Yoga can help you lose weight! Jennifer Aniston does it. Reports are that Liv Tyler, Halle Berry, Madonna, David Duchovny and supermodel Christy Turlington do it, too. Many professional athletes are said to be doing Yoga in an effort to improve their games.
So, can this seemingly no-strain workout really help you lose weight? Make no mistake, Yoga may seem like nothing more than simple poses, but there is a lot of muscle control involved in doing Yoga properly.
Additionally, there is a new Westernized type of Yoga known as Power Yoga which utilizes the same breathing technique of traditional Yoga while engaging in more rapidly changing poses. This new type of Power Yoga burns more calories than traditional Yoga, which typically doesn’t burn as many calories as other forms of exercise.
While it may be true that Yoga doesn’t burn as many calories as some other exercising like jogging or aerobics, it still burns calories and has a wealth of other benefits which directly influence weight loss.
Dana Edison, director of Radius Yoga in North Redding, MA, says “Yoga is a phenomenal way to put you in touch with your body the way nothing else can, and yes, it can help you lose weight.”
How Does Yoga Help You Lose Weight?
In 2005, medical researcher and practicing Yogi, Alan Kristal, DPH, MPH, set out to do a medical study on the weight-loss effects of yoga and sought funding from the National Cancer Institute, Kristal and colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
15,500 healthy, middle-aged men and women were involved in a trial with some performing Yoga and others not. Those who were doing Yoga all lost at least 5 lbs and those who were not gained at least 14 lbs during the course of the trial.
The weight loss benefit of Yoga has far more to do with the simple act of physical exercise and burning calories. Yoga aligns the mind and body in such a way that you become more mindful of the relationship between the two. As such, you become more aware of actual hunger vs. temptation or emotional eating and pay more attention to what you’re putting in your body.
Aside from the mind and body becoming aligned, there is also a spiritual benefit to Yoga. In a fit spiritual condition, it’s easier to make lifestyle changes like the way you eat, your level of physical activity, or giving up an unhealthy habit like smoking cigarettes.
It’s important to realize that Yoga not only helps you lose weight, it helps you build muscle in the process. The basis of Yoga involves deep breathing and attention to every muscle involved in each pose. Muscles are stretched and expanded and plenty of oxygen is delivered to every muscle in the body – promoting strong and consistent muscle development.
How to Get the Most Out of Yoga
- Focus on the Internal Energy. Yoga is more than a physical exercise. Try to do Yoga in a room with no mirrors so it’s easier to concentrate on breathing and internal energy rather than focusing on the physical form.
- Try to Feel Every Micro-Movement of Every Muscle. Every pose uses a different group of muscles, try to open up every muscle involved as much as possible for maximum benefit.
- Increase the Power of Yoga with Positive Self Talk. Practice dispelling negative energy and thoughts and replacing them with positive affirmations.
- Find an Instructor You Can Connect With and Attend Class Regularly. Whether you’re attending a class or you’re following a DVD course make sure to set aside time on a regular basis to stay active with Yoga.
- Give Yourself Permission to Rest When You Are Tired. A good Yoga instructor will show you an alternate pose (generally Child’s Pose) to return to when your body needs a break. Don’t overextend yourself.
Remember that Yoga is more than a physical exercise; it’s a way to become one with the Universal Energy that flows through all life – a method of developing a deeper understanding, patience, kindness, wisdom, and gratitude. Use Yoga as a catalyst for weight loss and realize every other benefit of Yoga in the process.