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Why You Should add Yoga to Your Weight Loss Program

Updated on August 7, 2018
Jana Louise Smit profile image

Jana is a yoga enthusiast who investigates every aspect of this ancient art with both Zen and zeal.

Source

Weight Loss Begins with the Mind

What does the following have in common?

  • An acknowledgment that there's probably a bit of weight to lose
  • The desire to be slimmer and healthier
  • The determination and discipline to see the process through to the end

The three points are weight loss in a nutshell — and they all start in the mind. Loved ones (and mean people) can tell somebody they're fat their whole lives but it's not until the person acknowledges there's an issue, that change can begin. One might've acknowledged the problem but lack the drive or discipline to do something about it. Once those two kick in their heels, the journey's halfway won.

What Yoga Cannot do — and it's Message

Yoga's not a quick fix. It's not a permanent cure done once or a few times a year. At the end of the day, this rule has an important message. Losing a couple of kilos quickly is very possible. It's keeping them off that's the problem. What's that got to do with ol' slow-poke yoga? At first, this ancient art blooms into somebody’s life with a few poses. As benefits start turning up, yoga often turns into a way of life. This is the secret of weight loss and something yoga instills in spades. Weight loss is a lifestyle — one with small beginnings that feeds on benefits, grows on supportive changes, abandons toxic habits and which needs permanent maintenance. This is why crash and fad diets cannot work. They don't teach you how to ingrain changing habits and more importantly, they don't identify the story behind weight gain.

There's a Reason for Obesity

It's very rare for an overweight person not to have a reason why they got big. Comfort eating is real and often compensates for trauma, tragedy, disappointment or loneliness. Some individuals come from big families, either genetically or where mealtimes consisted of huge quantities of food. Whether it's genetics, emotions or how we were raised, these are complex issues. Until you honestly identify your story, you cannot break its hold over you. For some, it's just loving food too much. Whatever it is, yoga's meditation techniques is a good place to start.

Meditation can Create Better Habits

One of meditation's great benefits is that it brings mindful awareness about binge eating
One of meditation's great benefits is that it brings mindful awareness about binge eating | Source

What Meditation can offer You

  • If done before going to bed, especially using a restful pose like shavasana, it curbs sleep deprivation, which can cause weight gain
  • Reduces stress hormones, another weight gain factor
  • Learning to meditate is to learn a habit, laying the foundation for holding on to better lifestyle choices, especially the more difficult ones
  • Meditation is invaluable to better body image, perceived “flaws” and all, teaching, in the end, that there's no such thing as perfection
  • Meditation nurtures authentic understanding of one's weight loss journey - helping to weather hurtful comments, falling off the wagon and identifying your true story
  • Fosters acceptance that losing and keeping weight off take time and commitment

Start at any Level

What makes yoga great is its accessibility. Often, people who are overweight don't join the gym or a yoga class because they fear looking bad between toned and energetic gym people. The truth is that most practitioners, even those who do yoga for other reasons, first try it at home. When persistently practiced, yoga yields results that encourages even the most down-and-out. You don't need a fancy membership to begin. You don't even need to be fit, slim or healthy to do yoga. However, start within your limits and research your chosen poses. Some must be avoided in the case of high blood pressure, a condition often associated with extra kilos.

Yoga is Weight Friendly

It doesn't matter what a new yogi's weight is, yoga poses are adjustable and very beneficial
It doesn't matter what a new yogi's weight is, yoga poses are adjustable and very beneficial | Source

What Poses can Offer You

Meditation is a powerful tool but don't neglect yoga's asanas. Poses must be done to the best of your ability but remember; yoga is not about perfection. It's about awareness of the physical and mental feelings provoked by a specific pose. Postures done without this mindfulness is not truly yoga. When done the right way, this awareness helps you to reconnect with a body that's been shamed by others and distanced from by ourselves.

Here are more physical benefits yoga has to offer the weight loss warrior. This list is by no means complete.

  • Counters muscle loss caused by a sedentary lifestyle and some diets
  • Yoga burns calories
  • It builds strength and flexibility
  • Persistent practice brings vitality and energy, encouraging more daily activity and more calories burnt
  • Yoga balances all the systems of the body, including hormones. When out of whack, hormones can cause weight gain
  • It fights water retention and bloat, two common culprits making a person look heavier than they are

A Wholesome Addition

Yoga is undoubtedly priceless to anyone's weight loss journey. However, it must be done several times a week and alongside healthy eating and cardio. If yoga is implemented with realistic starting expectations and with the acceptance that it's not a quick fix, then you'll reap more rewards than you ever dreamed of.

© 2018 Jana Louise Smit

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    • Jana Louise Smit profile imageAUTHOR

      Jana Louise Smit 

      15 months ago from South Africa

      Hi Dina! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I also struggle with weight that comes and goes and yes, I'm also a competitive yogi! Not the best mindset, but that's why I thought I should write a hub about how yoga is not about competition and a great comfort when it comes to the emotional torment weight can cause. :)

    • thedinasoaur profile image

      Dina AH 

      15 months ago from United States

      Jana,

      This was a wonderful hub. I am a fat person and my relationship with exercise has been turbulent since I had started seeking help for my mental illnesses. Nevertheless, you write with such a sensitive and kind tone. Thank you for that. I'd love to read more about this! I used to be quite the yogi, but it was driven by a competitive and unhealthy motivation.

      You got yourself a new follower. :)

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