Does Yoga help me loose weight?
This is a question that sometimes comes up and the answer is clear, but not straightforward. So I thought I would address it today.
When we think about any type of physical exercise for weight loss, we usually think about how many calories we burn, how much we sweat, raise our heart rate, etc.
In Yoga, it is not about burning calories. We don’t even aim to raise our heart rate. It isn’t even just a physical exercise – although of course if you are practicing Ashtanga full primary series with all it’s Vinyasa jump backs and throughs – you will certainly sweat and burn calories! But it’s not the main reason why it’s great for loosing weight…. In fact I believe that any traditional style of Yoga could be the best way for anyone to loose weight – if done the way it was intended to be practiced.
Yoga is a science of the Mind. As Patanjali states in the Yoga Sutra: “Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha” – Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.
We practice our physical Asanas (Postures), with the purpose of balancing our whole system, including the endocrine system and lymphatic system. We become stronger and more flexible, which leads to more physical comfort. We cleanse and detoxify and recreate balance within our energy system, which leads to overall better health.
We practice the breath, so we can calm and also strengthen the nervous system and lead us into a state of inner calm and awareness.
We practice concentration, so that (over time and with practice), we begin to experience a meditative bliss within the fluidity of our practice.
And we practice awareness.
The more we practice on the mat, the more apparent it will become that our practice spreads out into our everyday life. We become more aware of our own actions and the world around us. We become more comfortable in our own skin and come to terms with who we truly are. We walk through life with more peace and easiness.
Which leads us to make better choices.
How? Have you ever been drunk, on your way home from a party, stopping at a fast food place and gorging yourself with chips or burgers?
Have you ever been run down and tired and not been able to stop yourself from eating a whole packet of cookies? You get the idea.
When we are in a good place, aware and feeling confident, we don’t have to force ourselves to eat better – we just do.
If we feel like we deserve to be treated well, we will treat our own bodies well too.
And we will be motivated to do so without having to force a discipline on us that is hard to keep. What changes is what we WANT.
So – does Yoga help for weight loss? Yes. It certainly isn’t a quick fix but it is a lasting one that has the potential to change your lifestyle permanently.