The world of weight loss is constantly turning up new ways to shed the pounds, with the concepts behind the latest diet plans becoming more and more complicated and outlandish. But one of the most often overlooked aspects of weight control is also one of the oldest and most well established.

The ancient practice of yoga has benefits across many areas of physical and mental health, and it can be a powerful ally in your quest toward a slimmer self. Here are seven important ways yoga could support your weight loss efforts.

1) Stress Control

Yoga is famed for its stress-busting qualities, and regular sessions will leave you feeling calmer and less harried. You’ll be much less likely to reach for sugary, fatty comfort foods when you’re feeling low, as yoga will provide a natural way of coping with your everyday stresses and strains.

2) Decreased Cortisol Levels

And if you’re less stressed, you’ll have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your system. One of the effects of cortisol is an almost irresistible urge to eat high-energy foods, to prepare your body for potential fight or flight. Even worse, cortisol encourages your body to lay down any extra calories you consume as belly fat, which is one of the toughest forms to shift through regular diet plans.

3) Easier Physical Exercise

After a few sessions of yoga you’ll start to feel more physically balanced, with your movements easier and more controlled. This will make your workout sessions more enjoyable and effective, greatly increasing the contribution they make to shedding the pounds.

4) Increased Energy

Yoga is also known for its energizing effects, both mental and physical. Once yoga becomes part of your life, you’ll feel more stimulated to be active in your spare time rather than spending evenings in front of the TV snacking on unhealthy foods. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll become a permanent fixture at the gym, but even a short walk or a little yard work is better for weight loss than being inactive.

5) Boosted Metabolism

A common result of frequent yoga practice is an increase in your average resting metabolic rate. This means that your body burns through more calories even when you’re not being physically active, putting a strong foundation underneath whichever diet plan you choose to follow.

6) Greater Mindfulness

One of yoga’s greatest overall benefits is the boost it can give to mindfulness. When you’re living in the moment and are highly aware of your body and mind, it’s easier to see the effects that certain foods can have on your energy levels. Most people increasingly notice how fatty, processed foods make them feel sluggish, whereas fresh foods lead to alertness and increased energy. And of course, if you start eating more fresh foods than processed ones, your weight loss will be all the easier.

7) Improved Sleep

Lastly, yoga can lead to vastly improved sleep, both in quality and quantity. When your mind and body are in a better, calmer balance, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep and you’ll wake feeling more refreshed. And importantly for weight loss, when you’re less fatigued you’ll feel less need for fatty or sugary foods to give you a lift during the day.

There’s no magic bullet to losing weight. For long-term success you’ll need to change how you eat and increase the amount of exercise you do. But the many benefits that yoga brings can underpin whichever diet plan you follow, increasing the amount of weight you lose while making you feel healthier and happier along the way.