Yoga to get to your best body shape with ease
I recently had conversations with people asking if yoga can help them lose weight. One or two of these ladies were desperately unhappy with their body, giving them insecurities in lots of areas of their lives; with their spouses, their children and their relationship with food to name but a few.
There are many, many people who feel the same and if I’m totally honest with you, I’ve had periods where I have been able to identify with some of those feelings, although fortunately not to the extreme that one or two have relayed to me.
It makes me sad to hear such unkindness’s that we project onto ourselves. And these were just the words that they felt comfortable enough to share with me; the mum in the playground, the casual acquaintance, the friend, the yoga teacher. We know that we use a far more critical voice with ourselves than we would dare to voice, so I can only imagine how harshly their inner voice is berating them every day.
This is super-damaging for self esteem, self confidence, emotional and mental wellbeing.
With my offerings based in my knowledge of anatomy and physiology, yoga and the huge dollop of empathy I’m blessed with (I’ll never apologise for being sensitive to the feelings of others, ever),
I want to help.
So in simple words, yes
Yoga can help with weight loss
and I’d really like to tell you how. But first, I want to invite a couple of questions of you;
Ask yourself first the reason why you want to lose weight. If I may, some reasons that perhaps may not be the most helpful
to fit into an item of clothing
to look good on the beach
because your friends are slimmer than you
Are you honest with yourself about your body image? This is a bizarre question to ask, but ask I will.
With the visual pressures we experience at every turn, we're bombarded with images of the “perfect” body looking happy, relaxed, sexy, wealthy. We think that we have to look a certain way to attain happiness. I’m sorry, but what a load of crap!
This is the image that sells.
Think of magazines, billboards, TV programs and films. I am sending lots of high-fives through the cosmos to companies that are waking up to this, no longer airbrushing their models and are using models with an actual, real-life proper body to model their products, such as ASOS and Dove. Hallelujah and thank you.
It’s been a pet peeve of mine for as long as I can remember that trash magazines splash unflattering images of celebrities across their front pages zooming in on cellulite or ‘fat rolls’. Turn the pages and you’re also likely to see regular ‘feature’ articles about the dangers of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and body dysmorphia.
It makes me say bad words.
Suffice to say I do not buy these magazines; I’m voting with my hard earned cash and taking a stand for women everywhere in their gloriously diverse range of sizes, shapes and colours. All are beautiful in my eyes.
And Snapchat filters? Instagram poses that want to tell you how you life should look if only you weren’t such a big fat ugly loser? Oh, piss off.
How can yoga help you lose weight?
So, getting to the point of why you may have started to read this post.
There is no quick fix to a healthy, lean body. Sorry if you thought this was going to be it, but it’s not.
If you find a faddy diet, herbal tea or suspicious looking pills that promise you’ll lose three dress sizes before the weekend and it seems too good to be true, you can be sure it probably IS too good to be true. Unfortunately, unscrupulous folk will try to capitalise and monetise your insecurities for the benefit of their own balance sheet.
What has been a wonderful revelation to me is that our own success with whatever goal we might have, is largely in our own hands.
You may be aware from reading my other posts that yoga is not just about the physical yoga poses. If you want to make permanent positive changes not only for the way your body looks but how for you feel, you gotta start from deep within and that really is where yoga can help you.
So I’m going to dive right in.
The first of the yamas, Ahimsa, invites us to act in a way of non-violence. Kindness to you and me.
We’re all aware that during every single airline safety briefing, we’re advised ‘secure your own oxygen mask before helping someone else’.
YES! Do this!!
Of course, I’m not suggesting you turn in to a selfish person who only acts for their own gain but really, how can you be a truly kind person if you don’t extend that kindness to yourself first?
STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP!
Sorry - does it look like I’m shouting? #sorrynotsorry, I am.
Stop it immediately.
Whether you are a parent or not and regardless of your personal familial situation, close your eyes. Ok, maybe don’t - you can’t read with your eyes closed. Think of your five-year-old self.
You were a cutie, right? I know you were 🥰
When you did something not quite right, what did your cutsie five-year-old self need to hear? You’re bad? You’ve done it wrong? You’re rubbish because of the way you look??
Yes, I'm shouting again.
As a grown-up, imagine that your five-year-old self is still there and tell them them words that they loved to hear. “Hey, you’re doing a great job so far”, “I know that part didn’t go so well, but you can still finish the task you started”, “I’m really proud of how well you’ve done today”. What other kind encouragement did mini-You thrive on?
