Background

Yoga may elicit numerous benefits that may also influence body weight.However, it is unclear if adults with obesity will engage in yoga within the context of a behavioral weight loss intervention or if different styles of yoga result in different weight loss.

Methods

Fifty adults with obesity (BMI: 31.3±3.8 years) participated in this 6-month study that included a group-based behavioral weight loss intervention and a calorie and fat-reduced diet (1200-1800 kcal/day, 20-30% fat intake). Participants were randomized to either a Restorative (RES) or Vinyasa (VIN) style of yoga, with one supervised session per week and 4 home-based sessions using videos developed and provided by the investigators on an electronic tablet. Yoga sessions increased from 20 to 40 to 60 minutes per session across the intervention. Weight and cardiorespiratory fitness were assessed at baseline and 6 months. Participants engaged in a focus group at the completion of the intervention.

Results

Weight decreased from 87.3±2.6 kg to 81.8±2.6 kg in RES and from 88.4±2.6 kg to 82.5±2.6 kg in VIN (p<0.0001). Fitness increased by 14.5% (p<0.0001). Groups did not differ for weight or fitness change.There was no significant difference between RES and VIN for change in weight or fitness.74.4% (65.2% in RES, 85.0% in VIN) reported that they would continue participation in yoga after the conclusion of this study. Yoga session duration was the most common reported barrier to participation as session length increased from 20 to 40 to 60 minutes per day (0%, 7.5%, 48.8% of respondents, respectively).

Conclusions

It is feasible to engage adults with obesity in yoga within the context of a behavioral weight loss program, with the style of yoga not having a differential effect on 6-month change in weight or fitness. Participants may be willing to sustain engagement in yoga, which may have long-term impact on weight loss. However, progressing to 60 minutes per session appears to be a barrier to engagement in yoga in this population.