This article is written by Leah Quinn.
Thanks to perceptions of its physical, mental, and spiritual benefits, yoga is growing in popularity around the world.
A 2022 survey published in the International Journal of Yoga asked those unfamiliar with the practice what they thought of yoga — and the three most common perceived benefits were cited to be an improvement in physical health, cognitive functions, and mental health. Many of these respondents also considered yoga as an exercise activity and were greater in number than those who perceived yoga as a spiritual activity.
And all of these perceptions are correct! Yoga seeks harmonious balance and health of the body and mind. In fact, because yoga is such a balanced and moderate activity, every individual can practice yoga to physically, psychologically, and spiritually understand their weight and body as they gracefully age.
Does this sound intriguing? Let’s take a closer look at how yoga is used for better understanding one’s body and weight below.
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Understanding Yoga and its Benefits
There is a tendency to focus on the physical aspect of the practice because the different poses in yoga require you to use your own body weight as a form of resistance. This helps you gently build muscle and improve your metabolic rate. People who are overweight or come from a sedentary lifestyle can easily find the right asanas that are forgiving on the joints.
As we’ve detailed in our previous article, however, the potential of yoga practice for improving our lives is boundless. Through constant practice of asanas, where you experience concentration and serenity, you will be able to obtain a radical transformation of your entire personality that manifests itself in behavior.
Here, yoga has you constantly asking yourself, “What is my body feeling, and why is it feeling this way?” This pursuit of mindfulness helps you identify sources of suffering. This allows individuals who struggle with binging tendencies, for example, to become disciplined and recognize triggers or cravings as transient. It also becomes easier to forgive oneself for blunders in one’s healing journey — thus cultivating a caring attitude (Maitri), compassion (Karuna), encouragement (Mudita), and emotional stability (Upeksha) towards oneself and others.
Pairing yoga with other interventions
Yoga can easily be paired with other interventions to streamline the process of understanding your weight and body. For one, yoga can be easily combined with other exercises that focus on developing awareness, such as Pilates. This increases the amount of time you spend paying attention to your bodily sensations.
Others can opt to supplement their body and weight-healing journey with medication. Medications aren’t magic cures for weight loss and only work to suppress appetite. Many people are also wary of such medication, with a common concern being do weight loss pills work? Even with certain medications being FDA-approved most people have a firm stance on the answer, and as a result, they only follow “natural” or “synthetic” treatments. However, the two can easily work in tandem as long as the medicine is recommended by your doctor. Experts overwhelmingly recommend medication usage alongside lifestyle modification interventions such as yoga to promote more disciplined weight management over the short- and long-term, particularly for those struggling with obesity.
Many people still understand diets to be a solely physical process and question whether psychological interventions help with weight loss. However, the primary cause of obesity is confirmed to be the inability to control overeating. Approaching obesity as an eating disorder and using goal-oriented psychotherapy — alongside yoga — to reorient triggers and redirect cravings towards healthier alternatives has scientifically shown the highest effectiveness in weight loss.
Practicing yoga and mindfulness
There are many different styles of yoga, and it is common to ask: “Are there different beneficial roles of yoga depending on the style?” Research has found that adults who are obese, or overweight, and have practiced either restorative hatha yoga or more vigorous vinyasa yoga lost significant amounts of weight by the end of the trials.
The effects of yoga are never necessarily proportional to how poses appear externally. That’s because we can better understand our weight and body through yoga only by practicing concentration, listening, attention, and awareness.
We practice Iyengar Yoga, where meditation is believed to follow naturally from the practice of asana and pranayama. If you’re unsure where to start, you are welcome to join our beginners friendly online courses Yoga with Chairs, or Yoga with Props – which introduce the fundamentals of Iyengar Yoga. Together, we can learn how to develop sensitivity and consideration toward our bodies and minds.
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