By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Is Yoga a safe solution to weight control? Let me be completely honest: Yoga was not created as a weight loss program, but the Yogic lifestyle does allow one to manage weight control. Scientific and medical scrutiny have yielded information, which looks favorably on Yogic methodology. One more study tells the world, that Yoga can help with weight control and weight loss. The study I refer to was held by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.
The study involved 15,500 healthy, middle-aged, men and women. This is a group that typically has difficulty with weight loss, since the number of calories needed declines, and the energy levels needed to burn calories, is not what it used to be. Unfortunately, this is a fact that I have become painfully aware of during the past few years, and cutting back on food was my unwanted last option. Although, I cross train almost daily, it took me one year to lose 16 pounds of extra weight.
Back to the study: Yoga practice was defined as practicing at least 30 minutes once a week for four or more years. Comparatively speaking, this is truly bare minimum, and many Yoga teachers used to say that this amount of Yoga training would do nothing. How times change; Yoga has been keeping people fit for approximately 5,000 years, and its many health benefits are still a mystery worthy of more studies.
Alan R. Kristal, Dr.P.H., the study’s lead author at Hutchinson Center’s Public Health Sciences Division said, “Men and women who were of normal weight at age 45, and who regularly practiced Yoga, gained about three fewer pounds during that 10-year period than those who didn’t practice Yoga.” Until all the studies are in, it would be safe to say that adding Yoga training to your weekly routine, and eating wisely, will contribute to weight control or weight loss.
When seeking a Yoga teacher, find one who is compassionate and will encourage you to practice more frequently. The results you will gain from regular practice, of three to four classes per week, will be extraordinary, especially, if you practice Yogic methodology for years. The physical practice of Hatha Yoga is a very low impact activity – in comparison to many aerobic exercise routines, and can be practiced for longevity. Your knees, spine, hips, and shoulders, will thank you for the condition Yogic methods will keep them in. Many of today’s standard forms of exercise do not have the same bragging rights, as Yogic methodology.
With respect to eating, take the time to identify hunger and cravings. You will notice that they are not the same thing. Being a chocolate lover, it is much better to eat a piece of chocolate, now and then, than to buy a dozen chocolate donuts. This is not to justify, or surrender, to chocolate, but to eat it in moderation, and not every day. Based upon what I have said so far, it is all about identification, control, and moderation. We have to stop mindless eating habits.
Researchers also found that women who received a 1200 mg. calcium supplement, on a daily basis, reduced their number of premenstrual food cravings by 54%. On another note: When you have anxiety, your body produces more of the hormone cortisol, which may increase the volume of carbohydrates you eat. Carbohydrates temporarily increase our levels of serotonin, making us feel relaxed for the short term.
What can we draw as a solid conclusion? Can asana, meditation, pranayama, and more Yogic techniques burn enough calories to be classified as a weight loss system? Can all the hot, vinyasa, and power classes make us lose weight? The studies keep rolling on without a solid conclusion. Maybe it all comes down to a new level of awareness within practitioners about eating and exercise, which results in a holistic way of life.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
YOGA PRACTICE IS ASSOCIATED WITH ATTENUATED WEIGHT GAIN IN HEALTHY, MIDDLE-AGED MEN AND WOMEN
Kristal, Alan R; Littman, Alyson J; Benitez, Denise; White, Emily. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine; Aliso Viejo Vol. 11, Iss. 4, (Jul/Aug 2005): 28-33.
Psychological Well-Being, Health Behaviors, and Weight Loss Among Participants in a Residential, Kripalu Yoga-Based Weight Loss Program
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Int J Yoga Therap (2012) 22 (1): 9–22.
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