Is lower stress linked to weight reduction? It has long been discussed, in the medical and yogic communities, that yoga can help to reduce the levels of stress in the body, and the good news is that this can potentially lead to a weight reduction as well. Lower stress can lead to lower levels of cortisol, a hormone found in the body that is secreted from the adrenal glands. When our bodies are stressed, extra cortisol is released into the blood stream, and for a short period of time, this can be beneficial to the body. It can provide increased energy, increased immunity, as well as lower the body’s sensitivity to pain. However, over time, if the body is experiencing chronic stress, too much cortisol is produced, and the balance of the body can be jeopardized. This excess cortisol can result in increased amounts of stomach fat, as well as other medical concerns, like high blood pressure and a decrease in muscle tissue. Higher levels of cortisol can also suppress one’s normal cognitive functions.
In order to keep stress levels reduced, a period of relaxation needs to be experienced by the body to allow the body functions to return to normal. Yoga, through breath and movement, can help to achieve this state of relaxation that is so important to maintain balance within the body. With this balance, the necessary amounts of cortisol are released into the body, and a better balance of stress vs. relaxation can be accomplished.
Now that the balance has begun to be re-established in the body, several more positive changes can begin to occur both physically and emotionally. Mental clarity can increase, along with focus on intent, allowing the yoga student to be more present during his or her practice. This heightened sense of presence will also encourage a student to become more committed to his or her yoga training sessions. This boost in confidence can have an amazing upward spiral effect.
Yoga students eating habits can improve as they make more cognitive decisions on what they are putting into their bodies. This change in lifestyle off the mat, along with the changes on the mat, can lead to weight reduction. Changes on the mat can include: increased muscle tone, increased postural balance, strengthened core, increased flexibility, and an improvement in self-confidence. When all of these factors are combined with a healthier and more relaxed lifestyle, the student will see the changes on both the inside and outside of themselves. Ultimately, this is the yogic formula toward complete health and the best possible body weight.
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Yoga and hypertension: A systematic review
TYAGI, A and Cohen, M 2014, ‘Yoga and hypertension: A systematic review’, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 32-59.
International Journal of Basic and Applied Medical Sciences ISSN: 2277-2103 (Online) An Online International Journal Available at http://www.cibtech.org/jms.htm
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