In January, I decided that I wanted to do an experiment doing yoga. Would daily yoga be enough exercise to maintain (or lose) weight by creating a greater sense of self awareness and allow me to tune in to my actual hunger levels?
Studies have shown that yogis tend to be leaner than non practicers. But how can this be when on average you burn less than 300 calories per 90 minute session? The study suggested that it allows your mind to become more aware of how your body feels, like allowing you put down that fork when you are actually full or know the difference between eating out of boredom and eating because you are actually hungry.
I didn’t start my experiment until mid February when I saw a special at a Yoga studio in my neighborhood. For the first two weeks, I took 10 classes. I felt great but my tummy was starting to look slightly flabby. I bought a pack of 10 more which I completed within 40 days.
I decided to wear a heart rate monitor a few times to find out out how many calories I was actually burning. I didn’t look at it during the class but after I noticed I didn’t even burn 300 calories in 90 minutes. I was burning around 250 calories which is not exactly a great burn for your time. I tried Hip Hop Yoga, Core Vinyasa, Forrest (which I do NOT like), Rock Your Asana and a deep stretching Vinyasa. I love when I can get into a new position! It’s an amazing accomplishment.
The days that I ran for 30 minutes before class however, showed a higher number even though the difficultly of the class was unchanged.
I continued my very unscientific study after I returned from my trip to Australia, and found that my eating habits remained unchanged. I still had the appetite of a runner but was exercising like a yogi. This imbalance could lead to only one result, weight gain.
Yes, it took 5 lbs on my frame to realize that yoga alone was not enough for me. I continue to do yoga 2x a week for it’s amazing stretches and meditative experience. I benefit greatly from yoga since I tend to get slightly stressed out rather easily. I look forward to yoga unlike my strength training.
My advice for you? If you love yoga and do not have a hearty appetite, my experiment may yield different results. Changing your eating habits does not happen overnight. I’ve been a big runner for the past 5 years, and eat like one too. I exercise hard so I can enjoy the foods I like.
Final Tip: Add yoga to your weekly schedule to prevent injury and listen to what your body needs but do not forget to include strength training and some cardio (or else you might start to get a belly like I did).
Disclaimer: This study was very unscientific and may yield different results for other people.