Archive of ‘Yoga Practice’ category
It’s dark! I’m writing this in New England and it feels like the middle of the night. It’s 9pm.
The shortest day has come and gone and now we can look forward to more light. Each day we get a few more minutes and just when we think we can’t take the cold and the dark anymore, it will be Spring. Of course we know this – it happens every year – but it still feels like winter is a permanent state. And every year during this time, I can’t really remember what summer is like.
Our weight loss process is a bit like this. Every day we move around – plan meals – try to eat more whole foods – meditate – step on the scale – quit – re-up our commitment – go to yoga class – weigh ourselves again – wonder why we did that – eat a healthy breakfast. And in any given small time frame – a day, a week, a month even – it can seem pointless. We aren’t where we want to be. It’s cold and dark and frustrating.
Then, of course, we have the option of taking the larger view. In the shorter days of winter I try to take a walk even if its brief while the sun is up. I get up earlier and go to bed earlier. I enjoy the day and in exchange my body and mind are happier and healthier. I accept the present and things feel better.
As we plan and enjoy our meals, do our yoga practice and find the present, we notice that eating well and breathing are really fantastic experiences that feel great. And if we keep our awareness here we find it easier to sustain. Then we wake up and it’s spring again. There is so much less effort to do what is good for us because it’s coming naturally.
Yoga is the noticing of our natural bliss.
May you find your bliss this holiday season.
With deep love and respect for you and yours,
Every year I recommend a charity. This year I’ve picked The Northampton Survival Center, an emergency food pantry and referral service for Hampshire County that strives to improve the quality of life for low-income individuals and families by providing food and other resources with dignity and respect.
It’s often really challenging to take care of ourselves. It can seem like the world is set up to keep our attention on everything but self care. Our daily struggles with work, family, money, relationships, commuting, responsibilities, and schedule just don’t seem to help us be on the path towards health and well-being.
There’s a piece of yogic philosophy that has helped me take care of me. It basically says that we create the world around us. This of course does not mean that you personally put Obama back in office, or that it’s your fault that your boss is an @$$%*#&. What it does mean is that every moment we have an opportunity to return to the present; take a breath and see things for what they are. When we do this, something really interesting happens – we see more possibilities. The commute becomes free time to listen to music – the boss becomes almost comical in their insistence on powerpoint – the family can wait 10 minutes while we practice in the morning, and amazingly they all survive.
To find well-being and health we need to practice. And this practice starts with a basic belief that there is always the possibility of being in the present. We can take care of ourselves while life continues to happen. Our stresses and constraints that the world has for us can exist at the same time as we find a moment, breathe, practice, and nurture ourselves.
Once we can do this for ourselves, maybe the congress will too. smile
May we all find time for ourselves.
With respect and gratitude,
How many times have we eaten too much and regretted it later? When I think about it, I realize that it happens all the time. I ate too much at the barbeque, I should not have eaten that ice cream at night, why do I keep reaching for those nuts? Etc…
We all have these thoughts. What’s interesting is that often when we take a breath and really analyze how much we’ve eaten for the day, the things that we beat ourselves up over are not always our largest food intake. The judge living in our mind seems to be slightly (or not so slightly) arbitrary and possibly not based in reality. Herein lies the problem: We draw negative attention and feelings to eating behaviors that are not so bad and miss the opportunity to make different choices around the more difficult behaviors.
One exercise that I recommend is this – If you are feeling badly about your food choices write down what you’ve eaten. Then sit quietly and find a few minutes of calm, deepened breathing. Once your mind is settled, take a look at what you wrote down. Is it as bad as you thought? Were those food choices so awful that they caused irreparable damage? Can you imagine making a small adjustment that would make the outcome easier to take? Either realize that the situation isn’t as bad as you thought, or gently walk yourself through the easiest way it could be different. Then find several more deep breaths and allow the regret and judgement to release. Let go of the fear and self loathing and allow yourself to expand and learn.
We are never as bad as our minds believe we are. Reality is our ally. The breath will always lead us towards the here and now.
May we all find our breath today,
People often talk about eating less in the summer. “It’s so easy. I’m just not as hungry when it’s warm out.” I hear this at the table next to me while eating lunch. My experience is actually the opposite. I’m really into eating in the summer. Ice cream, barbeques, longer days and night eating, fried food at the beach – all are appealing right now. Summer = Fun and Fun = Food!! It can be really easy to get caught in the never ending array of not-so-beneficial eating options and end up several pounds heavier at the end end of the summer.
