Yoga For Weight Loss: Can Yoga Help You Lose Weight

Let’s face it, we all don’t want to lift weights, go running, or live in the gym – and that’s okay! Yoga is great option when you’re searching for a way to stay in shape, lose weight or jump into something new. Stress is one of the leading contributing factors to obesity and research suggests that yoga could in fact be the stress reliever you need to help support your weight loss journey and burn more calories.

What Is Yoga 

Yoga has been shown to have several therapeutic effects, including the ability to reduce stress, improve weight loss, and increase quality of life.

Yoga is considered a mind-body fitness modality, as opposed to a conventional training program. Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root “yuj” which means union, or yoke, to join, and to direct and concentrate one's attention. Regular engagement and practice of yoga promotes strength, endurance, flexibility, postural control, as well as improvements in balance and coordination. In addition to the physical applications, yoga also promotes spiritual, and psychological therapeutic benefits, facilitating characteristics of friendliness, compassion, and greater self-control, while cultivating a sense of calmness and well-being [R].

The practice of yoga produces a physiological state opposite to that of the flight-or-fight stress response and with that interruption in the stress response, a sense of balance and union between the mind and body can be achieved.

With that said, can yoga help you lose weight?

Yoga For Weight Loss

The simple answer is yes. Yoga can in fact help you with weight loss. But nothing is that easy, unfortunately. Although practicing yoga regularly, can contribute to overall weight loss overtime, it will not be as quick of a transition as some would like.

You see, weight loss is the by product of two inputs, exercise and diet. To lose weight, you must be in a caloric deficit, which simply means, you need to burn more than calories than you eat throughout the day. And on a consistent basis. Without a diet or meal plan yoga itself will most likely not help you lose that much weight. Consuming fewer calories in conjunction with yoga, is ideal for the best weight loss outcome.

Generally speaking, you can burn anywhere from 200-450 calories within an hour of yoga, depending of course on the specific practice, style of yoga, length of the class, and instructor.

Now, what’s unique about yoga, is that it offers to many other benefits that can complement weight loss, such as stress relief, mindfulness, reduced pain, and better mood state. Yoga has also been shown to improve sleep.

Studies suggest that increased stress, sleep deprivation, chronic pain, and depression, are all contributing factors for obesity [R].

A study conducted at the Cancer Research Center, found that regular yoga practice may promote weight loss in those who are overweight.

Funded by the National Cancer Institute, the study involved 15,500 healthy, middle-aged men and women who were asked to complete a written survey recalling their physical activity (including yoga) and weight history between the ages 45 and 55. The study measured the impact of yoga with weight change, independent of other factors such as diet or other types of physical activity.

The researchers found that between the ages of 45 and 55, most people gained about a pound a year, which is a common pattern as people age and do not adjust their caloric intake to their declining energy needs. "However, men and women who were of normal weight at age 45 and regularly practiced yoga gained about 3 fewer pounds during that 10-year period than those who didn't practice yoga. Researchers found that the greatest effect of regular yoga practice, was most significant with those that were overweight.

Study participants who were overweight and practiced yoga lost about 5 pounds, while those who did not practice yoga gained about 14 pounds in that 10-year period [R].

Yoga For Weight Loss: Takeaway

There is no single solution for weight loss. Yet, diet and exercise are the only two components that are proven to support your weight loss goals. What exercise program that is, is up to you. Yoga does in fact help with weight loss. Traditional weight loss programs and conventional diets may result in weight loss, but long term weight loss maintenance remains elusive. Yoga, complemented with a customized nutrition plan and approach, is the best way to lose weight, at a healthy rate, to improve your quality of life in the long run.

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