Is there a relation between yoga and weight loss? Yoga works on mind, body, and soul and as we all know it is an absolutely wonderful form of exercise. Regular and consistent yoga practice provides numerous mental & physical health benefits to the practitioners.
But does yoga help you lose weight?
The debate over this topic, whether or not yoga can help to lose weight has been on for decades. Many believe yoga to be too easy or light to contribute to weight loss, whereas many others cannot stop singing praises of yoga and its role in their weight loss.
In my earlier post, I wrote about how you can lose weight without exercising. Reiterating it here, I would again submit that if your sole purpose is to lose weight, then the first thing you need to do is to relook at your food habits. But that said, exercising is important in order to lose weight and for reasons beyond weight loss, and so it cannot and should not be ignored.
In my case, I took up yoga during my weight transformation journey and until today I am consistent with my practice of yoga. Besides playing a key part in making me lose weight, yoga has relaxed me and made my body more flexible, taking away all stiffness, and relieving me of my backaches. It also made my mind stress and anxiety free.
In order to showcase how powerful yoga is I would like to discuss two different studies conducted on yoga.
Study 1: Yoga is a Useful Tool for Healthy & Sustainable Weight Loss
In 2016, a study was conducted by Department of Nursing Research and Translational Science, National Institutes of Health Clinical Centre on the topic: A Different Weight Loss Experience: A Qualitative Study Exploring the Behavioral, Physical, and Psychosocial Changes Associated with Yoga That Promote Weight Loss
In this study, two distinct groups, who had lost weight through practicing yoga, were studied. The participants of these groups included:
- those who were overweight and had repeatedly struggled in their attempts to lose weight.
- those who were of normal weight and had lost weight unintentionally.
The findings implied that yoga may offer diverse psychological, physical, and social effects that may make it a useful tool for healthy, sustained weight loss.
The yoga practitioners (in both groups) reported the following:
- reduction in their stress/ emotional eating, appetite, as well as cravings.
- shift toward healthier food choices, and focus on more judicious eating.
- social support and healthy role models.
- many positive physical and psychological changes in the practitioners, including increased muscle tone, improved metabolism, reduced stress.
- increased awareness, improved mood, and greater self-acceptance and self-esteem.
To both groups, the experience to lose weight by including yoga in their routine was significantly different from their past attempts. They reported that with Yoga, weight loss was easier, and they also felt more confident in their ability to maintain lasting weight loss.
Study 2: Regular Yoga Practice can help Sustain Weight Loss in the Long Run
Earlier in 2000 and 2002, a Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, USA conducted a study on 15,500 adults, aged 53 to 57 years about their physical activity which included measurements like diet, height, and other forms of exercise that affected their weight over the past 10 years.
The study pointed out that, Yoga practice for four or more years was associated with a 3.1-lb lower weight gain among normal weight (BMI < 25) participants and an 18.5-lb lower weight gain among overweight participants.
It was evident from the research that regular yoga practice can benefit individuals who wish to lose weight and maintain it for a long time.
So is doing yoga enough to Lose Weight?
Now that we have established the fact that yoga can play an effective role in your weight loss journey, it will be good to know whether just by doing yoga, can you lose weight?
Let’s look at how much calories a normal stretching yoga can burn. As per the table published by Harvard Health Publishing, the number of calories you shed depends on your body weight and duration for which you perform the particular activity. In case of normal basic stretching yoga, if you are 125 pounds, you’ll shed 120 calories per 30 minutes and if your weight 185 pounds, you lose 178 calories.
Further, the more intense your yoga practice is, the more calories you burn. And those who think that yoga is too simple and therefore not very effective for weight loss, need to think again… cause yoga is not just simple stretching, it is a combination of physical and mental strength, focus, endurance, and flexibility… Please see the article on the types of yoga here. You can use this to include the variety of yoga to your regular practice.
But we also know that it is always easier to consume 200 calories less than to burn 200 calories. And so to answer the question, yoga will come to be an effective tool in your weight loss efforts, only when it is accompanied by healthy mindful eating or be eating right as I call it. Do you want to learn how to eat right?
Continuous Yoga practice helps with stress management, gives you more focus and sets you in the right pace that you require in order to lose weight.
If you are looking for guidance on yoga, you can register with Grokker. It offers a FREE 2-week trial, and you can discontinue after 2 weeks if you don’t like what they have in store for you. I highly recommend it.
Let me know, by writing in the comment section below, if you have been practicing Yoga and how it has benefited you.