The National Health Interview survey concluded that people who took up yoga as a practice where more than 40 percent likely to start eating healthier. It shows that this type of lifestyle change and fitness regime is ideal for those seeking an effective and long-lasting weight loss solution.
While most people think of yoga as a relatively sedate, gentle form of exercise, there are more energetic varieties of yoga, with flowing, powerful movements. Such disciplines of yoga combine sequences of poses into a flowing routine. Yoga is relatively popular in America. Statista.com says that in a 2016 survey on fitness, 37 percent of 31 respondents on Facebook said they did yoga several times a week.
Power yoga is perfect for those who want to practice the discipline for fitness and/or weight loss purposes. It helps to make the necessary lifestyle changes towards health and improved fitness. This connection influences how one eats, and what one consumes on a regular, daily basis.
Here are some ways that power yoga can help with successful weight loss.
1. It Increases Mindfulness
Yoga provides an intensive core-conditioning regime. It also, however, increases conscious awareness and respect for self, and this has ramifications for both well-being and weight control, according to professionals. Beth A. Lewis, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Kinesiology in Minneapolis, confirms that most yoga practices influence weight loss. However, she emphasizes that this is not in the ‘traditional sense’ that we link physical exercise to weight loss.
She explained that typically weight loss occurred when a person’s calorie intake was less than their caloric expenditure.
Yoga might burn fewer calories than other forms of exercise such as running and walking. However, it increases mindfulness and improves a person’s relationship with their body. As such, the yogi starts to make better food choices and decisions concerning their bodies. Mindless habits, such as wolfing down all-you-can-eat plates of food are replaced with controlled, thoughtful eating, resulting in a slimmer body.
2. It Offers Continuous Activity
Jen Cassetty, an American College of Sports Medicine certified Health Fitness Specialist, based in New York City, explained that while yoga was not a high-intensity exercise, usually the standard classes for power yoga ran for 75 to 90 minutes. During this time, yoga practitioners are taken through a series of poses. Each pose is usually held for around five breaths. Power yoga, unlike softer, gentler varieties of yoga, works at a faster pace and offers an intense workout which will make the body sweat.
This continual activity means muscles are working for the full exercise period. This is achieved through a series of core work and strengthening, lengthening, and balancing poses. As with any effective weight loss program, the disciplined practitioner should engage in this activity four to five times a week to fully experience a changed body shape. Practicing the discipline regularly is key to achieving lasting results.
3. It Openly Embraces Good Nutrition
Yoga is not just about physical exercise but is a holistic practice that focuses on different facets of well-being, such as spiritual, mental, and emotional health, as well as sound nutrition. Good nutrition is important to the dedicated yoga practitioner as is evident in the glowing skin and vibrant health of many of those participating in the age-old discipline. It is an ancient spiritual science developed in India over five millennia ago and as an ancient, ‘full’, comprehensive practice, one of the lifestyle aspects it highlights is diet.
Annie B. Kay, Lead Nutritionist, Kripalu Centre for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts explains that yoga facilitates weight loss in several ways and, when combined with evidence-based nutritional guidance, can be highly effective.
As part of the training program, diet is emphasized and a healthy balance of nutrition encouraged. This quality, healthy food prepares the body for a deeper spiritual connection.
4. It Is a Long-Term Weight Loss Solution
Yoga teaches awareness of the self, which is important for a long-term change.
A 2005 study from Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre demonstrated that yoga can alleviate ‘middle-age spread’. According to this study, people between the ages of 45 to 55 years, who had been doing yoga for over ten years, experienced weight loss, compared to a 14-pound average weight gain in this period for those who didn’t do yoga.
Alan Kristal, the author of the study, said from his experience this had to do with the way that yoga made a person more aware of their body.
Yoga practitioners were on average slimmer and this ‘yoga mindset’ resulted in a lifestyle of healthy weight control. They simply ate more mindfully — and had a lower body mass index – than non-practitioners. In other words, they notice when they’re full, and avoid eating for extraneous reasons, such as stress or boredom.
5. It Changes Metabolism
One of the best ways to lose weight is to eat nutrient-rich foods and do activities that increase the metabolism of the body. Practices that increase metabolism result in a system that more effectively processes food, even when in a resting position. A person with a fast metabolism is able to more efficiently burn kilojoules, the energy components of food. Metabolism is the term used to describe the chemical reactions involved in maintaining the living state of the cells and the organism, according to Medical News.
