by Jayna Valen
“Can yoga help me burn fat?”
“I need to get thin fast. Does yoga help?”
“I can’t seem to lose weight no matter what. Will yoga work?”
As a hatha yoga instructor, these are questions I get asked a lot. Excess body weight problems are among the curses of modern living. Lifestyles have become more sedentary, diets more unhealthy. Most of the processed garbage available on supermarket food shelves are devoid of proper nutrition and chock-full of unpronounceable toxins, preservatives and synthetic additives.
The ideal yogic lifestyle is based on balance and moderation in all aspects of life, but city living has the scales completely tipped. Our bodies now struggle to cope with all that filth, to deal with every negative thing we force upon it while having to perform regular bodily functions. Our systems are malnourished, intoxicated, worn-down, underworked in some parts and overworked in others. Is it any wonder that human metabolism is going haywire?
Can I Lose Weight With Yoga?
Generally speaking, yes – yoga usually helps most people lose weight. This is because the practice of yoga itself corrects numerous imbalances within the body, from endocrine system issues to a sluggish digestive tract.
However, results of weight loss can vary greatly depending on a number of things, such as:
• How often one practices yoga
• The type of yoga practiced
• The depth of individual yoga practice
• Underlying health conditions (eg. hormonal problems)
• Lifestyle factors (eg. dietary habits, stress levels, consistency of routine)
• One’s natural bodily tendencies and constitution (eg. various doshas per Ayurveda)
How Can I Maximize Weight Loss Using Yoga?
If you’ve decided to try yoga for weight loss, congratulations! I guarantee that you’ll benefit from yoga immensely, and in many different ways.
The best way to achieve maximum weight loss through yoga is to apply yogic principles to ALL aspects of your life. This is so that an ideal balance in all bodily systems can be achieved. When all bodily systems work together harmoniously, excess body weight will eventually start coming off. My yoga guru always told me that the body has its own intelligence, and I have personally experienced this.
• Proper Exercise (yoga asanas or poses)
• Proper Breathing (pranayama, breath control)
• Proper Diet (ideally sattvic food or a vegetarian diet)
• Proper Relaxation (savasana between asanas)
• Positive Thinking and Meditation
When your body is in a state of ideal balance (or close to it), weight loss will be effortless. With continued practice of yoga, the body will usually pare itself down to a weight that’s healthy for the said individual body type, then maintain itself effortlessly, as long as yogic principles are practiced continuously.
Remember, it’s a real possibility that your ideal body weight may never make you look ‘slim’, ‘thin’ or ‘skinny’ – but that’s completely okay. Real beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. A healthy body and mind is what makes a person really attractive, so don’t place too much emphasis on weight loss. Rather, focus on getting yourself healthy on all levels. Enjoy your yoga practice and it will do wonders for you!