Yoga may not burn a lot of calories but it does contribute to weight loss with many supporting factors.
Weight loss occurs when you up your energy intake and expenditure while maintaining a healthy diet. Jogging and other aerobic activities can burn more calories than yoga but yoga can increase mindfulness which helps you manage any weight loss efforts in a gentle way.
If you look to yoga immersions (ref), people that took part will tell you how good they felt and even lost weight with no effort at all. Scientists and yogis alike are convinced that yoga is an essential part of any weight loss program, here’s why.
Yoga on the Brain
Even the subtlest changes in the body create changes in the mind. When you do that, you change your behavior.
You then reinforce changes in your mind and body. This loop can essentially change your body’s shape and size in a much easier way than a yo-yo diet ever could.
Being gentle on yourself with a regular yoga practice allows your mind to think in a more positive way.
Studies are showing that yoga alters the structure of the mind, allowing you to focus more easily. It helps you relax which is a way to combat eating stress.
Consumer Reports asked over 1,300 psychologists what strategies work to help people lose weight and keep it off. The top answer was understanding and managing emotions and emotional eating.
When yoga has been proven to improve how the mind controls reactions to stress, it explains how one might make healthier food choices which can lead to weight loss.
Being Kind to Yourself
Yoga allows you to develop a relationship with yourself that opens up your ability to practice self-compassion.
For any of you who have ever beaten yourself up for diet slip-ups, you may already understand how important true self-love is for weight loss.
When you don’t beat yourself up, you don’t feel guilt and you don’t feel compelled to overeat due to negative feelings about yourself.
Finding self-love within will promote you to make healthier choices just because. While it’s not exactly a tangible study that can be conducted, yogis know for certain that their lives changed when they regularly did yoga.
Teachers share important insights at the beginning and end of their class to promote self-love and while you’re in the zone, you really let those insights absorb into you.
Searching your soul and being kind to yourself will stop the sweet and savory cravings that may be preventing you from your weight loss goals.
At-Home Yoga Prevents Binging
A study published in the Qualitative Health Research confirms that at-home yoga reduced bingeing in 12 weeks. Yoga helps you to be present in every moment and promotes self-awareness of what you’re feeling or being triggered by. A home is a safe haven and that allows you to let down emotional barriers.
Heavy emotions can often lead to unhealthy food choices because you’re attempting to repress your painful feelings.
Yoga allows you to find another way to deal with any emotion you’re experiencing. Instead of going for the ice cream in the freezer, you have tools to gently help you through the uncomfortable feelings. Breathing in and examining feelings will allow them to leave as quickly as they came.
Yoga asks that we remain open hearted instead of using instant gratification to shut out our feelings.
Promotes Healthier Eating Choices
If you spend a lot of time around other people doing yoga, you’ll probably start to hear about their yogi recipes.
Yoga is a way of life and when you begin to dedicate yourself to the practice, you’ll experience new cravings. Instead of ice cream, your body will want a salad.
Bingeing is much less and when you do eat, you’ll naturally make healthier choices. It’s important to note that yogis indulge from time to time. Yoga helps them stay centered so a little chocolate won’t evoke insane guilt pangs. It’s okay to eat something you really love from time to time without feeling terrible about it.
Melts Belly Fat with Little Effort
One of the main problems of weight is where it tends to sit. Fat tends to collect on our stomach which is partly due by the rise of the stress hormone known as cortisol. Yoga has shown to reduce cortisol levels which make it easier to shed fat from your belly.
Research has said that women who regularly did restorative yoga which entails keeping yoga poses for a long time burned 2% more body fat that those who merely stretched.
A study published by The Journal of Alternative Medicine said that overweight men who practiced yoga along with breathing exercise lost a daily average of 4 pounds over a 10-day period.
While it’s great to burn off calories, yoga is a great addition to any weight loss program. You can stretch your muscles which supports your aerobic activity and keep a healthy frame of mind.
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She is among top 20 Yoag bloggers as reviewed by ThoroughlyReviewed. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali).