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Stress Can Cause Weight Gain


Tad in Seated Pranayama

Congratulations to our winner of last week’s contest! Our winner receives a complimentary yoga consultation and I’m looking forward to our meeting. Thank you to all the folks who responded. Here’s the answer: “Tad” is short for the yoga posture Tadasana, and he was standing in Tadasana in last weeks’ blog.

Tad was born in California, spent a few months in Georgia and moved to Colorado this past December. He’s very excited to be part of the Breathe Easy blog because he does love to show off his yoga prowess.

In fact he’s a little too “attached” to how he looks in the poses, which is very un-yoga-like. I’m working with him on releasing this attachment and bringing his attention inward. Yoga is about observing ourselves without judgment and without attachment to the end result. Very easy to say; very challenging to do.

A fundamental principle of Viniyoga is that people are structured differently and these differences are observed without judgment. In Viniyoga, postures are modified to each person’s individual ability and needs. We’ll explore how this principle also applies to weight management.

Enjoy and Breathe Easy,


Some Technical Info

Have you ever wondered why two people can eat the same amounts of food and how one will maintain their weight and the other will gain weight? Or, why they can practice yoga for the same length of time yet burn different amounts of calories?

Several factors affect the way calories are burned and, therefore, weight:

  • Rate of metabolism
  • Body composition (percentage lean vs. fat weight)
  • Stress levels
  • Sleep patterns
  • Hormones
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Heredity

Some of these factors are controllable and some are not. Today, we’ll focus on the metabolic rate, which is partially controllable.

There are multitudes of articles being written about how increasing one’s metabolism will result in weight loss and, in theory, that’s true. But, again, how fast you burn calories depends on many factors, including metabolic rate.

Metabolism refers to all the chemical reactions in your body that convert food into the fuel/energy that powers everything we do. It establishes the rate at which we burn calories and how quickly we gain or lose weight.

Metabolism is made up of three parts: basal (resting); thermic effect of food; physical activity. About 75% to 80% of our caloric intake goes to energizing the first two. These are the calories that go to running our body’s systems and digesting our food. We can’t really impact these. But, we can impact the third because it includes calories needed for daily activities such as yoga and pranayama (controlled breathing).

Stress Affects Metabolism

It’s well known that yoga reduces stress, builds muscle strength and enhances flexibility.

It’s also known that stressed and sleep deprived people have lower metabolic rates, meaning they burn fewer calories. Interestingly, this is true even when they exercise for the same duration as their rested, less stressed friends because the intensity isn’t the same.

Yoga, with its emphasis on bringing one’s attention inward and mindful focus on breath and movement, is being recommended more and more frequently by the medical profession as a way to reduce stress. Over time, a change in metabolism can reduce the weight gain caused by stress.

Mindful focus also makes us more aware of our habits, the good and the bad. We learn to recognize how and why we’re not taking care of ourselves.






Joanne Thompson

Joanne Thompson

Founder/Owner at Yoga for Self

Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
Joanne Thompson

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