When I wrote about reasons to practice yoga, I gave a pretty lengthy list of the benefits I have gained. Then I told a story about a benefit my wife gained. As it happens, she gained a similar, and similarly extensive list, to mine. If two people as different as my lady and I (and we are very different) can gain so much from yoga, so can you. So, let’s dive deeper.
One of the buzz phrases in Bikram classes is that if you need to lose weight, you will, and if you need to gain weight, you will. I like to think of it as weight optimization. Lose fat, gain muscle, as you need.
A couple of days ago my daily email blast from Livestrong.com included a link to “9 Awesome Things That Happen When You Lose Weight.” The list isn’t your standard list, going into things like better sex drive, increased fertility and bigger, healthier brains. Don’t believe me? Go read it. And sign up for their email blast, it’s pretty cool.
Disclaimer; I am in no way associated with Livestrong.com. I get their emails and read the site because I like it, it’s got cool stuff, and that is the only reason I recommend it.
Anyway, I want to touch on a couple of things Livestrong did not, which are more in my wheelhouse; pain and posture.
I have lived most of my adult life with varying degrees of joint pain, and varying levels of bad posture. How does weight gain/loss affect these?
I view proper posture through a lens which begins with strength, endurance, and stability. If you are overweight, and particularly if you’re carrying a belly, this will have a negative effect on all four. The excess weight it:
- Pulling your spine out of alignment, and you may lack the strength and/or endurance to keep it straight.
- Putting a downward force on your spine which is out of alignment with its structure, reducing spinal stability.
In addition, the very act of exercising to lose weight increases muscle mass, strength and endurance. These are all primary benefits of yoga.
As to pain? Reducing the load on your joints by reducing your weight directly reduces your joint pain. One thing that yoga teaches, through the balancing postures, is to use your muscles to support your joints, instead of letting gravity crunch your cartilages together.
Lead an active life and stick around long enough, and you’re going to get osteoarthritis. Anything you can do to reduce the pain of arthritis, believe me, you want to do it. One of the less sung benefits of yoga is a reduction of joint pain through resistance training.
Cross posted at Medium.com, where I post a lot of my stuff.