‘I want to lose weight before doing yoga’
When someone I know recently made this comment I had to hold back from responding, which is why I have a blog to share these thoughts! This person was not in a place mentally to return to yoga, and I knew nothing I could say would change that.
Unless a physician advises you against doing yoga or specific poses – perfectly acceptable in specific scenarios, such as recovering from an injury or surgery – yoga generally won’t make your life worse.
Weight loss is a complex topic and not one I’m qualified to address. Aside from wanting to shed a few pounds in my early to mid-20s, my weight was never an issue for me. For me, yoga initially about the experience and challenge of getting into certain poses, and nothing more.
‘I want to do yoga to lose weight’
A couple of my students made this statement this spring. My response was “It can help with weight loss, but it’s more about feeling good in your body”.
Yoga can be all cardio if you want it to be. It can be intense, it can be easy. It can be slow, it can be fast. Intense doesn’t mean fast; easy doesn’t mean slow. With yoga, you do what your body is feeling at that moment.
The public perception of yoga through social media rarely displays different sized bodies, which can be intimidating for anyone who wants to begin yoga. The teacher I did my training from has a big body, but that doesn’t stop her from doing challenging poses because she has the flexibility and strength through years of practice.
Can yoga help with weight loss? Sure it can – if that’s only what you want. But if you’re looking for benefits the obvious will come in the form of increased strength, more flexibility, and better mental clarity. I practice yoga for my mental health now more than anything, but also to help prevent injuries from running. I realized over time that weight loss could be a side effect. But for someone who didn’t want to lose weight, I needed to also make sure my yoga practice was accompanied by proper hydration, good nutrition, and adequate sleep. Most days I’ll accomplish most of those things.
In the meantime, I encourage you to look inward. Decide whatever form of movement will make your body alive – be it a walk around the neighborhood, a quick run, or a hot yoga session – and go do that.