Gaiam.com explains that certain poses or asana, are ‘killer apps’ for weight loss. Nicole Persley, a teacher at Yoga and Inner Peace in Lake Worth, Florida explains that calorie-burning and muscle-strengthening are a natural benefit of power yoga, however, yoga has more far-reaching weight loss benefits. She further explains that it speeds up metabolism by stimulating endocrine glands which regulate metabolic rate.
6. It Increases Compassion
Through yoga, a person’s focus is turned inwards and this increases compassion towards the self. Often, it is self-condemnation and loathing which causes a person to over- or under-eat and so being kind to self and referencing the body, is a step in the right direction towards weight loss. The practice of yoga turns attention inwards as a result, the practitioner observes himself with an attitude of compassion.
This form of enlightenment means that the person is more likely to be socially accepting of others. It is also a higher level of understanding.
Furthermore, as the practitioner gains skill, their physical, psychological, and emotional realities often shift. The result of this shift is that the person is more compassionate to self and less influenced by destructive, external forces which create tensions resulting in overeating and weight gain. Modern culture, with its lure of fast foods and quick fixes, loses its hold and the person becomes more anchored in an internal value system.
7. The Poses are Fat-Burning
The powerful, all-encompassing poses, or asana, of power yoga, are not just aesthetic in nature and spiritual in design. They are beneficial to the physical self and work intensively on the muscles, as well as the internal organs. Certain poses can help with trouble spots, according to Gaiam.com. Specific muscles are worked on and toned and the result is a shapely physique.
To give an example, the shoulder stand and fish pose rouse the thyroid gland, which in turn gives the metabolism a boost. Then there is the downward-facing dog, as well as the upward-facing dog, which helps with toning hips and thighs.
The spinal twist or Vajrasana massages the abdomen and internal organs, as well as helping with indigestion and metabolic functions, as does the popular cobra pose.
An amped-up, power yoga routine incorporating these beneficial poses targets specific areas and results in a leaner, more toned body shape.
8. Results in Good Alignment of the Body
Patricia Moreno, the founder of intenSati and creator of several yoga-fusion DVDs, explained regular yoga resulted in good alignment. Good alignment is always important but when people are too focused on burning calories they sometimes compromise on alignment, according to Moreno. Yoga should be incorporated into a more comprehensive fitness program. When alignment is corrected, this results in more effective training sessions in aerobics, running, walking, and other forms of exercise.
Good posture and alignment also help the body to appear slimmer. When the body and muscles are toned and aligned well, a person immediately stands taller and more confidently and appears to be in better shape. A person also exudes a stronger presence with the correct posture. Clothes also hang better on a body that is well-aligned. In fact, it has been said that the best way to appear instantly slimmer is to pull in the stomach and stand up straight.
9. Increases Spiritual Fulfilment
Since it incorporates a spiritual aspect, yoga helps a person lead a more fulfilling life. This, in turn, deals with the ‘void’ which is often found behind a person’s weight gain. Many people overeat to compensate for inner emptiness, using food to medicate and substitute for empty areas of their life. A spiritually ‘full’ person is less likely to turn to food as a means to enrich their life. Yoga has direct spiritual implications, and this, in turn, means the person is strengthened in their inner man, while they are busy being physically strengthened.
With a well-developed inner spiritual compass, a person is less likely to be dictated by the agenda of the world and seek solace in comfort food and eating. This ancient practice does a thorough inner working which shows on the outside and weight loss is a way this inner transformation is outwardly manifested.
10. It Reduces Stress
A person who has undergone a traumatic event or life stressor often compensates through eating. The same is true for modern-day living, where people eat badly, often junk food, to alleviate the stress of a busy lifestyle.
The Mayo Clinic confirms the stress-relieving benefits of yoga. It brings together physical, spiritual, and mental disciplines helping a person to achieve peacefulness of body and mind. This can help a person to relax and better manage stress and anxiety. At the same time, it’ is able to enhance a person’s mood and improve their general sense of well-being. This in turn impacts on nutrition and eating.
Yoga can also relieve chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and insomnia. This results in stress reduction. Since every person has a different body with different capabilities, it is advisable adapting the poses to suit body type and ability to optimize stress-relieving benefits.