Gratitude to Meera Watts Founder (Siddhi Yoga International) for contributing the following story “Surprising Reasons Why Yoga Helps You Lose Weight” to the DownDog Original article series.
Have you ever felt really frustrated at the state of your body? I think we all have our challenges with feeling satisfied about our appearance from time to time. There are a multitude of ways people can go about transforming their bodies.
You can do the Tough Mudder style of weight loss where you push yourself to physical limits. You can slowly try to get the weight off by eating less without the work out. There’s another method and it’s yoga.
Yoga may not burn a lot of calories but it still has the potential to help you lose weight. It’s actually a powerful force for mentally gaining momentum to make healthier choices. Yoga is a gentle way that we can lose unwanted pounds or tone up.
Not only will you become more flexible and strong but you’ll have an easier time making choices that are in alignment with self-love. Losing weight doesn’t need to be a nasty battle of will anymore. A commitment of 30 days of yoga will change the way you think and feel. That can be the tip of transformation for many parts of your life.
You Transform Those Thoughts
Studies show that the mind/body connection is powerful. Even in obese patients, they were able to start losing weight when they changed their thoughts. This is often explained by astronauts who were told of mental images of what space would feel like. Athletes are also mentally conditioned to see themselves performing during physical downtime.
When you do certain poses in yoga, you send messages to your mind. Yoga poses can ease stress because they affect the Sympathetic Nervous System. The body changing the mind can cause the body to become changed in a symbiotic cycle of body-mind harmony.
When you nurture your body with the slow and intentional poses yoga offers, you become more in your mind. This means that you’re less susceptible to binging when nobody is looking. The food that once gave you comfort is replaced by the comfort you get from yoga.
Once that spaciousness is in your heart, you feel more loving towards yourself. Eating foods high in sugar, salt, or fat doesn’t align any longer.
Yoga Helps Ease Pressure You Have Been Putting On Yourself
A big reason we are likely to go through the yo-yo diet lifestyle is that our emotions have taken over. Here’s the cycle. You realize you’ve gained a bit of weight so you decide to be more disciplined about what you eat. You put a lot of effort into this new goal and probably invest money in ways to keep yourself on the right path.
You may do a drastic cleanse or just cut out certain foods that you used to consider a reward. The problem is, there will likely come a time where something causes you to really want the food you’ve restricted from your diet. The comfort foods that we cut out (which traditionally make us gain weight) are often to heal a wound. If you feel socially awkward, upset, hurt, or afraid, you’re more prone to eating chocolate cake.
So now you’ve done what you shouldn’t do to cover up some painful life experience. Then you feel terrible about yourself. You feel as though you failed and that can cause you to eat even more. These terrible feelings can be alleviated when you do yoga every single day. You won’t have time to get caught up in stories that cause you intense pain. Letting go of those stories is healthy as they really don’t offer you any purpose in your life.
Yoga can also help you to get to the heart of your emotions so you don’t get those triggers anymore. That can help cut down on how often you “relapse.”
You’re Less Likely to Binge
Doing yoga in the comfort of your own home has many benefits. It’s important to create a space that you can go to. This one space can be your refuge where you can find peace of mind. When you have this in the place where you’re most likely to binge, you reduce your chances of doing so.
For those times when you’re alone, you’re more likely to head for the kitchen and eat every sweet thing you can find. It’s not self-control that will help you get past this challenge, its mindfulness. A craving will last for up to 30 seconds and after that, it will be gone (unless you grasp onto the thought.)
Promise yourself that you can eat anything you want after you do five minutes of yoga. Instead of heading to the kitchen, go to your sacred space you’ve created. This is what it was meant for. It can become your place of power the more times you reach for the experience. Do something easy if you want, a simple pose that relaxes you.
After you’ve done your five minutes of yoga, feel free to feed the craving if it’s still there. It probably won’t be but if you do eat something sinful, chances are, you’ll do it in a mindful way. You will enjoy every part of the senses that it hits. When you eat mindfully, you’re not as likely to devour the food.
We are more prone to eating food that is bad for us when we have an emotion we’re trying to suppress. Maybe being home alone is a painful trigger for you in some way. While you’re on your mat, deliberating about where the craving may have come from can be your own little therapy session. Child’s pose can help get rid of feelings of fear. That may be the very reason you’re looking to eat foods you told yourself you wouldn’t.
Yoga is a Great Base for Desiring Something Better For Yourself
Yoga and all the benefits it brings to the mind, body, and soul are sure to bring you a sense of fulfillment. The ancient practice of these poses were designed to help people with their health problems. Remember, yoga was created before there were prescription meds.
The journey with yoga will support your needs to offer yourself self-love. Once you begin to feel yourself becoming more flexible, you may also notice that your heart begins to open up. You may feel lighter in your soul, have more energy, and feel less pain. As all the problems begin to fall away, you may begin to desire even more when it comes to your health.
Eating a chocolate bar won’t bring you the true fulfillment you now understand is possible. You will begin to want to treat your body like a temple more than you’ll want to taste sweetness on your tongue. The fulfillment that you once got from eating, you’ll feel in your heart. This alleviates the need to eat for pleasure.
Learning to Let Go Can Melt Off Belly Fat
The simplest poses have an indirect effect on your belly fat, one of the hardest places to lose fat. Stress is actually what causes fat to hang around in the belly area. It’s a physical manifestation of an unhealthy mental lifestyle.
With the breathing exercises and specific poses that rid your body of stress, your body will collect less fat. The rise of cortisol, which is the stress hormone (the fight of flight response) is what causes belly fat. Yoga brings cortisol levels down to a far more healthy level. This allows the body to let go of that belly fat.
Nice, slow yoga can give you that hour glass figure you’ve been looking for. The big reward is that you will also feel relaxed every time you perform yoga. You will gently change many aspects of your life and eventually, you’ll realize you lost the weight you wanted to. You’ll also have more mental clarity, feel more blissful, have more energy, and be more flexible. Yoga can support the body when you do aerobic activities that turns fat into muscle. Muscle then eats up what body fat you have left and you’re a mean, relaxed, healthy machine.
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)
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