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Yoga For Weight Loss

Paul M. Jerard Jr.
Jun 8, 2008
Anyone with weight loss goals has to consider that there are many variables. Diet, genetics, activity levels, stress levels, and personal mindset, all play a role in weight control. Yoga can help you lose weight by improving all, or several, of these factors.

If you consider the physical aspect of yoga only, it is true that many forms of Hatha yoga are low impact in nature. Low impact exercise, alone, does not burn as many calories per hour as high impact aerobic activity.

Yet, weight loss does not depend solely on burning off as many calories as possible. Pushing the body's limits, by working out aerobically, in a high impact mode, puts stress on the body, and can cause premature wear in the joints. In order to truly make strides in weight loss, one must look at his, or her, lifestyle through a holistic viewpoint.

Yoga is more than just exercising. Yoga is an intentional union of the body, mind, and breath, to reach a better level of existence. Key points of focus are body balance, core strength, and flexibility.

By centering yourself with yoga postures, and yogic breathing (Pranayama), you will begin to pay more attention to the body. Weight loss should not be simply about looking slimmer. Permanent weight loss is a result of a lifestyle change.

Short term weight loss goals lead to short-lived success. To really reach, and maintain, a weight that is optimal for your body, you must focus on optimal functioning of your body.

Weight loss, resulting from yoga, will never be as extreme as that caused by a crash diet, weight loss drugs, or hardcore aerobic workouts. The reality is, that at least two of these methods, will throw the body's balance off, and can lead to poor health conditions. If you abuse your body, there is a price to be paid.

Traditional yoga practice incorporates a change in diet, along with the health benefits of yoga practice. To lose weight, you have to eat wisely. Starving yourself actually lowers your metabolism and prevents the body from properly absorbing and using nutrition.

Yoga nutrition focuses on whole, fresh foods, with little processing, and high nutritional density. When the body gets what it needs, there is less need for the hunger impulse to trigger.

Many students of yoga have found a correlation between the day they decided to steadily practice yoga and their life long decision to improve their health. Students report that they made healthier food choices, due to feeling uplifted and centered from yoga practice. This comes from a sense of focus and mindfulness of the body, which results from regularly practicing yoga.

Yoga postures are sometimes held for periods of several minutes each, depending on ability level. Beginners, who are overweight, may initially have difficulty holding postures. They should not be discouraged by this and work to the best of their ability. Skilled yoga instructors create classroom atmospheres that are encouraging to students at every ability level.

As yoga students progress in ability, they will notice a higher degree of strength and mobility throughout their body. When the muscles are sufficiently toned, more calories are burned on a regular basis throughout the day, even when a person is not exercising. After a period of regular yoga practice, yoga students should begin to see, and feel, a difference in the makeup of their bodies.

Pranayama, or yoga breathing exercises, eliminate stress. Stress is a huge factor in weight gain and stubborn fat. Learn to relax and calm the nervous system with breathing. Eliminate tension within your mind and your muscles, and you will have a higher drive to care for your body. Breathe in the inspiration to change your life in a positive way. Exhale the dark feelings and anxiety that perpetuate a cycle of poor diet and health.

The most common cause of being overweight, for many people, is simply overeating. This often stems from an emotional need for food beyond what is necessary for the body to use. While there are many reasons people eat too much, emotional eaters often have a low sense of self-worth.

A benefit of yoga, which is not talked about by specialists concerned with calorie burning, is the sense of emotional and spiritual significance. Yoga focuses on more than just moving around on a mat and breathing; people learn to find a peaceful place within their being.

Through yoga practice, one affirms his or her spiritual significance. By enabling this sanctuary, yoga practitioners can find a peaceful place to begin their weight loss journey.

Copyright 2008 - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
About the Author
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. He is an author of many books on the subject of Yoga and has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995.

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