Trending fad diets, skipping meals, giving up on foods you love…sound familiar? Doing all of this to lose that excess belly fat or bulging love handles? Let us tell you a secret – you don’t have to do ANY of this! A common, popular myth is that yoga doesn’t help you lose weight.
But the truth is, yoga is one of the healthiest ways to lose weight.
It is a sustained way to burn those extra calories, build muscle tone and strength, and improve metabolism. What we often don’t realize is building a practice of mindful eating is a very large part of controlling or losing weight. And, what better way to build mindfulness than through the practice of yoga?
What studies say about yoga and weight loss
A review of studies from 2013 found that yoga is a promising way to help with behavioral change, weight loss, and maintenance by burning calories, heightening mindfulness, and reducing stress. These factors may help you to reduce food intake and become aware of the effects of overeating.
Another study found that yoga may offer diverse psychological, physical, and social effects that may make it a useful tool for healthy, sustained weight loss. The yoga practitioners reported less stress eating, reduced appetite, fewer cravings, and a shift toward healthier, more mindful eating. Yoga led to physical and psychological changes that supported weight loss including increased muscle tone, improved metabolism, reduced stress, as well as increased awareness, improved mood, and greater self-acceptance and self-esteem.
How does Yoga Boost Metabolism?
Metabolism, as we know it, is the process that converts what we eat into energy. Every person has a different metabolic rate that is determined by several factors like age, lifestyle, physical activity, etc. Physical activity is a key factor here. When we move and sweat, our endocrine system gets kicking, burning calories faster. The main systems involved in this process are our digestive and endocrine, and almost every yoga practice stimulates and regulates the organs in these systems.
Asanas that involve twists and bends improve circulation, remove toxins and ensure good gut health. This strengthens the endocrine organs, boosting the metabolic process. Pranayama and meditation practices elevate oxygen levels, which also speeds up metabolism. Yoga doesn’t strain or stress your body, but helps you deal with stress, improving overall functioning.
Muscle strength you didn’t know you had!
Practicing yoga under the guidance of a teacher helps you stretch, stimulate and strengthen muscles you probably didn’t know you even had! Muscle toning and building endurance happens with holding a posture for a longer duration or repeating a movement multiple times. How does this work? With yoga asanas, we ease our bodies into a certain position, and we hold that posture by engaging our muscles. So the longer we hold, the stronger the muscles become. This also improves your balance and coordination.
While you can’t turn fat into muscle, but have to first burn the fat and then build muscle, a sustained way to do this is through equal importance to your diet and fitness routine.
How does Ayurveda help you lose weight?
Every body type is different. According to Ayurveda, known as the Science of Life, we are made of 3 gunas or qualities. They are Tamas, Rajas and Sattva.
They have a deep and significant role in determining our personality, mood, metabolism, body structure, perspective on situations and events, and much more. Let’s understand this from a food and diet perspective here.
Tamasic food comprises non-vegetarian, white flour, old or previous day food, canned or food containing preservatives, excessive starch, sweet or fried food, freezing cold milk, curd or cheese, hard liquor like whisky, etc.
These types of food usually make us dull or lethargic in the body and mind, bring about confusion, indecisiveness, disorientation, frustration or anger. A person who has more Tamas tends to be lazy, laid back and non-committal. In such cases, metabolism is slow, exercise or activity is less leading to more fat and calories.
Rajasic food also includes non-vegetarian food, but is excessively spicy and salty. Pungent vegetables, sweet, flavoured food, canned or food containing preservatives, wine, soda, coffee, fried or roasted food, chillies, garlic, onions, pickles, vinegar and chocolates are a few examples of this category.
A Rajas personality increases hyperactiveness, restlessness, sleeplessness, irritability and mood swings. In such a case, as well, metabolism is poor or irregular, commitment to exercise is dependent on mood and cravings for certain foods are high, making consumption mindless and unhealthy.
Yoga recommends a Sattvic diet, which simply means fresh, wholesome food that is light and easy to digest. Sattvic food is not extreme in salt, sweet, or spice. Consumption is in moderate quantities and it is also recommended not to fill your stomach to the brim.
Sattvic food includes grains such as rice, wheat, oats and lentils, fresh green leafy vegetables that are steamed or boiled, fresh fruits and juices, roasted nuts and seeds, buttermilk, clarified butter (ghee), fresh milk, coconut oil or olive oil, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon. Consuming jaggery, honey or brown sugar instead of white sugar is also Sattvic.
A Sattva personality is calm and collected. It purifies the body and mind, improves mental energy, restores balance and regulates metabolism. Such a personality is also mindful of what they consume and quantity. Following a Sattvic diet on a regular basis can help in the formation and rebuilding of high-quality body tissues. This also creates more space within us, making us stronger and more flexible.
Types of Yoga for Weight Loss
Popular types include Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Surya Namaskar. Dynamic, fast-paced yoga sequences, irrespective of your level, are also great to get your body moving. However, a yoga practice can be modified to intense and deeper variations that are specifically meant for weight loss. Ultimately it is about doing what you can, enjoying and challenging yourself as you progress and grow in your path.
Looking for a taste of what it’s all about? Try this curated workshop for Weight Loss. Observe and feel the difference within just a few days.
Weight loss as a goal tends to stress us out if we are not seeing the results we want. Sometimes, we also tend to run after the idea or notion of being thin and having that perfect body. But weight loss starts from within, like many other things. When you feel good, your skin glows, you smile more, there’s a twinkle in your eyes, you’re happy. Accept and love yourself for who you are. We’ll take care of the rest for you!
Our yoga programs are designed to work on every muscle of the body, as well as bring inner peace, hormonal balance and mindfulness, helping you achieve your goals. You’ll also learn more about the right diet for your body type, mindful eating and even get a personalized diet plan!