Yoga Helps With Weight Loss, Rejuvenation, Study Shows

"Breathe in," Tanya Wood, yoga instructor at Premier Fitness, told her students in class today. "Take the right heel high."

An ancient Indian practice, yoga is commonly known as a form of meditation involving controlled breathing, flexibility, and strength.

"Exhale," Wood continued. "High push-up."

New research shows yoga helps keep the pounds off, even when it's most difficult -- in middle age and beyond.

"I think it's helped trim me up and tone me up... I'm trying to still lose all my baby fat," Melinda Still, who's been practicing yoga for six months, said.

Melinda, of Whitehouse, has had two babies in the last two years. With yoga as a big part of her exercise routine, she's lost 20 pounds in six months.

Researchers have found yoga helps people respect their bodies, which helps them eat better. It also increases muscle mass, which increases metabolism.

"I have lifted weights. I have ran. I have worked as a gymnastics instructor, been very active my whole life, and I have never seen the muscle definition that I see from yoga," Wood, who's been teaching yoga for two years and practicing for three, said. "I've never felt so youthful in my movement."

With positions like those in yoga, it's hard not to be balanced and in tune with your body.

"When you're less stressed, you eat less," Regina Dick, registered dietitian at UT Health Center at Tyler, said. "And that's one of the ideas behind yoga."

Mitzi Hardee, of Tyler, knows that from experience. She practiced yoga even when she was nine months pregnant.

"It was a lot easier this time around than the first time, when I had not done yoga before my pregnancy," she said.

"Chaturanga. Upward dog," Wood called out.

And while it's relaxing, yoga can be quite a workout, too.

The yoga study was conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Researchers collected data from 15,000 middle-aged people.

In East Texas, a number of fitness clubs offer yoga classes. Check with them to find out their schedules.

Julie Tam, reporting.