Yoga for Weight Loss
Yoga, an ancient practice and meditation, has become increasingly popular in today’s busy society. Yoga provides many mental and physical health benefits. Some of these extend to the kitchen table.
The goal during yoga practice is to challenge yourself physically, but not to feel overwhelmed. At this “balance” the focus is on your breath while your mind is accepting and calm.
Yoga studios typically don’t have mirrors. This is so people can focus their awareness inward rather than how their pose or the people around them look. Surveys have found that those who practiced yoga were more aware of their bodies than people who didn’t practice yoga. They were also more satisfied with and less critical of their bodies. For these reasons, yoga has become an integral part in the treatment of eating disorders and programs that promote positive body image and self-esteem.
The practice of yoga supports physical, mental, and spiritual development that allows you to create the best version of yourself.
Yoga may also be an effective tool to help you lose weight, especially the more active forms of yoga. And you may find that the awareness gained through a gentle, relaxing yoga practice helps you to lose weight as well.
Mindfulness refers to focusing your attention on what you are experiencing in the present moment without judging yourself.
Practicing yoga has been shown to increase mindfulness not just in class, but in other areas of a person’s life. The mental and spiritual aspects of yoga focus on developing mindfulness. This increases your awareness on many levels.
Researchers describe mindful eating as a nonjudgmental awareness of the physical and emotional sensations associated with eating. They developed a questionnaire to measure mindful eating using these behaviors:
- Eating even when full
- Being aware of how food looks, tastes and smells
- Eating in response to environmental cues, such as the sight or smell of food
- Eating when sad or stressed (emotional eating)
- Eating when distracted by other things
The researchers found that people who practiced yoga were more mindful eaters according to their scores. A 2016 study suggested that people who develop mindfulness through a yoga practice may be better able to resist unhealthy foods and comfort eating. They may also become more in tune with their body so that they notice when they’re full. Practicing yoga helps you be more aware how your body feels.
People who practice yoga and are mindful eaters are more in tune with their bodies. They may be more sensitive to hunger cues and feelings of fullness.
Researchers found that people who practiced yoga for at least 30 minutes once a week for at least four years, gained less weight during middle adulthood. People who were overweight actually lost weight. Overall, those who practiced yoga had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) compared with those who did not practice yoga. Researchers attributed this to mindfulness. Mindful eating can lead to a more positive relationship with food and eating.
Practicing yoga can help improve the quality of your sleep. You may find that you’re able to fall asleep more easily and sleep more deeply when you have a consistent yoga practice. Ideally, you should sleep between six and nine hours each night.
Sleep quality is also associated with fat loss. A 2018 study found that people who had restricted sleep five times per week lost less fat than the group that followed their normal sleeping patterns. Both groups were limiting the number of calories they consumed, suggesting that sleep loss has an adverse effect on body composition, including fat loss.
Yoga is known for its ability to soothe tension and anxiety in the mind and body. But it can also have an impact on a person’s exercise capacity. While yoga isn’t traditionally considered an aerobic exercise, there are certain types of yoga that are more physical than others. Active, intense styles of yoga help you burn the most calories. This may help promote fat loss and prevent weight gain.
Researchers studied a small group of sedentary individuals who had not practiced yoga before. After eight weeks of practicing yoga at least twice a week for a total of 180 minutes, participants had greater muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and cardio-respiratory fitness.
Several small studies have found yoga to have a positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors: It helped lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension. It’s likely that the yoga restores “baroreceptor sensitivity.” This helps the body senses imbalances in blood pressure and maintain balance.
Another study found that practicing yoga improved lipid profiles in healthy patients as well as patients with known coronary artery disease. It also lowered excessive blood sugar levels in people with non-insulin dependent diabetes and reduced their need for medications. Yoga is now being included in many cardiac rehabilitation programs due to its cardiovascular and stress-relieving benefits.
Researchers are also studying if yoga can help people with depression and arthritis, and improve survival from cancer.
Yoga may help bring calm and mindfulness to your busy life.