Being overweight or obese can cause many health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and lower back pain, as well as a reduced quality of life. Although many people don’t think of yoga as a method of weight control, it can help you maintain weight in more ways than burning calories.
A main component of weight loss, or maintaining a healthy weight, is calories. To lose, your body has to use more calories than you take in. Gentle Hatha yoga doesn’t burn too many calories – around 240 per hour for a 150-lb. person compared to 360 per hour in an aerobic class – but you’re still burning a lot more than if you were sitting on the couch eating chips. Plus, more intense types of yoga can help you burn more calories if that is your goal. For instance, power yoga and Vinyasa yoga burn 344 calories in 50 minutes.
Also, with any type of yoga, the body weight resistance training of many of the poses increases your muscle strength. When your body has more muscle, it uses more calories even when you are resting. Strength training can also firm up your body, which might make you happier than reaching a certain number on a scale.
Aside from calories, yoga’s holistic nature also seems to help with weight control. Yoga reduces stress, which can cause overeating and giving up on healthy habits. Yoga can boost a person’s self-esteem and self-image, as well as help you work through emotions. These factors can help you overcome emotional overeating and unhealthy obsessions with diets. Yoga also provides focus, patience and awareness, so it can help you focus on your habits and your lifestyle. For instance, if you pay more attention to what you’re eating and you start respecting your body more through yoga, you might eat healthier. You might also start to slow down and savor your food.
A beginner’s gentle yoga class usually includes low-impact exercises that can help a person ease into an exercise program. This is a great place for a person to start when more intense exercise is a barrier. Also, the physical, mental and spiritual components of a yoga class can make you feel healthier. This can result in wanting to take better care of your body.
Yoga generally encourages slow weight loss. It usually doesn’t fit with the philosophy of losing a specific number of pounds in a certain amount of time. Intense forms of yoga can be the exception, but with some of these classes you lose the other beneficial aspects like meditation and awareness. Overall, yoga promotes a slow lifestyle change. Although that might seem harder, if you let go of expectations and engage in yoga regularly, you might find that your body looks better and you feel better about it, without the process being such a struggle.