Five Ways Yoga Aids in Weight Loss

Yoga is my favorite form of exercise, and it offers abundant benefits to the body and mind.

Crescent Moon Pose
Wikimedia Commons/Jessmcintyre

Today I will focus on five ways that yoga can help you and me to lose or maintain weight.

#1 The yoga diet

Eating improperly can can cause an undesirable appearance and a flawed though process.

Yoga classifies food into three different categories called rajasik, tamasik and sattvik.

*Rajasik foods

Rajasik foods may cause weight gain and a feeling of discontentment after eating them. These foods are fried, heavily seasoned and even baked; in addition, alcohol, sugary foods and processed drinks fall into this category.

*Tamasik foods

Tamasik foods can cause laziness and an intolerant personality. This category includes foods that are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian that are prepared with an overabundance of spices, salt and fiery seasonings.

*Sattvik foods

Sattvik foods are considered supreme for yogis, and they include fresh foods that are prepared with minimal seasonings and spices. Sattvik foods are cooked in such a manner that they do not lose their nutritional value.

Sprouts are one of the best foods in this category because they are natural and can help relieve muscle cramps, digestive disorders and problematic skin and hair.

Other foods that yogis should eat are:

*Sweet potatoes

*Whole grains

*Brown rice

*Oatmeal

*Millet

*Uncooked vegetables

*Salad

*Gooseberries

*Spinach

*Papaya

Foods that yogis should avoid include:

*White bread

*Fried foods

*Fattening salad dressings

*Sugary desserts

#2 Yoga is connected to mindful eating

Since practicing poses (asanas) on a regular basis has been connected to mindful eating, following the yoga diet should come easier to those who already enjoy asanas.

A study discovered that practicing yoga regularly may aid in preventing weight gain in middle aged people who fall in the normal weight range. In addition, the study found that yoga can aid in weight loss efforts of those who are currently overweight.

An associate head of the Cancer Prevention Program in the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center, Kristal, said, "In our earlier study, we found that middle-age people who practice yoga gained less weight over a 10-year period than those who did not. This was independent of physical activity and dietary patterns. We hypothesized that mindfulness-a skill learned either directly or indirectly through yoga-could affect eating behavior."

Kristal, who has also been a long time yoga enthusiast, also stated, "These findings fit with our hypothesis that yoga increases mindfulness in eating and leads to less weight gain over time, independent of the physical activity aspect of yoga practice."

#3 Perform the right types of yoga for weight loss

Yoga is know to help one gain both flexibility and relaxation. The right type of yoga can also produce a cardio effect to aid in weight loss efforts.

Power yoga is the best type of yoga for promoting weight loss. This type of yoga moves from one pose to the next without stopping, giving the body a cardio effect. Taking classes or purchasing DVDs are both great ways to incorporate this fat burning workout into your fitness routine.

Jillian Michaels: Yoga Meltdown and Shiva Rea: Power Flow Yoga are both excellent power yoga workout videos.

#4 Less stress equals decreased cortisol levels

Yoga reduces stress; consequently, lowering cortisol levels in the body.

High levels of the hormone cortisol are associated with food cravings; also, high levels cause extra calories to be turned into fat.

#5 Yoga builds muscle which helps speed up metabolism

Yoga builds muscle by body weight resistance, and building muscle speeds up your resting metabolism. That means that you burn more calories even after you are done working out and while you sleep.

More from Rebecca Bardelli:

Couples Yoga Enhances Intimacy

Land and Sea Join Forces During Yoga for Surfers

Top Five Funniest Yoga Videos

Eight Yoga Poses for PMS

Top Five Items for Your Pre-Yoga Workout

Rebecca completed courses in Medical Terminology, Administrative Medical Assisting, and Coding and Billing. She is recognized by the National Healthcareer Association as a Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) and Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA). In addition, Rebecca is a former gymnast and is avid about yoga, swimming and other athletic activities.

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Updated Monday, Dec 19, 2011