The best and healthiest way to lose weight is to watch what we eat and exercise regularly. Yoga asanas are a great form of exercise that can help you lose weight, though not necessarily in the way you might think.
While yoga asanas don’t burn as many calories as, say, running or cycling, they have many deeper effects on our body and mind that can lead to permanent changes, helping us to lose weight as well as to maintain our ideal weight.
Practicing yoga asanas regularly has a profound effect on the endocrine system. The various yoga poses stimulate the endocrine glands to function properly. For weight loss, the most important of these glands is the thyroid, which secretes the hormones that regulate our metabolism—the rate at which our cells burn fuel for energy. Many yoga asanas have a beneficial effect on the thyroid, helping boost a slow metabolism.
It’s also interesting to note that our bodies burn more calories when our muscles are dense and strong, even when we’re not exercising. Yoga’s strengthening poses help us build muscle all over our bodies, which can ultimately help us lose weight. They also increase oxygenation of the body, which helps burn calories more efficiently.
Last and probably most importantly, once we begin practicing yoga poses regularly, we become more aware of our body and how it feels. We notice how good we feel after an asana session or after eating a nourishing meal or a colorful salad. By contrast, we also know what it’s like to feel bloated and uncomfortable after sitting all day and then pigging out on pizza and ice cream. Tuning into our bodies like this helps us make healthier choices … the choice to eat well, to exercise regularly, to sleep enough, and so on. Once we realize that the unhealthy choices don’t really have many rewards, it becomes much easier to leave them behind … even if they’re long-standing habits. Yoga awakens the awareness that leads to that realization.