When it comes to yoga, there are two main camps of people — those who think yoga is just about gentle stretches that do not change your body, and those who think that yoga involves intense classes that will help you burn fat and lose weight.
While both can be true, yoga practitioners will know that a well-rounded yoga practice consists of both slow- and fast-paced classes.
So yes, yoga can help you lose weight, but it’s not just because of the calorie burn, which is largely dependent on how intense the practice is.
Here, a yoga teacher shares five common reasons why yoga can help with weight loss.
1. Yoga increases blood circulation
Yoga isn’t just about stretching, but there’s no denying that we do a lot of it during yoga.
Regular stretching relaxes and lengthens your muscles, promoting blood flow and circulation.
Improved blood flow and circulation can help you to lose weight because it can make you burn more calories, improve exercise performance and recovery, stimulate metabolic processes, and remove waste from tissues.
How do you know if you have poor circulation? Here are some common symptoms: pain or weak muscles when walking, regular “pins and needles” sensation, pale or blue skin, cold or numb fingers and toes, and bulging veins.
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s time to hop onto your yoga mat.
2. Yoga improves digestion
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The combination of movement, breathing, and meditation during yoga helps to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, aka the rest and digest system.
Some studies have shown that yoga can aid digestion as it reduces stress and promotes movement of the gastrointestinal tract.
How are digestion and weight loss linked? Well, a well-functioning digestive system burns calories while working. In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume, so having a healthy digestive system helps.
3. Yoga promotes mindfulness
@movewithcarissa Posting everything handstand, inversion and yoga related here. #forearmstand #pinchamayurasana #pincha ♬ original sound wyh - Carissa
Along with the physical benefits, you’ll also gain more mindfulness and body awareness.
As you become more present and in tune with your body, you’ll learn to understand hunger cues (when you’re actually hungry and when you’re full), boredom eating and emotional eating.
Additionally, many yoga practitioners or fitness enthusiasts end up eating healthier not only because they don’t want to undo their hard work during exercise, but also because whole foods make their mind and body feel better.
By making you more aware of your eating habits, yoga can help you lose weight.
4. You may develop a love for (or addiction to) yoga clothes
One true joy of working out is buying new activewear. Agree?
I definitely think so! Whenever I need an extra burst of motivation or a little pick-me-up, donning a new pair of leggings is sure to do the trick.
With the rise of activewear brands and athleisure trends, we’re seeing yoga clothes everywhere. And the temptation to pick up new threads is always there!
Oftentimes, that’s enough motivation to move and practise daily.
5. The desire to look good
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I know, I know — yoga is supposed to be a practice that goes within.
But we’re all human, and it’s only natural to want to look good when you’re in cute clothes, in a group class, and are surrounded by mirrors! (That said, some yoga studios are mirror-free to reduce the emphasis on outward appearances.)
With a stronger, more confident mindset and approach to life, many yoga practitioners end up leading a healthier and happier lifestyle that may also include fat loss.
Although it may not be intentional, weight loss may happen naturally while practising yoga because of the physical movement and mental activity.
No matter the outcome, remember this: While it may be nice to look slim and trim, we practise yoga to get in touch with our mind and body — so don’t lose your focus. If you ever feel pressured to change your appearance in order to fit in with your peers at a yoga studio, it may not be the right studio for you.
This article was first published in Her World Online.