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Certain yoga poses and styles of yoga may help tone your body and reduce fat. But no exercise can spot-target fat loss from a specific area of your body, according to an article in "Yale Scientific" magazine. Hatha yoga poses that focus on the chest area may help tone the underlying muscles, providing a leaner, firmer appearance. Other forms of yoga that provide a cardiovascular workout, such as power yoga, Bikram or Vinyasa yoga, may help reduce fat from your entire body.
Yoga and Fat Loss
Every pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, no matter where it's stored on your body, according to the Mayo Clinic. To lose fat, you need to create a caloric deficit by burning more calories than you take in. Increasing your level of cardiovascular activity is one of the most beneficial ways of creating a caloric deficit. So to lose a pound of fat a week, you need to burn roughly 500 additional calories per day. It can be a challenge to meet this goal with yoga alone. "Women's Health" magazine points out that the average 140-pound woman burns a mere 175 calories per hour with Hatha yoga. But more vigorous forms of yoga, such as Bikram -- or hot -- yoga, can burn up to 636 calories per hour.
Vinyasa Flow for Chest Fat
One way yoga might help reduce the appearance of chest fat is by strengthening and toning your underlying chest muscles. According to yoga instructor and Ironman triathlete Anthony Carillo in his book "Iron Yoga," the Plank-Chaturanga-Upward-Facing Dog vinyasa is an extremely challenging yet beneficial flow series for strengthening your chest. In this series, you begin in Plank, a pose that resembles the top of a pushup. You engage your chest and arm muscles to keep your body in a straight line from your head to your toes. Then you move quickly to Chaturanga by bending your elbows to lower your body 2 to 3 inches from the floor, keeping your body straight. You end the flow with Upward-Facing Dog pose by straightening your arms, dropping your hips to the floor and opening your chest and shoulders as you look up to the ceiling.
Bikram and Power Yoga for Fat Loss
Vigorous forms of yoga may simultaneously promote overall body fat loss and help tone your chest muscles with poses that focus on the chest area. The Bikram and power -- or Ashtanga -- styles of yoga help you create internal heat through the rapid performance of a progressive series of poses designed to make you sweat and raise your heart and breathing rates. Bikram and power yoga incorporate the same chest-toning poses as Hatha yoga, but they are performed at a more rapid pace. According to certified group fitness instructor and health-care research analyst Jennifer Van Pelt in an article for "Today's Dietitian," these forms of yoga may help fat loss by raising your heart rate toward the higher end of your target heart rate range. In fact, a study published in 2012 in the "Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research" found that participants in a Bikram yoga training program displayed a moderate decrease in body fat after just eight weeks.
Consult your doctor before beginning a yoga regimen, especially if you have a physical condition that may affect your ability to perform certain poses. It's also important to talk to your doctor before participating in yoga if you have osteoarthritis, rheumatologic arthritis, muscle or joint pain or any kind of previous injury. According to Diana Zotos, a yoga instructor and physical therapist in the rehabilitation department at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, people with high blood pressure, low blood pressure or cardiovascular disease should also talk to a cardiologist before taking up hot yoga.