Surprising Benefits of Yoga – Weight Loss & Better Performance

By | December 10, 2017

With Jill Rolston-Yates, RYT Certified Yoga Instructor

Are you struggling with losing a couple of pounds or getting in shape? Do you have problems handling stress in your daily life? Does this stress lead to other emotional issues, like anxiety or depression? If so, tune in and listen to this episode of the BeMedique podcast! We’ll talk with RYT Certified Yoga Instructor Jill Rolston-Yates about the amazing benefits of yoga and how you can lose weight, get in shape, and improve your daily performance. 

When looking for weight loss strategies or muscle building exercises, we often see people begin with more extreme activities like running, cycling, weightlifting, and interval training. In the west, we have the Nike mentality of no pain, no gain.” We believe that you must do hard and intense workouts to see any benefits. Yoga, however, doesn’t subscribe to any of those philosophies. Running, cycling, and other extreme traditional cardio workouts can be useful, but not everyone can get the expected satisfying results. The reasons for this are more profound than what western fitness philosophies provide. In this talk, you will get a clear picture of why. But first, Jill will share her personal experience and life-changing journey through yoga.

I. Yogi Jill’s Personal Experience

On the emotional level:  One of the first things Jill noticed through her yoga practices were the emotional changes.

  • Less emotional reactivity in stressful situations: Things that would typically cause stress or trigger negative emotions seemed to be mitigated easier. She became aware of how her actions and words affect the world around her. By practicing yoga, she became more mindful and less stressed. This lower emotional reactivity in stressful situations allowed her to free her mind from negativity which leads to a happier and calmer self.
  • More compassionate towards others: She was able to have a sense of the bigger picture and how she contributes to it.

On the physiological level: she also noticed some physical changes in her body

  • Weight loss without trying: This was the most notable physical change. She lost weight without changing her diet or consciously trying.
  • A stronger, leaner body
  • More Energy
  • Understanding of body signals: She began to be mindful of how and what she was eating

These are some amazing benefits of yoga, and most listeners will probably have a hard time believing that these benefits are real! But as Jill will explain, there is the scientifically proven reason as to why yoga works this way. She’ll also advise so that everyone can experience the positive effects of yoga.

II. How can yoga improve your physiological and emotional performance?

Yoga techniques can help your body to calm down in stressful situations which helps you to become more stress resistant. Why is being stress resistant so important? Today, everyone we all experience an overload of stressful situations. This stress affects the endocrine system causing weight gain and emotional problems. It could be the traffic, a stressful day at work, a lack of sleep, family triggers, or life changes like a new job, a move to a different place, and even positive changes (getting married or having children). Releasing stress through yoga techniques has following positive effects:

1. Stress Release and Weight Gain Prevention:

In the relaxation state, we don’t produce stress hormones that can damage our endocrine systems and cause us to gain weight.  The typical thought is that we can control our weight just by eating the right foods and exercising. This belief is not 100-% accurate.  A study, “Stress and obesity: the role of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis in metabolic disease” and “Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women, ”found that there is a connection between chronic stress and weight gain. If yoga can reduce stress, then that weight gain factor can be eliminated.

2. Improved Digestion:

Releasing stress through breath has an additional physiological effect of calming the heart rate and bringing the blood flow back to normal. When this happens, our digestive system can function normally. After a yoga session, practitioners often boast of improved digestion.

3. Improved Sleep Quality

4. Greater Metabolic Variability:

Unlike western methods or exercise, yoga can influence the conversion of food to cellular process. According to an explorative study, yoga practitioners have a greater metabolic variability than non-practitioners and more rapid post-stress recovery time.   Yogis burn more calories, get more benefits from the nutrients they put in their bodies and can recover faster than the non-yogis.

5. Building Muscle Mass:

All yoga poses (or asanas) build muscle. Inversions work our upper body; most asanas work the core muscles, and, in yoga, we use our body weight as resistance. All this builds muscle and makes our body stronger and leaner.

6. Slows Down the Aging Process

Yoga can counteract some of the aging processes. There are some forms of yoga that work to slow the metabolism to make the body more efficient.

