Does yoga help you lose weight?
by Nancy Loughlin
Published in News Press on November 3, 2015
Answer #1: No.
If your only intention for your yoga practice is to lose weight, there are better calorie-burning choices out there.
Yoga can’t compete with running, swimming or cycling.
According to the American Council on Exercise, a typical yoga class will burn 3 to 7 calories per minute. And, an ACE-sponsored study also noted, jacking the room temperature won’t make too much of a difference in terms of intensity. Just because you’re sweating doesn’t mean you’re working harder.
Even more detrimental to yoga’s popular weight loss mythology was a 2008 study conducted by Mayasandra Chaya, the results of which were published in the International Journal of Yoga. This study indicated that yoga’s “calming effect” does not rev your metabolism; it actually reduces it.
Yoga’s benefits are beyond the body, yet, paradoxically, the body can reap the greatest rewards.
Answer #2: Yes.
Contrary to popular beliefs and practices, yoga is not exercise, although people use it as such.
Given the Western fixation on the body, the physical postures dominate the American yoga landscape. This is surprising because the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali mention asana only three times, and the physical practice is just one of the eight yoga limbs.
A true practice moves off the mat. You serve selflessly (Karma Yoga). You meditate and practice mental control (Raja Yoga). You study the higher principles of living (Jhana Yoga). You act only from love and devotion (Bhakti Yoga).
With this full practice, you can calm the fluctuations of the mind so you can connect with your true and authentic Self.
You’ll reduce your agitation and move into an existence characterized by a relaxed serenity, a life of “balance, health, harmony and bliss,” as Dr. Chaya wrote.
Anna Withrow, owner of Yoga Bird, Fort Myers, offers poignant words: “Don’t use yoga as another thing you inflict on your body to make it smaller and supposedly more valuable.
Use yoga as a method of self-inquiry. Use it to learn to embrace and love yourself as you are. If you’re serious about that work, overtime, your physical body will settle into just the right shape and size for you, and you will learn to truly love yourself. That will be more valuable than any dress size or number on a scale.”
Stop thinking of yoga as exercise. It’s better for your body.