A study led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has determined that people who eat mindfully tend to weigh less than those who eat mindlessly (eat when not hungry and/or in response to anxiety or depression). They also found a regular yoga practice to be highly associated with mindful eating (1) because of an increased sense of body awareness.
True, even someone new to the discipline might find themselves quickly aware of how they smell, digest, sound or move, as my old "How to Prepare for Class" suggestions cover:
The ideal way to prepare for a yoga class would be to shower and dress in tights or bike shorts and a t-shirt. Your teacher should be able to see the position of your knees, so no baggy pants. You may be bending forward, raising your arms over head and twisting, so wear something that will stretch along with you.
Conscious breathing through the nose is always encouraged in class, so please refrain from using perfumes or after shaves. Heavy or clanging jewelry may inhibit your joint movements so use your best judgment.
If you're hungry, eat something light and easily digestible. Remember, you'll be bending forward, raising your arms, etc. Always let your instructor know if you're experiencing any back, neck or knee problems or if you're recovering from an illness. There may be alternate poses to help your condition.
Most of us come to class after a full day at work and so it's important to spend the first part of class with a routine sequence of sitting, connecting with the breath, closing your eyes and releasing the sounds of the outside. If you are late, please know that you are still welcome but try your best not to disturb the quiet and calm of the rest of the class. Please wait at the door until the instructor waves you in. Generally, it is okay to enter after everyone has opened their eyes and arms are stretched overhead. While you're waiting, take a few deep breaths, forget the fact that you are late and leave your cares under your shoes, at the door.
We learn to be self-referential yet respectful of group energy. In time, the non-competitive nature of yoga must send a message throughout our bodies, "take what you need, and leave the rest". If there's no need to hoard, then, why weight?
(1) Regular Yoga Practice is Associated with Mindful Eating. Science Daily (8-16-09).
(2) Regular Yoga Practice May Help Prevent Middle-age Spread. Science Daily (7-21-05).