Yes, You Can Lose Weight Doing Yoga
It's not all meditation and chants, yoga can be a great way to tone up and slim down
Contrary to popular belief, yoga can be a great way to lose those extra pounds. From toning your buns to improving your outlook on life, yoga provides you with a sustainable and holistic approach to looking and feeling your best.
If we break it down, there are two key reasons for why yoga is a catalyst to your weight loss efforts:
Defined as "a mental state achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment", mindfulness is one of the key components of yoga. By becoming completely present in the practice, all thoughts of the past and future are muted, leaving only the awareness of bodily sensations and feelings. With enough practice, this transpires off of your mat and into everyday life, especially your eating habits.
Ever notice that you tend to eat junk food or binge when you are stressed out?
This is because stress sends your body into survival mode, signalling that you are in danger and must store energy in order to overcome a life-threatening situation. In the moment, this means unbearable cravings and episodes of destructive eating patterns like binging.
When this stress persists over a long period of time, your body goes further into storage mode by intentionally slowing your metabolism and increasing appetite. You start to lose sleep, which only messes up your appetite-regulating hormones (ghrelin and leptin) causing your appetite to soar even more.
The end result: weight gain, crazy difficulty losing weight and self-criticism. The worst.
However, the practice of mindfulness takes stress of out the equation when eating. All mental thought goes towards simply enjoying and appreciating the delicious food. As a result, your body switches to rest and digest mode (i.e. parasympathetic mode), causing a faster onset of satiety and a much easier road to weight loss.
2. Builds muscle
Holding yoga poses takes a fair share of muscular strength and endurance. This is great news considering that the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn on a daily basis. Thus, yoga classes that incorporate strenuous conditioning components are perfect when trying to lose a few inches. Lets take a look at some recommendations:
1. Power or Fusion Yoga
Americanized versions of traditional yoga techniques, power and fusion yoga combine meditative breathing with high intensity interval exercise (i.e. short bursts of intense exercise with rest in between). These forms of yoga are effective for weight loss because they take the body out of energy-efficient “cruise control” (that we see in steady cardio based exercise) and into energy burning acceleration.
If you are seeking a more personalized yoga experience, look for a yoga-trained personal trainer, download a podcast, or buy a DVD that interests you. If you are ready to try a group setting, check out the studios near your home to see if they offer fusion or power yoga classes.
2. Simply add some weights
Whatever your favorite type of yoga—vinyasa, ashtanga, bikram, hatha, etc.—adding wrist and ankle weights into your practice is a great way to increase intensity, build muscle and burn fat. Ensure that the weights wrap around your wrist and ankles to free up your hands and avoid interfering with the poses.
But what the heck do I eat?
To enhance the weight loss process, lets take a look on what to eat before and after a yoga class:
Focus on avoiding sugar so that you put your body into more of a fat burning state throughout your practice. If possible (depending on your ability to regulate your blood sugar level), try to avoid food altogether. If not, aim for low sugar foods such as an apple, tablespoon of coconut oil, or full fat (sugar free) yogurt. In either case, stimulants such as coffee, caffeinated tea, ginseng or vitamin B supplements can give you an energy burst and enhance the rate of burning fat.
This is your time to have fun and reward yourself for all your hard work. With the amount of food that you can hold in two hands, prepare yourself a well-balanced meal that incorporates as many natural colours as possible.
And remember the most important part—be mindful while you eat!