Yoga has various health advantages, including muscular building, better sleep, and stress reduction. Does it also aid with weight loss?
Yoga can aid in weight loss in a number of different ways, according to Judi Bar, the manager of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative Medicine’s yoga program and a certified member of both the International Association of Yoga Therapists and the Yoga Alliance. It’s not just about burning calories while practicing yoga.
According to her, yoga can help people modify their lifestyles and become more active while also reducing emotional eating. Additionally, it can aid in stress management, which, according to her, aids in maintaining weight.
Bar claims that with the clients she deals with, yoga has aided in weight loss. Her study supports this as well.
Bar and her team evaluated hundreds of studies examining the effects of yoga on weight loss for a review that was coauthored by Bar and appeared in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine in July 2013.
The information demonstrated that yoga is associated with weight loss and weight maintenance due to a number of factors, including: energy expenditure during yoga sessions, encouraging more exercise by reducing back and joint pain, heightening mindfulness, enhancing mood and reducing stress, and by assisting yogis in feeling more connected to their bodies, their satiety, and eating habits.
According to Bar and others, there are three basic ways that yoga may aid in weight loss or maintenance:
1. Yoga Can Help You Eat Mindfully
According to Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, PhD, head of research at Yoga Alliance and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, you’re strengthening more than just your muscles when you practice yoga.
According to Dr. Khalsa, when you hold a position for a long time, you get more in tune with how your body feels. As a technique of teaching and practicing mindfulness, your teacher can encourage you to keep an eye on your breathing and pay attention to what your body and mind are telling you.
Additionally, meditating with awareness while doing yoga might be beneficial for developing mindful eating habits. Recognizing hunger signals and preventing binge eating constitute mindful eating. According to Khalsa, with practice and patience, you may even learn which foods provide you energy and fuel and which ones have more detrimental consequences (like making you feel bloated or tired). And all of these actions can assist you in sticking to a diet or weight loss eating plan as well as in choosing healthier foods in general.
Khalsa cites research that revealed yoga has been connected to changes in eating behavior, notably reducing dietary fat and increasing fresh vegetables, whole grains, and soy-based products. The review was published in July 2015 in the International Journal of Yoga.
Survey information from 159 women who either frequently did yoga or cardio-based exercise was examined in a study published in 2015 in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. Comparing the yogis to the cardio-based exercisers, the yogis had a much lower likelihood of having disordered eating habits.
Khalsa claims that this is where yoga truly excels. It involves more than just the physical exercise you engage in. It involves paying attention to your body’s cues.
2. Yoga Can Help You Manage Stress
Stress, especially unmanaged, chronic stress, can cause weight gain in a variety of ways. Yoga helps lessen levels of ongoing stress.
The foundations of yoga practice include breathing exercises and meditation. According to Sundar Balasubramanian, PhD, assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, whose research focuses on how yogic breathing can promote wellbeing in people with chronic and other disease, both techniques help to increase energy, improve mood, and lower stress levels. (Dr. Balasubramanian is the founder of the PranaScience Institute and a yoga therapist who has earned certification from the International Association of Yoga Therapists.)
According to Balasubramanian, stress can make losing weight particularly challenging because it raises cortisol levels, leads to stress eating, and interferes with sleep. Deep breathing aids in reversing the negative effects of stress and some of these side effects that might make weight loss more challenging (or contribute to weight gain).
According to Balasubramanian, the body undergoes physiological changes in response to breathing exercises. Studies have demonstrated that practicing mindfulness lowers the level of cortisol in our body.
Yoga may be linked to reduced levels of evening cortisol, awakening cortisol, resting heart rate, and cholesterol, according to a review that looked at data from 42 research and was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology in December 2017.
3. Yoga Helps Build Muscle
Another way yoga aids in weight loss and weight maintain is through increasing muscular mass.
“We typically believe that in order to strengthen our muscles, we must work out in the weight room. In yoga, we provide the resistance by using our own body weight. According to Carol Krucoff, a yoga therapist at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, and an instructor certified by the International Association of Yoga Therapists and Yoga Alliance, “Your whole body is striving to keep you in balance so everything gets a workout.”
Imagine keeping your body stationary in the plank position. She claims that in order to support your body, you are utilizing the muscles in your shoulders, core, hips, and legs. You might transition into a Downward-Facing Dog pose after releasing from a plank to engage your forearms, shoulders, and back again. According to Krucoff, this muscle-building burns calories.
According to a review that looked at 30 trials with more than 2,000 participants and was published in the journal Preventive Medicine in June 2016, yoga can lower body mass index (BMI) in overweight or obese people as well as the waist-hip ratio in healthy adults.
Even slower, restorative yoga lessons, according to other research, reduced fasting glucose levels in obese or overweight individuals, indicating improved metabolic health.