3 breaths. Then, pump the right leg up & down 3 times.
Bring the right foot down & switch sides.
Utkatasana — Chair Pose with Twist
Stand at the front of the mat, feet hip-width apart.
Bring the hands in prayer in front of the chest.
Tuck the tailbone towards the floor so much that you start to bend the knees, coming into a high squat. Engage the hips, quads, and glutes for stability.
Bring the left shoulder outside of the right knee for a twist. Hold here for 3 breaths. Come up, then twist to the other side.
Salabhasana — Locust Pose
Lie on your belly on the mat with arms down at your sides, palms facing down.
Stretch the arms strongly backwards while bringing the shoulderblades apart to activate the entire back. Keep stretching backwards & lift the chest off the floor.
Hold for 3 breaths.
Now, engage the glutes, quads, and hamstrings to lift the legs off the floor, aiming to lift even the upper legs. Hold for 3 breaths.
Finally, bring the chest up & legs up at the same time and hold. Repeat this version 3 times.
For extra challenge, bring the arms straight out in front of the shoulders.
Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana — Forearm Plank Pose
Lie on your belly. Bring your elbows underneath the shoulders & clasp the hands so that your forearms make a triangle shape.
Press down through the forearms to lift the chest, then activate the abdominals & legs to lift off the ground for forearm plank. Hold for 5 breaths.
Make sure to activate through the legs, arms, and abdominals for a whole-body exercise. Repeat three times.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana — One-Legged Bridge with Leg Lift Pose
Lie on your back. Bend the knees towards the ceiling, feet hip-width apart. Bring the heels close to the glutes. Place your hands underneath your glutes.
Press through the feet and squeeze the glutes to lift the hips towards the ceiling. Clasp the hands and press down through the arms to lift further.
Hold here for 3 breaths. Then, lift one leg straight up towards the ceiling for 2 breaths. Switch legs.
Repeat the entire exercise 3 times.
Savasana — Recovery
Time for the most important part of the workout… Recovery!
Yoga practitioners recover by lying on their back in Savasana or corpse pose. Lie comfortably as you would when you are about to go to sleep, spreading your legs apart and keeping your arms by your sides. It can be beneficial to cover the body with a blanket to prevent a chill.
Savasana helps the body integrate the yoga practice. It slows down the mind & the heartbeat.
Capping off your workout with savasana is an excellent way to prepare your mind & body to get back to your day. You’ll feel calm and centered, ready to take on the day after a tough workout.
Whether you’re at home or the gym, incorporate these exercises & the Sun Salutations into your workout for weight loss benefits. Finish off with savasana for the mental benefits, too.
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Meditation coach by day and writer by night - Shirley has perfected the art of finding a healthy balance in life. She’s eager to spread calm energy and share her zen tips through conscious writing.