Excessive sweating has been linked to weight loss for many years. People would automatically think that after an inordinate amount of sweat then they would lose 5 pounds, just like that. But science shows that it doesn’t work that way. Sweating profusely during a workout and losing weight after it is mostly water weight lost, which you can just as easily gain back. So why do people still associate high-intensity workouts with weight loss rather than yoga?
Being in the fitness industry, yoga teachers are often asked, “Will yoga help me lose weight?” And our answers are always a hesitant, “yes,” for many reasons. Yoga has a number of benefits including curing depression, gaining confidence and being more focused, and although weight loss is one of them, it isn’t a primary result.
The most effective and life-changing benefit to yoga is that you start to develop mindfulness. And with that comes the domino effect of all the other positive attributes of being mindful.
So, what exactly is mindfulness?
It’s the awareness of all things present. And is in “acknowledging one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations,” with no judgement or criticism whatsoever. It is important to note that you are called to know and be able to properly address your current state mentally, emotionally and physically. Which is something we are not taught to do in other exercise classes or programs.
Getting on your mat and practicing, whether it’s a Gentle class or Power Yoga, if it’s Restorative or Bikram in a heated room, there is no exception to the weight loss benefits you get from having a consistent practice.
Some studies have proven that overweight people in their 50’s who got on their mat at least once a week for a total of four years lost 5 pounds.
Another study proving the unlikely way yoga helps in weight loss was done in 2013 over a period of 11 months, on more than 150 clinically obese women who were assigned either Restorative or Stretching classes. In comparison, the Restorative yoga group was declared to have lost a total of 34 square centimeters of subcutaneous fat – fat directly under the skin – as opposed to the Stretch group that lost only 6 square centimeters. On average, the yoga group was also able to lose 1 kilo more than the stretch group.
Despite the contrary belief that maybe yoga doesn’t help in weight loss because you don’t really sweat, studies prove otherwise. The belief is that all kinds of yoga help lower cortisol levels – the hormone most associated with gaining weight. Cortisol production is highly triggered by stress and less stress means easier weight loss.
So, to answer all new yogis or soon-to-be practitioners, “yes, yoga helps in weight loss. But it does so much more than that.”
Come practice yoga and find out for yourself. There are many things to learn on the mat that you can take with you when you leave.