Can yoga help you lose weight?
Yoga may or may not help you burn calories, but with the integration of mindful strategies, we may find that we stop overeating doesn’t take place, that observance of non-harming (ahimsa) may help you make healthy food choices, and your heightened awareness brings to light times of emotional eating so you may gain control of it.
Also, for those of us who do not have an exercise routine yet, yoga is often a great gentle practice to start getting the body moving. When we start to move more and slowly increase our energy levels, we may find we can increase the intensity of our exercise.
Suffering from pain? There are poses to do that are completely supported and focus on relaxation. There is evidence that an overactive sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze reactions) decreases metabolism and proper digestive function. The type of yoga we teach doesn’t focus on athletic ability, arm balances, or acrobatics. Our main goal is to connect you with the body in a supportive way.
Here is my story while I reflected on yoga & weight loss:
I LOVE burritos. I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant where they give you those light crispy chips. Enjoying my chips I chose to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is openness to experience grounded in the body. Well of course there are those giant standard American sizes so I get into my chips, smelling the salsa, watching the colors of the salsa as I dip, feeling the weight of the chip in my hand, chewing the chips well, feeling the pieces roll around in my mouth and taking a few breaths after each one. In my usual un-mindful attitude, I am chewing one while dipping the next so this was at least 3 times slower than my regular pace!
After about 10 chips I was full. I hadn’t even touched the burrito. Of course my mind wanted to keep going. “Well you bought the burrito and it is going to be soggy later,” says my head. My belly though was reveling in the salsa and chips and was fine to go on with the day. My mind sought explanation – “Why am I full? This doesn’t make sense.” I accepted and identified my thoughts as thoughts, observed my belly, and I took home the burrito.