Can Yoga Help Me Lose Weight?

Dear Diane, My friend has been doing yoga and looks great. She also has a better attitude (thank God). Can a regular yoga class help me lose weight, or do I have to do that power stuff and sweat it

Dear Diane,

My friend has been doing yoga and looks great. She also has a better attitude (thank God). Can a regular yoga class help me lose weight, or do I have to do that power stuff and sweat it off? I've never done yoga, so how do I start?

— Yoga Body Wannabe

Dear YBW:

If I lost a pound for every person who asked me about yoga and weight control, I'd be a model on the cover of Yoga Journal Magazine. But seriously, after I started doing yoga, I haven't had to "watch" my weight like I did before. So, luckily the answer is yes, and here's why:

1. Hatha yoga is physical movement and therefore burns calories and inches. If you add it to your daily routine and don't eat more, it can count as exercise and toning.

2.

Yoga changes your frame of mind by paying more attention to your body. Many new students didn't realize one side was tighter than the other or couldn't feel their abdominal muscles. This awareness is motivation to change.

3. Stress alone inhibits weight loss, because muscle tension slows down the digestion process, causing food we eat to turn into fat (hanging around our hips) instead of waste (leaving for good, thank you very much!). Also stress leads to poor food choices, drinking, over-working and under-exercising ... shall I go on? Yoga breathing and slow-focused movements generate the relaxation response that allows proper digestion and a calmer state of mind.

4. Yoga is also very nurturing and soul searching, which helps build a better relationship with ourselves, inside and out. The better we feel about ourselves, the better care we take.

Regarding the need for power yoga, it's recommended to have a basics-level practice established to understand proper breathing and alignment for safety. Eventually you can add power yoga as a workout, but it's not the place to start.

Basics or New Beginners is where to begin, especially if you're carrying some extra weight. It doesn't take much to start getting results. This month's Men's Health Magazine says, "You don't have to exercise at a high intensity to increase your metabolism, build strength or feel energized. Moderate activity yields these rewards without exhausting a person." Now that's my favorite way to get into shape!



DIANE UTASKI ANSWERS YOGA QUESTIONS in her columns; send questions to [email protected]. Find more info at www.cincyoga.com.

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