Yoga is probably not an obvious choice of activity when it comes to weight loss but despite the speed of the movements it is deceptively effective and here’s why.
Yoga strengthens and streamlines your muscles
During yoga practise you work your whole body, stretching and toning your muscles, streamlining and firming them. This gives you a lean firm body shape as opposed to the bulkier, short muscles you might get from weight training. With yoga you build strong lean muscle tissue which burn calories even while you are at rest.
Yoga calms you and clears your mind
If you are someone who eats due to stress and tension, then yoga will help you reduce comfort eating. The slow stretching movements and deep breathing in every yoga movement calm and relax you. The balance postures in particular necessitate that you clear your mind of all your every day cares and worries and use all your powers of concentration and focus. With regular yoga practise you will find that you become naturally more relaxed and able to cope with everyday problems.
Yoga normalises sluggish glands
The toning movements in yoga work not only on the muscles but also on the internal organs of the body stimulating them and normalising their function. Twisting poses, forward and backward bends and inversions are used to stimulate the endocrine system and postures like the shoulder stand and the fish help regulate the mechanism of the thyroid gland in the neck, all of which help boost your metabolism.
Yoga gives you energy and increases flexibility
By calming you and gently working on your muscles and increasing the levels of oxygen in your blood and to your brain, you finish a yoga practise (once you are used to the movements) feeling more energetic than when you began. This means that you tend to put more energy and movement into your day rather than sitting around feeling exhausted. And you build flexibility in your muscles and joints so that you enjoy a full range of movement your whole life. Witness the difference between the movements of a young girl and a stiff 80 year old woman. The young girl is bound to move so much more because muscles and joints are less restricted.
Yoga uses calories
This is where people believe that yoga is not helpful when it comes to weight loss and it’s true that aerobic exercise may very well burn more calories. However you will still use about 240 calories in an average 1 hour classic hatha yoga class and burn many more (about 400) with some highly physical forms such as astanga yoga. And you can practise yoga every day without over-exercising your muscles which is not the case for many forms of aerobic exercise.
Yoga offers psychological benefits
Through yoga practise you tend to retune into your body and increase your self-acceptance and self-esteem. You build positive body confidence and help quiet any negative messages that may arise in your mind. Yoga teaches us to respect our bodies and this helps us when choosing our food and avoiding junk food and alcohol.
Yoga is for everyone
Most people can take up yoga even if they have been inactive for a while although you should always get your doctor’s approval before beginning an exercise program if there is any doubt about your health. While jogging and working out at the gym might seem too much to contemplate you can start wherever you are with a yoga class and make steady progress.
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