YOGA TO STIMULATE THE METABOLISM and DECREASE HOLIDAY STRESS
By: Gwen Lawrence
Within yoga’s ability to create well-being lies its ability to reduce excess weight through burning calories, boosting metabolism, and reducing stress. Yoga is not a quick fix, but can be an excellent long-term holistic approach to losing excess weight and keeping it off. Not only that, but yoga creates many other positive changes, like reducing stress.
The causes of weight gain are many, and the best method to reducing excess weight with yoga requires a blend of appropriate techniques. A general yoga practice will help lose excess weight. Yoga poses, breathing exercises, and meditations can be used basis upon their ability to adjust and balance hormones, emotions, and/or metabolism.
Metabolism consists of the chemical processes that create energy in the body that are regulated by the endocrine system, especially the thyroid. Yoga has a powerful stimulating and strengthening effect on the endocrine organs and thus can boost metabolism to burn more calories. The twisting and compressing yoga postures massage the endocrine and abdominal organs, regulating their function, improving local circulation and cleansing them of old stagnant toxins. Practicing the Sun Salutations will be especially helpful in boosting the body’s metabolism as will moving quickly (vinyasa) between any series of poses. Use Kapalabhati Pranayama (breath of fire) and Ujjayi Pranayama (ocean sounding breath) to help warm and energize the body and further boost metabolism.
Twisting poses, back bends, forward bends and inversions are used to stimulate the endocrine system. If the weight gain is due to a hormonal imbalance, postures that affect the thyroid in the neck will be helpful: camel, shoulder stand, rabbit, plow, and bridge. Use the three part breath to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which adjusts hormonal imbalances. Yoga poses, pranayamas and meditations all bring the awareness to see emotional eating as an unhealthy habit and provide the skills to effectively process and resolve our emotional distress. Yoga has an arsenal of calming and nurturing poses to use, such as child, yoga mudra, bound angle, seated head to knee, and seated angle. Nadi Sodhana pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) is especially potent to calm the mind and reduce stress, anxiety and worry. Simple meditation practices that focus on the breath and body sensations improve self-awareness and self-reflection, reduce stress and promote equanimity.
Researchers claim highly beneficial results from Yoga practice in alleviating stress and its effects. The practices recommended range from intense to moderate to relaxed asana sequences, plus pranayama and meditation. In all these approaches to dealing with stress, one common element stands out: the process is as important as the activity undertaken. Because it fosters self-awareness, Yoga is a promising approach for dealing with the stress response.
Summary of poses to reduce stress and increase metabolism:
- TWISTS: DISPLACE ANGER, ALIGN SPINE, invigorating and energizing pose that strongly strengthens the lower body, massages the endocrine and abdominal organs and boosts metabolism.
- ARM FLAPS: BRING HEAT, boosting metabolic function
- SEATED OR STANDING FORWARD BEND: PROMOTES CALM AND BREATH
- BACK BENDS OR BRIDGE: OPENS LUNGS AND ANTERIOR SPINE, increase breathing, O2 exchange and fat burning capability
- HEADSTAND: BRINGS BLOOD TO BRAIN, CHANGES YOUR PERSPECTIVE, CLEARS THE LYMPH, FLUSHES TOXINS
- PLOW: TAPS GLANDS ESPECIALLY THYROID
- SHOULDERSTAND: CALMING POSE, stimulates thyroid
- CORPSE POSE: PURE RELAXATION AND SET UP FOR MEDITATION…….WARM HANDS AND EYE RELEASE
- ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATH: BALANCES LEFT BRAIN RIGHT BRAIN
Gwen Lawrence has been a practicing fitness professional since 1990. Her current practice includes private yoga training, class instruction and her sport-specific Power Yoga for Sports training program www.poweryogaforsports.com. Gwen’s unique combination of dance, massage and yoga training experience, coupled with her extensive knowledge of anatomy, and nutrition, provide her clients, and athletes with overwhelming benefits. Gwen is the yoga instructor for several New York Yankees baseball players, team yoga instructor for the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, New York Rangers, several major college teams, including Yale and UNC, and many youth teams in a variety of sports. She is also the official spokesperson for AFRIN PureSea, and ambassador for Lululemon and Manduka, Gaiam, and Yoga Earth, her writing appears in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Fitness Magazine and shape.com, espn.com. She makes regular appearances on NBC TODAY show and many TV news and national radio shows. Gwen also owns her own Yoga School where she trains people to teach the power yoga for sports system. She was just named to 2010 Westchester’s Best list. she was featured in June ESPN Magazine at the “Best innovation in Sports Medicine” as well she is a featured teacher for Gaiam.
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