Yoga can be a great form of weight loss. But it can also backfire.
Who can achieve weight loss with yoga? Most people who have their diet in check can lose weight doing yoga. Weight loss is 99% about what you eat.
You have to eat right to lose weight. Exactly what you can eat depends on you. Every body is different. So, I may be able to eat white rice and still lose weight. But you may not. Seems unfair, but that’s just how it is.
So how might yoga curtail your weight-loss efforts? Here are a few ways:
1. Yoga was not designed for weight loss. The original purpose of yoga was for discovering the self. An amazing side-effect of this can be achieving a toned, lean body. However, that was never the main goal.
2. Yoga can make you overeat. Often exercise causes muscle soreness. Especially if you’re new to exercise. Therefore, the body’s natural response is to eat. Often more than you should. Without a strict diet plan in place – one with an emphasis on portion control – it’s easy to overeat and counter what you lose through exercise.
3. Yoga can injure you. Excess weight causes stress on the joints. Exercise can exacerbate this strain. Further, if done with improper form, or if done too often, yoga can lead to injury. Therefore, any injury will halt not only your plans to lose weight but also negatively impact your ability to live and work.
How much is too much yoga? Listen to your body. It will tell you. It’s that simple.
So should you do yoga?
If you want to incorporate yoga for weight loss, good for you. You should do it. However, be sure to also do the following:
1. Set proper expectations. Do not think yoga alone can help you lose weight. It is a part of a larger plan, not the only plan itself. Remember, diet is king for weight loss.
2. Combine yoga with proper diet. Seek out a qualified nutritionist to help you find the perfect diet. Every body is different and there is no perfect diet. Likewise, it will take time and experimentation to find what works for you.
3. Avoid injury by working with a qualified yoga instructor. Use Thumbtack or YogaTrail to find one near you. First, spend extra for one-on-one sessions. Later, when you have a solid foundation for your practice, you can attend more affordable group yoga classes.
Yoga has side benefits that aid weight loss in unexpected ways:
1. Reduced stress. High levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, prevent the body from shedding excess weight. If you’ve tried everything and still can’t drop pounds this may be why. Likewise, yoga can help manage stress and be that missing link.
2. Increased awareness. Yoga teaches you to observe without judgment. This can extend off the mat into other areas. As a result, yoga can help you analyze what you eat and how your body feels. Finally, this can help you to create healthier habits and drop bad ones.
3. Changed perspective. With regular yoga practice you will feel differently about yourself and your life. Often new, loftier goals crystalize. Yoga can alter your life’s path and help you create your best self.
Weight loss can be tricky. Often we want a quick fix. Or, we think it’s more complicated than it really is. Seems like the old tried-and-true “calories in, calories out” still rings true. You have to burn more than you take in. That’s why diet is number one for losing weight. But yoga can help. And it can also hurt. So be smart about how you use yoga to lose weight.
Are you hoping to kick-start a weight loss regimen with yoga? Learn more about losing weight at a Shanti Yoga Teacher Training here.