At first glance, yoga and weight loss don’t necessarily go hand in hand. To many, yoga seems like more of a cool-down, or low-key workout. Surprisingly, yoga packs some powerful physical and emotional benefits that are great for weight loss.
If you’re on a weight loss journey, don’t think barbells and sweat are the only ingredients to your success. Here’s why yoga and weight loss can coexist.
It Increases Your Strength
Yoga doesn’t just increase your flexibility. Believe it or not, practicing yoga is a great way to increase strength and muscle definition. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that Bikram yoga increases strength and flexibility in subjects.
From the outside looking in, yoga doesn’t seem quite as intense as weightlifting. However, the practice consists of numerous poses and positions that require you to use your muscles to hold up your body weight. All the while you are also doing balance work, which further engages your muscles and core. While you won’t bulk up the way you will with weights, yoga is certainly a great way to increase your strength and muscle definition.
So, what does strength have to do with weight loss? While cardio is a great form of exercise for weight loss, a workout routine combining both aerobic exercise and resistance training is ideal for overall body composition (reducing body fat while building lean muscle mass).
Yoga Can Be Fast-Paced
A big misconception many people hold is that yoga is merely for relaxation. Most people consider it a form of stretching, rather than a form of exercise.
In truth, there are various types of yoga, many of which are face-paced enough to get your heart up and even break a sweat. Power yoga and vinyasa flow are great practices if you’re looking to lose weight and keep it off. This type of yoga stems from a very traditional style of yoga that has been adapted to suit the needs of fitness lovers.
These fast-paced yoga classes are in nearly every gym, and they provide the perfect combination of strength and aerobic training. If you’re thinking of trying yoga but are skeptical of its calorie-burning power, try this fast-paced version. But don’t forget to bring a towel because trust me, you will sweat.
It Increases the Mind-Body Connection
In today’s busy world we are so often disconnected from our bodies. We forget to eat (or we eat on the go), we lack sleep, and we keep pushing when our body tells us to slow down. We’re so focused on our daily tasks that we forget to take care of the thing that allows us to manoeuvre through the world and complete our responsibilities – our bodies.
Yoga practice increases body-awareness, or conscious attention to the sensations and feelings going on inside of you. When you are more aware of and attentive to your body, you are more likely to give it the care it needs.
Weight loss isn’t just about eating less and exercising more. It’s about attending to your whole self, and that’s what yoga practice is all about.
Yoga Practice Reduces Stress
It’s well documented that stress is not a friend of weight loss. The hormonal response to stress triggers hunger and causes you to crave fatty, sugary foods, which leads to unwanted weight gain.
Unfortunately, you can’t always control the events in your life that lead to stress. What you can control, however, is how you deal with that stress. The combination of exercise, relaxation, and meditation that yoga offers makes it a great method for reducing stress.
Because of its stress-reducing potential, yoga and weight loss make a great match.
It Focuses On More Than Your Body
When losing weight, you’re in a constant battle with your body, desperately trying to change it, reshape it, and get it to look exactly the way you want it. In reality, this isn’t what weight loss should be about. Certainly, it’s ok to put the attention on your looks and strive for the body of your dreams. But, it isn’t everything.
Rather than focusing solely on looks, yoga switches the focus to your inner being. How you feel, how you treat and care for yourself, how you treat others. In the end, taking that extra pressure off makes the practice more sustainable and enjoyable, which can lead to long-term weight loss results.
Yoga and Weight Loss: In Conclusion
Yoga is a powerful tool that can aid in weight loss, stress reduction, and a better mind-body connection. Next time you’re planning a workout, roll out your mat and give yoga a try.