Can it? If yes, then how?
Let’s not try and work out how many calories yoga might use whilst you’re going through your poses. Or how firming up muscles during the yoga exercises might increase your basic metabolic rate.
Instead, let me mention a weight management benefit it offers that you probably haven’t thought about before. Namely, the very welcome reduction of stress hormones that can interfere with weight management.
We’ll begin here:
Stressful Modern Life
Modern life can be quite demanding and hectic. Every day we face several situations that can cause us to feel pressured.
And each time something annoys or frustrates us, even if it’s something small like the pesky beeping from your phone, your body releases a surge of various stress hormones – adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol.
These guys can really mess with your weight management efforts if left unchecked.
Let’s focus on cortisol for a moment. This important hormone has a way of sticking around in your bloodstream. And over time, it can accumulate in your muscles. And that can really mess up how your body works if there’s too much floating around in your body.
Because for all the background processes in our body to work their magic, our nervous system needs regular rest and repair sessions.
And I’m not just talking about sleep.
Rest and Repair Mode
Picture this: lovely calm and steady breathing. It’s a state of pure relaxation, just like when we’re resting or peacefully sleeping. In this state, our body switches gears and goes into healing mode. Oxygen gets delivered to our cells so that various repair processes can take place. It’s like giving our immune system and hormones a bit of a restorative holiday.
And when that happens, even our digestive system can work better.
The Digestion Dilemma
Now, think back to a time when you were really stressed and upset.
Remember how it messed with your stomach? Tense situations, especially around meal times, can interrupt essential bodily functions, including digestion. Because when you’re tense, your stomach often decides to take a break from producing the right mix of digestive juices. And when that occurs, instead of using your food as fuel, your body switches to emergency mode.
The Yoga Connection: Boosting Digestion and Metabolism for Weight Loss
There are proven links between yoga and weight loss.
- It Calms the Digestive Chaos:
Yoga knows how to calm your body down and allow it to focus on essential functions. Like for instance proper breathing, good digestion, and an even heartbeat.
By practising yoga on a regular basis, you’ll be able to release tension from your muscles and reduce the levels of the various stress hormones in your system. Especially cortisol.
That hormone is well known to favour fat laying and cravings.
And by being more relaxed, you’re supporting your digestive function, ensuring that food passes smoothly through your body. So less bloating, less constipation and less gas.
And less eating your feelings……
- Mastering Mindfulness:
One of the magical aspects of yoga is that it can bring us into a state of mindfulness. During meals, we can become more aware and be present in the moment. This can lead us to chew our food more slowly and thoroughly, savouring every bite.
By shifting our focus away from the stressful “fight or flight” responses, yoga allows us a more enjoyable eating experience. Plus it can help to tune up our senses. This is really helpful when we want to recognize feelings of fullness. Knowing when we’ve had enough can definitely help us cut back on unnecessary calories.
- Cravings Be Gone:
Over time, yoga can help reduce cravings and improve gut health. Because by calming our nerves and reducing stress, come evening …we’re less likely to reach for unhelpful treats shortly after dinner. It can put us in a state of balance where we don’t rely on food as a coping mechanism.
- Yoga Can Improve Your Sleep Quality
You already know that good quality sleep is important for weight management. Because if we’re anxious and stressful thoughts keep going ‘round and ‘round in our heads, it’s hard to get a good night’s rest.
It’s been proven that interrupted sleep or regularly sleeping for less than 6 hours, can increase your fat layering hormones and activate hunger and cravings, especially for carbs.
And that’s where yoga comes in. Because when it comes to sleep, yoga can help relax both the body and mind, preparing you for a more restful night.
Here’s a nice article with some relaxing yoga poses that can get you started toward better sleep. Hopefully, after practising these for about 3-5 minutes before going to sleep, eventually, you will see the benefits as well. The Harvard Health Blog wrote about a national survey where over 55% of people who did yoga found that it helped them get better sleep. Worth a try!
- Enhancing Metabolism:
This part might be interesting to you as well. Yoga can boost your metabolism. Firstly, breathing techniques can improve your oxygen intake. This can warm up your body which in turn can slightly increase your metabolic rate.
Plus there are specific yoga poses that can stimulate and strengthen your endocrine system.
HUH? What’s that?
The endocrine system is like a powerful network of glands in your body that produce hormones. These hormones are like little messengers that travel through your bloodstream, regulating all types of functions, including your metabolism.
Therefore when your endocrine system functions as it should, it helps to maintain a healthier metabolism. And that’s another way it can assist weight management.
So, as you can see, yoga isn’t just about the various poses that may burn off more calories. It’s a whole-body and mind experience to help you manage stress and keep those pesky hormones in check.
By incorporating it into your weekly routine, you’re not only toning your muscles and improving flexibility. But you can also support your body’s natural healing processes, boosting your immune system, and ensuring your digestion works like a charm.
So, unroll your mat, breathe, and let yoga give your weight loss efforts a bit of an extra boost.