Yoga as a Weight Loss Plan?
Are you in search of a weight loss regimen? Are you looking to change your lifestyle? Do you suffer from chronic depression, weight gain, fragile immune system, and daily fatigue? Are you motivated enough to change your life? If you have answered yes to these questions then Yoga might just be the answer.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is a body of science that emanates from the Indian culture. This ancient art and medical treatment that is more than ten thousand (10,000) years old. Most people view yoga as a physical exercise, however, it is deeper than this. It is more of a lifestyle than a physical and mental therapeutic device. Yoga has over one hundred (100) poses that aid in physiological and psychological health benefits.
What Is Required To Carry Out Yoga?
Yoga is an affordable and flexible work out. This is because yoga is doable at any time and place. The main requisites for carrying out a full yoga workout comprises of a yoga mat or a carpeted space. It needs a silent or calm environment, as the concentration is one of the main elements of yoga. Here, concentration is subjective. People view different environments to be peaceful which is in line with the old adage that says, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Some people find comfort and relaxation in noisy environments, though this is not generally conducive for meditation.
Health Benefits of Yoga
Yoga has endless health benefits. These benefits cut across the entire realm of body health. Yoga has positive health benefits cutting across the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms of life. All these benefits will be unpackaged below.
1. Physical health benefits
• Boosts heart rate and prevents heart diseases. Yoga may not seem like much at first; however, with time you will come to notice that it shares the same effects as cardio exercises. The poses need the exertion of a lot of energy, which boosts the heart rate and increases blood flow throughout the body. Body cells function better with the increase in oxygenated blood throughout the body. This constant increase in blood flow leads to the thinning of the blood that means that proteins that promote clot reduction and platelets are less sticky. This, in turn, reduces the possibility of heart diseases like stroke and heart attacks due to blood clotting.
• Improves the general body posture. Picture your skeleton in your mind, and it makes you wonder how much effort you exert on your spine on a daily basis. This constant unrelieved pressure could be the cause of strained muscle and unbearable back pains, even fatigue. Bodies react differently to this spinal pressure. Others react by slouching, which can eventually lead to degenerative spinal arthritis. Yoga poses fix all this to aid in the perfection of posture. Yoga aids in aligning the spine.
• Helps to build muscle strength. The building of body muscles is essential especially for women aged between 21 and 40 years of age. In women, muscles start deteriorating at an estimated age of 40 years. With the lack of enough accumulated muscle strength, this has long-term aging effects of bad posture, lack of body strength and painful back problems. Weight lifting alone can boost general muscle strength. Yoga is more effective than this since it provides a wider range of benefits inching flexibility. A combination of all the yoga benefits will leave you looking like the healthiest and youngest 80 years old to walk on the planet. Some people go as far as adding weights to their yoga poses.
• Improves your general body flexibility and balance. A newbie can barely touch their toes without bending their legs. With more yoga practice, this will start getting easier and easier. Impossible poses at first start getting easier and easier. You will be doing backbends within weeks.
• Helps to ease pain and boost healing. When you begin a yoga class, is when you will finally start noticing your general body stiffness. This tightness is not healthy for your body; it can cause discomfort and strain on joints. Yoga helps in the flexibility of muscles and connecting tissues, which are a leading cause of poor posture.
• Protects spine, and joint and cartilage breakdown. The spine has spinal disks. Spinal disks are located between the body’s compress nerves and the vertebrae. These disks are shock absorbers. Yoga provides the constant movement that they require. These disks thrive better on movement. Thus, explore twists, forward and back bends to retain the consistency of spinal disk movements. Cartilage has fluid that is essential for constant painless joint movement. The old replaceable fluid works better when new fluid comes in to prevent exposure of the underlying bone. This fluid replacement acceleration is through a full body range of motion. This pressure and movement aids in creating a fluid flow, which reduces the risk of contracting conditions like arthritis.
2. Psychological health benefits
• Promotes relaxation through slowed breath and calm environments. It helps and individual to concentrate on their parasympathetic nervous system which is more restorative and calming as compared to the sympathetic nervous system. This is beneficial to people with depression and breathing problems.
• Promotes better focus. Studies show that frequent yoga practitioners are better at problem-solving and remembering of information. The meditative art helps in focusing thoughts and managing distractions, this, in turn, boosts I.Qs, memory and even coordination.
• Gives you mental peace, and better and deeper sleep. The stretching and twisting of muscles loosen the tension in the body causing a more relaxed feeling with less stress and tiredness. This combined with guided relaxation forms like savasana and yoga Nidra you will be feeling better in no time.
3. Emotional health benefits
• Increases happiness. Most beginners do not really realize the joy brought about by constantly doing yoga. However, once the body adjusts to the constant stretching and pulling of muscles, you will begin to notice an increased sense of happiness. This is because yoga fights away depression, which helps boost the immunity of the body. The meditative nature of yoga acts more on the left side of the brain and this releases hormones that give off a feeling of happiness.
