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Yoga For Losing Weight

Paul M. Jerard Jr.
Jun 5, 2008
With America tipping the scales on obesity, and weight-related health problems, it is more important than ever for all of us to stay fit. Many of us have already gone past the ideal weight category. We need to find our way back to a healthy, fit form. Yoga cannot entirely replace the benefits of regular aerobic activity, such as walking, but yoga can provide the basis for a healthier lifestyle.

What Hollywood and the "get skinny quick" master minds of modern marketing would have you believe is that rapid weight loss is healthy. The reality of the world we live in is that gradual weight loss of one pound, or two, per week is healthy. Gradual weight loss has the best chance of becoming permanent.

Holistic health has everything to do with balance in the body and all of the body's systems. Crash dieting and excessive / obsessive workouts only create further imbalances of the body and mind. The best way to reach a truly healthy state is to eat life-giving foods, strengthen and sooth the body, and renew the mind and spirit.

This may not be what you want to hear if you're coming here for advice on weight loss. Yes, if you are overweight or obese, now is the time to lose the weight. Extra weight increases the risk for nearly every disease, including heart disease, cancer and stroke. The simple fact of the matter is that being overweight puts stress on all systems of the body. Stress, in turn, creates imbalance, lessens immunity, and increases cellular oxidation. This is all the more reason to seek balance in the body.

To begin, make a concerted effort to increase your activity level in your everyday life. Pay close attention to what you eat and follow the yoga diet as closely as possible. By eating foods as close to their natural state as possible, you absorb the most nutrients, and gain the most positive effects from your food choices. The yoga diet is also high in fiber, which will aid in digestion from beginning to end. Once again, here we are on the topic of complete balance.

Hatha Yoga instructors must learn to adapt their teaching styles to accommodate students with a variety of health conditions. Obesity is a common, but serious, health risk factor, which has to be addressed by teachers, in a compassionate way.

Any student who walks through the door of your studio is taking a pro-active stance toward his or her health. Compassion and mutual respect are the foundation of the student / teacher relationship. Therefore, adapt and modify to meet any student's needs.

If you are a student, begin your yoga practice with a knowledgeable yoga instructor, who is familiar with your goals. Learn the proper ways to breathe and do the yoga postures. Proper yoga breathing, or pranayama, decreases stress and increases the efficiency of all bodily systems.

Circulation is improved by the breathing, and by the series of poses and stretches, performed during a Hatha yoga class. Improved circulation increases energy levels, dispelling fatigue and allowing you to be more active. After practicing yoga for awhile, you will want to take the stairs!

Yoga improves one's idea of self-worth, and that is the beginning of any path to improved health or appearance. Instructors create a soothing and comfortable, yet challenging environment, to encourage all participants to grow.

The focused meditation, awareness, and visualization, allow you to seek out a healthier mental place for yourself. This also helps you to remember your own significance. No one can really make a beneficial life change without believing they are worth it.

Certain poses stimulate the glands that help the body burn fat. The thyroid gland becomes stimulated when you perform the classic shoulder stand. Other poses that focus on the abdomen, stimulate digestion and the excretion of hormones in the pancreas.

Yoga poses also help you appear slimmer, by improving posture. When you feel better, you'll look better. The muscles in the abdomen, hips, and buttocks, are stretched and strengthened, providing a tighter, firmer core.

For students who are in shape, and in search of higher impact or more calorie-burning types of yoga, try Vinyasa yoga (a faster-paced yoga, which is sometimes practiced in a heated room.) Ashtanga yoga is another fast-paced yoga, which follows the same movements in every class.

Another option is a hybrid form of cardiovascular yoga, an adapted type of cardiovascular exercise involving yoga principles.

Copyright 2008 - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
About the Author
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. He is an author of many books on the subject of Yoga and has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995.

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