Breath in, breath out, and lose weight: The relationship between Yoga and mindfulness

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Author credit  Jennifer Dawson
Photo by Li Sun from Pexels

Obesity is an epidemic in the United States and plays a pivotal role in several chronic illnesses. More than 30% of the U.S. population is obese with an annual medical cost of $147 billion dollars.  Yoga can be an effective way to solve this social issue as it can help individuals lose weight - especially the more active forms of yoga.  Furthermore, the practice of yoga can lead to the development of mindfulness that helps individuals who want be more aware of their eating habits.

The effects of mindfulness eating

The mental and spiritual aspects of yoga focus on making a person practice mindfulness, which means an increase in awareness.  Mindfulness may influence eating behaviors of individuals and make them more aware of the effects of the choices of food they eat and their eating habits. As a result, individuals make more conscious efforts about their food intake like preferring to eat green leafy vegetables and healthy fats compared to complex carbs and processed foods.  Through yoga, individuals can avoid compulsive eating and overeating as individuals become more sensitive to their feelings of hunger and satiety.  They can easily notice when they are already full and stop eating.

The link between mindfulness and obesity

Researchers found that mindfulness yoga was effective in reducing obesity and making obese people more functional.  In the study, participants who received mindfulness-based stress reduction program in fourteen sessions had lower obesity levels. Moreover, the follow-up also revealed that the participants were able to maintain their lower obesity level.   In addition, adults who are obese and are exposed to yoga seemed to have experience a good quality of life in terms of enjoying physical activity, self-esteem, ability to work, and social satisfaction. By participating in yoga sessions, individuals who are obese are able to take control of their body. They can easily do physical movements that encourage them to increase their physical activity levels.

Yoga nidra and weight loss

Yoga nidra is a structured method of inducing a form of relaxation that encompasses the body, the mind, and the soul.  Relaxation is achieved by turning inward, away from outer experiences of the individual. This form of yoga was also found to be directly linked to weight loss. Researchers explored the effects of yoga nidra to 40 women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome.  The researchers concluded that after practicing yoga nidra for 12 weeks, there was a significant decrease in weight among the participants.

Yoga nidra is also linked with mindfulness as it is also known as conscious relaxation. The practice of yoga nidra can help individuals to increase their levels of mindfulness. In fact, a 2018 study found that health workers who practiced yoga nidra for eight weeks increased their mindfulness levels.  

Yoga improves mindfulness of individuals that makes them become fully-conscious of what they are eating. As a result, individuals would want healthier food that nourishes their body, mind, and soul. Yoga is a great addition to your weight loss regime because you not only lose weight, you also improve yourself by being mindful in everything you do.

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