Can Yoga Help You Lose Weight?

As a long time practitioner of Yoga, I’ve always been telling my friends of its wonderful benefits and how it has significantly helped me become a better version of my old self. I used to have a very hard time sleeping (stress, insomnia) but that changed as early as the first time I attended a yoga class. And as a bonus, my muscles have become toned as well.

But one question I keep getting asked is – does yoga help in losing weight?

And I always tell them – yes, absolutely. You’ll lose weight from burning calories on your yoga mat, but that’s not all!

If done correctly, yoga becomes a lifestyle change. That means it will encourage you to increase physical activity while at the same time reduce emotional eating. It can also help you manage stress, which is crucial if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight.

In a review published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine in 2013, researchers analyzed dozens of studies that focused on the effects of yoga on losing weight. They found that yoga is tied to weight loss because of the presence of factors such as energy expenditure during yoga sessions, mindfulness, mood improvement, stress reduction and encouraging more exercise by reducing joint and back pain.

In a 2016 special issue of Yoga in Prevention and Therapy, one study analyzed data collected from 20 adults who claimed they lost weight by doing yoga. They highlighted factors that helped them achieve weight loss:

  • A shift to healthier eating
  • Physical changes
  • Psychological changes

In any case, if you want to know how yoga can help you lose or maintain weight, here’s some information for you:

1. Mindful Eating

It’s more than just strengthening your muscles on your yoga mat. When holding a posture for 10 – 30 seconds at a time, you get to know how your body feels. You’ll be asked by your teacher to monitor your breath and pay close attention to what your body and mind are telling you. This is, in a way, practicing mindfulness.

Such practice on the mat also helps you to practice mindful eating habits. It will help you recognize hunger cues and avoid binge eating. It is these behaviors that are crucial in enabling you to stick with a diet eating plan — or at the very least, encourage you in making healthier choices when it comes to what to eat.

2. Managing Stress

It’s long been proven that stress can lead to weight gain, particularly chronic stress. Fortunately, yoga helps prevent this.

Meditation and breathwork are key elements in any yoga practice and both of these contribute to improving mood, boosting energy and lowering stress levels.

Stress makes weight loss challenging to say the least, because it can cause an increased levels of cortisol which leads to stress-eating and sleeping issues. Deep breathing helps reverse some of the negative effects of stress, and even prevent it entirely.

There are physiological changes that take place in one’s body during and after breathing exercises. In a review published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology which analyzed data from 42 studies, it was found that yoga was associated with lower levels of waking cortisol, evening cortisol and even cholesterol.

3. Building Muscle

Oftentimes when we think of strengthening muscles, we always think of heavy weights in the weights room. But you can actually strengthen your muscles doing yoga.

Think of doing a plank pose. You’re using various muscle groups in your core, shoulders, and legs. This muscle building pose can already burn calories, and the longer you stay in the pose, the more you burn.

Losing weight doesn’t have to be difficult. With constant yoga practice, not only will you have a better physique, but also a better well-being. If you are interested in joining a yoga class, there are gyms like Anytime Fitness that offer them to members.

Category: Featured