American College of Nutrition Certified Nutrition Specialist | Author | Professor of Nutrition

 

Five ways yoga helped me lose weight

I am not a runner, or a swimmer, or a dancer, or anything remotely related to those –ers. Yet, I am fit and it is because of yoga (although I am still waiting for my regular butt to be transformed into a fabulous yoga butt.) Here are the five ways yoga helped me lose weight and keeps me strong:

  1. Yoga turns off the “flight or fight” state of my brain, where nutrients and calories are stored for future use; and turns on the “rest and repair” signals, which use those stored nutrients to heal my body, make new necessary cells, and keep things running smoothly. I can’t be pumping fight-or-flight cortisol into your body and do yoga at the same time because I will fall down. So will you.
  2. Yoga keeps me in the present moment. Most emotional eating (the main reason many of us gain weight) is the result of worry, or a story I am telling myself about the future or the past. When I stay in the present moment, I realize that everything is actually fine, right now in this moment. And then the anxiety, which was all in my mind anyway, vanishes and I no longer feel the need to numb my anxiety with food. And if I am anywhere other than the present moment when practicing yoga, I will fall down. And so will you.
  3. Yoga makes me strong and flexible. The yoga poses, and linking them in a vinyasa sequence (also called Power Yoga) uses my body weight to make me stronger. Yoga also makes me flexible. When I am strong and flexible I move a lot more and ache a lot less. This keeps me busy, burns calories, and distracts me from eating out of boredom, then having to take a nap.
  4. When I practice yoga I feel like an athlete. And when I feel like an athlete I act like an athlete. Eating healthy food, getting enough rest, taking my vitamins and fish oil are all things athletes do for themselves. And all of them keep me at a healthy weight.
  5. The first lesson of yoga is non-violence, which is pretty much always a good policy. I have not studied much of the spiritual aspects of yoga, but I know this one. And it starts with no violence against myself, physical or mental. The way to become our best selves is through gentle self-talk, kindness to ourselves, and taking small steps each day to get us where we want to go. Those of you who have worked with me personally know that there is no place for violence against the self in my programs.

As I sit here with my computer, writing for this little blog that I love, and glowing with post-yoga peace (oh, lets face it, I am glowing with sweat), I hope that the good I have gotten from yoga will inspire you to give it a try.

There are good beginner videos available from Yoga Journal.com and Gaiam.com. I will put up links on my Favorites page for you, once I figure out how to do that.

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