Yoga & Weight Loss

According to Harvard Medical School, studies have found that people who practiced yoga at least 30 minutes one time per week for at least four years, gained less weight during middle adulthood. People who were overweight lost weight and overall, those who practiced yoga had lower body mass indexes compared to those who did not practice yoga. Researchers attribute this to yoga’s mindfulness training.

The goal during yoga practice is to challenge yourself physically, but not to feel overwhelmed. It is at the “edge”, the focus is on your breath while your mind is accepting the calm. Yoga helps develop inner awareness, focusing the attention on the body in the present moment. For this reason, most yoga studios do not have mirrors. This is so students can focus their awareness inward rather than outward on how they look in the pose/posture, or on other people around them.

Yoga teaches to become mindful of the present moment, paying attention to what one is experiencing without judgment. This teaching extends off the mat and into the person’s life.

Researchers have found those who practice yoga are more aware of their bodies, but are also more accepting and satisfied with their bodies and less critical of their bodies. Because of this, yoga has become an integral part in treatment of eating disorders and programs promoting positive body image and self-esteem.

So, how does yoga help with weight loss/control? Research has found that people who practice yoga are more mindful eaters. Practicing yoga makes people become more in tune with their bodies and more aware of how the body feels. They become more sensitive to hunger cues and feelings of fullness. This results in healthier food choices and eating habits.

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Kirsten Erickson, C-IAYT, YACEP, E-RYT200, RYT500, iRest® Yoga Nidra Level 1 Teacher, Yoga Wellness North