In the United States, around 34 million people practice yoga and cite its health benefits as a huge factor for continuing the practice. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, yoga is a great practice to build overall strength for the body and enhance mental clarity. In line with the physical benefits, the incorporated techniques are also known to increase flexibility, tone muscles, improve heart health, and aid in weight management.
How does yoga help with weight maintenance?
Practicing yoga is tied to weight maintenance because of a handful of factors. Doing yoga uses energy, which eats up fat cells to fuel the new activity and manage weight. Additionally, burning fat promotes muscle mass, which also helps maintain weight. This is because muscle is a metabolically active tissue that requires energy to maintain and burns more calories compared to fat. Furthermore, yoga is also known to improve overall mood and reduce stress. Better-regulated moods can help manage the release of hormones like leptin, which are responsible for managing cravings that can lead to subsequent weight fluctuations if left unchecked.
In addition to its health benefits, yoga is also known for creating a sense of community since it is commonly taught in classes and attended by diverse sets of practitioners. Being part of a community is a great motivation for weight loss for most people, as having social support from like-minded people keeps them stay accountable and mindful of their progress. Managing weight is a journey in itself, and having a supportive community can inspire you to continue and sustain the habits you’re building for better health. Additionally, being in a yoga community can help you practice self-compassion and be kinder towards yourself when faced with a challenge related to weight.
Now, while yoga generally helps with overall physical and mental health, if your goal is weight maintenance, there are a few poses you should prioritize. These poses are primarily focused on toning muscle, which helps boost the body’s capacity to burn fat and maintain muscle mass.
In yoga, this pose is a variation of a plank exercise that works the entire body effectively in one static position for a period of time. The primary goal of the plank pose is to strengthen the abdominals, which requires the coordination of other muscle groups in your arms, legs, and back. Not only does this make you stronger, but engaging the muscles also helps the body burn more fat. To do the plank pose, come down to the floor on your hands and knees before inhaling deeply and extending your knees so that your body is in a straight line parallel to the floor. Maintain this position for a minute, keeping your breathing steady and making sure that your back is straight to thoroughly work your core.
Bridge PoseThe bridge pose is another type of yoga movement that engages your entire body. Additionally, some yogis believe that this pose helps regulate hormones that can improve metabolism as it stimulates the endocrine and immune systems. To do the bridge, place your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart, and your knees bent. Your hands should be at your sides and facing the floor as you inhale and push your hips up toward the ceiling. Ensure that your head, neck, and shoulders remain in contact with the floor to keep the tightness in your back and glutes. For more experienced yogis who want a challenge, you may opt to hold your ankles while your hips are up to really create a bridge-like position. Hold the position for a few seconds, then lower the hips back down to the floor.
Shoulder Stand Pose
The shoulder stand pose is one of the more challenging movements in yoga. To do it, start by lying flat on your back with your feet together and arms at your sides. Keeping your head and neck on the floor, breathe in as you lift both legs to 90 degrees. Beginners can keep this half-fold body position in place to work their muscles, but more advanced yogis can push farther to bring their bodies upright. The more advanced technique will bring your chest close to your chin as you hold your legs and back upwards, keeping them supported by your hands. While it does require more practice and precision, the shoulder stand pose is known for aiding digestion since it promotes proper blood circulation throughout the body to break down food more effectively. It also strengthens the respiratory system and promotes sleep, making it an ideal pose for overall health benefits.
Another yoga pose that stimulates digestion is the bow pose, as the position can massage the abdominal muscles and ease bowel movements. Over time, this can help your body break down food more efficiently while also preventing excess fat stores. The pose also improves your body’s posture, mobility through the hips, and overall flexibility. To do the bow pose, start by lying flat on your stomach with your hands at your sides and palms facing upward. Then, bend your knees and reach to hold your ankles within your hands. Make sure to press down in your stomach area to maximize the stretch in your body. Stay for a few breaths, breathing into your chest and ribs. For beginners, you can start by only holding one knee at a time until your body can get used to the position. This way, you also ensure your safety and avoid accidentally hurting your muscles.
Article written by Reanne Jefferson