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Weight loss; with the New Year weight loss is at the top of most individual’s resolution lists, which begs to ask the question, can yoga help you reach your weight loss goals? I have heard this question over and over, and have thought of it myself as I have progressed through my own yoga journey. While I am always hesitant to talk about only the weight loss aspect of yoga, I do believe that all of you should have as many tools as possible when going on your New Year’s journeys (and yoga of course is one of those tools).
As most people assume that yoga is simply a way to increase flexibility, they oftentimes discount the yoga as a full-body (and sometimes) cardio workout. This has always frustrated me (ranking right up there with the, “yoga is only for girls” argument – which of course is invalid), because let me tell you when I wake up the next morning after yoga I can feel it (i.e. I’m sore for like ever). Let’s outline the various ways yoga can help us to lose weight (just one of many positive side effects of practicing yoga – but should not be the only reason you’re practicing).
5 Ways Yoga Helps You Lose Weight
1. Increases Mindfulness off the Mat
Yoga not only cultivates physical well-being, but psychological (i.e. mental and emotional) health as well. Through practicing yoga, mindfulness is a result – impacting more than just your life on the yoga mat. Mindfulness (and the practice of it through yoga) can help you to become more mindful of negative habits, people, and situations that may be deterring you from losing weight. I know that in my personal mindfulness experience, it has helped me to become more cognoscente of what I’m eating (called mindful eating). Oftentimes I would eat without thinking, but through development of mindfulness I realized that I was eating without purpose or thought making me feel more negative about myself. Practicing yoga can be a great way to cultivate mindfulness impacting your life off the mat.
2. Choosing the Right Yoga Class for you
It’s no surprise that there are plenty of yoga classes to chose from in your community and even with your individual yoga center. This being said you should take time to read the class descriptions written by the instructor to get a better idea if that class will fit your needs and help you attain your fitness goals. For example, if weight loss is your goal you probably wouldn’t pursue a yin style class where the poses are typically more restorative in nature. For a fat/weight loss individual I would recommend a heated vinyasa-style yoga class. In my personal experience I have seen a lot of individuals have success with this type of class and weight loss within my yogi friends. Overall it is crucial for you to understand what works for your body and what best suits you not only mentally, but physically as well too.
3. Typically Longer Running Classes
Most yoga classes typically run from 75 to 90 minutes – longer than most other fitness classes. During this time, you’re lengthening, strengthening, and centering both your body and mind alike. These longer class times help you to build up your endurance. This endurance that you’re building up over these 75 to 90 minutes help to build muscle mass. Muscle replaces fat during this process, drastically altering your body’s metabolic reaction. Since muscle burns more calories than fat (even at rest), you’re using up more calories throughout your day, losing weight.
4. Create a New and Healthy Social Community
It’s no surprise that yoga classes are often close-knit communities. Through connecting with like-minded individuals, you foster a social network that is based upon similar health-centered foundations. This can help you to be healthful outside of the yoga studio, utilizing these social connections to further impact physical health. In addition, these strong social connections can create accountability between you and your yogi friends/instructor. This is especially helpful as most studios have yoga challenges (such as the 40-day challenge). Ultimately, this can help you to be consistent with yoga practices, carryover healthy ideas off the mat, and overall, lose weight.
5. Flush Out Negative Energy
On the more spiritual side of the yoga practice, the movement of energy you are creating as you move through poses can help you immensely in your weight loss process. Clearing out stale, un-circulating energy that has become stagnant overtime can bring about negative emotional responses (such as lack of motivation, overeating, etc.) which can all aid in weight gain. By moving your body through various yoga poses, the energy within is moved around in order to better facilitate health outcomes. Flushing out the stagnant energy can jumpstart your health transformation, and ultimately assist you in losing weight.
Overall, I am a firm believer that yoga can help you attain your weight/fat loss goals, but each person has their own beliefs and experiences with yoga. It is important to take the time to get to know your body, what works for you and what doesn’t because just as our fingerprints are entirely unique how our body reacts to various experiences is unique as well. Regardless if yoga is helping you lose weight or not, participating in yogi mindfulness exercises is beneficial for both mental and physical health.
Have any of you had success in losing weight with yoga? Do you have any recommendations for people starting their weight loss journey through yoga? Have you had a poor experience with yoga and weight loss?
I would love to hear what all of you have experienced with yoga and how that has impacted your weight loss. AND with just one month in this New Year I’m sure everyone would love to hear your stories, tips, and tricks for cultivating weight loss with the assistance of yoga. Please share!
Occupational Therapy student Mandy Fabry always had a passion for yoga. Trading in her traditional role as a student to begin her journey as an instructor and blogger. She projects an air on lightness and celebrates each body, breath, and movement. Her background not only nourishes the physical body, but restores the soul as well. Appreciating the body as a whole is Mandy’s main focus, and will bring awareness and balance to all aspects of your life. She is excited to take this next step with you, and hopes that the benefits and lifestyle of yoga can be accessed by all.