Yoga’s Mindful Approach to Weight Management
By Sejal Shah
In today’s culture of stresses and excesses, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can be a daunting task. It requires a variety of deliberate life adjustments, and experimentally combining separate-but-intertwining skill sets in five key areas: lifestyle, nutrition, fitness, psychology and spirituality.
Instant fixes and miracle cures will not create lasting and healthy change. It is essential to be willing to implement simple persistent lifestyle habits and work through self-harming patterns. You must be ready to overcome emotional or psychological problems linked with food, and let go of nutritional and fitness misconceptions. Weight issues do not happen all at once, and overcoming them will not happen all at once. Weight and food issues are complex, involving the body, the mind and the spirit. Therefore the solution must be holistic, integrating all of these aspects.
Spirituality (Spirit) & Mind
Spirituality will give you a broader outlook on life. With this improved perspective you are not carried away so easily by quick fixes or short term temptations and will tend to make choices which have sustainable long term impacts. When we are connected to our meaningful life purpose, we are more likely to make conscious food and life style decisions. Over time your connection will build a natural self-discipline which will bring you enormous and real freedom. This freedom will empower you to let go of the instant-gratification of unhealthy foods and look forward to long-term benefit of health. By empowering yourself to be in charge of your health and your life instead of depending upon anybody else you will see health as your real wealth and your body as a divine instrument to live a meaningful life. Life becomes a celebration.
Yoga, which literally means the union of the body, mind and soul, is a spiritual route to weight loss – that is why Yoga is such an effective way to tackle this complex issue. Yoga is certainly a means to that end, but not exactly in the way one would expect. Yoga will help you develop a leaner, more supple body not by emphasizing a restricted food intake and targeted muscle-building, but by nurturing an attitude adjustment that paves the way for long-term change. Regular practice of all 8 limbs of Yoga establishes physical and mental poise in a natural, gradual, lasting and organic way. With this poise, you will see life in a much more expansive perspective and you are naturally equipped to make far better choices and handle any situation in much more effective way.
The physical aspects of yoga have become more popular worldwide, and people do consider yoga as another means of physical fitness, but yoga as a way of life offers a holistic package for total personal transformation. More than a workout, yoga is work within! It brings harmony between our body, mind and spirit so that all three function in unison. Coupled with its sister science – Ayurveda, an ancient healing method from India, the practice of yoga becomes easier and goes even much deeper. Combining Ayurveda and Yoga offers a complete system of well-being for body, mind and consciousness.
When practiced regularly and in disciplined way, yoga will not only improve your physical health but also mental and emotional health. Practicing yoga changes the way you approach life, your body, and eating. Yoga shows you how to honor and appreciate your body for all of the amazing things that it can do for you and points you in the direction of wanting to fill your body with the best possible fuel rather than processed junk food. And changing your mind or the way you look to your body and the foods you feed it will be a much more effective weight-loss tool than mindlessly following any diet fads.
Typical weight-loss programs address the symptom (excess fat) and ignore the cause, which is essentially an imbalance caused by or manifested as any range of emotional problems, bad life style habits and poor nutrition. Unlike going to the gym, calorie burn is not top of mind for a yogi. Yes, aerobic exercise burns calories and can help you lose weight. But will it change you internally, thereby causing a lasting weight loss? The calorie calculated weight loss program does ultimately create a load on the system and eventually you will get bored and stressed by constantly remaining on your toes to watch the calories!
Yoga fosters a body awareness and discipline, which is something that goes deeper than calorie burn. Yoga cleanses and purifies your body from the inside and as an effect you will naturally want to put healthier and nourishing things in the body. Over a period of time, your taste buds change, and so will your cravings and aversions. Thus it can lead to healthier eating, mindful living, and self-care. Yoga can make you fall in love with healthy living. All of these things can lead to successful and lasting weight loss. While an hour spent at the gym exerts pressure on the body, yoga helps ease the resulting stress and helps tackle emotions like anger and frustration which often are often the cause of weight gain tendencies. Through a sustained yoga practice, your body will change, your health and metabolism will improve, and your peace of mind and self-discipline will return. A balanced mind and self-discipline are the key components for solving any kind of life problems, sustainable weight-loss is just one of them.
Are you ready for an experiment for 3 weeks?
Next time your favorite chips are in front of you and you are so tempted to eat the whole bag, just take a few deep breaths and then ask three questions:
- Is eating this pack of chips going to make my life easy or difficult?
- What will happen at the most if I don’t eat the pack?
- What is better or healthier option than eating the pack of chips?
If you, like so many of us, have tried many quick fix solutions and you are feeling frustrated, don’t give up. I am sharing this wisdom with the intention that it will help you to regain your hope and confidence and you will be ready to give yet another try.
Stay tuned, soon I will be sharing much more interesting tips and eye-opening facts to help you overcome your problem. Believe me, every problem is an opportunity and blessing in disguise and have faith that you are never given any problem which you don’t have the capacity to handle and solve.
Much love and peace.