Is this normal? Sure it is. As we know, much of the time we aren’t eating because we are hungry. We eat for many reasons and hunger is only one of them. We also eat for enjoyment, to stay awake, to repress emotions, or out of habit. When our outer circumstances change (like the weather) we sometimes lose our way and revert into old (or “bad”) habits.
If we pay close attention, we might see our cravings and desires for what they are and make better choices – a small soft serve at the beach, not skipping meals because the kids are out of school or our schedule has changed, going to bed because we are exhausted even though it’s still light out.
So, how do we keep our focus? You guessed it – staying with our yoga practice! The practice of finding our center on a daily basis remains central even when the seasons change. Then we can make choices to eat in ways that are compatible with our well-being and happiness. And what I see time and time again is that you don’t have to give up your soft serve to be happy and healthy. Maybe just your second or third one. grin
As always please send your comments and questions.
Enjoy your summer,
At some point in our weight loss journey it will be become clear that certain foods are probably not the best idea. It will become obvious because they leave us feeling tired, or we can’t stop eating them, or the reality of the nutritional benefits of our snickers bar become too much to take.
At the same time we won’t want to let them go. When we ask ourselves why we often hear, “Because I like it!!!”. But what does that really mean? What are our reasons and thoughts?
Do we like the taste – the way it makes us feel? – The temporary release from suffering it represents? Maybe we like the stop at the store itself to get it? Or maybe we just don’t like the idea of giving things up?
The reality is that it is probably a mix of things that we mean when we say that we like something. And they are all true in some way but we don’t have to attach ourselves to all of these reasons/thoughts. If the time is right to let something go we will be able to hone in on the thought that is most useful to us and see the others for what they are. We will find spaciousness around the tangled web of “I like it” and become aware of all of the little pieces that make up that statement. With this clarity we are are able to choose to give something up – or decide that it’s not the time. Our practice supports this awareness – part of our practice is the knowledge that we change when it is possible to change and when it isn’t possible, we keep finding our practice until it is.
Enjoy your practice,
As we bring ourselves into the present over and over again through practice we begin to shift. Our mind becomes more used to present centered thinking. Everytime we feel our feet on the ground or consciously take a breath – our thoughts don’t change, but instead become more obvious.
For example, we might have the habit of eating a lot at parties and other social situations. Maybe we normally have 1 or 2 pieces of corn but at a barbeque we find ourselves eating 5 or 6. After practicing being present for a time, we find ourselves in these situations having the thought, “ I need more corn” and then we eat it.
After more time practicing we may have the same thought, notice it and think, “I don’t actually need that corn.” This last thought was likely there all along but we were not present enough to see it. We used to proceed and eat the corn. After more practice and experience with present centered thinking, (like “I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out” or “My feet are on the floor and I’m wiggling my toes”) we hear the mind’s voices more clearly and choose to not eat the corn because we’re not hungry.
This is the way in which we change – becoming more present – hearing all of our thoughts – and then finally making simple choices. Our thoughts never disappear, these eating patterns may have started when we were 2 years old. But our relationship changes to them. Eventually we are in the present just enough to make aware choices more of the time. Don’t expect to silence out “demons” but instead, to hear them completely along with all of your other thoughts.
In this way, we can make informed decisions more of the time. As we do this, we move towards one of the great gifts of yoga – using our minds full potential.
Om Shanti, Om Peace.
It’s common for us to feel like our disliked food behaviors are abnormal. How could we not? We look around and see everyone else eating “normally” while judging our own excesses and strange habits. With this judgement comes mental chatter and at times we might hate ourselves for “being” this way.
Here is the newsflash. There is no normal. And more importantly – many, many, many people have difficult thoughts around food no matter how they present on the outside. The woman in a size 6 next to you at the grocery store might have spent an hour debating over baked or fried chips. The guy behind you might be eating half of his groceries in the car on the way home.
