A recent study evaluating the effects of yoga on anxiety and depression associated with obesity presents a promising alternative for millions suffering from obesity and its related symptoms. Participants in the study showed improvement in all parameters after just 30 days, including decreased depression, reduced weight and body mass index (BMI), and alleviated anxiety.
More impressive however, is that these results were achieved without any dietary restriction; making the study one of the first of its kind. Obese patients with psychological problems were recruited from the Department of Physiology, C.S.M. Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India. A group of 205 participants completed a six-month standardized protocol of yoga classes, while a control group of 67 participants were assigned aerobic exercise. The participants were both men and women between the ages of 20 and 45 with a waist circumference greater than 90 cm for men or 80 cm for women.
The results showed dramatic differences in outcomes for those participating in the yoga protocol versus the control group doing aerobics. Specifically, the yoga group achieved two and three times greater results than the aerobic group in measurable factors such as weight, BMI, and waist measurement, as well as improvements in depression and anxiety. In a review of other yoga intervention clinical trials including weight-related outcomes, yoga was found to be beneficial in weight maintenance, prevention of obesity and risk reduction for obesity-related diseases.
While this study and others like it effectively demonstrate weight loss and relief from obesity-related symptoms is possible through yoga, the results aren’t always so easy for individuals to replicate in the real world. Many factors come into play, most importantly, the willingness to seek help and the self confidence to begin a yoga practice. These factors may be more difficult for women to overcome than men. In the yoga study mentioned above male participants out-numbered the females; a possible indication that men are more willing to seek help for obesity-related issues or are more confident when beginning a yoga practice. For women battling obesity who are interested in the benefits of yoga but may be apprehensive about attending classes there are an increasing number of resources available.
Based on the images of yoga that saturate the internet and appear in virtually all popular magazines it would be easy to assume that yoga was exclusively for the thin and physically fit, discouraging overweight people from attempting the practice. However, a number of yoga practitioners of all shapes and sizes are working to dispel that myth. More than 15 million Americans practice yoga, and over 70 percent of those yogis are women.
“I realized there was a big, gaping hole in the Yogaverse,” says Anna Guest-Jelly, the founder of Curvy Yoga, which is a website where curvy women could get information on how to start a yoga practice. It is a resource for curvy women who practice yoga, complete with a class locater which can help individuals find a Curvy Yoga Certified or Curvy Friendly yoga teacher in their area. The website link is at the bottom of this article.
A recent study evaluating the effects of yoga on anxiety and depression associated with obesity presents a promising alternative for millions suffering from obesity and its related symptoms.
By Mimi Mudd