Can Yoga Help to Lose Weight?Luke Coutinho
Obesity is emerging as a silent pandemic leading to diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol levels, and impaired glucose tolerance. With tons of weight loss mediums, the question is, “Can yoga help to lose weight?”
Yoga offers holistic health solutions, and is a sacred practice dating back to the Vedic period. It works on personal growth, and health is a byproduct. It is a holistic approach, where the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects are addressed.
Yoga is often misunderstood as the physical practice of just asanas. In contrast, it includes all aspects of lifestyle, including sattvic diet, bhavas, attitude training, informed choices about lifestyle changes, and spiritual preparation.
The practice of Aharveda (right food), yoga, and meditation are found to enhance mindfulness during meals, aiding awareness of portion sizes, food preparation, and chewing of food properly. These are the basics for efficient weight loss.
With yoga, the body moves closer to optimal weight. However, practicing it for weight loss is merely a small application of this phenomenal “inner technology” that will open doors to a lot more.
Yoga – The Food Factor
Yoga brings in a unique outlook that can, in turn, prevent us from overeating. This is beneficial, as you are not controlling or regulating your life in any particular way, or because somebody asks you to diet. With yogic practices, the control ceases as one becomes more aware.
Yoga – Asana Factor
When you perform asanas, you do not necessarily need any equipment. Yoga involves the utilization of your body weight to help you exercise or execute postures. So, there are no excuses for not having access to a gym to exercise. With strength and muscle bulge, your body’s flexibility is vital for the right functioning of the system.
We do not focus on muscular strength alone. Organ health is additionally vital. The yogic system is fully equipped to take care of the organs. No matter how muscular your physique is, if your liver is not functioning correctly, you are not healthy. It is vital that the body is flexible and internally fit too.
Yoga and Weight Loss
Some ways on how yoga will aid in weight loss are as follows:
- Flushes negative body image due to excess weight: The compassion and self-acceptance that are part of yoga practice may help some people enjoy yoga more than other activity forms. When happiness dwells within, the smallest of effort towards weight loss may reap extensive results. (Yoga Practice: Yamas (moral discipline) and Niyamas (observances))
- Reduces emotional and binge eating: This is because yoga helps to balance our hunger and fullness hormones: leptin and ghrelin (Yoga Practice: Asana practice, Aharveda)
- Greater capacity to withstand stress and emotional distress: ↑ Stress→↑ Cortisol → ↑ Abdominal fat. Yoga helps to reduce stress, thereby reducing abdominal fat.
Abdominal Fat and Organs
Imagine a big rock kept on your stomach. You will feel quite pressurized, right? Excess fat plays the role of the rock in your body by creating pressure on the organs, thereby affecting their function. Yoga helps in mobilizing abdominal fat, and thereby helps in improving the health of internal organs (Certain yoga poses that may help include Bhujangasana, Hastapadasana, Yastikasana, Parvatasana, Paschimottanasana, Konasana, Kapalbhati, and Bhastrika).
- Self-esteem: It builds in aisvarya bhava (Self-Reliance) to improve confidence and trust in the journey (Yoga practice: Bhujangasana, Ustrasana, Chakrasana, Jal Neti).
- Yoga helps to reduce the waist-hip ratio, body weight, BMI, percentage of body fat, and increases the percentage of body muscle (Yoga Practice: Yama (abstinences), niyama (observances), asana (yoga postures), pranayama (breath control)).
- It down regulates the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis, and therefore, the Sympathetic-Adrenal-Medullary (SAM) response to anxiety or stress (Yoga practice: Pranayama, Pratipaksha bhavna).
- It enhances insulin sensitivity, thyroid functioning, liver health, and is inversely associated with obesity (Yoga practice: Asana, Pranayama, Meditation).
To sum up,yoga helps in increased energy expenditure, improved metabolism, reduced pain, enhanced mindfulness, body awareness, reduced stress, better sleep, and weight loss, or a drop in body fat. These are some of the positive outcomes of following the yogic way of living.
Yoga – Opening Up Existence
We do not teach yoga for weight loss. It is not something that you simply do to reduce your overall size, or to address a headache. Yoga has a bigger and broader goal. Yes, such things will anyway happen: becoming healthier, becoming more peaceful, loving, gentle, and so on. But, these are the positive side effects of yoga, not its main target. You do not need to do yoga for weight loss. Its main target is to line another dimension within you beyond the physical, to feel alive. Things that you never thought existed, now becomes a living reality for, and within you!
Few Practical Daily Routine Lifestyle Tips:
- Do not skip a meal.
- Follow portion control.
- Space out your meals well. Avoid large gaps or frequent munching.
- Regularize meal time. Fix your breakfast, lunch, snack, and supper time. Stick with an equivalent routine.
- Switch off distractions like shutting down social media, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook; eating with awareness, and relishing the food you eat.
- Hydrate well.
- Chew your food properly, and eat slowly.
- Stop storing junk and processed foods (All sorts of ready-made food packets, where you only need to add boiling water).
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