Gaining weight can be a combination of several factors, such as increased stress, heredity, and even medical issues. Or, it could be simple lifestyle change leading to more calories consumed and fewer burned, resulting in increased fat tissue. Perhaps an increased workload, change in schedule, or an unfortunate injury has made it more difficult to work out regularly. Increased stress is another common factor which can lead to a change in diet, often with the outcome of excessive calorie consumption which usually consists of sugars, fats and carbs, known as “empty calories.”
The list of scenarios could go on and on, but the result is the same—reduced activity level (burning fewer calories), increased eating (consuming more calories), or both. With that said, maintaining a healthy body weight is not completely about “calories in, calories out.” It is also about your mindset, your consciousness. This is where the benefits of yoga come in.
Yoga can be a helpful tool for maintaining a healthy lifestyle amidst the stressors of life and normal body weight, and even lose a few pounds. Don’t just dust your yoga DVD off the shelf and press start, though. Take a few minutes here to read and understand how yoga can help.
Yoga is a unique practice because it opens us up to the uniqueness of our own body, without distractions from outside factors. Your body is performing the pose, and unlike anyone else. Everyone performs each pose somewhat differently, depending on their individual body structure, fitness level and comfort level. Yoga is particularly helpful in becoming more aware of your body’s individual needs and limits.
Yoga may be a terrific addition for anyone struggling with thyroid issues. Some of the positions found within the practice of yoga can help stimulate glands which have become slow and sluggish by increasing their hormone secretion. One gland in particular is the thyroid gland which has a significant impact on weight due to its effect on our metabolism. Positions (or asanas) like the fish posture and shoulder stand are specifically geared toward the thyroid gland.
Other positions found within the practice can help increase the rate at which your body converts muscle to energy, or another way of putting it, the body’s metabolism of fat. This means that you will not only have improved muscle tone and energy levels, but also increased fat burn. Some of these positions are rowing the boat, the spinal twist and churning the mill.
The practice of yoga can also help reduce a person’s anxiety level, especially with regular yoga sessions, which can help reduce what many refer to as “stress eating.” A common reaction to stress or a feeling of nervousness is eating far more than our body needs. We tend to overeat, mindlessly, many times leading to binge eating. Yoga can help provide a calm approach to the various areas of our life, including food. We can learn to slow down and put our anxieties aside, to help us gain far more satisfaction from our meal and avoid overeating. Yoga can help us learn to slow down, which is quite a challenge in our fast-pace culture today.
If you have ever tried yoga, even one session, you will quickly see that deep breathing plays a vital role in the practice. The deep breathing of yoga helps to increase the oxygen intake to our body’s cells. This includes our fat cells, which results in an oxidation (or burning up) of those fat cells. This is especially true of yoga that is more continuous in its flow from position to position since it will heat up your body more and, therefore, burn more calories.
Before we end, keep in mind that yoga is not a replacement for your other cardio workouts. Yes, you will burn calories. Yes, it will help improve your muscle tone. However, it should be an enhancement to your workout. Yoga, by itself, is never going to burn enough calories to give you the calorie deficient necessary for weight loss. Be sure you are also enjoying other physical activities also, like walking, running or swimming, while also enjoying the terrific benefits of yoga.