I had an email telling about an upcoming free yoga class for people who are overweight or obese. To which I say, of course these folks would benefit from yoga. Pick a segment of the population and I’ll wager yoga will be pretty wonderful for them, too.

Stiff runner types with no flexibility? Check.

The clumsy? Check.

The self-conscious? Check.

Those who give downward-dog a bad name? Check.

Oh wait; those are me.

For overweight people, yoga also has many benefits. Here are three official ones – not just those that yoga-convert I could make up. They come from Today’s Dietitian, which pulled some from Yoga Journal. And yes, most hold true for just about anyone.

1. Yoga can help people lose weight: It doesn’t burn calories like cardiovascular exercise can, but yoga can help in what I’d say are more important ways. Quoting the article, it has a “positive influence on the mental aspects associated with successful weight loss and weight maintenance.” Plus, it helps foster a sense of self-control, increase body awareness and counter negative thoughts.

2. Yoga can help develop strength: Standing poses strengthen larger muscle groups; twists encourage digestion.

3. Yoga can help change perspectives about eating: In a study of obese women with binge-eating disorders, researchers examined journals by 20 of them who were in a 12-week yoga-treatment program. Analysis of the entries showed the women’s attitudes about food changed, plus the women learned to eat more slowly and to be more aware of living in the moment.

In my opinion, although losing weight could very well be an added side effect to taking up yoga, what matters in yoga, at least to me, is the peace of mind it helps me not always find, but at least to strive for.

See related stories on Page 14 and on the Web at