Obesity is one of our country’s most insidious health problems. But there is a solution. While most people think of yoga as a passive and relaxing endeavor, it is actually a quite effective means of losing weight. So effective, in fact, that schools in the UK are starting to teach it to their students to help ward off childhood obesity.

Similar programs have been studied here in the US. One such study through Hampton University found that high school students who practiced yoga for 40 minutes 3 to 4 times a week lost an average of 6 pounds and reduced their BMI (body mass index) by 6% within 3 months.

How does it work? Yoga acts on several levels to help you to lose weight:

    Yoga increases your metabolism. The postures (also known as asanas) in yoga are often help for extended periods of time. This practice increases lean muscle mass which in turn speeds up your metabolism and causes your body to burn more calories while at rest.

    Yoga cleanses your system. The asanas and breathing exercises practiced in yoga help to improve your digestion and the elimination of wastes. Many of the postures also help to stimulate lymphatic flow, which facilitates the release of toxins from your body.

    Yoga helps your body to release and burn stored fat. When you’re stressed your body secretes greater than normal amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. This in turn triggers your body to increase fat storage – particularly in the stomach area. By teaching you the art of true relaxation, yoga helps to curb this process and your body is able to release and burn this stored fat.

    Yoga enhances healthy living. By teaching you to tune in and listen to your own body you will naturally gravitate toward healthier eating habits. As your natural instincts take over you will become more attuned to those things truly nourish you.

In addition to weight loss, yoga provides many other benefits. A study of 34 previously non-active women found that after 8 weeks of practicing yoga they experienced increased flexibility, aerobic fitness and muscle strength as well as improved balance and posture.

If, like so many others, you are struggling to lose weight, why not give yoga a try?

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