When people attend their first yoga class, many are surprised by how hard it is. It’s not uncommon to leave sweaty, happy, and hungry. While yoga certainly feels like a great workout, can it actually help you lose weight?

The short answer is that there is no short answer. Yoga is a very sophisticated tradition with many different paths. Most yoga studios offer a variety of options for yoga classes. If your goal is weight loss, some options are better than others.

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that yoga alone will help you shed those pounds, but it can certainly help. Here are a few ways yoga can positively impact your weight loss journey.

Yoga Reduces Stress

Mindfulness is a big part of nearly every yoga practice. The combined effect of mindfulness on your stress levels and the stress relieving properties of any exercise means that you’ll find yoga reduces your stress level .

Studies have shown that stress increases the levels of cortisol—the stress hormone—in the body. And this sends signals to your brain that will stimulate your appetite.

It’s been proven over and over again that stress levels make it hard to lose weight and easy to gain weight. Yoga’s ability to relieve stress can help you get your cravings under control.

There Are Yoga Classes Designed to Work You Harder

If you’re serious about weight loss, you may have read that aerobic exercise and diet control are the best ways to lose weight. Traditionally, yoga doesn’t fit the bill. It’s not usually considered a high intensity exercise.

That said, there are certain types of yoga that will work you hard enough to receive benefits. Many classes last 90 minutes. These long workouts also help increase your heart rate and burn more calories.

Can Yoga Help Me Lose Weight

Vigorous, flowing styles of yoga should be the focus for those focused on weight loss. Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Power Yoga are some of the widely practiced forms of yoga that burn calories.

If you’re not sure which classes are right for you, talk to the yoga instructor at the studio you’ve chosen. They know their classes better than anyone, and can help you pick the right one.

Yoga Fosters Self-Awareness

Some experts say that yoga and mindfulness in general help foster a greater sense of self-awareness that positively affects weight loss. Becoming more aware of your body can lead to a shift in the way you eat and treat your body. Learning to eat when you’re hungry as opposed to eating out of habit and learning to stop eating when you’re full becomes easier with greater mindfulness.

Maintaining mindfulness throughout meals can hugely impact the way you’re eating. Being mindful while preparing, eating, and cleaning up a meal will help you keep better track of your eating habits.

When you start becoming mindful of your eating habits, you may be surprised by snacking or surprised by what’s going into your food. It’s also common to realize you’re not eating because you’re hungry, you’re eating due to stress, boredom, or habit.

In this way, both meditation and yoga can be hugely helpful in a weight loss journey.

Yoga Can Improve Your Sleep

It’s becoming clear that getting a good night’s sleep can have amazing effects on weight loss.

There have been some promising studies showing that yoga can lead to improved sleep quality, which thus means benefits for your weight loss. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you can probably attest to the fact that the exercise certainly makes you ready for a good night’s sleep.

The benefits of mindfulness and yoga are many. While weight loss may not be one of the most obvious effects, it certainly has the ability to help.