Weight Loss, Blood Pressure & Hype

We’ve all seen them:  Articles extolling the health benefits that yogis the world over reap from their practice.  Now articles are beginning to surface which say that Yoga’s impact on a person’s health is minimal at best.  Which do we believe?  We’ll fight tooth and nail until all the foes of Yoga and it’s multitude of health benefits are avenged!  True, ahimsa would seem to be at odds with that approach.  That being the case, I can still hear sabers rattling at this shift in the media.  What foolish temerity to challenge the age old wisdom that is Yoga!

Actually, I agree with these later findings.  Yoga alone is not a good way to lose weight nor to lower one’s blood pressure nor a host of other such health issues.  Yoga is not, never has been nor ever will be an exercise regiment.  In fact, I know that many people actually gain some weight when they start practicing Yoga.  Now, before a Yoga Lynch Mob descends upon me let me say this:  Practicing Yoga can help a person lose weight, lower their blood pressure and provides a host of other health benefits.

There are a number of asanas that you can use to help deal with the whiplash you’re likely suffering right now.  First I say Yoga doesn’t help and then I say it does, I should probably make up my mind.  Actually both statements are true.  Yoga cannot replace aerobic work outs nor strength training nor a healthy diet nor can it provide the benefits that these activities provide.  It can, however, be a great motivator to take up these other healthly activities.  Rather than make a person healthier, Yoga makes a person aware.  As one becomes more aware of oneself and becomes united in body and spirit, then it naturally follows that one will try to be healthier.  Yoga doesn’t provide better health, it motivates a person to better health.

As I wrote above, I know of some people who have actually gained weight after starting asanas practice.  The reason is that they learn to handle their stress better.  Less stress means fewer calories burned in a day and so it’s not uncommon for a slight weight increase.  Yoga didn’t put those pounds there, it just allowed a change and the pounds were an after-effect.  Yoga does provide direct health benefits over just sitting on a couch eating chips.  The real benefits, however, come from the fundamental changes Yoga can make in one’s life and not from Sweating to the Oldies, Yoga Style.