Weight gain comes as a gradual process that many people do not notice until the effects are visible. This can be due to diverse factors of life. Mostly, it is due to sedentary and poor lifestyle conditions. Similarly, others have medical conditions that make them add weight. In some instances, weight gain is a spontaneous affair. This is more common in people under stress. Nonetheless, you may not realize it since your mind is fighting the stress factors.
Consequently, when the effects of excess pounds set in, you may risk several conditions. The first is your battle with appearance and self-esteem. Additionally, you are at risk of other medical conditions. Opting for the gym for high-intensity workouts is a popular option. But it does not give results right away. That is why most people are experimenting with Asian techniques of body relaxation. Yoga is one of them. That fronts the question, does yoga work for weight loss?
What is Yoga?
It is a holistic practice of body relaxation that has a rich tradition in India and most of the South Asian cultures. It focuses on the vitality of the mind, body, and soul. These are the aspects that control your entire life. With various types of exercises, you will master the control of your breathing, mind relaxation, and total change of lifestyle (1).
Generally, there are six branches of this practice. Ideally, each one represents a particular philosophy in the enhancement of your body. The branches are Hatha, Raja, Karma, Bhakti, Jnana, and Tantra.
Yoga for Weight Loss
As a holistic philosophy, yoga targets your entire lifestyle in practice. It is gradual and does not offer promises of the conventional gym workouts. So, if you are into a quick fix to your weight problems, yoga is definitely not your place. That aside, yoga approaches fat burning on several fronts.
Yoga and Mindfulness
The underlying philosophy of yoga revolves around being mindful of yourself. The three components that make you are the mind, body, and spirit. When all these are in relative harmony, then you are well. The proper consumption of food is a significant factor in yoga. Your body is what you feed it. This leads you to take more care of what goes into your diet. Apart from practicing workouts, you become aware of what and how you should eat (2).
Mindfulness involves other levels of awareness. When you eat, you should be able to chew considerably. This helps in the breaking down of food into the mouth for better digestion. With slow ingestion, your body will record the fullness of your stomach in time. When you eat fast, your metabolic clock does not signal your fullness early enough. So you end up eating in excess. That excess food turns into fat that your body stores in the body (3).
The practice of mindful eating may be unusual at first. But as you continue practicing yoga, your mind will adjust to the discipline of adherence to guidelines. Since your body is part of your mind and spirit, you will harmonize all three for better control over your eating habits. In essence, your training will be smoother if you follow the graduation pattern (4).
Yoga and Better Sleep
Generally, people know that relaxing the mind gives one a good sleep. What may come as a surprise is that a good sleep induces your body to burn excess fat. Scientific studies on the correlation between sleep and weight loss reveal that a healthy sleeping routine helps your body to burn fat naturally. This, in turn, makes you lose weight. The usual range of a sound sleep falls between at least six to nine hours in a day. (5).
More US citizens are taking yoga for various reasons. But the many who practice it confirm that they are having better sleeping times than before. A survey on the same proves that yoga indeed induces better sleeping patterns. This is comparable to the people who take in sleeping supplements. Of course, pills will induce your sleep immediately, but will not help your body regulate its metabolism. (6)
There are many stances and exercises that yoga provides to produce a good night's sleep. Diverse as they are, they all manipulate the spinal nerves and enhance proper coordination with the brain. This promotion of better electric nerve signals enhances excellent retention and flow of impulses to and from the brain. Ultimately, your mind relaxes and gives your body that good night's sleep (7).
Yoga and Fat Burning
Exercising is a way of burning excess calories. As for yoga, you may wonder how these kinds of workouts will actually do that. Well, your fears may be valid to some extent. Yoga is not a traditionally straightforward aerobic workout. Though it claims to be a fat burner, few believe it can offer better results than the gym or road work. Ideally, some yoga exercises are more vigorous than others (8). This means you will require more energy and a higher metabolism rate to endure these exercises.
Unlike other traditional fat-burning practices, restorative yoga is not well known. The effects of passive restorative yoga are equally beneficial. According to a precise research finding, passive yoga has the same abilities to reduce fat as the more active yoga. These kinds of workout expose the most overweight men and women to some poses that naturally help their bodies to burn fat. Surprisingly, the passive restoration yoga stances are proving popular in burning abdominal fat that is slightly harder to lose in the gym (9).
Active and passive yoga stances help the body lose weight in three approaches. First, it works on the digestive system. The food you take goes into the digestive tract that is essential in the abdomen. Yoga works on stimulating the organs to function well. In return, the digestion takes place well reducing the depositing of fat into the body. Secondly, you maintain good blood circulation. This means that all your vital organs have adequate oxygen and can function optimally. And lastly, yoga involves both the large and small muscles in all the workouts. This cuts back fat and develops lean muscles (10).
