Today's Guest Post is brought to you by Sara Grace, who has a very cool blog called The Flying Trapeze. You should definitely check it out! Cranky Fitness is of the opinion that Yoga is a Good Thing, and Guest Posts are a Good Thing, so this works out well.
(Note: That is not Sara in the photo. Crabby does not mean to cause any confusion by swiping a stock image of a yoga pose.)
And now, here's Sara!
Light on Yoga: Five Benefits of Yoga for Weight Loss
If someone had told me 10 years ago that I'd be sitting here today, basking in Los Angeles sunlight, writing a blog about the virtues of yoga, I would have laughed my size-14 pants off. Yoga was for stick-thin, pretzel-bending new-age idiots who might try to read my aura if I got too close. (And while I'm at it, LA was for blondes with boob jobs, and blogs…did they even exist?)
And yet, yoga has become the single most important factor in the healthy life I live today – 40 pounds lighter, still not thin but a whole lot happier with myself. Yoga not only helped me get fit, but gave me reasons to love my body whatever size my pants were.
I encourage everyone to give yoga a try – a real try, meaning several months of classes with a real, live teacher. Or several teachers; finding the right one – in my case, one who didn't wax prolific about chakras – makes all the difference.
In case you're still skeptical, I offer some incentive: A list of five ways in which yoga will help you along your weight-loss journey.
Five Benefits of Yoga for Weight Loss
1. Yoga increases lean body mass. It builds and tones your muscles. More lean body mass means higher resting metabolism. In other words, you can eat more without gaining weight.
2. A secondary benefit of sculpting your muscles: As you see your yoga practice improving, your body toning up and becoming beautiful before your very eyes, it's hard not to marvel – and want to feed it healthy, wholesome food to allow it to function at its best.
3. Yoga has been shown in studies to reduce stress and increase beta-endorphins, one of your brain's built-in happy drugs. Besides being pretty unpleasant in itself, stress and/or depression often lead to cravings and binging. Stress has also been shown to promote belly fat storage due to elevated levels of the hormone cortisol.
4. The exercises and breathing in yoga are intended to focus the practitioner on the moment—not the past, not the future, just the sensations the body is experiencing in that moment. This mindfulness helps a yogini practice intuitive eating – that is, paying attention to hunger and eating appropriately in the moment. What you'll eat tomorrow ("when you're on your diet") stops becoming an excuse to overeat today.
5. During a class, you are your body; the Cartesian Divide slips away. Having that experience regularly makes it much harder to fall for our mind's typical rationalizations for shoveling in the junk: I've had a hard day. I'm already fat anyway. I'll work it off at the gym. With the regular practice of yoga, all those thoughts just start to sound like chatter. You learn to sit still, take a deep breath, and let them float on by.