How Yoga Can Help You Lose Weight

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By: Hillary Parker, Nutrition Nut on the Run

When you think of weight loss and exercise, your mind more than likely thinks High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), endurance running, a hill-heavy spin class, or a grueling hour-long boot camp where a drill sergeant of a personal trainer barks burpee orders at you.

When you think of yoga, your mind most likely imagines “ommm”, gentle music, poetic instructions from a friendly teacher, and performing the downward dog and chaturanga dandasana. You most likely define yoga as a calming practice to ease your mind of work, holiday, and family stress, while lengthening and releasing tight tendons and muscles.

Yoga, “a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being” (Merriam-Webster), is a form of exercise that can aid in your weight loss journey by eliminating stress, strengthening your core, satisfying your cardiovascular system, and so much more.

If you are ready to kick start the new year with a new, lighter you, why not consider yoga as a part of your weight loss regime?

How can yoga help me lose weight?

1. Sweating it out. Not all yoga is slow and soothing. Several styles of yoga, including: Ashtanga, Bikram (also known as hot yoga), and Vinyasa Power Yoga, incorporate sequences of poses that will raise your heart rate, make your muscles burn, and leave your berry pink Lululemon tank damp, if not drenched in sweat. If tedious time on the treadmill is not your thing, yoga can be a source of physical activity that will burn calories and help to melt the pounds away.

2. Toning up. While yoga is typically associated with stretching, 60 to 90 minute flows of body-weight exercise is stress on your muscles. Vinyaya flows – which incorporate dozens of tricep-toning Sun Salutations – are credited for yogis’ sleek physiques. In other words, yoga will aid in building long, lean muscle tissue that will increase your metabolism, burning more fat as you transform into a slimmer you.

3. Detox naturally. Additional body weight can imply that your organs are not working as efficiently as they could be, and would benefit from a detox. There are shelves of pharmaceutical drugs that claim to detox your body… with unfamiliar chemicals and hefty price tags. Did you know there are natural ways to detox? Many poses in yoga are connected to the detoxification of various organs. By practicing twisting and inverted yoga poses, you will find yourself living more comfortably in your own skin.

4. Clearing your mind. Weight gain can often be an indication that your body is under some sort of stress, whether physical or emotional. A regular yoga practice, of whichever style, will assist in clearing your mind of excess worry and anxiety. With a clearer mind, you can tune into your body’s needs by eating and exercising intuitively. You may eventually begin to notice that you are eating with intent, and paying attention to your hunger and satiety cues. Listening to these signals is the ultimate way to find your body’s optimal weight.

Next time you are at the gym, pick up the schedule of yoga classes and find a few that fit into your schedule. If you would prefer to practice at home, add a couple of yoga videos to your DVD collection, or find tutorials online. Roll out your mat, breathe in… breathe out… and bend into a lean, strong, healthy body with a greater peace of mind.

Photo credit: John Wiseman | Nottingham Trent University

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Hillary Parker lives and breathes all things food and fitness from dusk until dawn. Hillary has a Bachelor of Science in Food & Nutrition Communication and is a current student at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is the blogger behind Nutrition Nut on the Run and the Assistant Coordinator for a corporate wellness program. She prefers her chocolate dark, coffee iced, exercise intense, and vegetables locally-grown.