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Fight Fat on Your Mat

A regular yoga practice increases mindfulness, which has proven an effective tool for weight loss.

By Andrea Ferretti

woman on mat

There's no question that yoga practice builds body awareness and acceptance, but yoga as a sure-fire path to weight loss? Until now, doctors and scientists weren't convinced. But a study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle may make them sit up and take notice.

Researchers queried healthy men and women about their weight history and physical activity from the ages of 45 to 55. It turned out that study subjects who were overweight and did yoga at least once a week had lost five pounds over the 10-year period, while their non-yogi counterparts had gained eight. (Yoga practitioners of normal weight did tend to gain weight over the years, but people who didn't practice gained more.)

The reason? Lead researcher and Anusara Yoga practitioner Alan Kristal believes that it's not the number of calories that yoga burns, since only the most vigorous yoga practice will burn enough to trigger a weight loss. "But yoga builds mindfulness," says Kristal, who is also a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health. "You learn to feel when you're full, and you don't like the feeling of overeating. You recognize anxiety and stress for what they are instead of trying to mask them with food."

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Reader Comments


Allison-It is great to see that you are getting benefits by practising yoga 1-2 times a week. You will get more positive results by doing yoga 3-4 or 4-6 times a week. I am practising Yoga for about 16 years. I am more than 68 years and feel more energetic and peaceful, even though I am working in an African country. I have been able to reduce my dosage of medicines for high blood pressure, enlarged prostat gland and am hopeful that dosage of my medicines will further reduce in the near future. Good luck ! Namaste !


Hey Allison I am a yoga teacher I have been practicing for 12 years. If you can only practice 1-2 times a week, try a simple home practice....some breathing,meditation...or a couple sun salutations are great to do at home. Even legs up the wall is reenergizing and has sooo many benefits. . And remember to take lessons that we learn on the mat with you in the real world! Namaste


Plus, never underestimate the power of the relaxation response primarily in the reabsorption of coritsol and adrenaline etc.! namaste

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