In many ways, it seems obvious that yoga can help you lose weight. To many people, yoga just looks like a bunch of stretching. However, the amazing thing is that yoga helps with a lot more than just losing weight! When you practice yoga, you are balancing all the systems of your body. Losing weight might have been your original goal, but you will get many more benefits as well.
Yoga balances your endocrine system
Your endocrine system is made up of hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, pineal body, the ovaries, and the testes. This group of glands is responsible for controlling mood, growth and development, the way our organs work (or don’t work), metabolism, and reproduction. They produce hormones that circulate throughout the body and affect cells and organs in other parts of your body. Estrogen, melatonin, cortisol, adrenaline, insulin, testosterone are some of the hormones your body produces that have an effect on weight loss.
When your hormone system is out of balance, life is not easy. It is hard to lose weight, bone density drops (osteoporosis), sex drive falls, immune function is over-active (auto-immune disorders) or sluggish, sleeping is difficult (insomnia), glucose levels in the blood are off (diabetes) and blood pressure is often too high.
Your endocrine glands become sluggish without good circulation. Yoga improves circulation to these glands, stimulating them and circulating the hormones they produce. With better circulation, digestion and energy are improved and weight loss is more likely.
Yoga helps you learn how to manage your stress
When you are overly stressed, you do not sleep well. As a result, this causes more of the wrong hormones to be produced and circulated, which causes you to be more stressed. Some stress in our lives cannot be easily avoided. Like me, maybe you have a teenager at home. Maybe your job is changing, and you are learning new things at a very fast rate. You might be worried about an aging parent, or what your kids will do if they lose their job and need to move back home with you. In the case of the examples I mentioned, there are reasons that you must “put up” with the stressful situation for a while.
A regular yoga practice will help you put these situations in perspective so that they don’t affect you as negatively. You will learn how to go deeper to find the peace that exists inside. When you come to your mat, you will learn how find your “is-ness” as you move through the asanas (poses). Moving your body in your yoga practice helps you fall asleep faster and experience more restful sleep.
Getting enough good-quality sleep is another way that you can lose weight.
There are MANY studies that show there is a connection between good-quality sleep and energy levels. When you sleep well, you have more energy to exercise, and more brain power to reason with yourself. Oh, and circling back to the hormones; when you do not get enough sleep, you have less of the hormones that make you feel full and more of the hormones that make your stomach feel hungry.
In my mind, I think about the sleep/weight loss relationship as a negative relationship. If you do not get enough good quality sleep (7-10 hours), you will not have the energy to exercise. You will crave high sugar snacks and caffeine, and your body will ask for a bonus snack at night (when you should be sleeping). When you are sleeping, you are not eating.
Yoga is a form of exercise.
Yoga is not just sitting around stretching and breathing. You are moving your body! You are building muscle (which burns fat)! We build muscle in our core, which decreases back and neck pain. With less pain, we can sleep better! Do you see where this is going? You are stretching and twisting and reaching which tones your nervous system (reducing stress). We go upside-down to strengthen our circulation, face our fears, and change our perspective. By learning how to stress our physical and emotional bodies in a good, safe way we understand how to manage stress when it is not in our control. We practice mindful resting so that when our heads hit the pillow at night, we know how to turn off the chatter of life and sleep.
Yoga is also a great way to control your blood sugar and blood pressure (because of the endocrine system we talked about). With all the strength building, you will have stronger bones. Goodbye osteoporosis! You will feel better with more energy, a better sex drive, and healthier skin. There will be making less trips to the doctor, and chances are, you will be taking less prescription medications.
At Grace Yoga & Wellness, we have yoga classes online and in person. A yoga practice that consists of 2 classes a week, as well as home practice, is the most beneficial for your over-all health and weight-loss goals. The Lifestyle Membership price option is the best value for those that want to attend 2 classes a week or more. It includes unlimited yoga and other services that can assist with blockages that are stopping you from losing weight.
More ways to lose weight!
Weight loss is also dependent of other lifestyle choices. Some factors are in our control and some are not. Here are some things that are in your control that you might want to consider:
- Drink plenty of water (Your body operates on water; without it, your bodily systems can’t do their job!)
- Kick the sugar habit (Added sugar is good for nothing and it is in everything.)
- Be kind and loving when you are talking to yourself (What you put into your body, even your words, is what comes out!)
- Eat your vegetables and fruit (7-10 servings a day)
- Energy healing to open blocked channels in your energetic body