When we think of starting yoga, we associate it with stretching, relaxation and breathing and in some instances getting stronger.
Rarely do we think that a regular practice of yoga could actually help with weight loss. When we think of losing weight we might think of running, lots of cardio and for some people High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and resistance training.
The general consensus amongst dietitians is that, weight loss occurs when a person's calorie intake is less than their caloric expenditure. And yes it is true that for most people the path to weight-loss requires people to change their energy intake either by eating healthier and less calorie dense foods in addition to adding more physical activity.
But what most people do not realize is that ‘stress’ can play a major role in our bodies holding onto unwanted weight. Our Nervous system governs the dynamic between our stress response and hormones.
We have a part of our nervous system that is primal and is known as the Autonomic Nervous system. It unconsciously fluctuates between two sides, which can be imagined like the ends of a sea-saw. On one end is the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). It initiates a flight, fight or freeze response whenever we feel stress or danger. It does this through the release of powerful hormones like Adrenaline and Cortisol and these chemicals importantly slow or stop the digestive system as energy is being moved to other areas of the body, which might help us, address the stress or danger.
On the other end of the sea-saw we have a system called the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) that initiates a concoction of hormones, which allow us to rest, digest and reproduce. When we are relaxed, breathing properly and present our bodies move into this state of being. Yoga is a powerful practice which can unconsciously take our bodies into this state and hence when practiced regularly facilitate weight-loss at the deepest neurological level.