Can meditation really help you lose weight?
Meditation is a mindful practice that does not require much physical effort, which is why you might be skeptical about its effectiveness for weight loss. Indeed, how can meditation in a still position help you shed pounds? It turns out it can. Some researchers who have studied the issue have concluded that mindfulness might help those who want to slim down. However, you should note that meditation alone will not work miracles for your body. Meditation is effective only if combined with other weight-loss measures, such as dieting, workouts, etc.
In their study, Katterman, S.N. et al. (2014) concluded that mindfulness on its own can lead to an insignificant weight loss (17). At the same time, Olson, K.L. and Emery, C.F. (2015) claim that regular meditation can play a key role in one’s weight loss program (16). According to Carrière, K. et al. (2018), apart from being a weight-loss-facilitating activity, meditation can make a positive contribution to developing healthy eating habits in overweight people (19).
Yoga and yoga meditation in particular can reduce your BMI. Also, Lauche, R. et al. (2017) found out that yoga practitioners tend to be satisfied with their weight and body shape (2). The study of Daubenmier, J. et al. (2016) showed that although mindfulness might not demonstrate groundbreaking body transformation results, it can substantially boost your metabolism and reduce the metabolic syndrome symptoms (6). According to Ruffault, A. et al., (2017) those who go in for mindful practices are less likely to indulge in binge and impulsive eating, which often entails unhealthy weight (25).
Meditation Effects on Your Health
Meditation is a dark horse among the multiple activities in your daily routine. Apart from the short-term benefits it offers, like stress relief, there are several long-term advantages as well, such as:
- Healthier heart (3, 11, 21)
- Lower blood pressure (11)
- Improved memory (1, 18)
- Better attention (18)
- Better physical and mental wellbeing in patients with cancer (11)
- Stronger immune system (11)
- Alzheimer’s disease prevention (23)
- Slower cell aging (27)
However, just like with weight loss, it is wrong to believe that mere meditation can solve all your health problems. It is impossible to treat cardiovascular diseases with regular meditation. Nevertheless, you can reduce the symptoms and substantially improve your heart functioning by combining your mindfulness practices with appropriate medical treatment. You should remember, though, that self-treatment can be detrimental for your wellbeing. Therefore, before using meditation for healing, consult your doctor to avoid possible problems.
Morning Meditation for Weight Loss
Morning must be the best time for your mindfulness practice since at this time, your mind is clear and rested. At the same time, it is a great way to fully wake up, since you are usually dozy in the morning. Therefore, this is the perfect time for you to fill yourself up with positive energy for the whole day (20).
There are three key reasons why you should meditate in the morning (14):
- It relieves your “morning anxiety.” The latter is the term encompassing your worries about your daily tasks. Truly, you might have so many plans for the day that you feel not sure whether you will manage to realize all of them. Likewise, morning meditation can reduce your anxiety before an important event.
- It can help you stay positive. Meditation in the morning can improve your mood and determine the way you see things. It is a natural tranquilizer that will reduce the negativity around and inside you.
- It will increase your attention and endurance. These are the underlying conditions for your productivity throughout the day. If you can stay focused and alert, you will definitely succeed when working, studying, or doing any other daily task.
To kick-start your morning with a peaceful meditation session, all you need is you and possibly a mat to sit on. Another variant you can choose is meditating in bed. The earlier in the morning you begin to meditate, the lesser are the chances that you will be distracted. In the morning, there are usually fewer people and less traffic. Plus, the air is fresher than in the daytime.
Best Meditation Methods for Weight Loss
Your breathing pattern plays an overriding role in your body functioning. Fitness trainers even say that the way you breathe can determine the outcomes of your workout. Breathing is also crucial in meditation, where you cannot inhale and exhale chaotically. Mindfulness requires focus and control and fully depends on your breath. Your inhalation and exhalation pattern is what renders the meditative state.
Deep breathing brings oxygen to your body cells, detoxing your lymphatic system, and providing nutrients. Shallow breathing would disable these processes, eventually leading to weight gain. Breathing meditation can facilitate weight loss by boosting your metabolism. In particular, belly breathing can help you achieve your weight loss goals (12).
- Sit down on your mat and put your hands on your knees. Hold your back straight.
- Inhale through your nose in the count of 5. Notice your belly filled with the air.
- Hold for 2 counts.
- Exhale for the count of five, letting the air out of your belly.
- Repeat the cycle 5-10 times (12).
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This is a great breathing technique in the morning when your muscles are stiff and you are not fully awake. It can also clear your clogged breathing passages.
- Take a standing position and begin to bend forward from your hips, keeping your knees slightly bent. Relax your arms, letting them get heavy.
- On your deep inhale through your nose, roll up vertebrae by vertebrae until you are in a standing position again.
- Hold your breath for a couple of seconds while you are standing.
- On your exhale, start bending over again and repeat the cycle for 5-10 times (22).
It is a belly breathing method that is often practiced in meditation. 4-7-8 breathing is a great way to relax and calm down. It can also treat your insomnia, improving your sleep for a long period (22, 24).
- Take a sitting or lying position on your mat.
- Touch the upper teeth with the tip of your tongue.
- Inhale through your nose for a count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale through your mouth for a count of 8, keeping your tongue in the same position.
- Repeat this cycle 5-10 times (24).
It is a belly breathing technique that is quite advanced and requires good self-awareness and breath control. It might be rather challenging for beginners but regular practices will help you master the method. The pains you take while learning this breathing method will definitely pay off in the future as it reduces the stress and anxiety levels, improves your lung functioning, helps you slim down, etc. (22).
- Take a sitting or lying position on your mat.
