Can yoga really help me maintain a healthy weight?
BY: Stacey Colino
Yes, it can, according to a new study conducted at the University of Washington in Seattle. But it’s not because of the calories you burn. It’s because regular yoga practice encourages mindful eating, a nonjudgmental awareness of the physiological sensations and psychological motivations that are associated with eating. In other words, practicing yoga can help you eat only when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. This, in turn, can help prevent weight gain as well as indigestion and heartburn.
Yoga cultivates mindfulness, in part by requiring people to hold a physically challenging pose with a calm, accepting mind and a focus on the breath. “This ability to be calm and observant during physical discomfort teaches people how to maintain calm in other challenging situations, such as not eating more even when the food tastes good and not eating when you’re not actually hungry,” says study co-author Alan R. Kristal, professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health. So if you’re trying to shed pounds or maintain a healthy weight, consider yoga. Says Kristal: “Adding yoga to a weight-loss program may make it more effective.”
Stacey Colino has written for The Washington Post's health section and many national magazines, including Newsweek, Woman's Day, SELF, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Parenting, Sports Illustrated and Ladies' Home Journal. Stacey is a frequent contributor to Live Right Live Well.