Yoga is very well known for its calming and meditative effects. It has time and again proven to have physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health benefits. When it comes to the physical aspect, one of the most asked questions has always been, “Does yoga help with weight loss?” The answer is yes, it does facilitate weight loss in multiple ways. If clubbed with a healthy lifestyle, the results are miraculous. In order to find out the exact mechanism, I dug deeper into the subject, spoke with a lot of yogi friends, and looked for research papers with some solid proofs. And here are some interesting findings:
Yoga reduces stress: Stress leads to increased levels of cortisol. Cortisol is an appetite stimulant. It messes with your brain and makes you crave highly processed foods. Foods which are very high in fats and sugars. (that is why the tendency to reach for calorie-laden comfort foods like cookies and ice-cream). Yoga helps you attain a stress-free life, and thereby helps avoid this cascade of events.
Yoga makes you more mindful and aware: Yoga enhances mindfulness, meaning, it makes a person more aware of their actions. When applied to meals, a yogi can make healthier food choices; they have better portion control; they can understand satiety signals well, and do not overeat. Mindfulness also reduces the frequency of binge eating and boredom eating. When applied to exercise routines, yoga helps one stick to their plan, so on and so forth.
Yoga is linked with better sleep: A good night’s sleep is one of the easiest and the most efficient ways to lose weight. According to a study conducted by the oxford university in 2018, people with a good 7-8 hour high-quality sleep cycle lost/burned significantly higher amounts of calories than their peers who slept a lesser number of hours.
Yoga aids in calorie burning: (Not as much as the intense forms of exercises like HIIT, strength training, or weight lifting*.) The most active forms of yoga include Ashtanga yoga, Power yoga, and some variations of vinyasa flow. With the trend of yoga moving towards the cardio heavy styles, you can count on these for burning a significant amount of calories. In fact, the most relaxed form of yoga, ‘ Restorative Yoga’ is also known to aid in weight loss. This has been confirmed by an NIH funded study conducted in the year 2013.
In a nutshell, there is no one-stop weight loss solution. Yoga alone will not help you lose weight. Especially if you keep eating, sleeping, and living in an unhealthy manner. So make sure you pair your yoga regime with clean eating, a little bit of cardio, and a good night’s sleep.