A 2013 study found that restorative yoga helps people lose subcutaneous fat. Restorative yoga has long been touted for its ability to decrease stress, help people heal from illness, and increase flexibility.
A 2013 National Institutes of Health study, led by researcher Maria G. Araneta, PhD, MPH, of the University of California, San Diego, found that restorative yoga also helps people lose subcutaneous fat.
The study was designed to see who would benefit more: obese women who took part in a 48-week program of restorative yoga, or those who engaged in a program of stretching exercises. Their findings showed that the restorative yoga practitioners lost significantly more subcutaneous fat over the first 6 months of the study, and kept losing it during a maintenance period with less direct supervision. There was no significant loss of visceral fat in either group.
Araneta did not present restorative yoga as a replacement for aerobic activity; rather, she said this “complementary, ancient practice” could serve as a means of gentle movement for those severely obese patients for whom other activity is not practical.