One of the main obstacles for people attempting to lose weight is actually getting out there and exercising. It is very difficult to lose weight and be healthy in the long term if exercise is not involved – dieting alone will not do it. When people talk about their weight fluctuating a great deal, that is usually because they attempted to use diet alone to lose weight and it’s simply not effective, you must use exercise as well.
One of the most effective ways to exercise, that is rapidly gaining even more popularity in the United States is yoga. You can do it in your home or with a group, you can do it at any age and it will not only help you lose weight, but help you relax. Yoga is also fantastic at providing strength to you abdominals and lower back and helps flatten any residual fat around the tummy. After consistent yoga exercises you will have better toned muscles in your mid section and will have more energy.
Let’s check out some of the basic concepts of yoga so you can see if it’s for you.
In technical terms, yoga describes physical, spiritual and mental disciplines which were established in ancient India. The Hindu philosophy is deeply intertwined with yoga and when practicing yoga you will find that it has a calming effect on your mind and body, which is why many religions have embraced it. Hindu monks brought yoga to the west in the late 19th century with Swami Vivekananda being it’s chief proponent.
It became extremely popular in the 1980′s and since then many studies have concluded there are numerous health and psychological benefits to practicing yoga on a regular basis. Studies have found that yoga is beneficial in the treatment of everything from mental illness, asthma and heart conditions, through to cancer. It is beneficial for overall physical health and improves musculo-skeletal conditioning. Additionally, research has shown that yoga can help balance hormones and help the endocrine glands run smoothly, which in turn helps with weight management. Your immune system will also get a boost and it will positively affect indigestion and reduce your allergies if you have any.
Whilst in the West, the term yoga generally refers to the Hatha school of yoga and it’s postures, yoga has had many schools of thought in the past few thousand years and there are many branches which can be studied. When yoga became very popular in the 1980′s, it’s attachment to spiritualism and religion lessened as many people were using it as a means to exercise their bodies and calm their minds.
The yogic postures are also called asanas and consist of a variety of routines which work various parts of the body. One of the great features of yoga is that you can choose specific asanas which will concentrate on certain parts of your body or work around any health condition you have. Some of the more well known asnas are the “Sun Salutation”, the “Wheel Poses” and the “Triangle Poses”.
Yoga is very much about breath management, and managing your Prana (life force). The Prana Shakti is a practice that consciously manages your prana and has been credited with various health improvements including increased fat burning. The Prana Shakti doesn’t involve physical postures as such, but simple breathing management!
In addition to the Yogic Asanas, there are Yogic diets which have been developed over thousands of years and go hand in hand with yoga practice. Many of these practices are simple things which many modern diets already suggest. They include reducing your intake of sugary foods, increasing water intake, and eating fresh healthy food. If you move to a diet that involves more fruits and vegetables while consistently using yoga, you will accelerate your weight loss and feel great while doing it.
Many people have also experienced a great deal of positive energy once they have done yoga for a number of weeks. The combination of breath management, asanas and a modified diet provides a vast amount of energy and a calmer outlook on life. It is a very different process from a starvation diet or other forms of repetitive exercise. This is largely because Yoga is a holistic exercise, which has positive benefits for both body and mind, so you are improving every aspect instead of concentrating on the physical. Many people find the positive emotional effects from yoga are addictive and the relaxed feeling after a good yoga session is better than an eating session involving junk food.
When getting started in yoga you should take small steps and always remember that you should go at your own speed. You can start at home with a book or yoga video, then once you have reached a level where you can perform the exercises for 20 minutes, attend a yoga class and obtain some guidance from a professional. Most towns and cities have a wide range of yoga classes available for beginners through to the advanced. Look for one suitable for beginners or one that specifically targets weight loss and always remember that you only have to go at a pace that feels good for your body. Take your time, but be consistent – you should try to do yoga everyday. It’s better to do a 10 minute workout for 7 days a week than it is to do a 30 minute workout on 2 days, regularity is better than intensity!
It will take time, but if you keep at it before you know it your body will be toned and your mind will be clear.