Lose weight with yoga sessions
By Tracy Dye
The secret to weight loss isn’t all about calorie counting and sweat. Yoga can help you shed pounds in ways that may surprise you.
Yogis and yoginis stress less
Although intense forms of yoga such as power yoga or hot vinyasa are touted for their calorie-zapping benefits, gentle forms of yoga can also make the pounds melt away.
A study published in the American Journal of Managed Care found that participants who practiced restorative yoga for six months actually lost more subcutaneous fat than participants who practiced more standard stretching exercises. The group who practiced restorative yoga was also able to maintain the fat loss after completing the study.
Restorative yoga is an extremely gentle form of yoga that uses relaxing movements and extended periods of stretching to help individuals destress. The style is focused on meditative principles and relaxation rather than caloric expenditure. So how did this gentle yoga practice help participants lose weight?
According to the study: “One explanation for the difference may be that restorative yoga reduces levels of cortisol, which rises during times of stress and is known to increase abdominal fat.”
It can curb overeating
The desire to eat can be spurred by much more than a basic biological need. Stress, yo-yo dieting and the ever-evolving portion sizes of food are just a few things that can cause you to overeat.
In a qualitative research study, 25 obese women with binge eating disorder underwent a 12-week yoga treatment program. Analysis of 20 personal journals showed that women were able to decrease their food intake. “The women also reported feeling more connected to and positive about their physical well-being.”
As a holistic modality, yoga connects the body and the mind. Through this union, individuals can exercise mindful choices, from food to managing their day to day. The study also concluded that “the program appeared to encourage a healthy reconnection to food.”
A different study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine found that those practicing yoga for four or more years led to better weight maintenance and weight loss.The study recruited 15,500 men and women aged 53 to 57 years of both normal weight and overweight.
It was noted that the yoga being practiced did not burn an extreme amount of calories as compared with other aerobic, high-intensity exercises.
“Yoga’s ability to be calm and observant during physical discomfort teaches how to maintain calm in other challenging situations, such as not eating more even when the food tastes good and not eating when you’re not hungry,” said Alan Kristal, a researcher and yoga enthusiast who worked on the study.
It builds strength
According to the Mayo Clinic, muscle can play a crucial role in weight loss due to the fact that “muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue.” Yoga involves balancing your entire body weight and using various muscle groups to support different poses.
Thus, you can expect to build lean muscle mass over time that will help you to reach your weight loss goals.
Complements other workouts
Participation in sports, running and other high-impact activities can burn a lot of calories, which encourages weight loss. However, high-impact activities can also place great stress on the joints and lead to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
DOMS can last up to 72 hours and can be severe enough to make general movement a literal pain in the neck, among other things.
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that yoga can greatly decrease the severity of muscle soreness following rigorous exercise. The study involved 24 yoga-trained and non-yoga-trained women. Those who practiced yoga regularly along with those who did one bout of yoga alongside the exercise experienced less pain.
Authors of the study concluded: “These findings have significant implications for coaches, athletes, and the exercising public who may want to implement yoga training as a preseason regimen or supplemental activity to lessen the symptoms associated with muscle soreness.”
Less recovery time means you can get back to the pavement, tennis court or gym to continue building your endurance in a variety of ways. Because yoga also encourages a greater awareness of the body, this benefit can be carried over into other fitness areas.