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The Potential of Using Yoga for Weight Loss

Aug 21, 2008
Let's face it: a lot of people have a severe misunderstanding of yoga. For every one person who knows how effective yoga can be in maintaining a positive outlook, improving posture and digestion, staying in good health, and maintaining a high level energy just to get you through the day, there are probably a dozen skeptics who think it is all just new age baloney.

Maybe we can't convince everybody that yoga is much more than ineffective hippie stuff, but if we can summarize the concept of the traditional yoga culture real quick, it might just be a start.

A Brief History of Yoga

It's not clear exactly when the practice of Yoga first began in India, but it may have been as early as 3300 BC.

There are five major branches in yoga: Raja, Hatha, Jnana, Bhakti and Karma, but Hatha yoga is probably the only one we really need to discuss in relation to health and fitness.

Yogi Swatmarama, a fifteenth century Indian sage, developed Hatha yoga as a way to prepare oneself for intense meditation, by first subjecting oneself to intensive physical training. Whether or not a person's end goal is enlightenment, the physical benefits of the practice have proven to be effective.

Yoga for Weight Loss

Even if you believe in the potential yoga has to keep your body healthy, you may still be asking "Is yoga really all that effective in helping one to lose weight?"

Let's start by saying that Hatha yoga is an intensive, low impact exercise, involving lots of stretching and conditioning that helps the blood flow more smoothly, and which aids in healthy digestion.

One of the main goals of yoga is to maintain the intestinal organs in order to improve digestion and minimize the amount of undigested food or waste in our bodies without having to resort to invasive cleansing routines.

A low-intensity yoga session will not burn as many calories as other workouts. An average woman may burn 150 calories in a one-hour Hatha yoga session and 300 calories from walking briskly for one hour. Ashtanga Yoga and Power Yoga, on the other hand, will burn about 300 calories per hour and Vinyasa Yoga (also known as flow yoga) can burn even more.

If you are just starting out with Yoga and plan to keep your routine slow and steady to start, the quickest way you are going to see weight loss results is to combine your yoga practice with a healthy diet plan and an aerobic exercise.

Still, it's important to understand that weight loss is about a lot more than calories. Yoga can really give you a better relationship with your body, which can really help you on the weight loss journey. As you deepen your understanding of the way the mind and body relate to one another through a dedicated Yoga practice, don't be surprised if your mindset and habits begin to change, which, in turn, can make it much easier for to make healthy changes in your body.

Why ARE Yogis so Thin?

One of the reasons yoga masters are so thin is generally because of their diet.

The traditional yogi diet is strictly vegetarian and free of caffeine, however, you can still learn how to eat well from yoga without becoming a monk. Here are some simple rules for those of us not willing to give up on hamburgers and coffee just yet:

The Yoga Diet for the Everyday Yogi

- Drink lots of water

- Eat lots of vegetables and fruit

- Eat spicy foods and red meat only in moderation

And that's it. A healthier diet plus intensive Hatha workout sessions, and you are sure to see results, both in your body and your mind. If you want to ramp up your weight loss and calorie burning, try Power Yoga, which can give you an aerobic exercise, too.

Starting your Yoga Routine

What you'll need to start yoga will be some comfortable clothes (nothing fancy, just some old sweats will do), and a mat. (Some yoga schools provide yoga mats.)

You can easily take a couple lessons and just practice yoga at home, but one of the greatest motivators for any exercise program is to be a part of a group, sharing knowledge with one another and pushing each other to really dedicate the time and energy it takes.
About the Author
Jamie Jefferson writes for Momscape.com, where you can learn more about Yoga for Weight Loss and learn about diet recommendations.
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