This week I ran a private class for one of my regular students who has a five-month-old baby and is due to get married in six weeks. She’s in great shape, but just wants to feel really comfortable in her wedding dress. When I mentioned this to a friend, she was surprised that yoga would be good for losing weight and sculpting the body, and it got me wondering why people often dismiss yoga as a weight loss tool.
We all know yoga is great for relaxing, but one of the other byproducts can be weight loss.
Sure, you might not be pounding the pavement and dripping with sweat (unless you are doing Hot Yoga), but you are giving your body an all-over workout while at the same time reconditioning your mind – to be healthier and calmer.
Yoga isn’t just about squeezing our bodies into strange shapes, it is also about conditioning our minds.
Two of the main philosophies are self-acceptance and self-love. We learn to respect our body for what it can do for us, not necessarily what it looks like.
And as we become kinder to ourselves, it is easier to nurture our bodies with the right foods and drinks. We also stop obsessing and become more relaxed about counting calories – which brings about a healthier attitude to food.
Most sports are competitive – and so we end up pitching ourselves against others or ourselves; getting caught up and stressing about calories and kilos.
Yoga is non-competitive – and so we can begin to let go of unrealistic expectations and unfavourable comparisons.
And just because we’re not turning crimson or covering vast distances, yoga can still be pretty damn challenging.
The static holds with many of the postures help to improve muscle strength, increase cardiovascular fitness and boost circulation.
And by using the breath with the movements – especially the full yogic breath – we can massage the internal organs of the body and kick-start a sluggish digestion.
Other postures and practices help to regulate the endocrine system and balance hormones such as cortisol. This is the hormone that has us reaching for the cookie jar, which over time (and left unchecked) creates those unwanted pounds across our midrift.
By calming our mind and nurturing our nervous system we can ease the levels of cortisol and help to boost feel-good hormones such as serotonin.
And there’s lots of evidence to support this – researchers from the Hampton University in Virginia ran a study combining yoga and breathing exercises and discovered it helped teenagers lose weight.
According to the Yoga Health Foundation sixty overweight teens were divided into two groups. The first group practised 40 minutes of yoga and pranayama (breathing exercises) four times a week for 12 weeks, while the second group just did their normal activities.
At the end of the 12 weeks, the average body mass index (BMI) in the yoga / pranayama group went down from 22.8 to 21.5 (a 5.7 percent decrease), while the average BMI in the control group increased from 22.3 to 22.4.
The researchers believe these results could be due to the breathing exercises and yoga and also a possible reduction in the amount of daily calories consumed due to the decreased stomach size.
So next time you think about starting that new diet – maybe book in for a yoga class instead and think about getting your body – and mind back into shape 🙂
Best of all you can practice yoga in the comfort of your own home – check out the Ten Minute Tone DVD and exercise program to get you started
· Of course always check with your doctor or healthcare professional before starting an exercise regime
Have you lost weight with yoga? I’d love to hear your story, please comment below…
AND… if you want to stay healthy and inspired, please check out this wonderful new blog the unstoppables, by Beverley Hadgraft, one of Australia’s best health journalists.