A study published in September 2009 by scientists at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, reported on the experiences of 25 obese women who took a 12-week course in yoga.
Throughout the course, the women kept a personal journal where they reported on their thoughts and feelings about food, how much they ate, what they ate, the quality of their eating experiences, how they felt on an emotional level, and of course their experiences of the yoga.
The study showed that the yoga course actually helped the women to change their perception about food, encouraging them to develop a healthy sense of connection about it.
With this reconnection, the women also felt more empowered and more in control of their eating habits and, consequently, they began to consume less food and even eat more slowly, with greater mindfulness.
But their eating less was not like going on a diet, where they had to make a huge effort to avoid certain foods. Instead, it was from a greater feeling of health and a natural motivation to have a healthier lifestyle.
This is the key with dieting. It’s not about cutting out certain unhealthy foods. This tends to, eventually, create cravings for what you’re not supposed to have. Instead, it’s about choosing to be healthy. This way you’re not avoiding anything, only choosing things that make you feel better. This is what the study was showing. It was even called, ‘Overeating is Not About the Food’.
Throughout the yoga program, the women were developing a greater sense of good health and this motivated them to want to continue the healthier lifestyle in other areas of their life. In particular, in what they were choosing to eat. But they also reported feeling much more positive about their overall physical wellbeing. Overall, it became easier for them to make these choices because the yoga helped them feel more motivated about health. Overall, the program was a huge success for the women.
I would personally recommend yoga for people who want to adopt a healthier lifestyle. And not just to help you feel more motivated to be healthier, but because yoga really does make you feel much better. As a occasional practitioner of yoga, I can attest to this.