People will do anything to be fit these days. Running, cycling, dieting, weightlifting –the list is enormously big, what with every form of sweating and cardio available to man being used as a way to stop the lingering effects of couch potatoism that has affected us all and expanded the collective waistline of the world to sizes unheard of in the early 50’s.
The sad reality is that many people are obese. According to the World Health Organization, worldwide obesity has more than doubled since the 1980’s. In 2014, 1.9 billion people were overweight, with 600 million being classified as obese. You want to know the worst part? Obesity is preventable.
Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that’s estimated to be 5,000 years old. It was designed primarily to rejuvenate the body, prolong life and reach enlightenment. Today, the basics of yoga remain true to the original intent, with an added factor that has many people doing yoga in London, New York and Paris –yoga has a ton of health benefits, and one the most sought after is weight loss and an improved self awareness.
Plus Sized Yoga
Many health experts and doctors believe that yoga can help overweight people lose weight and tone their bodies. It may not be as hardcore as some of the bootcamp style workouts out there that will leave you gasping for air and sweating buckets, but the deep breathing techniques, mediation and assortment of postures yoga employs can aid the body in flushing out toxins and promotes a better metabolic process.
Calorie expenditure while doing yoga ranges from 180 – 360 calories burned per hour, depending on the type of yoga used. Some yoga disciplines like hot yoga, take place in a studio heated up to 120F, enough to make you sweat as soon as you step inside. The heat helps flush out and eliminate all the toxins in your body, while allowing your muscles to relax and stay flexible up during the duration of all the postures. Your lymphatic system and organs benefit immensely from hot, physical yoga.
Yoga and Hunger
Yin or Gentle yoga can help you lose weight because it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates breathing, digestion and even hormones. If your PNS is out-of-whack, you’re going to be too. During the day, when everything around us is bustling and busy, you’re always in a constant “flight-or-fight” mode. Being wired with emotions and hormones for the day will leave you frantic at night.
Gentle yoga helps bring calm and will relax you and slow things down, allowing your PNS to take over the reins and normalize hormone levels, promote healing of injuries and improve digestion. Practicing yoga helps you from the inside out – it increases your sensitivity to hunger and cravings, which are supposed to be different. Hunger is when your body needs fuel, while cravings are when you want to eat something just for the sake of eating it to fulfill a psychological need. Yoga will help you distinguish which is which. When the cravings stop, the eating will too.
Fat Burning Postures
Yoga has many styles, but the basic postures or poses remain pretty much the same. Here are a few that can help you raise your metabolism and improve circulation.
- Downward Facing Dog /Upward Facing Dog – can help tone your hips, thighs and arms.
- Valrasana – spinal twist poses such as the cobra and lengthening child’s pose help with digestion by gently massaging the abdomen and other internal organs.
- Fish pose and shoulder stand – stimulates the thyroid, giving you a boost in your metabolism.
The long held assumption that just because yoga practitioners are mostly petite and skinny, the yoga studio is off limits to plus sized people. Yoga is a welcoming and spiritual practice that is open to everyone, regardless of age, gender, religion and size. Granted, some of the poses would be tough for overweight people to pull off, but the health rewards of going on this yoga journey to lose weight is well worth the effort, because with regular practice, everyone gets better. When the mind is calm and in control, the cravings will end, and the real transformation will begin.