What is Metabolism and Why is It So Important?
Metabolism is like the engine in our body, it gives us the energy to carry out activities – run, play, work and even sleep! It’s a process in which all cells in our body takes part in. Converting what we eat and drink, combining it with oxygen and subsequently churning out the energy we need to carry out our daily activities. Thus, having a high metabolism means that the body requires more energy which indirectly means that more calories are required to be burnt. As a result, you’ll be fitting in that new pair of skinny jeans you’ve been eyeing!
Some factors that affect metabolism are beyond our control such as age( the younger we are the higher our metabolic rate), gender(being a female it is also unfortunate that we have a slower metabolic rate) and of course, genetic (its all hereditary)! So focus on what you can change, which is EXERCISE!
Having a high metabolism is essential for weight loss and muscle building. Physical exercise is a key driver of metabolic activity. When we exercise, we sweat and this sweat triggers the endocrine system which is in charge of metabolism, increasing metabolic activity to provide our cells with more energy to carry out the exercise. Thus, resulting in our body burning more energy (or calories).
Before we get into the benefits of why choose Yoga to increase metabolism, let’s understand the exercise a little first.
Yoga originated from India way back in the sixth and fifth BCEs, as a Hindu spiritual discipline. It consists of breath control, meditation and different body positions which is practiced widely in modern times for its health and spiritual benefits. Yoga aims to reverse the usual outflow of energy, to channel energy inwards to understand your mind and body, to find the essence of yourself.
So Why Should We Do Yoga To Increase Metabolism?
Yoga is appropriate for everyone, from children to the elderly who can use it as an amazing non-aerobic conditioner. It’s one of the safest exercise out there. According to the studies conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in 2014, only 17 out of 100,000 (0.017%) participants of Yoga had injuries, whereas running, a common and even more popular sport, has a modal injury rate of 50%.
From meditation techniques that reduces stress levels, to breathing exercises to lowering blood pressure, and even bodily postures to increase flexibility and muscle strength, yoga exercises work to target all parts of one’s essence – the mind, body and soul.
And most importantly, it shows results
Yoga has been a time-tested for weight loss, increase of metabolism, intervention against mental illnesses and overall well-being. The fact that it has been around for centuries and gets even more popular with time also speaks tons about its effectiveness.
Don’t expect to lose a ton of weight or put on muscle mass in an instant though. Yoga is also an art and it takes time for your body to adjust to this new lifestyle change also. But work hard and stay committed and you’ll definitely see the results in the long run!
How to increase metabolism with Yoga?
As mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of Yoga is that it’s a metabolism booster. The key to increasing metabolism is simply to increase your movement, and Yoga does just that.
Each Yoga exercise incorporates certain breathing techniques to help the body cope with each bodily posture and get the full effect of the exercise. Inhaling and exhaling deeply and slowly is essential to improving blood circulation by allowing the arteries to open up more, increasing blood flow to all cells to receive sufficient oxygen.
Yoga explicitly targets large muscle groups but subtly incorporates smaller muscles to help support the bigger ones in each pose. Yoga stretches the limits of one’s strength, flexibility and balance to achieve each pose from a simple Downward Dog to the extreme Wounded Peacock.
What Yoga poses can I Perform to Boost My Metabolism?
So here we are at the most important lesson in this blog post, the 5 Yoga poses that guarantees that your metabolic rate gets stoked. However, bear in mind that when doing these poses, don’t focus on achieving the final look of the pose! But rather, understand and feel how your body feels in each position. Don’t overstretch but don’t be afraid to test your limits. Try to hold these Yoga poses for five breaths per movement to increase your metabolism. Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply, sinking deeper into the position each time you breathe out. Be prepared to feel the heat!
Yoga To Increase Metabolism #1 : Twisted Chair Pose
This pose uses EVERY muscle in your body and even twists, getting that internal organs as well, aiding in digestion.
How: Stand with your feet together and bend your knees with your back arched back, as if sitting on the edge of a seat far away. Bring your palms together in front of you and twist your body, bringing the right elbow over your left knee, all the while keeping your chest lifted up. Hold for 5 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Modification: If you can’t place your elbow over the knee, just twist your body as much as you can instead.
Yoga To Increase Metabolism #2 : Inverted Lake Pose
This inversion stance increases blood flow to your thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands. Feel good endorphins and hormones are also sent out to the whole body, not to mention strengthening your abs, stretching all of the lower back, glutes and hamstrings.
How: Lie on your back, raise your leg and rest it against a wall. Ensure that the back of your leg is resting against the wall and the soles of your feet are pointing in an upwards direction.
Ensure that your back and head are resting on the mat with your body forming a 90 degrees angle. Lift your hips up and slide a prop under your lower back. You could also use your hands to support your hips, forming that curvature in your lower back.
Note: Pressure should be on your arms and shoulder, not on your neck area.
Yoga To Increase Metabolism #3 : Extended Hand to Toe Pose
This stimulates the thyroid gland, revving up that metabolism. This pose also serves to strengthen both the upper and lower back, abs and glutes as well as stretch the shoulders and chest.
How: Stand up right on your mat. Inhale and lift your right leg up while keeping it straight. Reach out your right hand to grab the toes of your extended right leg. Place your left hand on your waist to maintain your balance. Hold on to this position for 30 seconds before repeating it on the other leg.
Beginner’s Tip: Beginners can support their raised foot by placing it on top of a chair to help them hold this pose longer and also to help them with their balance.
Yoga To Increase Metabolism #4 : Triangle Pose
A standing Yoga pose that stretches the leg muscles and tests your ability to balance. It targets the ankles and thigh muscles, stretches the hamstrings, obliques and hip abductors. A strain on your stability and core, but this definitely is a sure-fire way to kick up that metabolism.
How: Begin this pose by standing up straight with your feet squared away. Take 3 steps forward with your right foot. Stretch out both arms to your side until they are parallel to the ground. Keeping your upper torso straight, bend forward until your body is parallel to the ground. Twist your torso to the left and place the back of your palms on your ankle. Ensure that you feel a stretch on your lower back. Hold this pose for 30 seconds before repeating it on the other side.
Beginner’s Tip: For beginners, I recommend that you stand with your feet closer together while practicing this pose as it will lower the difficulty.
Yoga To Increase Metabolism #5 : Locust Pose
Say No to those flabby arms and thunder thighs with this exercise. The Locust Pose strengthens the back muscles of both the arms and legs while opening up the chest and stretching out the spinal cord. It also helps to stimulate the internal organs and promotes blood circulation throughout the body. A definite energy boost to start the day off with.
How: Lie flat on your stomach on the mat. On an inhale, lift your upper body, arms and legs off the ground like an airplane zipping across the sky. Make sure your palms are facing out and your shoulder blades are off the mat. For this exercise, instead of holding for five breaths, hold it for 45 seconds instead for a total of three reps.
Modification: Lift up your limbs at a lower height if you can’t do it at a higher position, just make sure it’s fully extended and totally straight.
Beginner’s Tip: Beginners can first start by just lifting their legs, keeping their upper body on the mat. Subsequently, they can alternate to just lifting their upper body and keeping their legs on the mat.