Does Yoga help in weight management? Most definitely. There are a number of factors involved. Firstly, some of the asanas stimulate sluggish glands to increase their hormonal secretions. The thyroid gland, especially, has a big effect on our weight because it affects body metabolism. There are several asanas, such as the shoulder stand and the fish posture, which are specific for the thyroid gland. Fat metabolism is also increased, so fat is converted to muscle and energy. This means that, as well as losing fat, you will have better muscle tone and a higher vitality level.
Secondly, Yoga deep breathing increases the oxygen intake to the body cells, including the fat cells. This causes increased oxidation or burning up of fat cells. ). Yogic exercises induce more continuous and deeper breathing which gradually burns, sometimes forcefully, many of the calories already ingested.
Thirdly, yogic practices that reduce anxiety tend to reduce anxious eating. When under nervous strain we tend to gulp our food without attaining much genuine satisfaction. We end up in eating more. If, on the other hand, we approach our meals with greater calmness of mood, whether produced by habits which have calmed our life or by Yoga (like a pause for prayer before a meal), we tend to be less likely to overeat in a frantic effort to quiet our midday anxieties.
Lastly, yogic aids may be employed between meals whenever one becomes tempted to search for a snack. One may deliberately turn to Yoga, rather than to the icebox or snack bar, when he feels the need for a lift or relief from restless nervousness. Practicing Yoga may make you aware of your weight problem that may also act as a deterrent from overeating.
If you are not overweight, your weight will remain about the same. If you are underweight, you will gain weight. The weight you gain will be healthy firm tissue, not fat. That is, Yoga will tend to produce the ideal weight for you. This is due to Yoga’s effect of ‘normalizing’ glandular activity.
An article that appeared in the San Francisco Examiner of October 13, 1959 shows that the weight reduction potential of Yoga was recognized in the USA more than quarter of a century ago.
“Would you like to lose weight without resorting to the miseries of dieting? Well, try the miseries of Yoga exercises instead. One staunch advocate is Metropolitan Opera star Robert Merrill, who has been practicing these exercises for two years, and keeps trying to win converts. In those two years he has lost twenty pounds and now he’s down to a trim, rhythmic-breathing one hundred and sixty, even though he continues to eat like a lumber jack. ‘At one time I went on a lot of diets but just couldn’t lose any weight,’ he said. ‘Then along came Yoga and look at me now.’ He punched his hard flat stomach and started breathing through one nostril. And to further demonstrate what it’s all about, he did a little flip and stood on his head. After that he showed the lotus position, legs scissored under the body. Was he still breathing through one nostril? Yes, the other one. ‘If people weren’t so lazy they wouldn’t have to worry about diets,’ he said.”
For those whose eating habits, whether at meals or between meals, are believed to be due to feelings of weakness rather than anxieties, most yogic postures and breathing exercises are designed to increase one’s strength. Hence, they may relieve feelings of weakness more effectively than additional eating. The exercises themselves, although consuming some energy, also store up energy which, when combined with oxidizing breathing, provide energy that is ready for use rather than for storage.