Whilst you might think about hard-core exercising at the gym on the treadmill or doing weight training as an essential element for your weight loss program, there are other activities which can also bring you results. It might be surprising to consider yoga as one activity that can help you in weight loss, but it most certainly can. Just as yoga is the union of your breath, physical and emotional states of being, as a weight loss tool, yoga also works to reduce weight in an integrated way that connects your emotional and mental well being with building physical strength- which is a powerful combination for sustained weight loss.
Physical Yoga Poses for Weight Loss
Many of the yoga poses help to strengthen your muscles which can lead to toned arms, legs, back and belly. In fact there are certain asanas that are very targeted in the muscles which they build. Downward dog is one of the best shoulder and back strengthening poses in yoga. Boat pose strengthens the core muscles. The standing poses help to tone and strengthen your legs and arms. Holding the various asana and moving your body through flows can also aid in speeding up your metabolism by stimulating the endocrine glands that regulate the metabolic rate. A faster metabolism helps with calorie burning, which as we know is key for successful weight loss.
Focus on Breath
The breathing techniques that accompany all forms of yoga can also contribute towards weight loss by helping to heat your body and giving it the ability to boost the way your body eliminate toxins through the lymphatic system and organs. This in turn helps to release toxins which can also cause excess weight gain when not eliminated effectively.
Tuning Into Your Body
Practicing the yoga poses regularly also helps you to tune more into your body and boost the weight loss process. By being switched into what is happening to you physically, you are better able to recognize the signals your body sends you for recognizing hunger and fullness, and to also notice how different foods make you feel in your body after eating them. You may discover that certain foods work for your weight loss positively, while others don’t. You can then know which foods to avoid that can cause bloat and other negative reactions. Tuning into your body can also help you to make healthier choices which can mean eating less calorie laden processed and junk foods which inevitably can lead to derailing of your weight loss program.
Role of Mental Power in Weight Loss
Yoga can also help you to slow you down mentally so you can learn to distinguish between the urge to eat and the emotional impulses that sometimes drive us to eat to for emotional reasons. Instead of eating out of boredom or stress, yoga can help you to eat in a more mindful way so you can notice when you are satisfied and what your triggers are for eating food that is not nourishing. Additionally yoga can help with stress management which can also lead to weight loss. By restoring the mind, body and spirit in a yoga class, the body’s parasympathetic nervous system is better regulated, the part of your body which regulates breathing, digestion and hormones.The reduction in cortisol levels through activating the parasympathetic nervous system means your body takes a much needed break and your hormones re-balance, injuries begin repairing, and digestion proceeds normally — all of which can aid weight loss process.
Emotional Strength for Weight Loss
Finally, on an even deeper level, yoga can also help to deal with your emotional well-being. Many people who are overweight are that way due to eating in response to emotional problems. Yet through the connection of mind and spirit that yoga embraces, you can become better at managing stress, anxiety and other emotional eating triggers- which in effect can also lead to weight loss long term. It is having a balanced mental and emotional state that steady, safe and long term weight loss, as well as health overall, is able to be accomplished.
Many of the health benefits of doing yoga bring more long-term results when it comes to weight loss (don’t expect yoga to provide a quick-fix!). But more importantly than that, yoga teaches awareness of the self, so that you will make healthier choices, which is what’s important for long-term change.