In a recent blog I offered ten tips to reduce stress, stress being one of the three components of the Weight Loss Triangle I advocate. Yoga is a great option for stress management and achieving your weight loss goals. I personally have been doing yoga for more than two decades. I initially turned to yoga as a refuge from the daily stress I experienced as a practicing lawyer and single parent. As I started to practice yoga regularly, I experienced considerable improvement in many areas of my life, including feeling less stressed, being better able to manage stressful life circumstances, and weight loss. When I let life get in the way of my regular yoga practice, I can feel myself shift back to moodiness and losing my cool more easily. I can also feel the aches and stiffness in my body return.
Several years into my regular practice I decided to become a certified yoga teacher to deepen my knowledge of and commitment to yoga. Through the certification process I learned that there was a lot more to yoga than the asanas, or physical postures, I had been practicing in yoga class. Deepening that knowledge and understanding of yoga and yogic philosophy has served invaluable in defining the direction and evolution of my life from practicing lawyer to certified life and weight coach.
If you’re trying to lose weight and living a high stress lifestyle, not only should you be paying attention to the food and drink you consume and the frequency and intensity of your exercise, but you should also be mindful of managing your stress. Stress produces the hormone cortisol (also known as the “stress hormone”), and can most definitely interfere with your ability to lose weight. Yoga is not only a form of stress relief but also a form of exercise, so you get two benefits for the price of one with yoga.
Yoga can have numerous positive effects on your mental and physical well-being. As your practice deepens, you will find your mind wanders less and less, and you are more easily in the present moment rather than allowing your mind to wander to past injustices or future anticipation. If you are fully in the present moment you enjoy a drastic reduction in stress because stress always lies in the thoughts about past or future, and never in the now. The sequence of asanas is intended to balance the body, with a focus on breath. Taking deep breaths, while in a yoga pose or otherwise, has the ability to calm and improve our mental and emotional state. Studies have shown that yoga reduces cortisol (the stress hormone), which reduces stress and allows for better sleep, which lessons the occurrences of stress eating and weight gain. In addition to the mental and stress management benefits, the asanas develop strength in your musculature and a help you develop a leaner physique. I strongly recommend you adopt a regular yoga practice to fully enjoy all the benefits to mind and body that yoga offers.
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