Yoga not only makes you more flexible and calmer, but many people believe yoga can also help you burn fat. Celebrities are touting the magic of yoga for trim tummies, and shapely arms. But can yoga actually help you lose weight?
In the most simplified terms, weight loss happens as the result of calories out being greater than calories in. This is pretty much how it works until hormones get involved. Women’s bodies are biologically programmed to retain fat. Our hormones and metabolism work together to make sure we have a hard time losing weight.
This may seem like a viscious conspiracy, but women retaining fat used to be essential for human survival. An increase in body fat would have helped our cavewoman ancestors carry a pregnancy to term even when food was scarce.
Now these same hormones help us keep fat on even when we don’t want to. Cardio is one of the most effective ways of burning fat, and that’s largely why yoga is perceived as being bad at fat burning.
But this is where we should remember hormones are also involved.
Cortisol, the hormone secreted when we are under stress, causes our appetites to go through the roof. Cortisol causes us to crave unhealthy, sweet, and/or carb laden food. When we give in, we get a huge insulin spike, and the resulting crash leaves us hungry, moapy, and likely to indulge again.
Yoga’s inherent stress-reducing qualities can cause our bodies to release less cortisol, reducing our cravings for yucky carbs.
The connection between yoga and weight loss hasn’t been studied in depth by the scientific community, but some medical researchers have tried. A medical researcher and practicing yogi Alan Kristal set out to study the weight-loss effects of yoga in 2005.
Kristal and a team of colleagues from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle led a trial involving 15,500 healthy, middle-aged men and women. The study concluded that yoga can, in fact, help keep people from gaining weight.
From a scientific standpoint, it’s not entirely clear to what degree yoga can help keep weight off, but signs indicate yoga can make a difference.
Yoga increases the mind-body connection. Since I began a regular yoga practice, I have naturally started making healthier choices. I eat far fewer carbs. I hardly ever drink diet soda (or any soda). I exercise more regularly; I sleep better. And also, I’m more in-tune with my body at any given moment. Of course, the side effect of being more in tune is noticing every single ache and twinge which can cause one to become paranoid.
While yoga in all forms can increase the mind-body connection, induce relaxation, and get you moving around, there are some forms of yoga that can actually burn a ton of calories and help you burn fat.
Power yoga, and vinyasa are all known for their calorie burning properties. During these two practices, you are flowing through the asanas faster than you would be during yin, hatha, or restorative practices. The result of pairing your breath with the movements and flows during power yoga and vinyasa means you’re burning a lot more calories.
These awesome yoga videos can help you lose (or at least maintain) your weight.
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