Yoga and Weight

Yoga has become an increasingly popular activity and was found to be In a U.S. telephone survey, it was found that yoga is the most frequently used complementary therapy (not including dietary supplements) for weight control.1
Hatha Yoga and Weight

Hatha yoga is a type of yoga that uses poses, breathing and meditation with a goal of enhancing overall health and well-being. There are no reliable studies that have looked directly at the effect of yoga on weight, but a small body of evidence suggests that it benefits health by reducing body weight, blood pressure, serum glucose, and serum cholesterol levels.2

Yoga in Weight Management
Yoga shows promise as a tool for both weight loss and maintenance. A group of obese postmenopausal women in Korea were assigned to either a yoga group or a no exercise group for 16 weeks. At the end of the study period, women in the yoga group showed improvements in adiponectin level, serum lipids, and metabolic syndrome risk factors, including BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, and insulin levels.3 Among a group of yoga-practicing participants in the long-term Vitamin and Lifestyle (VITAL) cohort study, doing yoga for more than four years was associated with weight loss and an 18.5 pound lower average body weight, as compared to participants who didn’t practice yoga.4 Yoga participants also enjoyed greater odds of maintaining or losing weight.

Additional Health Benefits
Many practitioners of yoga advocate the activity as a way to cope with stress. Long-term (2+ years) practitioners of yoga had lower self-rated scores for mental disturbance, tension-anxiety, anger-hostility, and fatigue, and scores that trended higher for vigor.5 Short-term, subjects with depression who took 20 yoga classes demonstrated reductions in depression, anger, anxiety, and neurotic symptoms.6 A study that compared heart rates, blood pressure, hormone levels and several psychological characteristics between a group of young women practicing yoga and a control group found that the yoga group had a reduction in heart rate, higher scores in life satisfaction and lower scores in excitability, aggressiveness, openness, emotionality and somatic complaints. The yoga group was also observed to be better able to cope with stress and was in a better mood at the end of the experiment. 5

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1 Sharpe PA, Blanck HM, Williams JE, Ainsworth BE, Conway JM. Use of complementary and alternative medicine for weight control in the United States. J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Mar;13(2):217-22.

2 Yang K. A review of yoga programs for four leading risk factors of chronic diseases. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2007 Dec;4(4):487-91.

3 Lee JA, Kim JW, Kim DY. Effects of yoga exercise on serum adiponectin and metabolic syndrome factors in obese postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2012 Mar;19(3):296-301.

4 Kristal AR, Littman AJ, Benitez D, White E. Yoga practice is associated with attenuated weight gain in healthy, middle-aged men and women. Altern Ther Health Med. 2005 Jul-Aug;11(4):28-33.

5 Yoshihara K, Hiramoto T, Sudo N, Kubo C. Profile of mood states and stress-related biochemical indices in long-term yoga practitioners. Biopsychosoc Med. 2011 Jun 3;5(1):6.

6 Shapiro D, Cook IA, Davydov DM, Ottaviani C, Leuchter AF, Abrams M. Yoga as a complementary treatment of depression: Effects of traits and moods on treatment outcome. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2007 Dec;4(4):493-502.