• Boosts self-esteem. There is still not a defined method of boosting or handling low self-esteem issues. Most people who suffer this end up conforming to negative ways like taking drugs and relying on unhealthy food stuff. Yoga is a very ancient meditative practice that has numerous self-examination programs that aim at bettering individuals. Theses teachings have helped many in their paths to finding better versions of them and boosting self-esteem.
• Helps maintain a healthy and positive lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy yogic diet is not as hard as maintaining a healthy diet and going to the gym to lift weights. Yoga benefits the healthy lifestyle by providing both a physiological and psychological touch to the dieting lifestyle. The yoga poses help in burning calories while the meditative aspect of yoga aids in eradicating food addictions.
How to Maintain the Yoga Lifestyle
The Yoga lifestyle entails so much. More than what meets the naked eye. It incorporates dieting, meditation and maintaining a fit lifestyle. It sheds light on the saying, “You are what you eat”. Eating healthy is not an emphasized topic of discussion when it comes to yoga. Nevertheless, a nutritious and healthy diet has to supplement all the bending and twisting. Yogic diets are subjective to yogic goals. Some people conform to diets that link them with their beliefs and yoga goals. For example, a yogi who is in conformity to the environment and nature might stick to a diet that is more plant-based. This is a sattvic diet, meaning that it refuses to support the killing or harming animals. Yogis view food as the first connection that man has to the world.
A combination of a whole foods diet with meditation, breathing techniques, and physical postures creates a good combination of an embraceable yoga lifestyle. A yogic diet should be rich in nutritious energy-giving and body building foodstuffs like plant-based oils (olive and sunflower oils), legumes, all vegetables, seeds and nuts, whole grains (oats, wheat), fruits and sweet spices (turmeric, ginger, cumin, cinnamon).
It is essential to avoid genetically modified foodstuffs, as they are not rich in organic nutrients necessary to the body. Other foods to avoid are like canned foodstuffs, animal fats, over-spiced foods, stimulants, alcohol, processed foodstuffs, sweeteners, white flour, and others. Even though most yogis recommend a diet that lacks animal-based foodstuffs, it is not entirely appropriate especially for the building of muscle strength.
Muscle strength requires high protein foods. Plant-based foodstuffs may not be able to provide the necessary amount of protein needed by the body. Thus, with an aim of building muscle strength, it might be in your best interest to consider consuming animal-based foodstuffs to nourish the muscles. This just goes to show the subjectivity of yoga teachings.
Yoga Poses Boosting Mental Health
1. Corpse’s Pose (Savasana). It entails lying flat on your back with the arms relaxed by the sides of the body. It mainly comes in at the end of a yoga lesson or practice. The savasana entails paying attention to your breathing for an estimated one to ten minutes as you wind down and relax the body. It is a wind down of a series of yoga poses because of its reflective and relaxing nature.
2. Child’s Pose. This mind-calming pose entails kneeling on the mat and proceeding to lay your head facing down such that the forehead is in contact with the mat. While in this pose, make sure that the neck is relaxed. Some yogis recommend rolling your forehead from side to side on the mat. This in effect calms down the mind even more and releases a soothing effect. This, in turn, pushes the mind to reflect on your surrounding environment and choices, thus allowing you to think of your problems in an anti-depressive and calm state. It also aids in relieving hip tension.
3. Bridge Pose. This pose aids in strengthening the legs and opening up the chest. It also stimulates the lungs, thyroid, and abdominal organs thus reducing tension, depression, and stress.
4. Twisting poses. All twisting poses help the body to open up the back, shoulders, and the chest. These are core tension points in the body that reduce anxiousness. Twists increase the rate of blood flow all over the body, especially to the digestive organs. Thus, aiding in thinning of blood and prevention of the formation of clots, that cause heart-related diseases and conditions. Yogis advocate for the combination of slow breathing while doing twists.
5. Downward Facing Dog. This pose is actually very difficult for beginners to grasp. It seems easy to do, however; it entails and requires correct body alignment. It is very dangerous as it can cause severe back and wrist injuries. This pose stimulates the frontal part of the head and reduces depression through this. It also aids in building up the upper body muscle, which is essential for improving body posture.
6. Inverted Poses. This pose aids in pushing blood present in pelvis and legs to the heart for oxygenation. Inversions involve positioning the head beneath the location of the heart. It may also include the involvement of handstands, headstands, or shoulder stands. However, these stands are not advisable for beginners. Recommended support systems to beginners aid them in doing the stands. Support aids such as walls or a yoga instructor. Lack of sufficient preparation and care can lead to severe damage to the wrists, head, neck, shoulders, or the back.
