Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Yoga for Weight Loss

Yoga has been around for ages. Its popularity ebbs and flows; however, everyone practices for various reasons- stress relief, improved flexibility, balance, digestive health…the list goes on. The best part about yoga is that anyone can practice. It doesn’t matter if you’re overweight, male, female, elderly, or nonathletic. Recently, I have read more about yoga for weight loss. It’s not that yoga necessarily burns more calories than cardiovascular exercise or strength training. Indeed, yoga taps into a different area of physical activity- ‘body awareness’. If you have ever practiced yoga, be it once, only a handful of times or daily, you quickly realize how your practice focuses on becoming ‘in tune’ with your body, positive thoughts and mental clarity. Depending on how concentrated you are during your practice, it can also enhance your feelings of self-control and foster a sense of personal empowerment. Points of interest from several studies have shown the impact of yoga for weight loss:

•Over a course of 4 years, a study of about 15,000 middle aged(55 years old) adults studied weight gain fluctuation. Those adults who incorporated yoga in their physical activity experienced less weight gain, especially overweight participants.

 •Yoga incorporated into a treatment program for obese women with binge eating disorder had significant effects. The 12-week program included personal journals from each participant and ‘qualitative analysis’ of these journals indicated a positive shift in their eating habits and perspectives. According to the journals, these participants developed self-empowerment, a healthy reconnection with food and cultivated an awareness of self. All of these factors translate to better health and positive strides in an eating disorder treatment.

 •Another eating disorder treatment program that incorporated yoga for weight management found that participants who practiced for 16 weeks had significantly decreased body weight, body fat percentage, BMI, waist circumference, and visceral fat.Wow! If reading this little blurb isn’t incentive enough…

 I would be remiss to stop here without mentioning that yoga isn’t just one style. There are certain types of yoga, which range from low-impact to higher activity. Patients with injuries or less mobility might find a slower paced practice rewarding, while an athletic person looking for a cardio workout might enjoy Vinyasa or Bikram. Vinyasa is a faster paced series of poses and Bikram focuses on generating an internal heat by performing poses in an extra hot room. Depending on the activity level of the practice, more or less calories will be burned. However, all the benefits mentioned above related to mental health are reflective of all yoga practices, in general. So, if yoga doesn’t burn more calories than other strenuous exercise, how can you lose weight? The studies emphasized they did not know the specific mechanism involved with weight loss. But it seems quite simple- the combination of physical activity, body awareness and healthy eating are probably responsible for the results. When you are more aware of your hunger and body cues, you’re less likely to overeat. Developing this awareness helps to control mindless eating, which is a culprit for weight gain. Therefore among weight control, yoga promotes many healthy behaviors. If you regularly practice, you know the sense of rejuvenation. If you’re new to yoga- give it a chance to positively change your body. Any of these benefits will have you feeling better!

 Reference: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/030612p18.shtml Drop Those Pounds With Yoga — Studies Show Yoga Stimulates Weight Loss
By Jennifer Van Pelt, MA
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 14 No. 3

Sara Shipley, Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Management, University of Central Oklahoma BS Student- Projected graduation May 2013

I am a nutrition and dietetics student at the University of Central Oklahoma. I am a career changer after studying and graduating with a BS in fashion merchandising and working in corporate retail buying in New York City for several years. I am now studying to become a registered dietitian because I enjoy the science of nutrition and want to share my passion for balanced eating and healthy living with others. I love helping people make educated decisions about nutrition. Eating flavorful, delicious food does not have to be compromised by choosing to eat healthy. I love to cook and eat all types of food. I am an avid runner and I enjoy writing, reading and learning about anything related to nutrition, sports, food and wellness. I practice yoga and enjoy being outdoors doing anything active,- hiking, running, walking or biking.