I understand why you might be skeptical about the idea that practicing yoga can help you lose weight. Afterall, your average hour of gentle yoga only burns 150 calories compared to an hour of aerobic activity which burns 311 calories per hour.
Here’s the thing, calories burned during exercise is not the only factor that contributes to dropping weight. It turns out, there are two not-so-traditional ways gentle yoga can help you shed weight: mindfulness and stress reduction.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is about being aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Practicing mindfulness goes hand in hand with Pranayama, the act of controlling your breath. During yoga, as your mind wanders, you should bring your thoughts back to your breath and how your body feels during your practice.
What does mindfulness have to do with weight loss?
According to the mayo clinic, the key to weight loss is burning more calories than you consume. As you change how you relate to your body, you become more connected with yourself and more aware of how your actions make you feel. Research suggests with time being mindful of your body brings a greater awareness of what you eat and how food makes you feel. In turn you become empowered to make decisions about diet and lifestyle which aid weight loss such as consuming fewer calories. In a nutshell: making a habit of practicing yoga breeds healthy habits.
Stress and weight loss.
If you remember, we’ve already discussed how yoga reduces stress through the practice of controlling your breath, meditation, releasing tension in your neck and shoulders, and the focus required by challenging poses. Being less stressed is a great benefit of yoga by it’s self, but what is even better is that lowering your stress levels can help you to lose weight. Have you ever noticed when you are feeling unusually stressed, you have difficulty making healthy decisions about the food you eat? Using yoga to lower your stress levels can help you to be more conscious of these choices, avoiding overeating and emotional eating and losing weight over the long term.
A Note On Preventing Injury
Yoga helps to balance and align the body, as well as increase flexibility and strength in the muscles. Because of this, yoga is a great way to prevent injuries that could be obtained by other forms of exercise. Customize your practice to meet your individual fitness goals.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to hit the mat–you’ve got nothing to lose–other than your weight, of course!