Yoga is considered a gentle method of bringing body and mind into harmony – and less so as a sweaty sport that burns many calories. Still, yoga can help you lose weight, a study found.
The reason for this is primarily the positive effects on the psyche. Yoga can help avoid stress-related nutritional errors, such as thoughtless eating, and thus lead to successful weight loss in the long run.
Study with 60 women
The study involved 60 women classified as overweight or obese based on their body mass index (BMI). First, all women completed a three-month weight loss program. This included a daily caloric intake of 1200 to a maximum of 1800 calories and regular cardio training. They received support from a psychologist and a nutritionist, with whom they worked in weekly group sessions.
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After three months, the subjects were divided into two groups. One group completed two nutrition or cooking classes a week in addition to the training. In addition to their sports program, the other group participated in a Iyengar yoga class twice a week for 60 minutes.1
Iyengar yoga is primarily characterized by the use of a block, a blanket or a belt. But hanging loops attached to the wall are also used in this style of hatha yoga. One focus is on the precise exercise of the individual asanas. These are kept static. Breathing exercises are also part of the Iyengar yoga style.2 In the present study, a low-intensity yoga class with a fairly low calorie consumption was intentionally used.
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Greater weight loss in yoga group
The researchers continued to monitor the weight of study participants. Questionnaires were also used to record their mental state over the following three months. The surprising result: The women who had lost a lot of weight in the first three months and then practiced yoga twice a week also lost 3.5 percent more than the study participants who attended the nutrition and cooking classes. As study leader Jessica Unick points out, the women in the yoga group continued to lose weight over the next three to six months.
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Psychological effect of yoga helps to lose weight
As the researchers point out, the result is not due to an increased amount of calories burned. Rather, the participants in the yoga class achieved significant psychological improvements, more precisely in the areas of:
- compassion for yourself
- Stress tolerance and dealing with unpleasant emotions
Apparently, the positive effects of yoga on the psyche have helped the test subjects to continue to lose weight and thus reduce their weight in the long run.
Also interesting: How the Kundalini Yoga breathing technique helps with stress and a gloomy mood
Other benefits of yoga
Although yoga is not a sport with a particularly high calorie consumption: the positive effects should in no way be underestimated, as the study shows. Yoga also offers other benefits. Yoga not only helps you lose weight, but also improves your posture and strengthens your deep muscles. This also reduces the risk of injury in other sports. Another important benefit, especially for those who want to lose weight: Yoga is also suitable for people who are overweight or have other physical limitations. With the many different styles, there is something for everyone, no matter what the requirements are.