Do you also wonder how twisting your body in odd positions over a mattress can lose you weight?
Don’t you have to shed fat in the form of sweat? Does yoga really work?
How can 82% of people who practiced yoga be sure that it had improved their overall health?
Also, have you noticed that the percentage of children, adolescents, and adults who practice yoga has nearly doubled, if not quadrupled?
All of us agree that yoga increases flexibility and relieves back pain. But does it also help you lose weight?
Most importantly, do the men in white coats have an answer?
One who questions first will also be the first to find an answer.
Soon I found myself digging in through thousands of medical researches published online.
To my surprise, some researches were a no-brainer.
For example, one study “concluded” those obese women who practiced yoga also smoked cigarettes to lose weight.
However, a few results I mined were precious than gold.
I try to present the best of them in this article.
Yoga can heal eating disorders
An eating disorder is a mental disorder defined by abnormal eating habits. In fact, there is more than one kind of eating disorder prevalent among people.
Eventually, eating disorders can reach to the extent to which the patient cannot stop despite experiencing drastic effects.
Some eating disorders are:
Binge Eating Disorder
You eat a large amount of food in short period of time. This can develop quickly and you may not even know about. Do you feel the urge to munch on something while watching TV? Do you feel hungry immediately after eating a good meal? eyebrows raised
This is said by some to be the worst version of binge eating disorder. It is when you eat heavily and try to get rid of the food you eat, by putting fingers on your mouth to induce vomiting or by over-exercising.
You have a fear of gaining weight and hence eat very little to prevent weight gain. It is likely that you may have a wrong perception of your body appearance. You consider yourself heavy when in fact, you’re underweight.
Many more disorders exist. We all have seen people who fall into this category to some extent. Most of us are a victim of faulty body perception ourselves.
Believe it or not, eating disorders aren’t a problem of your stomach, the cause is much deeper. They’re in fact mental abnormalities. Mostly, people who go through a traumatic experience in their childhood are a victim of eating disorders.
Yoga is about mind as much as it is about proper toning of the body. The yoga poses and breathing techniques calm the mind and the body.
While modern yoga adapted by the western world focuses solely on poses and physical body, Indian yoga (the original one) focused on the mind and the Aatma (Spirit). No matter what, yoga has been an effective tool to combat psychological and mental problems and cure disorders.
A 38 year old female who was a victim of eating disorder was interviewed. She’d been a victim of repeated sexual abuse in her childhood. The victim developed the eating disorder at 8 and had been hospitalized in numerous occasions throughout her teenage and adult years.
In 2016 finally, her hospital introduced her to a yoga-based therapy as additional treatment. The patient reported that “participating in the therapy had given her a sense of security and certainty, as if nothing could happen to her even if she would let this calmness happen.” In addition to that, through the practice of yoga, she had become able to uncover her traumas and to work with them.
She reported having gained body awareness and a degree of acceptance through yoga.
Half a year later of this therapy, she had a normal BMI of 20.2 at the time of the interview.
People develop eating disorders for psychological reasons. Yoga helps to synchronize the mind with the body. It enables you to have a correct perception of your bodies. Although researches on yoga and weight loss haven’t been decisive, it seems to “just work”.
Yoga can be effective for both obese and healthy individuals in separate ways
You may have been tired of doing those sit-ups and not seeing any results. I know you’re determined to improve your appearance and get free from diseases. But none is the reason to overwork yourself to injury.
Common understanding is that Obesity is accumulation of excess fat in the body. But deposition of fat is only an effect of what’s happening inside your body. You get fat because of imbalance in production of hormones.
Your brain is a vital organ to regulate body weight as well. It determines the effect on the nature of diet you take. The brain controls digestion and nutrient reactions.
Researchers speculate that this might be the reason why yoga has been effective in showing positive results in weight loss.
In a joint research of Germany, Australia and South Korea, thirty randomized trials with 2000 participants were used to investigate the effects of yoga on weight-related outcomes.
The study showed that indulgence in yoga reduced waist/hip ratio in healthy adults and body mass index in overweight groups.
As the study concludes, “Despite methodological drawbacks, yoga can be preliminarily considered a safe and effective intervention to reduce body mass index in overweight or obese individuals.”
Yoga seems to be more effective for obese adults than healthy lean youngsters
Never mind. The young and healthy ones don’t care. If yoga is effective for big fat oldies, we’re on it.
Fourteen young lean and 15 obese subjects faced an 8-week Bikram yoga session in which classes were completed thrice a week. It was observed that the yoga session improved glucose tolerance effectively in obese adults, but not in young lean adults.
However, another research done on children and teenagers concludes the exact different.
A 12-week yoga program enrolled twenty children and adolescents. Out of them, only 14 completed the program. Interestingly, the average weight loss of the group at the end of the program was 2 kg. As a matter of fact, majority of the subjects also improved their self-esteem and anxiety. This particular research concluded that Ashtanga yoga may be beneficial as a weight loss strategy.
Yoga can possibly be more effective to lose weight than physical exercises
One of the reasons why you put on weight is imbalance in sugar and insulin levels.
Insulin is an agent that deals with the sugar you eat through your food. In some circumstances (like when you’re awake at night), your body produces more insulin and sugar level drops at the same. This is as if the oil station ran out of oil exactly when more vehicles were beginning to line up.
As a result, you start to feel hungry. This is the reason why you always look into the fridge when watching TV at night or styaing late to complete your work.
The only solution when you feel hungry at night is to eat whatever is there in the fridge. This is the reason why staying late is associated with obesity.
The whole point is that insulin regulation is an important component that decides hunger. Controlling insulin levels is thus necessary to control weight. Here’s a research showing yoga can do exactly that:
90 teenage girls between the age of 15 and 18 years were chosen for the study.
Divided into two groups, one of the groups practiced different yoga techniques like suryanamaskara, asanas, pranayama and meditated an hour everyday. The other group practiced conventional physical exercises.
The group that practiced yoga showed greater improvement in lipid, glucose and insulin values.
Unless a giant-scale research is done to finally break the ice, yoga will continue to amaze and astonish us at the same time.
One thing terribly goes wrong when publishers use scientific researches to back up their point of argument. They try to include only those findings that seem to agree with their expectation.
It might have happened in this article as well. I omitted the researches which concluded that yoga had no significant contribution to weight loss.
But it is good to give it a try. Yoga packs tons of other benefits as well.
Here are some benefits of yoga that are considered true with better level of precision:
- Yoga improves flexibility and prevents spasms or strains.
- It improves your muscle tone by focusing on muscle groups that are inaccessible by conventional exercises.
- The breathing techniques improve respiration, circulation and hence metabolism.
- It alleviates self-satisfaction and cures psychological problems.