3 Significant Ways Yoga Can Support Your Weight Loss Objectives

Yoga has various health advantages, including muscular building, better sleep, and stress reduction. Does it also aid with weight loss?

Yoga can aid in weight loss in a number of different ways, according to Judi Bar, the manager of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative Medicine’s yoga program and a certified member of both the International Association of Yoga Therapists and the Yoga Alliance. It’s not just about burning calories while practicing yoga.

“Yoga, if done right, becomes a lifestyle change,” she claims, which in turn may assist enhance physical activity and reducing emotional eating. Additionally, it can aid in stress management, which, according to her, aids in maintaining weight.

Bar claims that with the clients she deals with, yoga has aided in weight loss. Her study supports this as well.

Bar is a co-author of a review of studies in which she and her group examined a number of studies examining the benefits of yoga on weight loss.

The data demonstrated that yoga is associated with weight loss and weight maintenance due to a number of factors, such as energy expenditure during yoga sessions, encouraging more exercise by reducing back and joint pain, heightening mindfulness, enhancing mood and reducing stress, and assisting yogis in feeling more connected to their bodies, their satiety, and eating habits.

Data from interviews with 20 persons who claimed to have lost weight through yoga practice were evaluated in different research. The responses provided by the participants indicated five elements that the researchers concluded contributed to weight loss: a change to healthier eating habits, the influence of the yoga community and culture, physical changes, psychological changes, and the conviction that the yoga-related weight loss experience was unique from prior weight loss experiences.

According to Bar and other experts, there are three basic ways that yoga may aid in weight loss or maintenance:

1. Yoga Can Help You Eat Mindfully

According to Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, you’re strengthening more than just your muscles when you practice yoga.

According to Dr. Khalsa, when you hold a position for a long time, you get more in tune with how your body feels. As a technique of teaching and practicing mindfulness, your teacher can encourage you to keep an eye on your breathing and pay attention to what your body and mind are telling you.

Additionally, meditating with awareness while doing yoga might be beneficial for developing mindful eating habits. Recognizing hunger signals and preventing binge eating constitute mindful eating. According to Khalsa, with experience and patience, you may even learn which meals provide you energy and fuel and which ones have more detrimental consequences (such as making you feel bloated or tired). And each of these actions can assist you in maintaining a weight reduction program or diet, as well as in choosing healthier foods in general.

According to a study cited by Khalsa, yoga has been associated with changes in eating habits, notably a reduction in dietary fat and an increase in the consumption of fresh vegetables, whole grains, and soy-based products.

A different research examined survey information from 159 women who either routinely engaged in a cardio-based activity or practiced yoga. Compared to cardio-based exercisers, yogis were considerably less likely to have disordered eating habits.

Khalsa claims that here is where yoga truly excels. It involves more than simply the physical exercise you engage in. It involves paying attention to your body’s cues.

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2. Yoga Can Aid with Stress Management

Stress, especially uncontrolled, chronic stress, can cause weight gain in a variety of ways. Yoga helps lessen levels of ongoing stress.

The foundations of yoga practice include breathing exercises and meditation. According to Sundar Balasubramanian, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, whose research focuses on how yogic breathing can promote well-being in people with chronic health issues and other diseases, both help to boost energy, improve mood, and lower stress levels. (Dr. Balasubramanian is the founder of the PranaScience Institute and a yoga therapist who has earned certification from the International Association of Yoga Therapists.)

“Stress can make weight loss very difficult because it can cause cortisol to rise, stress-eating, and trouble sleeping,” adds Balasubramanian. The positive effects of stress that might make weight reduction more difficult (or contribute to weight gain) can be reversed by deep breathing.

According to Balasubramanian, the body undergoes physiological changes in response to breathing exercises. Studies have demonstrated that practicing mindfulness lowers the level of cortisol in our body.

Yoga may be linked to reduced levels of evening cortisol, awakening cortisol, resting heart rate, and cholesterol, according to a study evaluation that included data from 42 studies.

3. Yoga Aids in Muscle Growth
Another method yoga aids in weight reduction and weight maintenance is through increasing muscular mass.

“We often believe that in order to build our muscles, we must work out in the weight room. In yoga, we provide resistance by using our own body weight. According to Carol Krucoff, a yoga therapist at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, and an instructor certified by the International Association of Yoga Therapists and Yoga Alliance, “Your whole body is working to keep you in balance so everything gets a workout.”

Imagine keeping your body still in the plank position. She claims that in order to support your body, you are utilizing the muscles in your shoulders, core, hips, and legs. You may transition into a Downward-Facing Dog posture after releasing from a plank to engage your forearms, shoulders, and back again. According to Krucoff, this muscle-building burns calories.

Yoga helps lower body mass index (BMI) in those who are overweight or obese as well as waist-hip ratio in healthy adults, according to a study evaluation that included 30 studies with more than 2,000 participants.

Even slower, restorative yoga lessons, according to another study, reduced fasting glucose levels in obese or overweight individuals, indicating improved metabolic health.

How Can I Include Yoga in My Weight Loss Strategy?
The experts offered the following advice to get you started if you’re thinking about including yoga in your weight reduction plans:

begin gradually. Starting with an introduction is crucial when beginning any kind of exercise, including yoga. Bar advises novices to stay away from more challenging, quick-paced yoga forms that use terms like “hot,” “Bikram,” “power,” or “flow.” To safely increase your flexibility and strength, you must pick a technique that is simple to follow and won’t result in injuries. Look for beginner-level lessons since they are more likely to demonstrate the poses.

Make necessary changes. Choose a yoga style that fits your needs if you’re out of shape or attempting to lose a lot of weight since you may need to modify some positions that you can’t do fully at first. Exercisers with joint, knee, or hip problems can learn chair yoga from Krucoff so they can practice while comfortably seated. Look for live sessions so you can speak with the teacher in person and get advice on how to adjust a pose or workout to suit your requirements.

Find a teacher, class, and style that are a perfect fit for you. To discover the best match, Khalsa advises trying out a few different yoga sessions, teachers, and styles. Some devote more time to meditation and breathing techniques. Some concentrate more on exercises that build muscle. Some progress more quickly than others, and vice versa. “The most crucial thing is to start and maintain a regular yoga practice. When you do, you’ll discover that you’ll keep up the practice and enjoy the long-term advantages,” he advises.

Include other types of exercise as well. Not every yoga session will give you a cardiovascular workout, but the majority of yoga forms incorporate some muscular building. Therefore, Bar advises combining frequent yoga sessions with aerobic activity, such as riding, walking, jogging, or other activities that raise your heart rate. Along with playing racquetball and other sports, Khalsa also practices yoga. For people who also engage in other high-intensity activities, Krucoff advises gentle yoga as a kind of active rehabilitation.

Keep going. According to Subramanian, developing a habit of practicing yoga takes time. Any yoga practice you decide to include in your weight reduction program, he claims, won’t be effective if you simply perform it once. Choose a habit that you love and can maintain on a weekly or more frequent basis.

Consult a professional. Uncertain about how to incorporate yoga into your weight-reduction plan? Or, if you are experiencing discomfort or other unwelcome symptoms, or you feel overwhelmed by beginning a new yoga practice, seek out more advice from your healthcare physician. They might be able to assist you in creating a program that is specifically tailored to your health objectives if they have experience in integrative medicine. Or they could suggest that you visit a physical therapist with knowledge of yoga who is skilled in creating individualized rehabilitation exercise plans for patients.

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