Posts Tagged ‘yoga practice’
Every year, right after New Year’s, I am caught up in a flurry of activity. People are interested in working on their New Year’s resolution—which is to lose weight and be healthier this year.
Of course, it is best if we are always as healthy as possible. But New Year’s does seem to be a good time to start something. We’ve seen our friends and family over the holidays, so this month we have fewer social obligations. At the office, sweets are not in front of us at every turn. The frantic holiday energy on the street has calmed down, allowing us to focus inward.
So how to start? A cleanse? A radical change in diet? Get up at 4 am for a three-hour workout? These measures are probably a bit extreme, and often lead to a short burst of adherence, followed by a return to old behaviors.
I suggest we all (new to this practice or not) focus on the joy in our practice.
If you are new to yoga, you are in for a treat—find a brief time (20 minutes or so) daily to do a stress-relieving practice. If done in a light, easy, not-too-serious way, you will experience great joy.
If you already practice, re-evaluate what you like about it. Go to classes or do sequences that leave you feeling energized and happy. Remember your beginner’s mind, and swim in the positive and peaceful feelings that your practice brings.
Extend this joyful practice to eating. Relish and enjoy the daily foods in your life. Take a small amount of time to contemplate how food enhances your life. Notice the complex and interesting flavors of your favorite foods. Allow the experience of eating to be fun. I was reminded of this while eating clementines recently. What sweet could be better?
If our resolutions include these joyful practices, the more challenging aspects of our lives will be balanced—and where there is balance, there is peace.
May we all be free and happy this year,
So I just found out that my name means food. Does anyone find this as funny as me?
For someone who has struggled with food and weight, to learn that in Hindi my name means food (or ‘rice’), seems a little ironic. So I decided to write a brief newsletter reminding us of the love side of food, rather than the difficult part of our food relationship. Or more specifically, what to do into the new year to avoid a big food explosion ending in the “this year will be different” resolution.
The holidays are upon us. The average american gains 10 pounds over these months every year. And if you’re reading this, we can assume that that is the opposite of what you want to happen. So try this over the next couple of weeks.
Bare down. Not with food, but with your practice. Do it daily. Decide beforehand and plan what you will do. Yoga nidra every night? Breathing and moving for 20 every morning with your favorite class in the mix? 10 minutes of pranayama in the bathroom stall at work before lunch? Watching a video on YouTube or for 5 bucks here with me each day? Forget about the struggle that is food for a minute and shift your focus towards yoga. Do your practice consistently and allow it to uncover whatever is. Perhaps it will provide necessary breath around all the emotions that come up rather than pushing them down. Maybe it will give you a needed break from family and work. Even more, it might even remind you that peace is your birthright. It can only help, right?
So enjoy the specialty foods that surround you, rather than being at war with them. Let your practice support you in taking delight in this time of year and the foods and feelings that accompany it.
Tonight I am sharing in this historic moment with friends and family. There will be a lot of food, drink, and dessert. Not my typical Tuesday night fare—I’ll likely eat more than usual. But I have a plan.
Breathe. A lot. Do some yoga before and after. Trust in the long game, and not worry about the specific calorie count today. There are bigger and more important things to think about. The ability to reset is the Peaceful Weight Loss bija. Our practice is always there to bring us back to what we need to do. This is the after party.
So, may we all remember our practice today, tomorrow, and beyond. All of the other pieces, in or out of our control, will know their place, with a grounded perspective.
P.S. Please vote.
It’s so discouraging. We’ve been trying to maintain or lose weight and one day we step on the scale and BOOM there it is – we are heavier.
For so many of us this is inevitable. We don’t want to hear it, but it’s true. Changes in diet, sleep schedule, stress levels, etc. happen. And with these can come weight gain. In my personal journey I have seen this many times. Of course, each time it happens, I freak out like anyone would who is trying to maintain their weight. Mostly because I don’t want to deal with it; analyse, dig deeper, change things, and most of all except my current circumstances. I want to be frustrated and throw in the towel—even as a weight loss professional.
So what do I do instead? I practice yoga. I bring my energy back to center and I make a plan. What needs to shift? Do I need more sleep? Do I need to practice more or in a different way to get stress out of my body? Do I need to rearrange my schedule a bit? Do I need to change the way I’m feeding myself. And as I do this—as my practice deepens and progresses—I have a little more perspective on why this happened.
Then the fear arises. Maybe I can’t do it? Maybe this is too hard. Maybe I can’t change or eat differently. Maybe I’m a lost cause? But that’s just fear talking. Once it passes, I realize I can do what I need to do. I remember that I feel better when I do these things. My health and energy are improved and most importantly, I’m happier.
