The Benefits of Yoga for Weight Loss: A Holistic Approach to Fitness

There’s an obesity epidemic sweeping the world. Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over one billion people worldwide are classified as obese. This leads individuals to seek different weight loss methods, from exercise to dieting.

Yoga is a method that has gained immense popularity in recent years due to its numerous physical and mental benefits, but it is not traditionally associated with weight loss. However, yoga can be highly effective for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Unlike intense workouts and crash diets, yoga takes a holistic approach to weight loss by addressing the mind-body connection.

If you’re interested in yoga and keen to see how it can fit your weight loss regime, then you’re in the right place.

Increased Metabolism

One of the significant benefits of practicing yoga regularly is its ability to boost the metabolism. Yoga postures, such as sun salutations, dynamic flows, and inversions, help stimulate the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism. By improving the efficiency of the thyroid gland, yoga helps maintain a healthy metabolic rate, aiding in your weight loss journey. Once your metabolism is better, your body can more effectively burn fat while at rest. This is one of the most important factors behind sustainable weight loss and management. 

Contrary to popular belief, yoga can also be an effective calorie-burning activity. As shared in a post by Jacob Maslow, regardless of whether you choose between Bikram and Hatha yoga, you can burn up to 460 calories per session. Despite yoga being perceived as a more low-impact activity, this proves that it challenges your body in such a way that it burns calories significantly. To illustrate this point further, the calories burned in an hour of moderate yoga are comparable to 90 minutes of cycling. Dynamic forms of yoga, such as power yoga or Vinyasa flow, involve continuous movement – that elevates the heart rate and increases calorie expenditure. Also, certain intense poses, such as the crow pose, engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, leading to excess fat burning and, in turn, weight loss. You can burn roughly 600 calories during a one-hour session in these more advanced practices. 

Mindful Eating

Yoga places a considerable emphasis on mindfulness, which can extend to how we eat. Regular practice can help develop mindful eating habits by promoting awareness of hunger and satiety cues, forcing us to make healthier food choices. These choices will go hand-in-hand with balanced weight loss programs, enabling a bespoke diet approach. Adopting this appreciation for balance and awareness is especially beneficial if you’re on a medical weight loss journey. While many tend to fixate on the obesity drug they’re prescribed, their long-term success lies in a well-rounded plan. After all, no matter how you compare medications like Saxenda vs Wegovy, they are both GLP-1 agonists. This means they both regulate feelings of hunger and satiation. To maximize these effects, you need to pay more attention to how you perceive eating. Mindfulness, promoted by doing yoga, can, therefore, reduce emotional eating and cravings that may negate the effects of said medication. 

A healthy digestive system plays a vital role in weight management. That’s another area yoga can help with – postures, twists, and forward bends massage the digestive organs, stimulating their functionality and improving nutrient absorption. Poses such as boat pose can, therefore, aid in alleviating digestive issues, such as bloating and constipation. By improving digestion, yoga ensures optimal nutrient utilization and facilitates weight loss.

Stress Reduction

Stress and weight gain often go hand in hand, as detailed in studies from Medical News Today. If stressed, you’re more likely to reach for comfort foods, often high in sugar or saturated fats – an emotional trigger response. Yoga combats stress by incorporating deep breathing exercises, meditation, and relaxation techniques. By activating the body’s relaxation response, yoga helps lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone associated with weight gain, particularly around the abdominal area. As stress reduces, you’re less likely to find yourself trapped in a circle of comfort eating, promoting healthier eating habits and supporting overall weight loss efforts.

Yoga promotes emotional well-being and helps manage stress and anxiety. While emotional eating is a common obstacle in weight loss journeys, it is something that yoga can help to alleviate. Yoga reduces the likelihood of turning to food for comfort by fostering emotional balance. A balanced emotional state contributes to sustained motivation and adherence to healthy lifestyle choices, further supporting long-term weight loss success.

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