Stress is one of the biggest reasons why people are gaining weight. It’s not the food they eat or the lack of exercise that thickens their waistline, it’s stress. Stress is the underlying reason why those scales are tipping. The body is a sensitive organism and reacts to being over stimulated. When you are stressed out, you are also setting in motion a series of chemical reactions in the brain that make you behave in certain ways – in response to stress the brain produces cortisol, a hormone that makes you think you need to keep eating. It does you one more favor – it converts all the calories not used up into fat, which gets parked in the abdomen, putting you at immediate risk for diabetes and heart disease, even obesity.
Another physiological effect of stress is the excessive flushing of adrenalin into the blood stream. Adrenalin can shut down certain areas of the brain such as the ability to creatively solve problems. It slows down the metabolic rate of the body making it easier to add on the pounds.
Yoga is a great way of managing your weight because it is a great way of managing your stress – it stimulates the production of seratonin, a neurotransmitter found in the pineal gland, gut, CNS and blood platelets. Seratonin is needed to regulate sleep, mood and our ability to learn new things, and according to research findings, it could be significant in the management of anxiety, migraine headaches and most importantly, our appetite. This suggests that simply burning calories is not the answer to losing or maintaining body weight.
Yoga also induces a state of awareness so we eat knowing just what we need. Eating slowly with conscious awareness can be useful in helping us know how much is enough and when to stop eating. Yoga changes our habits and behavior. It changes how we think about food and our bodies while making us feel light of heart. It helps us shift habitual patterns originating in the primitive brain to conscious actions coming from the more advanced part of the brain. For example, the pre-frontal cortex is the emotional center of the brain. It is linked to the amygdala, the primitive brain. When stressed, the amygdala reacts by stimulating all the wrong types of behavior such as over eating. Yoga on the other hand can reverse the effects of stress. All you need is a commitment to a daily practice.
Yoga is a holistic and integrated approach to sound mind-body mechanics and you will find that the effects are long lasting.