July 5, 2012

Three Reasons Why Yoga Can Help You Lose Weight.

As a yoga teacher, I frequently get asked if yoga can help someone to lose weight.

What many of my yoga students don’t realize is that this is a topic that’s particularly close to my heart—especially as I used to be about 60 pounds overweight.

When I share this with them, they almost laugh with total surprise and disbelief! So, today in this article, I want to share with you three ways that yoga helps you to start losing weight easily…

1. Yoga relaxes your body and mind.

Being overweight is an indicator that something is out of balance in your life. Excess stress is a big factor that contributes to weight gain.

Last year, when I was teaching a yoga retreat in Italy, Deborah—a participant from California—told me she lost almost 10 pounds over the week. I asked her what made the difference. She responded, “Well it’s the first time that I have been able to switch off and relax in a long time.” Deborah had been going through a stressful time and the yoga retreat allowed her the space she needed to relax and reconnect back to herself.

Yoga is an easy way to help you relax. When you practice yoga, you bring a deep sense of relaxation to your body and your mind. As you relax, you begin to ease the stress in your life, weight loss will begin to happen naturally.

2. Yoga assists detoxification.

Being overweight is a sign that your body is high in toxicity. Detoxifying your body can help you to lose weight for good.

When your body is toxic, it means that your detoxification organs (such as your liver and kidneys) may not be working effectively.  When these organs aren’t working optimally your body will tend to hold on to excess weight.

Doing yoga is an excellent place to start detoxifying your body. Yoga tones up the inner organs and helps them to work optimally again. In my yoga classes, there are several ways that I help students to detoxify their bodies.

One of the first things that I remind my yoga students to do is breathe deeply. Breathing deeply is an important part of detoxification. The second thing that I encourage my yoga students to practice specific yoga poses that assist detoxification, such as yoga twists. In my yoga classes, we also spend time doing self massage on our bodies. Self-massage is highly recognized in the East as a powerful tool for detoxifying the body.

3. Yoga helps release stuck emotions.

What most weight loss experts won’t tell you is that being overweight almost always has an emotional component. I have an intimate understanding of emotional eating because I personally suffered from it for many years.

Often in the busy-ness of everyday life, we squash down our negative feelings with food or other addictions. Used in this way, food is used to numb or suppress feelings. Left unaddressed, these ‘pent-up’ feelings can become stuck in the body.

Yoga is one tool that you can use to access and release these stuck emotions. I remember having an amazing emotional release in one of my yoga classes. I was just coming into camel pose and, as I gently dropped my head back, I spontaneously burst into tears. I felt like a huge weight had lifted off my shoulders. I walked out of the yoga class with an incredible feeling of lightness.

Being on the yoga mat gives you the opportunity to notice your feelings. As you become conscious of your feelings, then you’re in a position to be able to address them. Not only does yoga help you to notice how you’re really feeling about something, it also helps you connect with your personal power so that you have the courage and confidence to express how you feel.

Expressing how you feel is the key to feeling good about yourself and is an important aspect of losing weight.

Yoga can help you to lose weight easily (and keep it off for good).

Yoga is a powerful healing tool as it aids relaxation, promotes detoxification and helps release stuck emotions.

After losing over 60 pounds naturally, I can personally recommend yoga as a path to losing weight naturally and keeping it off for good!




Editor: Lynn Hasselberger
Images: Author’s Own; Holly Sharpe

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Mel Feb 3, 2014 10:47am

Sadly, this doesnt work when you have thyroid issues.. I have been practicing for 4 plus years and am still the same weight.

michael Feb 1, 2014 3:22am


(For anyone reading this who is thinking I exercise hours a day, and swim, bike and run for these tris let me clarify. After originally cross training for the first few races, I eventually returned almost exclusively to yoga, and for the half iron man, I only ran and swam a few times each in my training. The rest was yoga, and some cycling (because I LOVE them both), and I did the half iron in 6.5 hrs.

The only gym membership I have ever had was to take the yoga classes they offered. I do like to do some pushups and recently learned about burpees which are a fun challenge, but don't even have dumbells anymore. I am not a "hard body" but there are times throughout the year where my son points out I'm flirting with some serious definition, and if I gave a shit I could add some vanity oriented targeted training and lay off a few IPAs and be pretty shredded in days or weeks (no plans to do that).

Please know I don't go around sharing all of this. I just wish Yoga got its props more often: particularly with men and the weight conscious. The Yoga Dork (who I generally enjoy thoroughly) comment above disturbed me a bit. Frustration and stress can hinder weight loss. Did anyone ever think maybe we all try too hard, think too hard, and want it too much for all the wrong (i.e. external) reasons?

I seriously love my body (by yoga). It works. Here's me in all my backhaired, gray bearded glory in my first wrestling match in 20 year last spring (I lost 5-4. He was 22 yrs old).

My training? All yoga, and one visit to an MMA gym for a wrestling practice (I had intended to do more, but work got busy). Screw that whole pain/gain nonsense: I did it for funsies and to hang with my kid doing what he loves. Yoga gave me the stamina (sort of…lol), and the confidence to know my body could handle it.

Do yoga, ride a bike, do whatever reminds you of the joy of being active, then throw out your scale, proudly pinch your inch for others to see if you put on a few pounds in a stressful month or the jerky holidays or whatever. I know it can be hard. Hell, my own friends called me "Fat Ass" and wrote it in eye black on my practice football uniform. But if you ignore others and our culture and listen to your body (yoga can help with all this too), weight has a way of working itself out.

Am I saying yoga is a panacea for weight loss? No. I am saying it’s more than enough of a physical tool to help you find and maintain a healthy weight for you. And by healthy I mean in mind and body.

If anyone made it this far, hope I shared something useful 

michael Feb 1, 2014 3:21am

I was a chubby/fat-at-times kid my whole life who graduated high school around 250 lbs (active, strong, but obese). At 19yrs old, I learned how to eat, and on a 70%ish raw diet lost 90 lbs (from a peak of around 270) and then maintained a weight of 170-180 for 16 years until I quit smoking (8yrs ago) and I went to +/-200lbs for about 3-4 years. I then re-stabilized at 170-175 and am once again delightfully comfortable here.

All this to say:
1. I know a lot about weight loss and weight management.
2. I don't diet and am an omnivore. I have a lot of great habits like 20 years of daily juicing, habits of avoiding white flour, sugar more often than not, and many more. That said, I eat a good deal of food, and I very rarely experience the weird guilt cycle others do using terms like "cheat" and "bad" if I house a big meal, or indulge in some cheese or chocolate cake or a rich french meal with dessert.
3. I started doing yoga over 10 years ago to address chronic low back pain, and while I am very active in general (avid urban cyclist year round, occasional Spint/Olympic triathlons and 1 half iron man), it has been my preferred physical activity now for close to that entire time. This includes years before the post smoking gain and remained true throughout the return down to my ideal weight for years now.

I hope that establishes some deep subject matter creds here for me to state: As the primary physical component to one's lifestyle (beyond walking, commuting, playing etc) yoga can not only produce significant weigh loss, it can tone and sculpt, dramatically increase body awareness and produce satisfaction with the body that departs from the maddening external goals of our masochistically weight obsessed culture that continues to get larger despite our obsession.

Do you need to do level 2-3 classes, hot classes, longer classes? Is it the deeper reduction of stress (a known killer of weight loss efforts and human health overall more damaging than even cigarettes)? I don't know for sure, but does it matter? Trust me it works. Plus, it makes me feel great. It enables me to play hard (returning to snowboarding after a few year hiatus due to crippling back pain. It enables me to (almost) keep up with my 17 yr old whether hiking to the Grand Canyon floor, or practicing wrestling with him).

My body gets more limber, leaner, and stronger every year (I'm 42yrs old) despite years of pounding from american football that led to reconstructive shoulder surgery at 17 yrs old, many broken bones including a 50 mph pile driving by a car while biking that put me in a wheelchair and a body cast at 12 yrs old.
Yoga and the inevitable commitment to a deepening breathing practice on and off the mat can do far more than take off a few pounds, but take it from a guy with the stretch marks, the 32in waist and the peace of mind to have not owned a scale in more years than I can remember: it'll play any role you want it to in removing unwanted fat from your body (in conjunction with other sensible efforts): center stage, supporting actor, cameo etc.

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Katrina Love Senn, Ubud Weight Loss

Katrina Love Senn is a retreat leader, healer and author of two ground-breaking books Losing Weight is a Healing Journey and Heal Emotional Eating For Good.

A health crisis set Katrina on the path for deeper answers. Bedridden, she had to be spoon fed back to health by her own Mother. During this time, Katrina healed her body from within, and also lost over 60 pounds naturally with no diets, deprivation or drugs.

Today, Katrina runs 21 day weight loss retreats in Bali to show women (and some pretty special men) how they can lose weight naturally…

>Click Here to Learn More>>>