Yoga is a practice of self discovery, a journey where we learn to anchor ourselves to the fullness of our being. Beautiful stuff, isn’t it? That said, I am also fully aware of the real reasons why some people are interested in doing yoga. A very common reason is to lose weight. I know you want to shed few kilos off your figure and look great naked (who wouldn’t?). Hey, whatever reason brings you on the yoga mat, I am happy with it. So, does yoga really make you lose weight? The answer is a definite ‘YES’, backed by many studies.
A research done by the National Institute of Health Research showed that the restorative yoga practitioners (against simple routine stretching exercise practitioners) lost almost twice as much in the 6 months of the study period, and kept losing it during a maintenance period with less direct supervision.
Some of you know, restorative yoga is a very quiet type of yoga (Yin Yoga in my class schedule). You don’t sweat. You don’t move around much and hold one pose for 5 to 1 0minutes. So how is it possible that you lose weight while doing, well, almost nothing at all? One theory is connected to the lowered level of cortisol, known as the stress hormone. When we are stressed, our body releases cortisol. In turn, cortisol increases the volume of love handle especially around your belly. Great, thanks cortisol!
However, in yogic theory, this makes total sense. Our 腹 (HARA, belly or abdominal in Japanese, the term is often used in martial arts) is one of the most vulnerable parts of our body and when we are stressed, the body tries to protect us by putting protective substance around it. If only that protective tissues were muscle, we’d all be having six packs!
Weight loss is not a simple matter of burning the calories, either. This article was featured in The New York Times and it shows about the myth of burning the calories. In it, Dr. Kevin D. Hall and his colleagues at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases concludes that ‘…it turns out that a long-used rule of weight loss — reduce 3,500 calories (or burn an extra 3,500) to lose one pound of body fat — is incorrect and can ultimately doom determined dieters. If you think of it, this is also simple matter of reasoning. Think about eating 200 calories of broccoli OR cookies. Which item do you think your love handle will love?
On top of these studies that are done, when it comes to weight loss we must rely on our true inner voice. Choosing the right food to nourish your body, for example, has to come from you knowing yourself well. As we are all different in body type, metabolism and temperament, there is no single food that is great for everyone on earth. So stop relying on magazines or articles that are always bombarding you with informations about this or that new super food and diet. Instead, learn to truly connect with your choices of what you put inside your body. In each moment, we have the power to choose. How would you learn to connect with your self so well so that you can continuously make choices in life that are good for you?
Being conscious and mindfull is a good way to start. Then, ahem, did I mention how yoga is a great practice of self discovery?
Namaste and Sat Nam