If you are looking for a well-rounded fitness regime for losing weight, you should consider practicing yoga. Chronic lifestyle issues like weight gain, anxiety, and depression can be effectively dealt with with yoga. Read this piece to know how yoga can help you in your weight loss journey.
Yoga For Weight Loss: Introduction
One of the most common fitness resolutions that I hear from my students is about losing weight and shedding extra fat. If you have been trying to knock off those extra kilos, you know that reducing weight comes with a lot of work and discipline. You have tried an entire gamut of activities to get fitter — buying a gym membership, following a new diet, and reducing your calorie intake. However, you find it difficult to stay focused on your weight loss journey.
In this article, we show you how adding yoga to your weight loss journey can bring you long-lasting results.
Yoga is a complete mind-body practice. Weight loss is just one benefit of yoga; it has other benefits such as increased body awareness and stress reduction as well. Stress is one of the main factors causing weight gain and sneaking into even 10 minutes of yoga practice in your busy day will help you de-stress. Not only that, regular yoga practice regulates our unhealthy food cravings. By blocking the source of unnecessary calories, yoga will help us lose weight organically. Before we get into these health benefits, let us first understand what science says about practicing yoga for weight loss.
Yoga For Weight Loss: What Does Research Say?
If you would like to practice yoga to burn calories, do the styles that get your heart rate up! Surya Namaskar, Vinyasa Yoga, Power Yoga, Bikram Yoga, and Hot Yoga are some types of yoga that are very efficacious in weight loss.
Make sure that you perform sun salutation at a fast pace, to work on your cardio fitness and burn calories. Read our blog to learn how to do Surya Namaskar.
Now let's see what research is saying about weight loss yoga?
1) In 2016, research was carried out to learn the effectiveness of behavioural, psychological and physiological changes of weight loss yoga. In the research, it turned out that regular yoga practice changes our mindset through increased awareness. People who do yoga are more aware of their food intake, physical limitations and problems. As they are more aware of themselves they handle their body more effectively.
2) Another research by NIH in 2013 is saying restorative yoga helped overweight women in losing subcutaneous fat. (Subcutaneous fat is a layer of fat that is located under our skin and protects our muscles.) The participants lost subcutaneous fat in the initial six months and kept on losing fat afterwards. The cherry on the top is that the participants were trying to lose weight for a long time with different methods, but yoga worked out for them.
3) Weight loss yoga is a good option for adolescents and children who are suffering from obesity. A study conducted in the year 2009 on children and adolescents to learn the impact of Ashtanga Yoga. It concluded that ashtanga yoga is beneficial in weight loss.
So, as per research yoga for weight loss is effective. However, the moot point here is, can you rely entirely upon yoga for weight loss and get short time results? The answer is subjective. Many see results after practicing yoga exercises for weight loss within a few weeks, while for others it takes time to show the results. I would suggest that you add yoga as a complementary practice and combine it with other fat-burning exercises such as swimming, running or dancing.
Follow along with this short and fun 30 min power yoga routine for weight loss
Yoga Reduces Stress And Anxiety thus Promoting Weight Loss
Due to chronic stress, cortisol, the stress hormone rises in our body. Too much cortisol in the body affects the thyroid which is another underlying cause behind sudden weight gain. Also, cortisol is a natural appetite stimulant. That is why people start binge eating unhealthy snacks when they go through anxiety or stress. All the binge eating, in the end, leads to weight gain.
Besides, according to research in 2015, stress slows down our metabolism rate. That’s not helpful for our body. So, we should better try to manage our stress.
The good news for you is that yoga is a natural stress buster. Performing yoga asanas with the right breathing techniques gives a calming effect. Many poses in yoga such as Cat-Cow Pose, Downward Facing Dog, Upward facing dog, Bridge Pose, standing forward bend are effective in releasing stress.
Yoga for Weight Loss: Meditation helps To overcome Food Cravings
Often, we eat because we’re simply bored. Sometimes eating something at a certain time of the day becomes our habit. Like having a brownie every night after a meal or having the cheesy pizza every weekend. In such cases, we don’t have a say over our habits. And higher cortisol levels make us crave sugar and fat-enriched foods. We become emotional eaters as a result.
Meditation introduces us to our emotions. Through deep slow breathing, we learn to see our emotions as they are. With slow inhale and exhale, meditation increases your observation power. You easily detect what’s hunger and what’s craving. It empowers you with the power to control unhealthy eating habits. When you control your food intake with a conscious mind for sure it will reflect in your body.
Yoga for Weight Loss: Increased Body Awareness & Mindful Eating
When I teach, I see the students strain themselves to do the asana perfectly. During such time, I say "stay at a place that feels right for you" It’s because yoga is a solitary journey. In each asana, you develop body awareness as you learn to observe your body! Thus, in yoga, you have the upper hand as you learn about your body. When you perform a certain yoga pose, you pay attention to muscles, limbs, and sensations. This helps us to notice which part of our body might need strengthening and conditioning.
Alright, so now let’s talk about Mindful Eating, which is taking every bite with awareness. You engage all your five senses while you eat. You smell the food, see the food, and take a bite you feel all of it.
Although mindful eating is not made for losing weight, you’ll likely lose weight if you adopt mindful eating. Like food, mindfulness engages us with our feeling of hunger. We become aware of what amount of food we need. This is why we do not overeat when we eat mindfully.
The reason behind mindful eating’s efficacy is that sometimes indigestion leads to gas problems and bloating. When we pay full attention to the food our brain sends signals to the respective organs to secrete digestive juices. This helps to break down the food components leading to smooth digestion. Good digestion is key to maintaining a healthy weight.
Yoga for Weight Loss: How Breathwork and Bandha help?
Yoga’s integrated part pranayama is another tool to add to your disposal for weight loss. The yogic breathing technique encourages weight loss if practiced regularly.
Breathwork such as Kapalbhati pranayama, Bhastrika pranayama creates heat in our body. The forced exhalation process stimulates our digestive organs in the abdomen with a pumped-up flow of fresh oxygenated blood. It eliminates wastage, toxins from our body and improves digestion. They build strength in the abdomen region as well.
Pranayama is also great for boosting immunity. You may like to read ‘Alternate Nostril Breathing Or Nadi Shodhana Pranayama Guide & Benefits’ to learn about how Nadi Shodhana pranayama helps you de-stress and build your immunity.
You may think of trying bandhas, especially, Jalandhar Bandha (chin lock). While performing the chin lock, two important glands, the thyroid, and the parathyroid gland are activated to release thyroxine. This helps in regulating your metabolism.
Yoga for Weight Loss: Long Term Health Benefits
1) Improves sleep quality: Yoga Nidra or Deep Relaxation is useful for insomnia and sleep-related problems. It improves sleep quality. In an experiment conducted on health professionals, Yoga Nidra showed its usefulness. Moreover while doing Yoga Nidra you can set your weight loss goals or health resolutions. It will help you build a strong mindset.
2) Decreases Chronic Pain: Yoga is a wonderful solution for chronic pain in your knee, lower back, neck and shoulders. Yoga increases the flexibility of the body and enhances blood circulation thus eliminating stiffness and cramps. Read our blog on Yoga for Back Pain if you are experiencing lower back pain.
I hope that this blog has convinced you of the amazing benefits of including yoga in your fitness regime. If you have any questions or need my help with practicing yoga and pranayama, do not hesitate to write to me.