Wondering whether yoga is a good fit for your fitness routine? This article by guest author and expert yoga instructor Hannah of Half Moon Yoga discusses everything you need to know about yoga and weight loss. Before you know it, you’ll be on the path to feeling your best!
According to fitness standards today, a typical Power Vinyasa Yoga class includes enough strength building and cardio calorie burning to be considered a well-rounded workout. Vinyasa and Ashtanga are forms of power yoga that can burn up to 360 calories per hour. Although, while you’re striking fast-moving poses, it’s crucial that you pay attention to your alignment, to avoid injuries.
Also, some yoga poses are helpful in aiding with digestion or metabolism boosts. For example, Shoulder Stand and Fish Pose stimulate the thyroid, helping to give your body a metabolism boost. And, practising Spinal Twists massages the abdomen, targets internal organs, and aids with optimal digestion.
However, any type of yoga practice, even Hatha, Yin, Gentle or Restorative can be useful in the goal of losing weight.
Yoga Increases Awareness of Emotions
Typical weight-loss programs address the symptom (excess fat) and ignore the cause. Often unhealthy weight results from an imbalance of a range of emotional issues. These may include bad habits and poor nutrition. Yoga poses or asanas help us turn our awareness inward. We learn to pay attention to what’s happening in our body, including the grumbles in our belly from eating too much or the karmic effects of unhealthy choices.
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Through this awareness, you can build a nurturing relationship. It is through conscious awareness of your alignment, foundation, and breath that translates into better appetite control. Hunger is a different experience than craving foods that do not nourish us.
I notice that if I eat too much or unhealthy food like ice cream and french fries, before a yoga class, I feel tired and gross. If instead, I make healthy snack decisions then I feel notably energized and excited as I start to move. Further, after every class, my desire to eat has lowered considerably as I’m feeling peaceful and content. If it does happen to be mealtime, I’ll make healthier decisions and consume smaller portions after practising yoga.
Be very aware that your thought patterns (consciousness) aren’t just in your mind. They permeate every cell in your body. However, YOU have the power to change them through continuous effort and awareness to create new, positive, self-affirming thought patterns. It just takes repeated practice, like yoga.
Combine your yoga session with positive self-talk. Appreciate your efforts and praise your inner goodness. For example, instead of thinking, “I’m so fat, why can’t I look and feel like them? You can say, “I love my body. I want to give it balance through healthy nourishment as well as strengthening and stretching opportunities.”
Yogic Breathing Reduces Cravings
The definition of yoga, according to Patanjali’s yoga sutras states: “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” Yoga uses postures (asanas), ujjayi breath (pranayama), and a gazing point (dristi) to train the mind to be still, so union (yoga) can occur between your mind, body and spirit.
Physiological studies suggest that we need to practice a minimum of ten weeks of daily breathing exercises before seeing any noticeable improvements. Practising these techniques is considered to be one of the highest forms of purification and self-discipline for the mind and the body.
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According to William J.D. Doran, “As the yogi follows the proper rhythmic patterns of slow deep breathing the patterns strengthen the respiratory system, soothe the nervous system and reduce craving. As desires and cravings diminish, the mind is set free and becomes a fit vehicle for concentration.”
I usually teach Three-Part-Diaphragm Breathing at the beginning of my yoga classes as it is one of the most common techniques for deeper breathing and lung expansion.
As a yoga practitioner for the past seven years, I now naturally use my diaphragm to inhale and exhale. This happens even when I am not consciously trying to.
A deep breath first fills the lower belly and rises to the lower ribs. Then, finally moves into the upper chest and throat. This breath should be both long and smooth. To learn more about yogic breathing techniques, check out my new course.
The metaphor for yogic breathing can be summed up as follows: Inhale – drawing in new life force, healthy habits, new life experiences, new career opportunities, new relationships, improved self-esteem, a deeper connection to Spirit and the courage to live out your heart’s desires.
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Exhale – releasing and WILLING to let go of fear, negative self-talk, draining relationships, careers without passion and purpose, stress, unhealthy habits and addictions such as overeating, not eating enough, drinking alcohol, obsessive exercise, compulsive shopping, smoking and drugs, just to name a few.
Breathing through gentle and restorative yoga can help with weight loss by kicking on the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates digestion and hormones.
Through this breathing process, blood flow is redirected to extract nutrients from the food you eat. This increases blood circulation and enables the body to eliminate toxins more effectively. This process elevates the mood, strengthens the immune system and increases physical and psychological well-being.
I hope to see you lose the weight that you desire as you love yourself through awareness, positive thoughts, deep breathing, regular practice, key poses, and eventually challenging yourself to some power yoga!
Guest Author Bio: Hannah Faulkner
Artist, writer, adventurer, teacher and yogi, Hannah Faulkner draws inspiration from her surroundings. She seeks to find connections between the ordinary and extraordinary daily life.
From driving in traffic to travelling to Everest Base Camp and attending festivals in India, her curious spirit soaks up elements from worldwide cultures, books, philosophy, history, art, nature, wellness concepts, and always personal experience.
She believes that the Life Force energy is what sustains us. Oxygen is, by far, the most vital component humans need to live. We can go weeks without food, days without water, but only a few minutes without air.
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