People who are seriously trying to shed excess pounds and stay healthy often ask: How effective is yoga really in promoting weight loss? The answers differ, often depending on the preferred activity of the person who gives them. Yoga enthusiasts swear that yoga is the best exercise and health program there is. Pilates trainers say the same thing of pilates, while gym bodies assert that nothing beats pumping iron and doing aerobics.
But what would a health professional, one who is not out to promote any training program, advice?
An unbiased medical professional would likely say that the answer depends on what the person wants most. If he is after losing weight, yoga will help, but it is not the best weight loss program. If the person is after overall good health (physical and mental), then his best bet would probably be yoga.
Yoga for weight loss works in the same way that any physical activity contributes to weight loss. Calories are burned during a regular yoga routine: about 240 calories in one hour for someone who weighs 150 pounds. But more calories are burned in one hour of aerobics: about 360 calories for a person with the same weight. As such, yoga is reasonably alright for losing weight, but aerobic activity does the job better and faster. It may be said that yoga is better suited for keeping the weight off, or for weight maintenance, rather than for hard-line weight loss. People who are earnestly trying to lose some (or many) pounds would do well to take up aerobic activities such as running, dancing, biking or swimming, combined with a sensible low-fat diet. The key to losing weight effectively is to lose more calories with exercise, while eating fewer calories with a good diet.
That said, yoga is great for keeping healthy. It provides many health benefits that go beyond the merely physical. It is highly recommended by doctors for everybody. Even for persons whose main goal is to reduce their weight, yoga can still be included in their general exercise plan. Yoga won’t be their primary weight-loss activity, but it will keep them healthy, and will give spice and variety to what may be a monotonous exercise routine.
Among the many benefits that yoga is well-known for is that it is a complete health and fitness program. It keeps the body strong, healthy, supple and flexible; it improves posture and respiration; and it relieves stress and anxiety. Furthermore, studies have shown than yoga improves concentration and mood, and even helps reduce the symptoms of certain diseases. For instance, it has been demonstrated that yoga helps reduce the number and severity of asthma attacks. It is effective in reducing back pain and insomnia, and in easing the symptoms of arthritis and multiple sclerosis. There is a surprisingly long list of health benefits that yoga brings.
While modern science in the West is just discovering the many benefits of yoga, this healing art has long been practiced in India. Yoga originated in India some five millennia ago. It is a very old discipline, and one that has long been used not merely for health and healing purposes, but also for spiritual advancement and emotional wellbeing. Apparently, to consider yoga for weight loss and fitness alone is to greatly underestimate what this ancient, amazing art can do for people.