What is Yoga?
Yoga has been around long before gym classes and exercise videos. The word “Yoga” comes from an ancient Indian language, Sanskrit, and is interpreted to mean “union”. Through the union of mind, body, and spirit, a person is in harmony with himself and his surroundings. Traditionally, this is achieved through meditation, breathing, and movement, three pillars of yoga.
We have all seen pictures of people in contorted yoga poses and probably wondered why and how they are doing that.
Yoga practice involves specific poses that are either held for time or done in a sequence of poses, each one having specific physical benefits to the body and/or mind. Think of energizing your body while calming and clearing your mind. Alignment is very important as well as using the breath.
Anybody can practice yoga, whether you are young, old, able-bodied, disabled, pregnant, or recovering from an injury.
Different Types of Yoga
There are several types of yoga. You may have heard of Hatha Yoga, Viniyoga, Bikram Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Hot Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Aerial Yoga, Vinyasa, or Ashtanga Yoga. How do you choose which one to explore? Decide what your intentions are and do some research.
Ashtanga Yoga is a rapid-paced flow style of yoga that can be a good workout and calorie-burning exercise. Many yoga classes at studios and gyms are Vinyasa flow yoga, also an active- paced practice.
Hot Yoga is popular in many areas. If you like to sweat and feel that you really need to have a warm body in order to gain flexibility, you might check it out. Some people might feel that if they are sweating a lot, they are losing weight. True, you are losing water weight, but, for some, it might be helpful motivation towards having a weight loss mindset.
Benefits of Yoga
There are so many benefits to yoga that you could almost name something randomly and find a way that yoga could benefit it! The list is extensive: lower blood pressure, increase flexibility, relieve stress, strengthen muscles and bones, improve posture, improve digestion, help relieve discomforts from MS, or from cancer treatments, or pregnancy.
Yoga also helps improve balance, mental clarity, self-esteem, and mood.
Regularly attending a certain studio can give someone a sense of belonging. A sense of belonging is huge when it comes to self-worth and positive feelings toward weight loss.
Many people have an incorrect impression that a person has to be super flexible to do yoga. Flexible people tend to love yoga because they can be “good” at the physical parts of it, but inflexible people often shy away from it because they only look at the physical parts of it. Yoga can improve your flexibility. If you are super flexible, you need to pay attention to the core strengthening aspects of yoga to protect your joints.
How Does Yoga Help Weight Loss?
Losing weight is multi-faceted. It is not as simple as eating less and exercising more, at least not for most people. Where does yoga fit into this picture?
As Kathleen Kastner, owner of Maya Yoga in Kansas City, MO says, “Weight loss is traditionally approached as a physical “issue” and tends to be addressed by only focusing on physical means, diet and exercise education, without attention to the individual’s emotional and spiritual needs. Diet and exercise are valuable information of course, but they do not get to the ROOT issue of why a person is overeating. I believe weight loss is an emotional and spiritual issue and needs to be approached with emotional and spiritual means.”
When you are in the frame of mind that you are doing something good for your body, like yoga, you are also sending positive messages to your brain about yourself. I believe that this can be extremely influential in establishing a weight loss mindset.
So many people embark on a weight loss journey over and over again, but are really not of the mindset to lose weight. They have not embraced a new way of eating, or really don’t want to do the work that it takes to lose weight, or they really don’t believe that they can do it.
This mindfulness can carry over into all sorts of other areas of a person’s life, what you eat and how much you eat can be part of this.
- Stress Release
Yoga is a known and much-written about source of stress release. Meditation and focus on breath are both great ways to reduce stress. A lot of people also feel calmer and less stressed when they are doing something physical, such as moving through yoga poses (Asanas).
Stress can be a huge contributor to weight gain and inhibition of fat loss.
- Metabolism Boost
Simply by virtue of increasing activity levels while practicing yoga, your metabolism will get a boost. While it may not be the big boost that is gained from weight lifting, it is still a positive in the weight loss balance.
Yoga activates many muscles, creating an energy deficit, or burn. The more active the yoga style, the more calories burned. Even a simple Sun Salutation can rev up the metabolism.
- Digestive System
Several yoga poses involve twists. Twisting the abdominal area helps to move blood and improve digestion. The yoga pose, revolving triangle, for example, is a great one for the digestive system. These poses and deep breathing exercises that target the abdominal area and twisting, can help with gas, bloating, constipation and removing toxins.
- Energizes you so you will be more active afterwards
After a yoga session, you are energized in a way that you weren’t before you started. This increased energy can have a huge impact on the rest of your day, or at least for a few hours. Maybe you feel like walking instead of driving because you feel so good! Perhaps your post-yoga run is all the more energetic and you go faster and/or farther.
Yes, Yoga Can Help Weight Loss
We believe that yoga can definitely help weight loss. The key here is that so many of the benefits from yoga can also help someone lose weight in part because of the mind-body connection that yoga encourages. If you mindset is “in the game”, you will be much more likely to feel good about changing eating habits, confronting emotional blocks regarding losing weight, and being active.
If you are interested in a unique yoga for weight loss program, check this out! This program is for women who want a strong, sleek, and sexy core.
By Sue Bream yoursimplehealthylife.com