“Can Yoga help me lose fat?” I asked in a worrying voice to the instructor at the place where I was to enroll for yoga. I was worried because long before my friends suggested to take yoga, I had tried every other doctrine in an attempt to lower my weight and lose fat, alas – all of them in vain! “Yoga can certainly help you lose fat, not only temporarily but permanently” came the prompt reply. Reassured by the instructor, I thought there is nothing to lose really and so I enrolled in yoga for weight loss, still skeptical about the effectiveness of yoga.
Yoga for Weight Loss
Next morning I showed up in my new yoga pants with my yoga mat, and so the journey began. “Relax your muscles” my instructor told me. He explained in detail that human body muscles become stuff due to inactivity and lack of effort by our muscles. This muscle inactivity leads to stress on the joints and cause joint pains. The muscle, joints and the tendon work together to perform an activity. For example the thigh muscle, the knee joint and the tendons connecting the muscle with the bones work in tandem when we walk. If the thigh muscle or Quadriceps femoris as scientifically know becomes weak, then the load falls onto the knee joint causing pain and in extreme cases tendonitis – which is swelling of the tendon due to excessive load.

Yoga for weight loss, be it of any style, engages muscle groups as we perform “asana” which means to assume certain body position. During these positions, specific muscles are targeted and hence increases mobility of the body.“So mobility of muscles is a good thing” I thought, “but what about calories burnt?” After all calories burnt directly relates to weight loss. Calorie is basically unit to measure energy. When we eat food we intake energy. This energy is then spent by the human body when we perform any physical activity such as walking or swimming. Even when we don’t perform any physical activity some energy is spent which is decided by the metabolism of our body. The excessive energy is get deposited and stored as fat that contributes majorly towards weight gain. It is important to focus on weight loss by fat burning.

Yoga burns nearly 175 calories per hour, when compared against other aerobic other aerobic exercises such as running that burns 600 calories per hour, it might appear that yoga is ineffective. However, we should take into account that it is rather difficult to run for an hour at the same speed than it is to do yoga for an hour. Hence doing yoga can sufficiently increase heart rate – required to consume sugar flowing in the blood stream and supplement the sugar supply by breaking down fat, and put strain onto muscles – hence strengthening them.Nearly 21 million people in USA alone, actively participate in yoga. They spend more than $10 billion a year on classes and products (including equipment, clothing, retreats and videos). The majority of yoga practitioners cite general wellness, stress management or weight loss as one of their primary motivations for taking up the practice.
There is a special form of yoga, called the hot yoga or the power yoga that helps in faster burning of calories. This form of yoga is performed in hot and humid climatic conditions. In colder climate the human muscle contracts and does not perform to its capacity. Hot and humid conditions trigger calorie burning heart rate, mobility of muscles by loosening them, and sweating – which is a sign of the body breaking down sugar. This decrease in the sugar level in blood is compensated by breaking down fat stored in the body to replenish the sugar.

The more important benefit of yoga however is spiritual. “Yoga helps you adapt into a new lifestyle where the mind and body work towards wellbeing” explained my instructor.

He added that weight gain can make any person harsh on himself. Self-judgment is a common thing issue one faces. Yoga proves as an effective intervention here. It helps in counteracting by creating a positive and safe environment in order to facilitate reconnection with our bodies and put to rest the counterproductive messages that erupt in our minds. Also, getting engaged in physical activity (read asana practice) helps foster a greater sense of self control that translates into a more disciplined life.

Looking at it from physiological angle, there are certain styles of yoga that would be more appropriate for people specifically seeking weight loss. For instance, there is a Vinyasa-style asana where poses are linked together by breath and movement. This style builds heat that potentially result in burining comparatively more amount of calories. This style of practice can be supplemented with other aerobic exercise that you may be already involved in such as swimming, biking, walking or running.

So after listening to my instructor can I confidently tell him that yoga practice will help me lose weight? Well, yes.


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