By Gwen Lawrence
In addition to yoga’s well-documented methods of promoting health and happiness. it also has the ability to help you lose weight, burn calories, boost metabolism and reduce stress. Although yoga is not a quick fix, it can be an excellent long-term approach to losing weight and keeping it off.
Metabolism consists of the chemical processes that create energy in the body that are regulated by the endocrine system, especially the thyroid. Yoga has a powerful stimulating and strengthening effect on the endocrine organs and thus can boost metabolism to burn more calories. Twisting and compressing yoga postures massage the endocrine and abdominal organs, regulating their function, improving local circulation and cleansing them of old stagnant toxins.
Along with the physical postures, breath techniques such as Kapalabhati Pranayama (breath of fire) and Ujjayi Pranayama (ocean sounding breath) help warm and energize the body, further boosting metabolism. In addition, the three-part breath helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which adjusts hormonal imbalances.
Practicing Sun Salutations will be especially helpful in boosting the body’s metabolism, as will flowing through a vinyasa practice. Twisting poses, back bends, forward bends and inversions are all used to stimulate the endocrine system.
In general, yoga poses, pranayamas and meditations bring the awareness to the practitioner so she can see emotional eating as an unhealthy habit and provide the skills to effectively process and resolve emotional distress. Combining a yoga practice with meditation helps improve self-awareness and self-reflection, reduce stress and promote equanimity.
Poses to increase metabolism:
- Twists help to displace anger and align the spine. These postures, like Prayer Twist and Twisted Lunge, also help to invigorate and energize the body, massaging the endocrine and abdominal organs and boosting metabolism.
- Arm flaps bring heat to the body, which boosts metabolic function.
- Backbends, like Bridge or Wheel, open the lungs and anterior spine, increasing breathing, oxygen exchange and fat-burning capability.
- Inversions, like Headstand and Handstand, bring blood to the brain, clearing lymph nodes and flushing toxins.
- Plow stimulates the abdominal organs and the thyroid gland, stretching the shoulders and spine.
- Shoulderstand stimulates the thyroid, prostate glands and abdominal organs. It also helps tone the legs and buttocks.
- Thyroid-stimulating poses, such as Camel, Shoulder Stand, Rabbit, Plow and Bridge, help correct hormonal imbalances.
- Savasana and other meditative postures calm the mind, helping the practitioner stick with the practice and stay mindful.