What’s Inside –
- What is metabolism
- How yoga enhances metabolism
- Yoga poses for enhancing metabolism
Metabolism – What Is It?
One of the favourite evergreen buzzwords amongst the fitness community is metabolism. Any activity that targets or improves it is considered a gold tier of exercise, and for good reason – a healthy metabolism can go a long way in ensuring wellness and a healthy body.
But what exactly is metabolism?
Metabolism essentially refers to the totality of biochemical processes inside our body that use the calories from our food and the oxygen from our lungs to produce energy. This energy in turn makes life possible, making sure that all our organs are able to function in the way that is required of them. Even when you are not exercising, your body actively uses energy to carry out these functions.
Metabolism is often linked to weight and weight loss, with many believing that a higher metabolism makes it easier to lose weight. While there is some truth in this, metabolism cannot be held singly responsible for weight gain or weight loss – ultimately, it is how much you eat of what, and how much you exercise, is what makes a true difference.
Your metabolism is affected by a number of factors, including your gender, age, and body size and composition. Hence, it is a highly individualistic process, and one that is not only central to weight loss, but also daily living.
Firing It Up – Getting a Metabolic Boost
It is only in rare cases of medical diseases such as hypothyroidism that your metabolism is responsible for weight gain. However, you can significantly increase your capacity for weight loss by firing up your metabolism. The best way to do this is through exercise. When you put your body under such a strain, your metabolism acts up to help your body get the energy it needs to get through the process, thus increasing your calorie burn. Indeed, physical exercise is one of the most variable – and controllable – ways of increasing your metabolism. Thus, even though your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR, which determines how many calories you would burn at rest), is determined by genetics and may be low, you can still use your metabolism to enhance your weight loss.
One very effective form of exercise that you can use to boost your metabolism is Yoga. How? Here are a few ways –
- Anaerobic activity such as strength training can increase your muscle mass, and thus your basal metabolic rate. Many yoga asanas focus on exactly this, thus enhancing your energy burning
- Increase in stress levels can increase the production of the hormone cortisol, which tends to slow down metabolism. With yoga comes less stress and thus a normal and healthy metabolism
- A number of pranayama exercises such as Kapalbhati warm up the body and generate heat, thus increasing metabolism
- Many asanas also help in improving the condition of hypothyroidism. For those whose metabolism suffers due to this health condition, yoga can be an ideal solution.
What to Try
Here are a few asanas that can help you boost up your metabolism and get in shape quick –
- Naukasana (Boat Pose) – Target your belly fat, sense of balance and stretch your limbs with this asana, which also helps in improving blood circulation and digestion, and can help in controlling blood sugar levels. If holding out your legs straight is difficult, you can use straps to support the pose Hold for at least ten to twenty seconds, and gradually take it up to a minute.
- Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) – A great way to stimulate the thyroid gland, this increases your shoulder strength, improves spine flexibility, and improves digestion, thus becoming a great way to boost up your metabolism. This asana also helps at the mental level by reducing fatigue and insomnia, and alleviating stress and mild depression.
- Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose) – This asana also stimulates the thyroid gland and improves digestion, two major ways of improving metabolism. It also helps in increasing muscle mass by strengthening the back muscles and stretching the chest, neck and spine. At a mental level, this asana is great for stress reduction and lowering symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Dhanurasana (BowPose) – Targeting the abdomen, this asana improves the functioning of all the organs in the belly region and improves digestion and blood circulation. It gives a deep but relaxing stretch to the hips, back, and chest, and tones the arms and legs. This asana is also a great fatigue and stress buster. Do make use of props such as straps if you are new to this asana.
- Virabhadrasana (Warrior III) – A great toner for the hips and legs, this asana strengthens legs, ankles, shoulders and back while also engaging the core. A challenge for balance as well, this asana hones concentration and can be a great energy booster. You can take the support of a wall with your hands to learn the proper pose without losing your balance.
- Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) – Why not roll all the benefits of multiple asanas into one with a seamless flow? There is a reason why the sun salutation is performed early in the morning. Honing concentration, boosting energy and mood and warming up the body and its metabolism for the day, this asana series can pack an entire body’s worth of strength, stretching and cardio. It is suggested that you start with three to five rounds of both sides, and gradually take up to 12 rounds per day.
Metabolism is often a misunderstood buzzword, but it is an important component of your body that plays a vital role in weight loss and everyday health. So read up on it and practice these asanas daily to help you hone your body’s energy burning, and you will see the results for yourself.