So I make a plan. I write down 2 or 3 shifts that I know will help and begin again. I find the reset button. And each time I do this, it works. And as time passes this entire process shortens. The fear last less time and so does the extra weight.
So if you find that scale not to your liking one day, remember that this process is there for you. Change is guaranteed. The way in which you change yourself has everything to do with your willingness to engage with your own body, breath, mind, and heart.
May we all remember deeply who we truly are today,
Be guided through the Peaceful Weight Loss process with Transformation, our 9 month online course.
There is a theme in the Peaceful Weight Loss process that is a microcosm of this day in age. It’s the feeling that you’re not doing enough or getting enough done. It’s the thought pattern that you’re not engaged fully in a [weight loss] process when you are, or as a Transformation participant articulated this week, feeling like you’re “avoiding” something, even when you’re not.
This happens all the time—this feeling of inadequacy or falling short in the effort you need to be successful. Often when we trace it back, or look more closely, my clients, and others involved in the Peaceful Weight Loss process, are in fact fully engaged and doing plenty.
So why do we think we’re underachieving, or not accomplishing enough and how much do we need to do in order to believe that we’re on our way to where we want to be?
With weight loss specifically, we are looking in the mirror, and not always seeing “results” from all the work we’re doing including the internal changes that we’re making. If we’ve had disordered thinking around food, our bodies, our weight, then there is much to be done to untangle, or unlearn what we don’t want to do anymore. We are also required to shift our reaction and change our nervous system through practices that help us feel better. And this takes time (and has nothing to do with food, at least to begin.)
When we plant bulbs in the Fall, we work hard to get them in the ground (acquire them, weed, dig, and plant) but we don’t see the beauty of their bloom for the time it takes for our planet to travel halfway around the sun. Their evident growth and beauty takes time, just like a sustainable shift in our body and weight. We may be disappointed when we don’t lose weight immediately or see a difference in the mirror or when we put clothes on, but we shouldn’t be. Working on our mind and body is a process that has many facets, all of which need watering and nourishment.
This is why practice is key. It helps us with our mind when it tells us that we’re not doing enough, that something has to happen now(!), even though something IS happening! Getting our thoughts to recognize this is an important practice. If you are making shifts and feeling better about choices you are making, wiring practice, drinking enough water, enjoying micro-practices including breath, eating regularly, shopping in a non reactionary way, getting enough sleep, [fill in the blank on whatever one thing that you’re working on today]—you are doing enough. Each step leads to the next. The flowers will only bloom if the bulbs are properly taken care of.
So when you wind up seeing the number go down on the scale, you’ll see that enough was truly enough. But for now, It’s our job to keep on keepin’ on and move in the direction of where we want to be. Inside and out. You are your beautiful landscape.
May we all know our true potential and find peace within ourselves at the same time,
Are you looking for your next step to do enough? Join us for our online course. You can call in every other week to connect with me and the rest of our Transformation community as a way to remember and know that you are heading in the right direction, one step at a time. [Here’s more info].
I spoke with a Peaceful Weight Loss client this week. She said (jokingly, but not) that she was looking for her “Aunt” in the fridge. She correlated the search for late night foods (you know, the bluurrr from 5pm-bedtime) to longing for someone or something. The food brings temporary comfort—something most of us can understand (especially if you’re part of the PWL community at large).
I can certainly relate this metaphor. When we’ve struggled with our weight, food is an issue. It manifests in different ways for each of us; we don’t eat enough much of the time, we eat too much; we starve then binge, we binge then starve, too much, too little….on and on. The key ingredient is the suffering.
We often think that it’s our feelings—missing our Aunt—that bring us to binge or eat in a way that isn’t working for us. But here’s the thing. It’s not just filling the space and soothing our emotions that we are doing and it’s not our feeling blue that is our eating problem. Often when we are “searching” for what to eat, the simplest thing is right in front of us: We haven’t fed ourselves enough nourishing, yummy food (you fill in the blank of what that is for you) and we land in a place of both blood sugar crashing and the need for satiation. The difficult feelings make it a perfect storm. But we are extremely resilient human beings that have been through lots of hard things. And if our blood sugars are stable and we consistently allowed (or not deprived) ourselves satisfying food/s, the feelings would just be there, by themselves, not causing an unbearable barrage, exacerbated by starvation, exhaustion, and fear (of when and what we’re going to eat again).