7. Less Hungry = Weight Control

The theory is that when we’re calmer and more relaxed, we make more conscious and mindful decisions, we’re less hungry.

III. Advice from a Yogi Jill

Yoga isn’t the typical exercise employed by those looking to shed some pounds or build up muscle. Unlike traditional western exercise methods, yoga influences the body on a deeper level. It does more than just work the muscles and the heart. Some asanas are unique to yoga that we don’t often practice in western exercise. These poses not only help our body gain muscle, but they also help to regulate hormones, improve digestion, and calm the central nervous system. Here are four simple rules for your practice:

1. Practice these four yoga techniques:

Twist: Twist based asanas twist the body into different positions, and by doing this we work our internal organs which can regulate hormones and improve digestion.

 

 

 

Inversions: An inversion is anytime your feet are above your heart, or your head is below your heart. You’re probably thinking of a headstand.  But no worries!  There are simple poses that everyone can do. For example, downward dog or the simple relaxation pose of laying on your back and putting your legs on the wall. These poses reverse blood flow from your feet to your heart, sending blood to the brain and cleansing the lymphatic system.   

Savasana (Corpse Pose): Also, don’t forget that the most critical pose in any yoga practice is savasana or corpse pose. We do this at the end of training, and it allows everything we’ve done in our practice to synthesize. It will enable our bodies to completely relax and let that energy we’ve created work through our system. Lots of people doing yoga in the west skip this pose because they’re in a hurry to get to the next thing, but cooling down and relaxing or doing nothing is just as important as the work that came before it.

Breathing and Meditation: Breathing and Meditation are an essential part of any yogi practice. In Hatha, we inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose. We use this technique of breathing to calm our bodies and help empty our mind, as well as keep us focused on our practice. This creates a mindful and safe practice. Start small and say, “I’m going to meditate for 5 minutes a day, every day for a week.” Pick a time of day and stick to that time every day to spend 5 minutes deep breathing, ratio breathing, or yogic breathing.

2. For the Best Results: Practice Yoga Every Day!

There’s a great yogi slogan:

“Do yoga once a week, change your mind. Do yoga twice a week, change your body. Do yoga every day, change your life.” – Mehtab.

That slogan perfectly encompasses the idea of a personal yoga practice. No matter what goals you have, you want to choose something manageable. Some people say that only 15 minutes a day, a quick series when you wake up, can have lasting benefits. Others see benefits with one, 60-minute class 3 times a week.

3. Start with the beginner classes!

You’ll see the benefits of yoga no matter the level. Beginner classes allow you to learn correct alignment and techniques so that you can get the maximum benefits without injury.

IV. In Summary

In summary, yoga is a holistic practice. It balances and adjusts your body in its entirety. It keeps your mind, body, and spirit running efficiently and mindfully. It’s the perfect exercise and practice for those looking to improve the mental and physiological performance.

Namaste!

BeMedique´s Yoga Toolbox:

  • Comfortable Clothes

Yoga Classes – Yoga Instructor

Virtual Yoga Classes

 

Please note, that information is designed for the improvement of life quality. If you have any concerns or questions about your health or if you have any health disorders, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional. You should not rely on information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

 

References:

Mousumi BoseBlanca Oliván, and Blandine Laferrère, Stress and obesity: the role of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis in metabolic disease Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2009 Oct; 16(5): 340–346. doi:  10.1097/MED.0b013e32832fa137, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2858344/

Moyer AE, Rodin J, Grilo CM, Cummings N, Larson LM, Rebuffé-Scrive M. Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women, Obes Res. 1994 May;2(3):255-62. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16353426

Anupama TyagiMarc CohenJohn Reeceand Shirley Telles. An explorative study of metabolic responses to mental stress and yoga practices in yoga practitioners, non-yoga practitioners, and individuals with metabolic syndrome BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014; 14: 445. Published online 2014 Nov 15. doi:  10.1186/1472-6882-14-445 PMCID: PMC4247158, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4247158/

MS Chaya and H R Nagendra, Long-term effect of yogic practices on diurnal metabolic rates of healthy subjects Int J Yoga. 2008 Jan-Jun; 1(1): 27–32. doi:  10.4103/0973-6131.36761, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3144606/

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