7. Low Cobra. This pose taps into the body’s elasticity with respect to the shoulders, chest, lungs, muscles of the stomach and back. It elevates moods, aids in digestion, helps in general body relaxation. This mood-boosting pose will leave you feeling energetic and stress-free.
8. Hips do not lie. This pose refers to the tension and stress that is stored in the hips. Stress pushes the body to clench and tighten. Built up stress over time proves to be detrimental to the body. This pose has a strong connection to the yogi’s feelings. It connects to the part of the brain that stores tensed emotions and can lead to sporadic outbursts of emotions. It is important to note that when this happens it is essential for you as the yogi to let it out. Holding in repressed feelings leads to depression. Acknowledging these feelings leads to a change in how you will view and move on in your life.
9. Shoulder stand. This pose activates the back of the brain, thus proving that it has a calming effect. It stimulates the thyroid thus is a preventive measure of hyperthyroidism contraction. It also aids in the circulation of lymph to the lymph nodes. Shoulder stands to strengthen spinal nerves. This, in turn, relieves shoulder neck and head tension and eradicates present anxiety.
Yoga Poses Boosting Physical Health
1. Sphinxes pose. In yoga sutras, the sphinxes pose is “salamba bhajan asana”. Proceed to lie on your belly with legs together and elbows supporting the body. Make sure that the elbows are directly aligned under the shoulders. Reduce breathing rate and proceed to pull shoulders away from the ears. This will push your chest forward and push your belly onto the mat. Hold this position for ten to fifteen seconds.
1. Child’s pose or “balasana”. It involves sitting on your heels as your arms are reaching forward. If you feel as though your knees cannot take the accumulating pressure, use a pillow. Make sure you are completely relaxed and breathing well. Hold this position for ten to fifteen seconds before taking a short break.
2. Cat yoga pose. This pose involves getting down on all fours, that is, with hands and knees all in contact with the ground. Make sure that the feet and calves are in a relaxed position. The shoulders, knees, and hips should form a 90- degree angle. At this belly position, proceed to exhale as you push into your hands. Hold this inhalation and exhalation position for an estimated ten to fifteen seconds each.
3. Cobra yoga pose. It entails lying flat on the ground with palms down. Make sure that palms are directly under the shoulders or slightly wider than the shoulders. Elbows should be pointing back and out, and the body should be relaxed. While in this position use your arms to push down towards the ground while the lower part of the body remains relaxed. This will cause a back arch. Alternatively, elbows could substitute the palms function. This will cause a more gentle stretch. Hold this position for around 10 to 15 seconds. This pose aids in stretching the back and abdominal muscles.
4. Knee to chest yoga pose. It involves laying flat on your back in a relaxed manner. Proceed by slowly bringing one knee up towards the chest, with hands under the knee pulling to the chest. Hold this position for ten to fifteen seconds and proceed to lower the knee back to the ground slowly. Repeat this with the other leg. This pose stretches out the hamstrings.
5. Supine single-limb stretch or “Supta Padangustasana”. This position begins by lying on your back with a stretched right leg and the right arm pressing onto the thigh. With the left leg bent with a strap around the foot and lifted to the ceiling. Slowly proceed by straightening the left leg while keeping the left arm straight. Then pull the shoulders back against the mat.
6. Bridges pose or better yet “setu bandha sarvangasana”, involves lying on the back with bended knees such that the middle fingers are able to feel your heels. With knees and feet at a hip-width apart, squeeze the shoulders together behind you pressing onto the mat. As you lift your hips up engage your core by inhaling and continue breathing as you press your shoulders together.
7. Locusts pose or “salam basana”. Begin by lying on your belly with arms at the sides of the body and the thumbs facing downwards. Stretch the legs out to the corners of the yoga mat. With arms and legs lifted off the mat for ten to fifteen second, lift to an estimated two to four inches from the ground. Take note that your neck should remain at its original position that enables the eyes to be in full view of the mat. Slow down your breathing as you do this position.
8. Lunge pose also referred to as “anjanay asana” in yoga sutras. To get into this position proceed by getting into a deep and low lunge. This requires the back to be knee down and position your front ankle under the knee. Pull your ribs towards your hips by bringing your belly button close to your spine. Make sure that you lift your arms and make your palms face each other. This position resembles someone holding a beach ball. Make sure fingers are reaching out to space and lift up your chest, as the back of the neck stretches. This pose engages the core.
With the help of these yoga poses, meditative yoga sutras and breathing exercise your yoga lifestyle will be up to speed. Your metabolism will follow and the weight will slip off! Some people tend to think that yoga is a feminine thing. It is not. It is gender neutral and is open to equal enjoyment by people of the male gender. Ensure your diet is nutritious and free from GMO rich foods. Focus on organic whole foods and watch your life change with this yoga guide.