So I leave you with this. Your loss and struggles are real. You are also strong and capable. Enough sleep, water, practice(!), and regular eating throughout the day from the time you wake will set you up for less and less food behaviors that aren’t serving you anymore. But don’t take it from me. Do an experiment this week and find out for yourself.
- Eat 6 times/day. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack daily.
- Get 8 hours of sleep/night
- Drink 8ish cups of water/day
- Eat things you like, even if someone or something told you they’re “bad”.
See if by putting your effort towards these things brings you more comfort and ease. Maybe this will also allow you to miss your Aunt, rather than search for her in the fridge.
May we all be peaceful,
For many of us our self esteem is tied up in our weight, and the image of our body is determined by our self esteem. Weight is just one part of this trifecta. It’s a lot to consider when trying to lose weight and be a happier human being.
It’s chaos. First there are the numbers. The numbers on the scale. The numbers in our head of what those numbers should be. The numbers that size our clothes. Well, maybe letters, too. It’s a lot of input. Then there’s the mental states. And of course there’s also the feeling states. What’s strange is how we feel in our body is often clouded by all of these other pieces. It’s a lot of weight to bare.
When I was carrying a lot more weight, I “dieted” often. I limited what I ate and when I ate. I stopped looking at the scale, and I numbed myself with food, alcohol, relationships. I didn’t eat for long stretches on the off chance that I might eat again!? And then of course, the inevitable would happen. I binged. I binged nightly. I told myself that tomorrow I would be different. Yet, there were no nights that this didn’t happen. It was a ritual. A habit. Comfort. I was also in a state of constant anxiety. This cycle left me feeling worse instead of better day after day. The thought of changing was heavy and my weight and body goals were getting further and further away. I hated what I looked like and what I felt like.
Then I started practicing yoga. I would breath and move and open. It was safe and I always felt better afterwards. Yoga was something that I could addict myself to that wasn’t inflicting pain. I was present, a relief. I didn’t know then that I was changing my system’s entire make up. I just knew that everything in my life was shifting including my body. I binged less. I connected to food and my eating more. I began to eat regularly and different things. My mind was calmer. My thoughts were less destructive. My body felt better. I liked myself more. I valued the art I was making more. My relationships changed…
I write about this life as if it is another person. And it kind of is. I’m different because of yoga. Losing weight and being at peace with my body came in a way never could have suspected. There was no diet plan. I had to get into my body, the thing I was both avoiding and in a constant battle with, to get out of my deep suffering.
What I have seen over the years through the Peaceful Weight Loss work and for those on this path, is that yoga is the key to unlock the weight battle. The idea of losing weight doesn’t have to be so heavy. Yoga practices are the course of action that will lead to a happier, healthier, lighter self. With one goal in mind: a daily practice that leaves you feeling calmer, more energized, and with more space between your thoughts. These system shifts are available to you. If weight loss and healthy self esteem is what you desire, practice is a good place to put your effort for now. The other pieces that are weighing you down will change too. (To find more clarity and guidance, join us Transformation, our 9 month Peaceful Weight Loss course.) You deserve to feel lighter. Let your practice guide you towards a more energized and peaceful state. It’s your birthright to be happy.
Thanks for reading,
When most people think of losing weight they think of hitting the gym. Sweating a lot and watching how many calories are burning on their favorite (or least favorite machine). When they think of yoga they imagine slow movement – a glorious warrior 2 pose and inner peace. So why would yoga work well for weight loss? If you look at how many calories burn from yoga, it’s downright unimpressive.
For years we here at Peaceful Weight Loss we have been teaching slow, simple yoga practices to help with the weight loss process. It is an integral part of our overall weight loss plan. In fact, it is so much more important than hitting the gym that we favor it above all other forms of movement. Here’s why.
It Gets Stress Out Of The Body
Yoga practice done properly changes our nervous system response. This leaves us less stressed. Stress hormones are a key problem in weight reduction. Put simply – stress hormones = weight retention. Yoga is a great way to work with this.
Yoga Changes Our Mental State
Much overeating and binge eating can be attributed to anxiety, depression, or even big mental highs. Yoga practice helps us maintain a strong grounded mental state that translates into less emotional eating.
Yoga Is Empowering
Yoga teaches us to practice in a way that expands our body’s possibilities while deeply accepting its’ limitations. Unlike exercise where it’s constantly asking us to do more, yoga is about contentment. This creates a deep peace within us. Peace is true power. Change begins with this acceptance.
