Taking a yoga class to lose weight is not the first reason people begin this spiritual practice. However, it is not long into a 3-5 time a week practice that people begin to notice a change to their body. It could be the addition of more muscle, more definition to the waist line and even a few pounds gone without really trying. Then as the individual continues to study Hatha yoga another shift occurs and they want to learn what foods to eat and how to prepare them properly.
I suspect the natural intelligence of the human body is working hand in hand with yoga postures to shift a big belly, strengthen weak thighs, tone up lose arms, and move some old waste out through the pores and the intestines. Give it enough time and not only your body will change for the better, but your mind, moods, nervous system and joy for life as well.
1. Depending on the style and intensity of the yoga practice an individual can burn a high number of calories, some say 300-600 calories in a 90 minute hot yoga class. More advanced practitioners in a Vinyasa flow style class are thought to burn even more calories, while receiving a superb cardiovascular workout. Mild yoga classes may not burn as many calories, but they can be very effective over time.
2. All that bending forward and backwards, side to side and turning upside down is a great massage for the glands, organs and digestive system. This helps to tonify the organs and improve the digestive process, while assisting the body’s ability to cleanse and eliminate naturally.
3. Coming to know yourself is one of the effects of doing a regular practice, bringing you into a keen awareness of how you operate in life, particularly with food. On the mat you feel good and want more of that feeling; this in turn causes you to begin an inquiry into eating the right amount of foods that increase the vital pranic energy you experience in a yoga class.
4. Hatha yoga practice teaches us to be present to what is happening to and in our body on the mat; and this extends out to other areas of our lives as well. Just the act of chewing every bite of food with awareness can help reduce the amount of food eaten at a meal and provide more satisfaction.
5. It is very difficult to do yoga on a full stomach, which is why it is recommended to eat two hours before a class. You become attuned to your body in such a way that the uncomfortable, bloated feeling from over eating becomes unacceptable. If weight gain is consuming more calories than you burn, then eating less, but of higher quality whole foods, and practicing yoga, is the key to weight loss success.
6. Yoga teaches us to be patient with ourselves and with the progress we make when changing our body. This step-by-step progression can take time and involves a slow process that requires changing old habits, learning how to make better food choices and then how to prepare nutritious meals. Yoga teaches us how to respect our body and to honor those challenges that force us to grow. Do the practice, eat well, calm the mind with meditation and your body and weight will shift in its own way or if not, you will come to love exactly who you are.