The new year is the perfect time for a fresh start. For many of us, this may include weight loss resolutions. Although a recent Galllup-Healthways report shows the U.S. obesity rate has held steady, a whopping 26.2 percent of adults remain obese.
My 2012 blog "Jumpstart Weight Loss Resolutions With Yoga" highlighted research showing yoga can boost and sustain weight loss. Since then, more yoga for weight loss studies have been published.
Here's the latest yoga weight loss research news.
Restorative Yoga Burns Fat
A 2013 study presented at the 73rd Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association found restorative yoga burns subcutaneous fat and promotes weight loss in overweight women.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, assigned 171 clinically obese women either to a restorative yoga program or stretching sessions for 48 weeks. The yoga and stretching groups practiced twice weekly for the first 12 weeks, twice monthly for the next six months, and then on their own for three months. Subcutaneous (fat directly under skin) and visceral (belly) fat measurements were obtained from the participants.
Restorative yoga uses props, blankets, and bolsters to support the body, maximize stretch, and promote relaxation. The modified poses are less physically demanding for people with physical challenges.
The researchers found the yoga group lost 34 square centimeters of subcutaneous fat, compared with 6 square centimeters for the stretch group. Furthermore, the yoga group lost more weight, an average of 1.7 kg, while the stretch group lost 0.7 kg.
According to the American Journal of Managed Care, "One explanation for the difference may be that restorative yoga reduces levels of cortisol, which rises during times of stress and is known to increase abdominal fat."
Yoga Reduces Weight and Heart Disease Risk
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reports a short-term yoga program reduces weight and heart disease risk in overweight men.
Researchers assigned 51 overweight and obese men to supervised yoga practice for 10 days. The yoga-based lifestyle intervention program included yoga postures (asana), breathing exercises (pranayama), and lifestyle discussions.
After only 10 days, the researchers found a significant reduction in weight (an average 1.9 kg) and BMI (an average 0.57 kg/m(2)). Furthermore, there was a significant reduction in heart disease risk including lowered blood pressure, decreased inflammatory marker IL-6 and increased adinopectin (helps regulate glucose and fat metabolism). Inflammatory markers such as IL-6 are implicated in many chronic degenerative diseases such as heart disease.
"These findings suggest that even a short-term yoga-based lifestyle intervention may be an important modality to reduce the risk for CVD (cardiovascular disease) as indicated by weight loss, reduction in systolic blood pressure, an increase in adiponectin, and decrease in IL-6 in overweight and obese men," the study authors conclude.
To learn more about yoga weight loss benefits, download a free sample from Elaine Gavalas' book, "Yoga Weight Loss Guide and Cookbook Set".
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Elaine Gavalas is co-founder of SimplyCentered.com and an exercise physiologist, nutritionist, yoga therapist, weight management specialist, and healthy recipe developer.
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