Before we talk about weight loss, let’s try to understand the various factors that contribute to weight gain. In addition to bad eating habits, weight gain also stems from inefficient metabolic function of the body.
Most people think yoga involves a set of exercises, a regime meant for those who are already fit but are keen on improving their flexibility. They don’t relate it to being an effective tool for weight loss as compared to calorie burning, sweat inducing cardio dance routines and high intensity workout sessions in the gyms.
Typical weight-loss programs address the symptom (excess fat) and ignore the cause, which is essentially an imbalance caused by or manifested as any range of emotional problems, bad habits and poor nutrition. Through a sustained yoga practice, your body will change, your health and metabolism will improve, and your peace of mind and self-discipline will return.
Yoga teaches you proper breathing techniques (Pranayama) which aims at cleansing, balancing and rejuvenating the inner organs and their functions. Various breathing exercises and yoga asanas help improving metabolic and heart rates. Once you are healed from within, you can focus on the outer body.
Ironically, gentle and restorative yoga can help with weight loss, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates breathing, digestion and hormones, helping you develop a leaner, more supple body not by emphasizing a restricted food intake and targeted muscle-building, but by nurturing an attitude adjustment that paves the way for long-term change. Yoga establishes physical and mental poise in a natural, gradual, lasting and organic way. Yoga activate the parasympathetic nervous system, gently stepping on your internal brakes, which lets everything take a rest; hormones rebalance, injuries begin repairing, and digestion proceeds normally; all of which can aid better health and achieving correct body weight.
It’s true most types of yoga don’t have the calorie-burning power of aerobic exercise but it is a phenomenal way to put you in touch with your body the way nothing else can, and yes, it can help you lose weight.
I can’t really think of any specific set of asanas for weight loss. Almost all of them aim at cleansing your inner mechanism, strengthening your core and stamina, increasing flexibility and improving your metabolic rate. It involves twisting the body, forward and backward bends, inversions and other poses that help in opening up the body and toning up the muscles.
As you get through the daily chores, deadlines and responsibilities, your body is often in fight-or-plight mode. If you’re eating to compensate for grief, dieting won’t help you deal with your loss. If you snack to calm your nerves, cutting calories won’t help you release stress. If you crave the wrong foods because of chemical imbalances, an appetite suppressant won’t recalibrate your system. If you indulge in bad eating habits with the excuse that your job is too demanding and you simply don’t have time to maintain a more balanced lifestyle, a frozen low-fat meal won’t be the solution for your health and well being.
Physical exercise has always been held important for weight loss and the overall well-being but it should always be kept in mind that any form of physical activity will remain futile and unproductive if not teamed with proper diet.
Practicing yoga helps improving your sensitivity to your inner signals such as hunger and cravings. The true hunger to feed our body’s basic needs is a totally different experience than craving foods that do not nourish us. When you are mindful about your eating habits, you learn to distinguish between the urge to eat and the emotional impulses that sometimes drive you to over eat to repress emotions.
By turning your focus inward, yoga works on an emotional level to put you in touch with your feelings and to strengthen a nurturing relationship with yourself. By increasing your awareness of your body, yoga can help you identify your overeating triggers and determine whether they are chemical, habitual or emotional. Suddenly you actually get the signal that you are full or that a particular food doesn’t digest well or you begin to notice how you feel after you eat something; whether it makes you feel well or not.
Being mindful on how your body and mind relate to food, you can find the keys to maintaining equilibrium — both emotional and biological.