Obesity is one of the most serious medical issues facing the United States today. Thirty-eight states currently have obesity rates of over 25%, according to a recent report from The Trust for American Health, a non-profit, non-partisan health organization. It has become painfully obvious that the culture that we live in today would rather catch a movie on demand while sitting on their couch than be active with their families and friends.
There are two main factors that contribute to weight loss: 1) an active lifestyle; 2) a measured intake of calories. There is, however, a third element that many people are beginning to discover: the mind-body component. Practicing meditation and yoga can help you tap into this aspect of weight loss.
When combined with diet and exercise, meditation can be a very useful tool for sustaining weight loss. Meditation is about focusing your attention, typically on your breath, thoughts and feelings, or mantra. It is commonly used to deal with depression, sleep, anxiety, pain and stress.
The art of meditation is a habitual process and must be perfected over time.
How Meditation Works
Meditation is something that must be practiced and learned in order to see any kind of benefit. You can learn it by taking classes, but once you understand the concepts, meditation will cost nothing to practice.
General practices include subtle movements to help stimulate digestion and cerebral exercises to learn how your body works best in regards to energy, activity and sleep. Once you become adept to what your body needs, you are then enabled to get more out of what you eat and thus maintain a healthier diet.
A government survey in 2007 found that about 1 out of 11 Americans, more than 20 million in all, meditated in the prior year. In American culture as of late, there has been a wide spread acceptance for this form of mind-body exercise. With the benefits of meditation being highlighted by new research, many are beginning to test it out. Qui gong, a Chinese form of meditation, has accounted for the greatest amount of success, in terms of weight loss. Although meditation can be an effective tool for weight loss, it cannot be successful by itself. In order to maintain weight loss and see results, one must not forget to be physically active and conscious of their diet.
Yoga, like meditation, is picking up practitioners throughout the United States. Celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, David Duchovny and even many professional athletes have turned to yoga for weight loss purposes, as well as a overall healthier approach to life. Although yoga may not burn as many calories as even just walking, it allows you to connect to your body in a way that nothing else can, enabling you to make smarter decisions about your health and lifestyle.
How Yoga Works
Yoga gives you the ability to be more open to change. Therefore, if you are contemplating changing an aspect of your lifestyle (like your diet), yoga will help you do so. This is done by the connection that yoga gives you to your body, specifically, your digestive system.
One of the most effective ways of losing weight by practicing yoga is through power yoga. It is an Americanized version of the traditional Kundalini techniques. Through a more rigorous pace (by yoga standards), power yoga allows for more calories to be burned during practice.
In 2005, medical researcher Alan Kristal, began a medical study on the weight-loss effects of yoga. This study included 15,500 healthy, middle-aged men and women. Researchers analyzed the surveys that these individuals reported and discovered that yoga helped practitioners lose weight or, at the least, maintain their weight. "Those practicing yoga who were overweight to start with lost about 5 pounds during the same time period those not practicing yoga gained 14 pounds," says Kristal.
These mind-body exercises are proven methods for losing weight. Not only can they provide you with the power to lose weight and feel better about yourself, they can also help you connect with your body in a way that may have never seemed possible.
Jenn Pedde is the community manager for the Masters Degree in Social Work program at the University of Southern California in the Virtual Academic Center, which offers a wide variety of social work scholarships and grants to potential students. She’s an avid traveler, and enjoys photography.