Being overweight is an indicator that something is out of balance in your life. Excess stress is a big factor that contributes to weight gain.
Last year, when I was teaching a yoga retreat in Italy, Deborah—a participant from California—told me she lost almost 10 pounds over the week. I asked her what made the difference. She responded, "Well it's the first time that I have been able to switch off and relax in a long time."
Deborah had been going through a stressful time and the yoga retreat allowed her the space she needed to relax and reconnect back to herself.
Yoga is an easy way to help you relax. When you practice yoga, you bring a deep sense of relaxation to your body and your mind. As you relax, you begin to ease the stress in your life, weight loss will begin to happen naturally..
Yoga assists detoxification.
Being overweight is a sign that your body is high in toxicity. Detoxifying your body can help you to lose weight for good.
When your body is toxic, it means that your detoxification organs (such as your liver and kidneys) may not be working effectively. When these organs aren’t working optimally your body will tend to hold on to excess weight.
Doing yoga is an excellent place to start detoxifying your body. Yoga tones up the inner organs and helps them to work optimally again. In my yoga classes, there are several ways that I help students to detoxify their bodies.
One of the first things that I remind my yoga students to do is breathe deeply. Breathing deeply is an important part of detoxification.
Next, I encourage my yoga students to practice specific yoga poses that assist detoxification, such as yoga twists. We also spend time doing self massage, which is highly recognized in the East as a powerful tool for detoxification.
Yoga helps release stuck emotions.
What most weight loss experts won't tell you is that being overweight almost always has an emotional component. I have an intimate understanding of emotional eating, because I personally suffered from it for many years.
In everyday life, we often address negative feelings with food or other addictions. Used in this way, food is used to numb or suppress feelings. Left unaddressed, these 'pent-up' feelings can become stuck in the body.
Yoga is one tool that you can use to access and release these stuck emotions. I remember having an amazing emotional release in one of my yoga classes, coming into camel pose I gently dropped my head back, and I spontaneously burst into tears. I felt like a huge weight had lifted off my shoulders. I walked out of the yoga class with an incredible feeling of lightness.
Being on the yoga mat gives you the opportunity to notice your feelings. Not only does yoga help you to notice how you're really feeling, it also helps you connect with your personal power so that you have the courage and confidence to express how you feel.
Yoga is a powerful healing tool as it aids relaxation, promotes detoxification and helps release stuck emotions. Based on my own experience, I can personally recommend yoga as a path to losing weight naturally and keeping it off for good!
Despite the uncomfortable symptoms, I realized how useful my condition could be during my trip. While visiting various yoga therapy centers, I would submit myself for evaluation and treatment by the various experts I'd arranged to observe. I could try their suggestions and see what worked for me. While this wasn't exactly a controlled scientific experiment, I knew that such hands-on learning could teach me things I might not otherwise understand.
My experiment proved illuminating. At the Vivekananda ashram just outside of Bangalore, S. Nagarathna, M.D., recommended breathing exercises in which I imagined bringing prana (vital energy) into my right upper chest. Other therapy included asana, Pranayama, meditation, chanting, lectures on philosophy, and various kriya (internal cleansing practices). At the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai and from A.G. Mohan and his wife, Indra, who practice just outside of Chennai, I was told to stop practicing Headstand and Shoulderstand in favor of gentle asana coordinated with the breath. In Pune, S.V. Karandikar, a medical doctor, recommended practices with ropes and belts to put traction on my spine and exercises that taught me to use my shoulder blades to open my upper back.
Thanks to the techniques I learned in India, advice from teachers in the United States, and my own exploration, my chest is more flexible than it was, my posture has improved, and for more than a year, I've been free of symptoms.