It is often recommended that people do yoga for weight loss, mainly with the intention, implied or otherwise, that it’s good exercise to burn calories, which may help lose weight. It is true that yoga is great exercise, regarding weight loss, however, the benefits are much more than exercise and burning calories.
Yoga helps to connect consciously to the body. When we inhabit our bodies from the “inside out”, as is done in yoga, then we can begin to feel and notice the “felt-sense” in the body, which helps us get a better, stronger sense of our self. Connecting to the body kinesthetically is helpful with weight consciousness because those parts of the body that collect and store fat are often avoided, neglected and denied.
In addition, the body/mind is a “prediction” device. In this case, if you do enough yoga, the body will “predict” that it needs to be ready to do more yoga. Because of that, the body/mind will start adapting your behavior off the mat, such as eating and sleeping, to the next yoga session. This is saying, essentially that the body is changing, not because of what has happened, i.e. previous yoga sessions, but it is changing because of what will happen. It is preparing for (predicting) the next yoga session, that is where change takes place.
The poses or ‘asanas’ listed below are recommended by “Naturopathy Yoga“, Pravesh Handa for “slimming” and to “fight over weight.” Actually, what these postures do specifically related to weight loss is not stated by the author, and while I’m sure that each of these asanas has a specific purpose, losing weight is probably not one of them. (It should be noted that these asanas are standard in any yoga practice or routine.)
These asanas seem to fall into three categories to benefit weight loss: 1. Get proprioceptive feedback of how where the fat sits on the body; 2. Stretch the places where fat is stored by the body; 3. Strengthen and tone the abdomen.
1. Where you put your attention makes a difference. So, when in these poses, putting your attention on the places you want your body to slim or lose fat, as you do them, will help increase your attention and awareness on those parts of the body. If the fat gets in the way, increasing awareness will help the body do something about it.
- Many of these poses help you ‘feel’ or scrunch up the fat, and, in fact, they are particularly uncomfortable because of the body fat. In this case, instead of avoiding the fat, ignoring it, or being bummed out about it, you let yourself feel it. Not in a shaming way but actually inviting it in as part of your experience of your body. Acknowledging it, feeling it, even loving it – that is, mentally sending the fat good vibrations, will give the body permission to burn the energy – that is, release the fat.
- “Scrunching” the midsection gives the body “proprioceptive” feelings of the fat, things like how big it is, how it feels, where it’s located – the body ‘knows’ this by ‘feeling’ it. Looking in a mirror, and using ‘thought’ to mentally connect that image another thought about losing weight doesn’t work. That’s because the body/mind’s driving force comes from the body, not from thought.
2. Another aspect is that the yoga postures help the body define its’ outer edges. We make take for granted that we are aware of the outer edges of our body by how clothes fit or how we look in a mirror, but that’s probably not the case. To be overweight, for example, on some level there must be some lack of awareness of the outer shape of the body. It may be that the fat outer layer has moved beyond the “felt-sense”, and because of that, the body can’t ‘feel’ itself. It makes sense that the body stores fat where it can just grow and grow and where it is not ‘seen.’ And even though it – body fat – is in full view, it’s “out-of-awareness”. So, doing yoga brings that part of the body back into its field of awareness.
- Stretching and twisting the body from the waist helps bring awareness to that part of the body. The stretching of the skin – gently pulling it apart – will actually, stimulate it to contract over the long run. It also helps bring awareness to that part of the body.
- One big problem, as I see it is, that just buying larger clothes or looking at oneself self in the mirror doesn’t give the body/mind the sustaining power it needs to slim down or lose weight. If fact, seeing the reflection of a fat on a body, covered by loose, formless clothing often adds shame, guilt and frustration, which isn’t helpful.
3. These asanas also help tone the mid-section, abdomen or the core. Although, that may not help lose fat, as such, it does help get in touch with the felt-sense of the body and build a stronger foundation and a more solid sense of self. And, when the fat dissolves there will be a firm underbelly to enjoy.
*The following are the poses recommended in Naturopathy Yoga for weight loss and slimming.
Notice the Sun Salutation includes all three categories for weight loss benefits, scrunching, stretching and strengthening.
Surya Namaskar Asana (Sun Salutation)
1. Poses for proprioceptive feedback:
Hal Asana – Plow Pose
2. Poses for stretching the places where fat is stored by the body
Parivratta Janusir Asana
Parivratta Parsvakonasana – Revolved Side Angle Pose
Parivratta Trikona – Revolved Triangle Pose
This stretching posture is interesting. It looks like it will increase blood flow and circulation around the outer perpriphery of the body, which, in turn, will increase awareness.
3. Poses to strengthen and tone the abdomen
Baddha Kona Asana
Virbhadra – Warrior Pose
Yoga Postures to slim abdomen:
Uddiyana Bandha – Upward Abdominal Lock
This will take a while.
Garuda – Eagle
*I got the poses from google searches and they are being used without permission. If you want a pose removed, or specific credit, let me know.