- Put your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your chest.
- Inhale deeply through your nose into your belly and exhale through your mouth, releasing the air from your belly. Repeat this cycle 10 times. Your chest should not move.
- Inhale into your belly and move the air into your chest. Exhale, letting the air out from your chest and then your belly. Continue breathing like this for 3-5 minutes (22).
You may feel dizzy during the breathing exercise. Therefore, if you are a beginner or are feeling any discomfort, start breathing slower or make a pause.
Chakra meditation activates all of your 7 chakras situated along with your head and spine. The chakra includes root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third-eye, and crown. Specifically, the solar plexus chakra meditation is said to contribute to your weight loss. This chakra is located just in your upper abdomen and is geared towards overcoming self-consciousness (4).
- Take a sitting position and place your hands on your knees with your palms facing the sky.
- Close your eyes and start inhaling and exhaling slowly. Visualize a warm, bright light that fills your body, step by step. The light must be yellow because it is considered to be the color of the solar plexus chakra.
- “Stop” the light in your upper abdomen and hold it there. Feel your body relaxing and yielding to the new energy.
- Imagine the yellow light “spilling” onto the ground and then returning to your body again. Visualize this several times.
- To finish this practice, let the light come back to the ground and open your eyes (12).
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Guided imagery is a great alternative to breathing exercises. This one sends you to the place of your dreams and helps you find peace within your body. Breathing through guided imagery can contribute to your weight loss and help you relieve your pain and release your tension (5, 11, 12).
- Take a sitting position and close your eyes.
- Imagine yourself in a beautiful and peaceful destination.
- Focus on the details of your dream. Imagine the sound of the leaves or pay attention to the birds soaring in the sky.
- To finish your practice, inhale deeply and exhale, then open your eyes (7).
You can do guided imagery for as long as you want. Even a 5-minute practice will suffice.
Yoga meditation is rather unconventional as it does not require you to take a sitting position. It is a physical activity in which you take an asana (yoga pose) and stay mindful throughout the time you are holding it. In fact, yoga can benefit your body and weight in a myriad of ways.
First, this wellness practice can reduce your anxiety and stress, along with that, it can improve your nervous system. Second, it is a great natural painkiller that can even relieve chronic pain. Third, yoga promotes mindful and healthy eating, preventing you from overeating, engaging in emotional eating, and so on. Hence, yoga meditation can be good for weight loss (26, 28). There is also a variety of other yoga benefits for your cardiovascular health, immune system, etc. With this type of meditation, you can build muscle, which is also good for weight loss.
Popular yoga poses for a mindful practice:
A pose for your neck, back, and shoulders. From your all-fours position, begin to extend your legs, keeping your palms and heels on the ground. To reach a meditative state in this position, think about the positive energy moving from your hips to your shoulders (28). You are free to add some movement here, transitioning from the downward-facing dog to the upward-facing dog.
A pose for your chest, abdomen, and back. As you are lying on your belly, press your palms against the floor, lifting your belly bottom-up from the floor. Stay in this position and focus on your breathing, as you are trying to keep your navel off the ground (28).
Tree Pose for your balance
In a standing position, shift your weight to your left leg and bend your right leg. Lift that bent leg and grab the ankle, placing the sole of the feet on the inner thigh of the left leg. Find your balance and place your hands in the prayer’s position. Then close your eyes and start inhaling and exhaling slowly (28). You can try a breathing meditation exercise or do guided imagery here.
Triangle Pose for your back, shoulders, chest, and hips
Take a wide stance, pigeon toe your right foot slightly, and turn your left foot to the left. Inhale and extend your hands to the sides. On your exhale, reach your left arm to the toes of your left leg and extend your right leg towards the ceiling. If you can’t touch the toes, you can rest your left hand on the left ankle or shin. To stay mindful, lift your torso on each inhale and twist your body on each exhale, letting go of any tensions and worries (28).
Child’s Pose to relax your body after a yoga session
In your all-fours position, begin to lower your bottom to your heels. Then, extend your hands in front of you or keep them by your sides (28). To meditate in this asana, relax all your muscles, going deeper into the position on each exhale.
Although it sounds unbelievable, you can reach the meditative state while working out. All you need is to stay focused. For instance, focus on the contraction of your muscles while you are performing a certain exercise. If you are working out with weights, note their heaviness, and the way your body is reacting to them. Mindful workout makes you slow down a little, working each muscle carefully, which will help you gain muscle mass quickly (7).
Meditation is rather an unconventional way to lose weight. In effect, it is not very helpful to that end. If a person is overweight and needs to lose about 2 pounds each week, meditation will not be enough. You should engage in physical activity, such as walking, working out, and so on. You can even combine meditation and workouts so that you boost the impact of your physical activity.
Belly breathing can make a valuable contribution to your weight loss. Practicing it every day for several minutes may help you to gradually decrease your BMI and make you slimmer. Moreover, breathing exercises are very good for your lungs.
Guided imagery is an awesome way to relax and meditate for a longer time, as it is engaging and pleasant.
Yoga meditation is the most active form of meditation, during which you have to transition from one pose to another. Yoga is a great technique that stretches and builds your muscles. This might even make your sweat. However, anyone, even not very advanced practitioners, can engage in it.
Meditation is a safe wellness practice whose main advantage is that almost anybody can do it. Your height and weight do not matter here; in fact, you can make your body look better with it. Likewise, meditation is not time-consuming. Even 5 minutes of meditation every day can be of great use for your body. Overall, there is no reason to find excuses for not meditating. You can do it anywhere at any time.
Click the play button to put that mental noise on mute.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility.
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