Natural Weight Loss without Padlocking Your Fridge

When you think of weight loss programs, you probably think of counting calories, checking carb content, and avoiding certain foods (as in, all the ones you like). However, a new study reveals that yoga may help people to enjoy natural weight loss without padlocking the fridge.

After reviewing the findings of a previous study on yoga for weight loss, Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center developed the hypothesis that the mindfulness and inner calm developed by yoga, even more than the physical fitness component of the practice, leads to the natural, slim physique enjoyed by many regular yoga practitioners.

The theory: increased body awareness, including alertness to hunger levels and satiety, contribute to the unique efficacy of yoga for creating natural weight loss.

To test their yoga for weight loss theory, the researchers administered a Mindful Eating Questionnaire to over 300 physically active individuals who participated in yoga for weight loss, used physical fitness facilities, or followed natural weight loss programs, among other activities.

The questionnaire, comprised of 28 questions, measured the degree to which participants engaged in a number of eating habits, such as eating when full (disinhibition), awareness of food (appearance, taste, smell), awareness of environmental cues (advertising, etc.), eating when stressed or emotionally uncomfortable, and eating while engaging in other activities. Participants responses were then graded on a scale of 1 to 4, with higher scores indicating more “mindful” eating habits.

In addition to filling out the questionnaire, each participant was measured for Body Mass Index (BMI), a weight-to-height ratio.

On the whole, all participants in the study enjoyed normal weight. This was to be expected, considering that all were very physically active. In a given week, over 40% of the study participants practiced more than an hour of yoga, 50% participated in over 90 minutes of moderate to strenuous exercise, and 46% walked for exercise or transportation for at least 90 minutes.

However, although the average weight of the study participants fell within the normal range, researchers found that those who practiced yoga for weight loss had significantly lower BMIs—by nearly 3 points (mean BMI for yoga participants: 23.1, mean BMI for others: 25.8).

So, what’s to account for the lower Body Mass Index among yoga practitioners? According to the study, eating with greater awareness may be a factor. The study found a correlation between higher levels of mindfulness (as indicated by the questionnaire) and a lower BMI. Those who ate when depressed, anxious, or distracted had higher BMIs than those who ate in tune with their body’s needs.

Most importantly, the results of the study revealed a strong association between yoga, weight loss, and mindful eating habits, and no association between other forms of physical exercise and mindful eating.

This finding suggests that body awareness, including sensitivity to dietary needs, is an important factor in achieving the best weight loss results, and that yoga may facilitate natural weightloss by encouraging more body awareness and mindful eating habits.

Yoga’s ability to cultivate greater mindfulness has been well known for some time: centering the awareness through difficult and sometimes even uncomfortable poses develops the practitioner’s ability to remain calm, focused, and even-minded. It is only natural that this carries over into eating habits; yoga encourages natural weight loss over time, because it enhances the practitioner’s ability to respect his or her body’s needs and refrain from emotional-eating or overeating when already full.

The mindful eating that yoga develops plays a huge role not only in effective, quick weight loss, but in keeping a healthy and natural slim body over time.

Experts suggest that while physical exercise is an important part of all natural weight loss, incorporating yoga for weight loss can help you build a healthy relationship with your body and food, adding a whole new level of effectiveness for helping you achieve and maintain your ideal weight.

To learn more about how to encourage natural weight loss with mindful eating, the Appetite Awareness Workbook is a useful resource for training yourself to be more alert to your body’s natural signals of hunger and satiety.

Recent articles


Upcoming courses


Yoga for
every body

How to Avoid the Top 3 Pitfalls of Forward Bends

With Julie Gudmedstad

Recent articles


Sorry, You have reached your
monthly limit of views

To access, join us for a free 7-day membership trial to support expanding the Pose Library resources to the yoga community.

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial