- Sarah Anne Stewart
9 Reasons Yoga is Perfect for Healthy Weight Loss
For many of us, the first step on the journey to weight loss is through the gym doors. The glistening and toned physiques at the weight rack, on the treadmills, and in spin class briefly convince us that the best way to shed those stubborn pounds is to lift heavier, run faster, and push harder. But, if this is really the key to permanent weight loss, then why do so many walk away from the gym exhausted, frustrated, and defeated in their efforts?
The Yoga Difference: Mental Health Meets Physical Health
We often overlook the fact that weight loss is just as much a mental and soulful experience as it is a physical one. Aligning mind, body, and soul is the key to sustainable health, and it can often be found among the serene music and warming breaths of a yoga class. As Adi Amar says, "The yoga practice is not so much a workout, but a work in." Unlike other exercise modalities, yoga gives you something uniquely special because the practice heals your mind, body and soul while inspiring you to "live with purpose." Yoga will support your weight loss transformation as you begin to identify what will ultimately bring you joy and happiness which, in turn, leads to healthier decisions.
In the spirit of the New Year and the #YT16in16 Challenge, here are 9 ways that yoga will help you foster a new relationship to your body and help you lose weight.
1. Disconnect from Technology
Instead of looking at other people and what they’re doing to lose weight, yoga supports a quiet state of mind, so you can make decisions that are best for your body. You will be inspired, your energy and vibration will shift, and you will begin to feel gratitude for the smallest things without needing to compare yourself to others.
2. Work with Wonderful, Experienced Teachers
Your friends and family can be great role models, but to transcend your circumstances, you often have to remove yourself from your current space of understanding. Uplifting teachers encourage you to add to your own toolbox of thoughts and beliefs that you can reach for when the going gets tough. Instructors are often a mirror of your own weaknesses and insecurities and can facilitate your movement past them, especially because they have blazed the trail before you (keeping in mind that many of whom have their own weight loss journey) and can offer a road map for your own growth.
3. Spend Time with an Incredible Community
Having the ability to become part of an incredible community (online or in person) — people who are working towards similar goals right along with you — is incredibly powerful. Your fellow yogis will praise you when you do well, encourage you when you feel hopeless, and help point you in the right direction when you get off track. The intelligence within you is always guiding you; sometimes you just need a bit of help (and positive friends) to harness it.
4. A Guaranteed Break
Spend time meditating and allow yourself to stop over-thinking. In a world of constant information (especially about diets!), this is often one of the most difficult things to do, yet it is one of the most important lessons to learn for your well-being. Turning off all the noise, including your own voice, judgments and outside perceptions, for just a small amount of time, truly frees you. Stillness allows you to open up to a sacred space of healing which welcomes happiness and empowers you to make improved decisions when it comes to your food and exercise.
5. Heal the Past
Individuals often experience profound healing and new states of awareness during yoga. Being in an environment where you are not distracted by other things allows you to move closer to forgiveness — one of the most important components of permanent weight loss. We often hold weight because of guilt that we carry inside ourselves and yoga presents us with an opportunity to release feelings of shame and inadequacy.
6. Experience a Space Beyond Your Current Circumstance
Money, time, work, and toxic relationships can drag you down and make you feel trapped in your current reality, causing binging and unhealthy eating behaviors. You have to live beyond what you have now and believe in what you can become. Yoga allows you to experience this uniquely optimistic space. As the Law of Attraction states, living within the mindset of the future version of you helps it actually come to you!
7. Embrace Fear
Yoga is a safe space to embrace your fear, harness the energy behind that fear, and remove it from your life. We’re often fearful of things we truly desire, so there is fear around losing weight. Who will we be when we don’t have the weight as a protection against the world? Who will we be when we are healthy and filled with energy? Quieting the mind helps us to understand where the fear of losing weight comes from and gives us the ability to create dramatic shifts in our lives.
8. Bust Through Blockages
Yoga testimonials often state that individuals were able to break through blockages and limiting beliefs. Most of us carry around childhood memories, past traumas and pain, causing severe stress in our subconscious that manifests in negativity and fear. Yoga helps create a space where our conscious and subconscious thought patterns can unite to break through these feelings, shedding mental (and physical) weight.
9. Finally Make a Commitment to a Healthier Life
After several yoga classes, your body will begin to cleanse, detoxify, and heal. As your body cleanses and detoxes, you actually retrain your brain from craving junk food to desiring more real, healthy food. Being in an environment that supports that energetic shift in your body will help you stay on track no matter where in the world you may be.
Without a doubt, yoga is one of the best things you can do to create dramatic shifts not only in your mind, but also in your body. Being in an environment where you can focus and make a commitment to your well-being alters your life forever. As you spend several days moving closer to a “new” way of being, you are actually announcing to the Universe that you are ready to permanently live this way.
Editor's Note: This article is republished from Charlotte's Book with permission from the author, Sarah Anne Stewart. Learn more about Sarah Anne in her interview about starting the New Year with a fresh perspective and in her second Q+A, which addresses how to overcome setbacks on your road to health.