I think weight loss and I immediately imagine hard, rigorous workout routines that leave me drained and dry; or, difficult diets that make me feel deprived. Are you the same? I guess we all are.
Scientists, however, are finding out that this doesn’t have to be the case. Many of us believe that for us to have great results, we need to be pouring out an extreme amount of effort. Hard work pays. That’s because this is what the society we live in nowadays dictates. But, gentle yoga seems to be proving otherwise.
We did some research on our end, asking several yogis and their students to talk about their experience in their slow-flow vinyasa class and their stories are remarkable. Most of them come from the corporate world where fast-pace is the name of the game and solid persistence makes your mark. Some also struggled with body and weight issues and didn’t like their own selves and what they saw much at that time. The change in both their lifestyle and mindset convinced us. You don’t need to die working out to get the results you want. Even gentle yoga can help you shed the pounds you need to and make you feel good about yourself. Don’t worry, we’ll get into detail and help you understand how.
It’s easy to understand how performing a couple of crescent poses and the rocking boat regularly can get you into shape; but, it’s simply hard to comprehend how a practice that many times looks like nothing other than lying flat on your mat while breathing in and out can help you shed the pounds you need to. The weight loss that takes place when you practice gentle yoga is out of the ordinary – burn fat with little to no sweat. What?!
A study proves, however, that the continues practice of gentle yoga, at least once a week, can help you lose a steady 5 pounds per year. This was done to a group of adults over 50, whose metabolism isn’t supposed to be working as well anymore. Convinced yet?
There is no exact answer for why this is so, but scientists have come up with a brief explanation which explains the mind-body connection at work here. We all know that changes in the body result in changes in the mind which obviously results in changes in behavior. Where the mind goes the man follows. So, when practicing gentle yoga, you exercise your body gently and teach your mind to focus on that exercise working on the areas you envision it to. That results in your body following where your mind leads and thus brings about the changes you want. You see it yet? Gentle yoga teaches you to work holistically thus having your parts work together to reach a common aim.
Stress – Regulation
We’re all well aware of the dangerous effects of stress to your diet. It can lead to elevated levels of cortisol in your body causing your brain signals to go haywire. Increased cortisol levels make your body store fat in your gut instead of using it up as fuel. Studies have also shown that this can lead to what we know as “stress-eating.” This is the feeling of craving for something, usually unhealthy, to eat and not even enjoying when you finally have it. SAD, but true.
The key to fighting this is to keep your cortisol at the right levels and understanding yourself and your emotions better. Practicing yoga regularly can help you with both. Yoga alters the brain structure by expanding the hormone that is a natural stress-regulator called the hippocampus. It also does the same for the parietal complex, which helps us focus. If both are in order, stress no longer becomes an issue and our focus remains on the positive things in life.
Therefore, you can say that a regular yoga practice can greatly improve how the brain responds to stress and could eliminate stress eating, which could lead to a better diet and weight loss.
Self – Compassion
“I’ve noticed such a big change in my diet. I try to eat things that will do my body well. Of course there are still days when I want a cupcake or a small bag of chips, but I don’t have myself for it anymore,” says one gentle yoga practitioner.
The trait being described here is self-compassion and that is brought about by regularly practicing yoga. How? Many practitioners have shared that the gentle words spoken by instructors during or after the class has taught them valuable lessons on loving themselves and being kind to their bodies.
“The work you do during a class become built into your very system and flows thru every aspect of your life,” explains a student.
Studies have shown that people who do not punish themselves over a diet mishap are more likely to go back to their healthy eating habits sooner.
Another student shares that before she started practicing yoga she hated her body and the way she looked. “I felt ugly and disliked the curves and figure I had. Practicing yoga has taught me to focus on the good and to embrace and love everything about me. I feel so much better now.”
Yoga does more than transform your shape; it transforms you.
Focusing on breathing and the body is probably the key to why yoga is so effective in all aspects. When you practice mindfulness while on the mat, it becomes so much easier for you to stay in tune with your mind and emotions for the rest of your day. This can teach you to understand your body better – helping you learn if your needing a break or a glass of water or something to eat.
Yoga teaches you sensitivity not only to yourself but also to your surroundings, allowing you to cut yourself slack when you need to. This builds you up and helps you have a better relationship with yourself and with everyone around you.