‘How long before I lose weight?’


Photo by: Dani Lurie

A woman asked me this a few days ago after finding out I was a yoga instructor. It’s a perfectly valid query as most people go into yoga for its physical benefits (“yoga body”, “yoga butt”, “yoga tummy”, “yoga whatever”) so this is not the first time I have encountered this question.

My answer remains the same: The emotional and mental changes are almost immediately felt that when the physical changes do come after some time, they usually seem more like bonuses.

With that, the curious would-be yogi would either light up with excitement or get deflated because they didn’t get the specifics they wanted.

Countless yoga blogs have dealt with how ubiquitous the so-called yoga body has become in the media so I won’t go into that. I don’t see the need to get riled up about it too much as it inspires people go to the studio or seek out a yoga teacher. After all, as BKS Iyengar points out, the spiritual journey begins with the body.

The yogi knows that the physical body is not only the temple for our soul but the means by which we embark on the inward journey toward the core. – BKS Iyengar, ‘Light on Life’

By being curious about the physical benefits of yoga — which include better sleep and circulation, detoxification, and, yes, weight loss — people embark on the journey of a lifetime that, more often than not, continues into the emotional, mental and spiritual nature of the practice. If they choose to stay on the purely physical level, that’s fine, too, but I doubt that often happens.

What I and many yoga observers fear is the obsession with physical perfection. I am guilty of this sometimes because I, too, am inundated with images of sinewy, lithe and attractive celebrity yoginis doing handstands in ads for yoga apparel. So, on certain times of the month when I get all bloated and pimply, I get stressed out. Yes, it happens even to yoga teachers. Haha. We’re human after all. But I now recover my composure pretty quickly and go about my business without fuss, unlike before, when I’d obsess about how crumby my body and face looked.

And while I generally maintain healthy habits, I’m prone to eating junk from time to time. I’m not proud of it but it happens. And I don’t rush to the studio to “sweat it out” afterwards because yoga is not just a work out for me. It’s my time to go inward and get to know myself better, to get connected to the Source of all energy and life. A growing number of people are starting to think this way, too, and that’s wonderful.

Now, about weight loss. Of course, yoga is a calorie burner. If you don’t perspire buckets during class then have your sweat glands checked. Within weeks or months of regular practice, which is normally three times a week, and proper nutrition (I’m taking about a plant-based diet, and, no, potato chips are not part of that) you will see the inches and scale numbers drop and your muscles get toned.

You might ask: You can make this happen with any exercise program so what makes yoga different? Here is my simple take on that. Yoga instills a love of self. That self-love is the fuel for everything else that you do for your body, whether it’s choosing not to pick up that piece of tripe from the kare-kare your mom made or surrounding yourself with people who will not call you a loser if you order orange juice instead of beer. That self-love will push you to go to yoga class even when you don’t feel like it. It’s also this self-love that will sustain the healthy habits, and prevent the so-called yo-yo effect that dieters often complain about. Yoga targets the heart and mind through the body, which makes the effects more lasting.

That self-love will also make you appreciate what you see in the mirror more than the yoga bodies in the yoga magazines that are scattered all over your yoga mat.


  1. Nice…thanks for this.

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