And as a grown-up, you get to choose the words that you use with yourself. What a great thing it is to be a grown-up!!
The second of the yamas, Satya, invites honesty and truth. When you think of your body, what’s your perception? As discussed earlier, our perception of our own body can be altered by false images delivered by the marketing industry. And who wants to make body, life or fashion choices based on the opinions of a stranger in a skyscraper in a far-off city being paid to sell a product, anyway?
If you were to stand naked in front a mirror, where does your focus zoom in on?
* I’m going to back-up a bit *
Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror?? I sincerely hope you do.
Take some private time. Stand in front of a mirror - fully clothed if you’re not comfortable in just your underwear or naked. Look at yourself. No. I mean REALLY look. Look at yourself as though you’ve never seen yourself before.
Notice if you do hone in on the bits you don’t like. If yes, score through that, delete it. Close your eyes, allow them to open softly and look again. This time invite your eyes to come to rest on the best bit of you.
It might be your nose. It might be your wrists. It might be the broadness of your shoulders. It might be the curve of your arm or the strong-looking calf muscles. Whatever it is, keep your focus there and enjoy it.
And this might be enough for today, but I do invite you to make it a daily practice. Notice and appraise your body in an honest way and train your mind to focus more on the bits that you do like rather than the bits you don’t. As I said, there are no quick fixes, but a daily practice like this is going to help you retrain your brain away from focussing on the perceived negative.
Do you keep your car clean? Your bathroom is impeccably sparkling? Maybe you can see your reflection in the shine of your beautiful shoes.
How about the things that you take into your body? Processed food, caffeinated drinks, alcohol, sugary sweets, lots of chocolate?
Look, I am NOT the food police in any way, shape or form. I like all of the above and yes, I hold my hands up to excesses on occasion.
A pepperoni pizza and a glass of wine might be just the ticket as an occasional ‘treat’ but consider that when you eat anything that has been harvested has grown and taken nutrients from the earth and from the sunshine. Literally, every time you eat a piece of broccoli or a fresh green salad, you are eating ACTUAL SUNSHINE!! Maybe replace the glass of wine for some chilled sparkling water. Add in a slice of freshly cut lemon. How much cleaner could it possibly get? And this has all the good stuff that your cells crave for their growth and repair to keep you fabulous.
Next time you think of preparing a meal think of how many vibrant, natural colours will be on your plate. Maybe a red tomato. Possibly a green pepper, maybe some yellow sweetcorn. If you’re not a fan of eating in this way, think of ways you can introduce just one extra, natural colour to each meal and then start to increase the colours you put on your plate. Pretty soon, you’ll be eating a rainbow and feeling pretty darned clean inside and out for your efforts.
I promise you, these simple changes to every day life are going to make such a difference to your internal health.
Couple this with moving your frame a little bit more each day and you will be well on your way to positive change in your physical and mental body. We know that the small changes you can make might be taking the stairs instead of the lift, getting off the bus a stop or two earlier to get a few more steps in on the commute but also what can really be helpful is mindful movement; even just with your breathing.
We’re kind of aware that stress can play havoc with the way our body processes food or stores fat. Conscious breath or pranayama practice can help to activate the body’s ‘rest and digest’ nervous system response, so even breathing can help.
Read this blog post on the benefits of a pranayama practice for a more detailed background, but when you remember, take an inhale and think about allowing the belly to expend and soften. When you then exhale, consider hugging the tummy muscles in towards your centre and making the exhale last longer than the inhale.
As mentioned a few times in this post, there are no quick fixes. However, there are quick daily practices that you can include in your daily life which WILL make a difference to everything. Not just to the number that you see on the bathroom scales, but the way you feel about your body. And that’s waaaaay more important than a number, right?
If you’re interested in a yoga practice that can help you target specific muscles, take a look at this video tutorial which is short enough to be able to incorporate in to your daily routine.
Or get in touch to work with me in a one-to-one setting and have my complete undivided attention. Together we can tailor a sequence to your own unique requirements. It might be the best time you’ve ever invested into your physical and emotional wellbeing with no faddy diets or silly supplements in sight.
It is my greatest wish that we LOVE our bodies and shower them with good nutrition, hydration, rest and movement, not as a punishment but as an act of self-love and gratitude. You get to live in this body every single day of your life. It’s the one and only place that you ever really get to live; why should you hate your only home? You and your five-year-old mini-You have choice in this. You got this and I believe in you.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and it may have given you some food for thought. Use the buttons below ⬇️ to get social.
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