This is not to say that their aren’t great reasons to hit the gym, but when considering a long term movement plan to drop or keep weight off—yoga is an excellent choice.
Click here to learn more and register for Transformation. Our 9 month course in Peaceful Weight Loss will guide you through—step by step.
May we all find contentment today,
When Brandt and I first met, we had a conversation about prana (life force, chi) and how it related to our individual weight loss success stories. I had been into expanding my prana via pranayama, asana, bij chanting, and chakra visualization. We discussed the importance of building prana as a first step towards sustainable weight loss. We had collectively lost over 150 pounds.
Yogis for thousands of years have been studying how to build their prana body. Or not lose prana/energy. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, an ancient yogic text, talks about prana. It offers us the idea that when our pranic body is balanced, our breath is natural and relaxes. Pranic balance enables us to “see” or feel the deeper aspects of ourselves and allows us to focus on them. So why is this important and how does it relate to weight loss? Furthermore, how do we practice to get these results?
In Peaceful Weight Loss terms, our “prana building” practice should leave us
- focusing on something other than food and body frustrations (more of the time)
- feeling relaxed and peaceful (more of the time)
- remembering that there is something bigger than our body battle (more of the time)
Most of the time a daily, 20 minute (or more) practice that leaves us feeling calm and energized does the trick. Note, the calm and energized. We don’t have to push, in fact, we don’t want to deplete ourselves at all. This is not an exercise program. We are not forcing our bodies to work hard. We are putting our effort towards breathing and moving most days. (For guidance, check our online practices or join our 9 month course, Transformation)
As a result, the rest digest and heal part of the nervous system is being toned and activated every time we take a deep breath. This builds our energy, prana. There is now the possibility of feeling better (more of the time). It is from this place that we can make food and lifestyle changes that allow us to lose weight. (Note the paradigm shift away from “burning calories” aka losing energy…)
Brandt had this experience. I’ve had this experience. And we’ve seen so many people change and take pounds off through practicing pranayama and calm and energizing asana. As we gather our energy we breath more deeply and compulsions to overeat shrink. Some say that they feel more satisfied and content. Others speak to the clarity they gain and the side effects of this. Time and time again, energy goes up and the number on the scale goes down. It takes time, but sustainability is what we’re looking for, right?
So find a calm and energizing practice to build your prana and reap the rewards of a life with less stress and less weight.
Om Namah Shivaya,
Some call it a roller coaster. Others refer to it as a yo-yo. On the wagon, off the wagon. Whatever the metaphor, weight loss can be an up and down, in and out, and all around experience.
Here’s the catch. It doesn’t have to be so hard. Even if the struggle is decades old, there is another way, a different path, a new and sustainable outcome. Imagine being more peaceful and losing weight at the same time. What would this look like? What would the metaphor become? I’m going with peaceful ocean waves moving in and out of the shore.
I believe that we can make our experience less extreme if we truly want this to be so. When we apply our effort in the right direction, magic happens. So, let’s begin with food. This is usually the first thing we go after when we’re trying to take weight off. It’s also where we think we have the most control. But really, this is where the extreme states happen because we aren’t approaching food in a relaxed way. It’s intense. It’s baggage. It’s manic, frustrating, habitual, and confusing.
So, imagine focusing your effort and attention away from food and set a new “weight loss goal” of practicing daily, or as much as possible. We are now putting our energy towards yoga. But not just any yoga. Your “weight loss” practice should leave you feeling calmer and more energized. Got that? This might be a 15 or 30 minute breathing and moving practice on the mat or a 20 minute yoga nidra in bed…I’ve seen all sorts of practices tone the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest, digest, and heal part) which is what we want. This will lessen anxiety and tell our fight-or-flight part of the nervous system to chill out. We arrive in this state more of the time. Our clothes might not fit differently at first and the number on the scale (if you even decide you want to use one!) may not shift, but we feel better already.
It’s from this place that we can look at our food choices. And incrementally we approach the “food part of weight loss” (because it’s only a piece) with more clarity, compassion, and awareness. But really without the letting go on a daily basis part, we are agreeing to the up and downs that keep the body battle going. (via deprivation, via stress, via life)
If this resonates with you, try it. Forget about food for a minute. Practice daily and ask yourself if you are calmer and more energized afterwards. If the answer is no, tweak your practice, or find us to help you refine. And if this eludes you completely, join our 9 month course to help and prioritize how to stabilize rather than continue with extremes. If the answer is yes, ask yourself what one food thing you want to do today until you practice again tomorrow, and the next, and the next. Like (calm) ocean waves.
May we all be happy,