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Does Yoga Help To Lose Weight?

Yoga is often seen as a form of physical exercise that helps stretch and strengthen the body…


Although this is certainly true, yoga in itself is much more than that. Beyond the physical component, yoga has also a mental and a spiritual component. Does yoga help to lose weight?

Yoga as Physical Exercise

As a form of physical exercise, the practice of yoga can help burn calories, which can lead to weight loss. The amount of calories burnt will depend on what type of yoga is practiced. Certain types of more powerful and vigorous yoga practices such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa or Power Yoga, will burn more calories than more static types of yoga like Iyengar or Anusara Yoga.

The more vigorous types of yoga will help burn more calories because they are based on the combination of breath with movement, creating a dynamic flow through several postures, which results in more active movement. This will lead to an increased heart rate and also to a higher body temperature, which can be very similar to a workout in the gym. In contrast, a more static yoga practice usually consists of staying in postures for longer periods of time, without much movement in between, and therefore does not provide the same cardiovascular exercise. Certain postures involving a twist of the upper body or a forward bend are also known to facilitate and stimulate the digestive system and this will also contribute to weight loss by helping the body get rid of unwanted toxins and fat.

Yoga, mindfulness and weight loss

However, the mental and spiritual components of yoga are the ones that, in addition to the physical component, can really help with weight loss. This happens through the deep and meaningful mind-body connection that is created, which in turn can lead to a better relationship with the body and better food choices.

The continued practice of yoga can contribute to the development of a strong sense of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to observe what is happening in the present moment without any judgment or criticism. In both more vigorous or more static types of yoga, the raised awareness of the breathing and the different parts of the body required to accomplish the postures can lead to a deep mind-body connection. With time, this connection will lead to a transformation in the way the body is seen and perceived. This higher consciousness of the body will lead to better choices regarding overall health, including better food choices. Better food choices like for example, the consumption of more fruits and vegetables and of less high-fat foods, will in turn lead to weight loss. Another advantage of developing mindfulness trough the practice of yoga is that it can help with stress and anxiety management, which in turn can also help towards weight loss.

Yoga as a whole system has indeed be proven to help in weight loss programs, although in a different way of the one usually considered. It is not only about burning calories (although this is also important), but mostly about the development of a greater awareness of what one should or should not eat to feel good in their own body.

Source: AWAKEN


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