What is metabolism and why do you want to boost it? To start, metabolism is a variety of chemical process that make sh*t happen to keep our bodies working, doing, and living. Wikipedia defines metabolism as, “the set of life-sustaining chemical reactions in organisms. The three main purposes of metabolism are: the conversion of food to energy to run cellular processes; the conversion of food/fuel to building blocks for proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and some carbohydrates; and the elimination of nitrogenous wastes.”
So when folks talk about wanting to “speed up” or “boost” metabolism, they’re probably talking about speeding up the process of converting food into energy, aka calories. Those calories either get used (not only to move your body, but also to enable your body to do all the amazing things it does to keep us alive - to allow your lungs to take air in and out, to pump your heart, to fire synapses in your brain), OR they get stored into fat cells to be used at a later time.
Did you know that just sitting there reading these words, you are burning calories? That’s right. Everyone has a “basal metabolic rate,” which is the amount of calories your body uses, while you are in an inactive state, for necessary functions to keep you alive. There are growing theories to suggest that movement and physical activity in general can increase your resting metabolic rate. So that when you’re just hanging out, you’re actually still using calories, and possibly, at a faster rate than if you hadn’t exercised earlier.
So a yoga practice in general will help you in processing food and energy. To continue to boost that, there are also specific yoga poses that can help with digestion, which works hand in hand with your metabolism.
Twisting Prayer Lunge
From a high crescent lunge, press your palms together at your heart center. Start to twist towards your front leg, then work on bringing your opposite elbow or tricep to the outside of thigh. Hold for 5-10 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.
Twisting Prayer Chair
From a chair pose, press your palms together at your heart center. Start to twist towards one side, and just as in the previous pose, work on bringing your opposite elbow or tricep to the outside of thigh. Hold for 5-10 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
From a chair pose, cross your right leg over top of your left leg. Then wrap your right arm underneath your left arm. Squeeze everything in towards your midline. Hold for 5-10 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.
Knees to Chest (Apanasana)
Laying down on your back, hug your knees into your chest. Give yourself a hug and squeeze everything in. Hold for 5-10 breaths, or longer.
From the previous pose, let your knees fall over towards one side and open your arms out into a T position. Hold for 5-10 breaths, or longer, and repeat on the other side.
These poses focus on twisting and contracting - motions that have a direct impact on your gut and intestines. Finding these movements will help to stimulate digestion and work hand in hand with your metabolism.
Photo Credit: Meagan McCrary