People do yoga for a variety of reasons: some practice for mental health, some to increase flexibility, some to learn how to meditate, others for self-reflection. All in all, people do yoga to support themselves in their path towards a healthy lifestyle, whatever that specific path may be. One of these paths may be the goal to shed a few pounds. So today, I want to talk a little bit about yoga and weight loss.
The best thing that yoga teaches, and that helps to promote weight-loss, is improving mindfulness. When you are mindful of yourself and your body, you are more in tune to what that body needs. Instead of mindlessly snacking all day, people who practice yoga regularly are more likely to focus fully on individual meals, which can lead to a lower caloric intake. Think about it: when’s the last time you ate lunch and actually took the time to experience each bite? It may sound a bit ridiculous, but try it at lunch tomorrow, and see if you leave food on your plate.
The culture of yoga promotes a more “organic” lifestyle – so whether it’s your stomach or the social cues of those around you, you may find yourself less likely to crave heavy, fatty foods post-practice. It may be my muscles and joints, or it may be the expectation and opportunity of yoga culture to rise to the age-old leaning towards “green” and “fresh” foods, but I, for one, never find myself dreaming about burgers after a practice. I want to reward my body for the hour it put into releasing the day and building up muscle, and that means healthy snacks (if you’d like some wonderful, healthy, yoga-friendly recipes, check out this blog).
Speaking of building muscle, we all know by now that more muscle leads to faster weight loss. This is simply due to the fact that muscle tissue uses up more energy than fatty tissue. This means that a pound of muscle is burning more calories each day than a pound of fat. Although yoga is certainly much more gentle than pumping iron, consider for a moment how much you are using your own body weight in each pose. Downward-Facing Dog? Your back, core, arm, and leg muscles are engaged. Boat Pose? Your abs are holding up your entire body. Chair Pose? You know your legs will be sore tomorrow.
So have faith in the process, if weight loss is your goal. It will happen, slowly but surely, and you will come out feeling stronger, longer, and more at ease in your mind. But please, while you’re on this journey, don’t forget that YOU ARE WONDERFUL, and treating your body well will reward you in ways even more satisfying than fitting into a smaller pants size.