Yoga is more than nailing a specific and seemingly impossible pose as seen on social media.
It's also more than sitting on a cushion and meditating.
Yoga can be what you want it to be. Most people start Yoga in their local gym as part of their workout. Soon they realize that it has so much more to offer, including the tools it offers to calm the mind.
Yoga is known to have many physical benefits, especially for women nearing or entering menopause. It helps to
- Increase muscle strength and tone
- Reduce weight
- Increase flexibility
- Lessen chronic pain (arthritis, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain)
- Reduce insomnia (goodbye hot flashes!)
- Lower blood pressure
- Increase energy and mood
And for many the mental benefits are even more important (and surprising):
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Creates mental clarity and calmness
- Improves outlook on life
- Sharpens focus and concentration
More and more studies have shown that Yoga can be an effective way to lower your weight, body fat and BMI. Practicing Yoga regularly can lead to healthier eating, including lower fat intake and an increase in vegetables and whole grains.
Researchers found that people who practiced yoga for at least 30 minutes once a week for at least four years, gained less weight or actually lost weight and overall had a lower BMI compared to those who did not practice Yoga. Researchers attributed this to mindfulness. Mindful eating can lead to a more positive relationship with food and most importantly, portion control.
How exactly does Yoga help with weight loss then?
But the question remains…is Yoga helpful for losing weight due to increased physical activity or changes in eating habits?
We think it's a combination of factors.
Monika Friedman, co-founder of ReverseHealth is a seasoned Yoga & Mindfulness instructor and often uses these techniques with her clients:
"Becoming mindful of how you're breathing and moving during a Yoga practice has a direct impact on how mindfully you eat, both in terms of quantity and quality. Yoga is also a great stress management tool. Many of our ReverseHealth members experience stress due to various lifestyle factors. Let's face it, life is just inherently stressful. That constant stress leads to an increase in the hormone cortisol, which in turn can increase abdominal fat, lower your immune system and cause cravings for energy-dense (speak fat and sugar-rich) foods.
The community aspect of Yoga is huge, too. Many women go to a weekly class, online or in person, and keep each other accountable, socialize and stay motivated as part of being in a group setting. We know that accountability is a key factor when it comes to sticking to a diet, or not."
The bottom line is, Yoga can be incredibly beneficial on your weight loss journey, IF it is a form of movement you enjoy. If not, leave it and find something else. No attachment! (That's actually a Yoga rule, ha!)
It is definitely worth trying though for it has profound mental health benefits. The mind is your strongest muscle, and sometimes you have to flex and train it in order to achieve great things, such as your dream weight.