When trying to shed lots of pounds, you normally do so by going to the gym and/or do cardio or weightlifting exercises in order to burn calories and build muscle, and yoga may be the last thing in your mind in your efforts to lose weight, being understandably seen as a less intense and more meditative practice.
Devout yogis usually do not talk about weight loss as a driving force of yoga. When it was first introduced in America by Indian monks and gurus in the late 19th century, their intent was to teach people how to achieve both a strong mind and inner peace. Still, that does not mean that yoga will not benefit those who want to tone their bodies.
Consistent yoga practice does help you shed some of your weight. In fact, when it comes to weight loss, Yang Yoga styles such as Hatha/Vinyasa, Kundalini and Power Yoga are popular for their more dynamic and physically vigorous flows. They not only challenge your heart rate, but also improve your strength, balance, coordination and flexibility, leaving you sweating on your mat. In some studios, weights and more HIIT-style methods are incorporated into their yoga classes.
However, international yoga instructor Adriene Mishler said that a yoga class’ intensity does not necessarily bring results, adding that “daily or regular yoga is more beneficial than hitting a hard power yoga every once and a while.”
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“Through consistent practice, you start to connect the dots between mind and body as well as how the practice effects your life off the mat. A daily practice also yields physical results as the body increases mobility and builds strength,” Mishler said.
It is good to know that doing yoga do not burn the unwanted pounds on your body by itself. Nevertheless, it has non-weight-loss-related health benefits that have positive effects on your weight:
Mishler said that one of the greatest benefits of yoga is that you become more mindful. Studies have shown that mindfulness results not only in reduced stress, but also lessened likelihood to reach for comfort food and binge eating. “As we get more in the habit of listening to our breath and our bodies, we gain more control over what is happening in the mind,” Mishler explained. “We become less reactive and more present.”
Also watch: 5 Minute Yoga for Core Flow (Video by Well+Good)
Improves Your Sleep
Research suggests that weight loss efforts can be affected by poor sleep. It is truer than it sounds: When you are tired, you may be too exhausted to even think about doing even a light workout, instead giving in to unhealthy cravings that may affect your metabolism. Exercise in general can improve sleep, so it is best for you to do a few yoga poses before bedtime in order to tire yourself out and go to sleep faster.
Helps Your Digestion And Metabolism
An increase in our stress and anxiety levels are a result of shallow breathing, an expected result in today’s rushed world. When we do shallow breathing, it also forces our adrenal glands to release more cortisol, high levels of which can lead to increased blood sugar levels, weight gain and digestive issues.
One way to reduce stress and decrease your body’s cortisol levels is by practicing deep breathing. Also, certain breathing techniques are even suggested by some research to improve metabolism. In fact, one study revealed that the majority of our weight loss occurs as a result of breathing.
We may not notice it, but the carbon dioxide we exhale from our bodies comes with broken down triglycerides or fat. In relation to this, a group of scientists found in 2018 that certain breathing techniques could potentially increase metabolism, although more studies are needed to know how breathing can affect weight loss.