Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Will Yoga Make Me Skinny?

Does yoga help you become thin and lean? Or do people who tend to be lean gravitate towards yoga?

Interesting question.

I'm always fascinated by people who claim their type of exercise will help people have longer, leaner muscles. Since I have short extremities relative to my torso, that has appealed to me. I was always envious of the girls who had delicate builds, looked like they never worked out, and yet were extremely powerful.

I have known these types of girls and women...and they have done a variety of exercises. Some did yoga, some preferred pilates, some swam, and others lifted weights. So I don't believe there is any one "magic" exercise.

Can the exercises we do influence how our muscles appear? Sure, but most women do not need to worry about "bulking up" with just a 15-30 minute routine every day...so take one worry off your mind and focus on finding what you enjoy doing.

Try yoga. It has lots of health benefits besides exercise. There are lots of different types of yoga so be willing to look at a variety before you decide if you like it or not. If you are overweight then yoga can pose some challenges (is that a groan I hear???) but with proper guidance you may be able to participate and gain some strength, flexibility and balance while being gentle on your joints.

If you are significantly overweight then you may be able to modify some of the yoga routines and get some benefit. If getting up and down is difficult, work with someone who will help you adapt yoga to your current abilities...even if it means you start with limited positions and work on your bed or a couch.

What I like about yoga is the calmness, the meditative quality. But for me, yoga is best when I am with a group. I actually get too impatient with it by myself. Plus right now I don't want to take the time...I like my daily 15 minutes instead. But that's just me--it doesn't make it wrong or right.

Here is one theory behind why people who practice yoga tend to be thinner...a current study suggest that these folks are more in touch with their bodies and that carries over to eating.

Whether you decide you enjoy yoga or not, being in touch with our bodies is an important lesson that we all deserve to learn. I often talk about eating consciously...and that is what this is really all about. Eating consciously, really thinking about what we eat, when, why and how much we eat is a huge shift for most overweight people.

Will yoga help you to be eat more consciously? I don't believe the study really addresses that...there really is still the chicken or the egg question...are people who practice yoga more inclined to eat consciously because of yoga or are they drawn to yoga because they are already more in touch with their bodies?

What I found more valuable in the study is that it showed that people who are more conscious about their eating weigh less...have a lower BMI (body mass index.)

This makes sense and is what I talk about often...and was the biggest shift in my mindset that enabled me to successfully drop 125lbs. When you eat, focus on eating...work on changing your mindset...become aware of the food that is going into your mouth. Stop the habit of mindlessly eating...whether that is chewing gum, munching on carrots sticks or downing Oreos. Bring your awareness to what you are doing and you will be surprised at how you can easily eat less.

It starts with being aware. For a week, use a food journal to track what you eat and drink. Don't try to change your intake...just write it down so you really know what you are currently doing. That is the first step.

Will yoga make you thin? I doubt it. It didn't make me thin. But it does cause you to slow down, get some deep breaths in, stretch and builds muscles. None of those are bad things. So give it a try. But remember, it is what you are doing in your mind that is going to make the biggest difference. Combine mindful eating with moving more and you have the 3 Ms of weight loss success: mindset, movement and mouth. That's the real secret to achieving a healthy body, permanently!


Kai Lo said...

It depends on the intensity of each yoga session. It's all about burning calories whether it is jogging, yoga, swimming, etc.

Laurie Tossy said...

It isn't just about burning calories or needing intense workouts. It is also (mostly) about your mindset and being conscious about our eating behaviors.