Yoga and Stress
When you are undergoing stress, your body releases more cortisol. This is the hormone responsible for raising your stress levels and inducing unhealthy cravings. In response, your body reacts with uncontrollable eating of junk and other sugary food. As your metabolism is out of control, most of the sugar converts into fat in the body. Eventually, you gain excess weight (11).
Yoga has the ability to reduce stress levels by working on the brain. The relaxation stances help calm the nerves and regulate the production of cortisol into the bloodstream. When this occurs, the stress levels go down. Similarly, your intake of healthy food goes up. As such, you maintain your healthy weight with better focus and mental concentration (12).
Sometimes stress comes as a result of internal factors. That means that you become incredibly critical of yourself. Many doctors use prescription medications that induce adverse effects on the body. Again, they relax the body without addressing the root cause. Once the medicine is over, your condition comes back. More doctors are embracing yoga for their patients as a way of reconciling their lives with their spirits. This helps the patients to understand and deal with the condition holistically (13).
Yoga and Lifestyle Changes
Your brain has an organ known as the hippocampus. It is responsible for memory alertness and social characteristics. The damage to the organ leads to difficulties in learning and memory. Mammals have two of these organs. A good and healthy hippocampus leads to better mental health. Again, your social characteristics work better. Research shows that a functioning hippocampus helps one change lifestyles and other social mannerisms (14).
Yoga has the ability to enlarge the brain organ to healthy proportions. When that happens, your senses become more acute to the environment. Since the brain controls every aspect of the neurotransmissions, it is prudent to have proper functioning brain faculties for your overall coordination. With recent revelations of the effects of yoga in the brain, more people are embracing the ancient practice for vitality (15).
The relationship between yoga, hippocampus, and weight loss go hand in hand. Yoga has a philosophy of a strict lifestyle. This includes meditation, proper dietary consumption, and loving nature and self. This takes time to grow in someone. A good and healthy hippocampus will make it easy to promote these aspects of yoga. You will have a smooth transition of your discipline to a better lifestyle. This includes your workouts, self-appreciation, and social interaction with others. In the long term, you will never have stress-related conditions.
Yoga and Lean Muscles
The prevalence of yoga in the therapeutics circles is causing more to enjoy it as a lifestyle. People with diabetics are more prone to weight problems due to their imbalances in insulin regulation. The gradual introduction to yoga helps the obese and overweight cut back on the body fat at a manageable rate. As this is not a high tempo exercise, the slow graduation of intense exercising gives the body the natural pattern to adjust its biological system (16).
Furthermore, these therapeutic exercises can help you maintain proper body toning. Recent studies are posting positive results on yoga and lean muscles. The utilization of all the body muscles during workouts is the first secret of yoga. The holistic workouts target a simple area of the body. But while you work on a particular body part, all the other muscles help in coordinating in the exercise. Eventually, all your body parts end up toning (17).
Ultimately, lean muscles help your body regain a better tone and posture. As you embrace the strenuous stances, your muscles build up strength. This makes getting the pile-up of body fat even more difficult. With a simple daily routine, you can have your body shed excess weight and regain the vitality that you require.
Active versus Passive Yoga
Yoga has many forms of exercise and benefits to the body. You should consider your option first before you engage in any sessions. If you are with a trainer, then your choices are more straightforward. It is your trainer who will enforce the regulations. Most of these exercises are available on the internet and bookshelves. But it is advisable to start with a trainer. Since you do not understand your body mechanism well, your trainer will help you adjust and fit in faster (18).
Frequency for Beginners
There is not a specific routine or pattern for a yoga novice. It depends on your time and availability. Most of the exercises can take a few minutes to an hour. Even meditation can be short according to your schedule. As such, plan how and what you want to do. Most important, you should at least do it three to four times a week consistently. This will help your body register a regular pattern for burning the fat. If possible, you can add in some other activities like walking or even a light jog. The best way to approach it is to start with a few exercises. Gradually, you may then increase the intensity and duration of the exercising as your body accustoms to the routines (19).
How to Prepare for a Yoga Workout
There are simple things that you have to know when you are going for your yoga lessons. The most paramount are few (20).
- Do not go with a full stomach
- Have your mat ready with you
- Keep time or even better arrive early
- Release the tension by simple punctuation breathing
- Be eager to learn
Ancient Asian therapeutic exercises are becoming more popular in the West. Yoga is one of them. It is gaining ground in both medical and social circles as an alternative for weight loss. With more researches proving its real potentials, it should be the best option for weight loss for many people with or without medical conditions. Lastly, before you embark on yoga, consult a therapist. If you have a medical condition, seek clarity from your doctor.