Long-term yogis are generally trimmer than the average person and although some run and do other things for fun, most are not pounding the pavement or hitting the treadmills in their efforts to stay fit or to lose weight. So what is this about?
On the other hand, non-yogis or yet-to-start-yogis often believe that yoga does nothing when it comes to weight management because we are consumed with the idea of “burning” calories when it comes to weight loss. But, we only put on weight if we consume excess calories in the first place. The answer as to why yogis are generally thinner and find it easier to keep trim, believe it or not, comes back to the breath.
Hyper-ventilation (over-breathing), particularly open-mouthed breathing (it can be difficult to breathe through the nose when running or swimming for example), will make most people feel incredibly hungry. Hence, it is more likely that poor food choices will be made post aerobic-type exercise and an excess of calories consumed. Regular yoga and meditation practise tends to lead to hypo-ventilation (less breathing – which is better for the health overall) and consequently, the appetite diminishes over time and lighter food options become a more natural choice. Win win!! You might also be interested to know that stress is another reason our breathing quickens. Over time, this has the potential to affect our health on many levels. For example, many of us think that we breathe oxygen into the body (good) and breathe out carbon dioxide (bad). But most people have way too much oxygen in their bodies – abour 10 times more than they need. The truth is that without CO2, oxygen cannot be absorbed into the blood cells because you need both if there is to be an exchange. The CO2 is a little like the train driver ready to transport the oxygen into the body. And we all know what happens when the train doesn’t turn up – a platform full of people who are unable to reach their destination.
On average, a person might take around 15 breaths per minute but this is way too many. On the other hand, an experienced yogi might take between one and five (or even less). This isn’t about “deep” breathing or even over-filling the lungs constantly, it is about making each breath slow and conscious. According to Roger Price from the organisation “Breathing Well”, in the presence of CO2, an oxygenated blood cell will burn sugar approximately 20 x faster and cancer cannot survive in the presence of oxygen.