How to Reduce Stress and Lose Weight with a Regular Yoga Practice

The Reality…
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.
The Challenge…
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.
The Solution… 
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. 
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

Spending Time in Nature – A Big Sigh of Stress Relief

The Reality…
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.  One of those tips, a personal favorite of mine, was to spend time in nature.  I don’t know about you, but I feel a little more at peace just looking at the picture above.  I imagine myself sitting just where the woman in the picture is seated.  She must feel the pleasure of rest after exerting herself to reach where she is seated and now enjoying the beauty of nature.  I imagine how much more incredible it would be to witness that view in person.  I imagine the sounds of nature she must be hearing.  I can’t see any birds in the picture, but perhaps they are there, and chirping away with a variety of beautiful sounds.  Or maybe there is complete stillness and silence, equally as beautiful and even more peaceful.  I imagine the smell of the fresh air and the outdoors and nature.  I imagine how the air must feel filling up her lungs.  I imagine the feel of the sun beating down upon her skin.  Perhaps there is a nice breeze that causes her hair to lay to the left side of her back and neck.  Ahhhh.
The Challenge…
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.  Spending time in nature is a great way to relieve stress, and I personally indulge is this form of stress relief every single day.
The Solution… 
Nature offers a delight for each of our senses, and it is no wonder that spending time in nature can help relieve stress and elevate mood.  Each morning when I walk in nature at a local park, I tune into each of my senses to not only be fully present in that moment but also to fully detach from the things that cause stress in my life.  I notice the trees and wildlife and body of water I see.  I smell the mossy smells of the lake and the flowers and the air.  I listen to the crickets and the birds.  I feel the breeze against my skin and the moistness of the morning air.  It’s my single favorite practice for reducing stress and spending time alone with myself in preparation for the day ahead, and I highly recommend it.
Aside from potentially boosting your activity level and getting your body in motion, spending time in nature by taking a walk in a park, garden, beach or amongst many trees is great for your mental well-being and feeling of happiness.  
Have you heard of “forest bathing”?  I had not.  “Forest bathing”, also known as Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, is the practice of simply being in the forest or wooded area, and it is said to lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” and it was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
According to http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/, among the scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku are:
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved mood
  • Increased ability to focus
  • Increased energy level
  • Improved sleep
Maybe you’re not close to a forest or heavily wooded area to regularly indulge “forest bathing,” but any time you can be outside in nature and away from your electronics, traffic and the other noisy demands of your lifestyle, take full advantage and breathe in nature’s big sigh of stress relief.
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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