So don’t worry about them – think about your own experience and don’t worry about the endless mental chatter about food. Just watch your behavior. You are normal. If you’d like to change behaviors that don’t serve you then you are free to do so. But let’s not get confused and think that in order to be normal, the endless annoying thoughts must stop. They may never stop. But here’s the catch. We have the ability to de-stress (a bit) so that we can clear just enough mental space necessary to not have all of those thoughts guide our actions.
So this month our mantra is “I am normal”.
Then we see if we can make some space in our normal mind with practice so that choice comes easily.
Loka Samasta Sukino Bavantu,
(May all beings be happy and free)
I live in the northeast and I’m happy to report that the days are finally getting a little bit longer. That said, even this mild winter is a long one. Every night I find myself wanting to curl up on the couch and eat warm, bready things. It turns out that this is normal because of our wiring – probably to keep us alive all winter long back when we were living outside. So don’t blame yourself or your “lack of willpower” for wanting to eat and sleep more. We do however have to look at our rhythms if we are trying not to overeat every day.
Here are some suggestions for where to put your effort:
Get up with the sun! Having more sunlight in your life will improve mood and set your natural rhythms to work correctly.
Practice in the morning. Asana, breath connection, prayer, meditation, music listening. Whatever starts your day in a centered, positive way will help clear your mind of the extra stress that the winter doldrums can create.
Go outside. Even if it’s an extra 3 minutes outside in front of your home or office.
Go to bed earlier. Give into being more tired and stop trying to keep yourself awake with food.
Drink more water. Especially if you spend all day inside dry, heated environments.
Practice smiling (even if you feel unhappy). It turns out that the act of smiling dumps happy chemicals into the brain.
Try some or all of these suggestions. Anything that you can do to promote a sense of well being will likely translate into less intense food cravings. Using your energy to add simple positive acts to your daily rhythm is your best bet for managing the more difficult eating behaviors.
May we all find light this month,
I am so inspired.
People transform themselves in so many ways using the Peaceful Weight Loss process. I have seen so many people rid themselves of patterns that no longer serve them and become happier and healthier as a result.
A few examples of Peaceful Weight Loss success from this past year:
A woman ended her bulimic tendencies and lost 35 pounds.
A client lost 40 pounds and has kept it off for 3 years now.
A woman who has moved through her body issues enough to eat regularly and enjoy it. She reports she is no longer “torturing herself”.
A client who has stopped binging at night for the first time in her entire life.
Seeing these kinds of changes day after day is such a gift. When people discover the link to their true self, they move beyond the difficulty of their mind – the thought patterning that has been imposed on them. And contentment grows.
I want to thank everyone that has shared their experience with me over the last year. I also want to welcome everyone that is new to this process. Have faith that doing this work, and making your way towards incrementally changing your relationship with food, will pay off. I encourage you to find the support you need by staying connected to Peaceful Weight Loss through Yoga in any way in which you feel comfortable. (Check out our site for more ways to connect.) We have an exciting year ahead!
May we all be nourished this meal, this day, and this year – so we may nourish the world.
Blessings and light,
The holidays are a minefield for us folks with food issues. It can feel like someone has loaded a machine gun with foods that we often don’t want to eat and we are the target. This coupled with the ordinary holiday stress and we’ve got a full-blown disaster on our hands.
So why is this the case? Is there something we can do differently so that the holidays don’t become a time of weight gain and regret? The answer is yes. And it lies in the power of intention.
A clear intention (or set of intentions) will light the way when the mind becomes confused. An intention is different than an idea in that we contemplate it to send it deeper into our mind. That way when the thoughts are flying above it our intention can ground us and guide our actions. Intentions need to be short and sweet. Clarity is the key.
To set your intention for the holidays – find a quiet place and ask yourself what is the most important thing or two that you need to do to be centered this holiday season. It may be food related (I am not going to eat Mom’s cheese danish because it makes me feel sick) or it may not be food related (I am going to wake up early and take a walk).
Once you’ve found your intention sit quietly and imagine it happening. Picture yourself in all of the situations where you want your intention to be front and center. Then picture yourself after the holidays getting back into your groove having succeeded in remembering your intention.
By setting your intention in this way it will find a prominent place in the thousands of thought patterns that will swirl through your mind as you move thorough the end of the year. Stay focused on your intention, and don’t worry about other goals or desires that you may have. Keep it simple and you will be rewarded with the experience of taking care of yourself this holiday season.
May we all be blessed with peace and clarity this season.