In the weight loss industry, there are some that might turn their nose up at the thought of using yoga as a weight loss tool, claiming that it is not intensive enough to be very effective. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only is yoga an excellent way to burn calories as you practice, it also helps stimulate your metabolism, increasing the rate at which your body burns calories even whilst you are resting.
One of the biggest draw cards with using yoga to help lose weight is that the different practices, only use the resistance of your own body weight. So even though practising yoga will help increase your strength whilst toning your body, it does so in a way that isn’t promoting bulky muscle growth. This means that you can trim down without fear of bulking up.
Here are some of the key ways in which yoga can help you achieve your weight loss goals:
Yoga helps reduce stress
You may have noticed me say it before: if you want to lose weight, start by reducing your stress levels!
Stress stimulates the release of a hormone called cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. High levels of cortisol cause higher insulin levels, causing your blood sugar levels to drop. When this happens you start to crave sweet and fatty foods to help balance this out. Unfortunately, increased cortisol levels also trigger an increase in fat storage, meaning you have to work twice as hard to burn through it. So by actively reducing stress, you can not only help cut down on your food cravings, you will also reduce the number of calories your body chooses to store away (as fat) for later use.
This is where yoga comes into play. Yoga incorporates a combination of physical practices (asana) and breathing practices (pranayama), as well as focused concentration, to help reduce stress by relaxing your body and calming your mind. This works to not only reduce stress in the moment, it also helps you build a calm and grounded foundation from which you can approach stressful situations as they arise.
Yoga helps boost your metabolism
Your basal metabolic rate, or the rate at which your body expends energy (burns calories), controls between 60-80% of your overall energy expenditure. Which is why boosting your metabolism is an effective way to help you lose weight. Yoga’s impact on your metabolism works twofold.
- Firstly, it increases your lean muscle fibres, which means your body requires more energy performing basic movements, such as opening the front door or even picking up your coffee!
- Secondly, it supports your whole endocrine system, which includes stimulating your thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland produces 3 different hormones, two of which, Thyroxine and Triiodothyronine, directly impact on your metabolic rate.
Yoga stimulates and improves digestion
Even though yoga has a positive and stimulating effect on all of the different systems within your body, including your cardiovascular, respiratory, lymphatic and endocrine systems, it has a very strong focus on the stimulation of your digestive system.
Your digestive system plays a key role in the breakdown, absorption and elimination of food and waste from your body. A sluggish and slow digestive system will hinder your weight loss goals by reducing your body’s ability to appropriately absorb nutrients and discard unwanted waste.
Yoga burns calories
The type of yoga you practice, whether it be Power yoga, Flow yoga, Bikram yoga, or any of the other styles, is going to determine how many calories you burn. However, all yoga burns calories, it is that simple!
Not only are you burning calories as you move through each asana, you are also strengthening your lean muscle mass which means you are increasing the number of calories your body needs to burn performing simple everyday activities, such as getting out of bed or hopping up from the couch!
The bottom line:
There are many different styles of yoga. Some focus on more dynamic movements, whilst others involve holding static poses. Some, such as Hot yoga and Bikram yoga, even alter the temperature of the room you practice in. Yet regardless of what style you practice, you are still going to find that yoga helps you as you work towards your weight loss goals.
So in answer to the question, ‘Does yoga help to lose weight?’, it most certainly does! With the added advantage of creating strength and subtle definition without causing you to bulk up.