Yoga for Weight Loss

By Ana Mantica, January/February 2010

Can practicing yoga really help you lose weight?

If you’ve ever been skeptical of celebrities who attribute their fit and slim bodies to “just yoga,” new research may ease your doubts. According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, people who regularly practiced yoga were more “mindful eaters” and had a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to those who didn’t.

Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle created a 28-item questionnaire that measured mindful eating: what participants focused on while eating, how aware they were of their food’s appearance, tastes and smells, and whether they ate when they felt full. They distributed it at yoga studios, gyms, weight-loss centers and workplaces and found that those who reported practicing yoga for at least one hour per week scored higher on the mindful-eating scale. They also had an average BMI of 23.1 (within normal range), compared with a BMI of 25.8 (slightly overweight) for those who didn’t practice yoga at all.

The reason? People who practice yoga are more “in tune” with their bodies in general. They don’t overeat because they’re more aware of how hungry they really are and when they’re full, says Alan Kristal, D.P.H., M.S., lead researcher and yoga enthusiast. It’s an easy way to keep your mind, body, spirit—and scale—in balance.