Our ever-complex metabolism is the cellular process of our body that maintains basic functions, a.k .a. preserving life. The metabolism is not just a way to lose weight. It also helps to maintain bodily functions.
It’s like a properly fueled engine: fuel/food goes in, and energy comes out. The basal metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories) when resting is responsible for 60-80% percent of your total energy expenditure. Just 10-20% is used for physical activity, such as yoga.
It’s true–resting energy expenditure burns more calories than physical activity over time. How does yoga compare?
Yoga Asanas and Metabolism
Yoga’s physicality can also directly affect the body’s metabolic rate. Yoga and other movement-based activities increase the rate at which calories are burned. It’s difficult to determine the degree of metabolism alteration caused by physical activity, as it differs from person to person.
Research has also shown that aerobic exercise doesn’t help increase metabolic rate over the long term. Strength training, for example, can increase basal metabolism by increasing muscle mass.
If you want to increase your metabolism with asana practices, then look for classes that are high-intensity and strength-focused and use bodyweight resistance, like power Vinyasa Yoga.
Yoga’s indirect effects on metabolism
Yoga activates other functions that coincide with metabolic changes.
Our system releases cortisol, a stress hormone when we are under stress. Chronic stress can cause a buildup of cortisol, which can slow down our metabolism. Yoga, and especially Meditation, has been shown to reduce stress, which in turn lowers cortisol levels.
Even if it doesn’t directly improve metabolism, yoga can still bring the rate of metabolism back to normal.
The uncontrollable act of breathing consumes a large amount of energy, which we know is a product of metabolism. The act of breathing increases oxygen levels and blood circulation. It also tones the respiratory muscles.
The studies of pranayama (controlled breathing techniques), performed with long inhalation and deeper exhalation like Visamavrtti, have shown that it increases caloric expenditure, as well as metabolism.
We are all familiar in the wellness community with the many problems that can arise from thyroid disorders. Not surprisingly, thyroid problems can also cause metabolic problems. The thyroid gland, shaped like a butterfly in the neck, controls metabolism by producing thyroid hormones.
Yoga is associated with an increased thyroid activity. This can, in turn, increase or restore metabolism. Some neck-centric postures that can stimulate thyroid hormone release include Camel, Cat/Cow, Cobra, and bridge pose.
Insufficient sleep can affect the body’s metabolic rate, whether you know it or not. Sleep deprivation has been linked to decreased metabolism and altered hormone secretion, which may contribute to weight gain.
Yoga has been shown to improve sleep quality and, in turn, metabolic homeostasis.
Ask yourself why you want to boost your metabolism. If you’re looking for a way to lose weight, you may have been steered incorrectly by exercise tycoons of the 90s feeding you “metabolism-boosting” schemes to “burn fat” and “get slim quick”.
The primary factors that affect metabolic rate and caloric intake are body composition and exercise, but these are not the only ones. Most of the other variables, such as gender, age, and genetics, are beyond our control. To boost your metabolism, you can use the mindfulness skills that you have acquired through yoga to develop a schedule for eating healthily and building lean muscles.