Posts Tagged ‘Peaceful Weight Loss’
As we move into the holiday season, we often have more to do. Office parties, connecting with family, preparing food…all these things infringe upon our daily rhythms. With all these extra obligations, it is easy to let our personal practice slip. We may find ourselves eating differently, skipping morning practice, staying inside instead of taking a walk. I notice people getting less sleep, less movement and, most important, less happy! And, of course, this comes through in our interactions with others. The net result is diminished peace for the people around us.
So here’s my pitch for the holidays this year. Take care of yourself as an offering to the people around you. Find time to enjoy some yoga practice. Take a 15-minute break to find your breath. Shop in a way that surrounds you with foods that make you feel well and peaceful. In other words, your Peaceful Weight Loss practice is the same. Eating, moving, and breathing in a way that gives you more energy.
This may include eating less than you did last year, or it may include eating your Mom’s pecan pie. It may include practicing Christmas afternoon with your children. Or walking around the neighborhood with your sister. Continuously ask yourself, “What do I need to be doing now to feel clear and keep my energy consistent?” If you center on yourself in this way, the people around you will benefit.
I hope your holiday season is peaceful, and that we may benefit all beings with the work we are doing on ourselves.
Loka samasta sukino bhavantu
(May all beings find peace and happiness)
Every year I pick a charity to promote. This year I’ve picked
The Food Bank for New York City
They provide food for over 1.3 million people in need. As the economy worsens, so do food donations. This year, more than ever, we can make a difference. They are very efficient—96 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to food. Please consider donating any amount to them. Serving others is serving ourselves.
Click here to make a donation.
A quick Thanksgiving note…
No one has ever gained ten pounds at Thanksgiving dinner.
Eat what you are drawn to.
Take breaths between courses so that you remember to enjoy the
delights before you.
Don’t eat anything you don’t want.
Eat everything you do want.
If you are with others take a moment to look into the faces of those
Find your breath and feel the joy of simply breathing.
Let go of the past and enjoy this day.
Find awareness of the breath and experience the present moment.
From this centered place direct your mind to what you are grateful
Enjoy this comfortable state for the entire day.
This is our yoga practice for Thanksgiving.
Loka Samasta Sukino Bhavantu
may all beings everywhere be peaceful and happy
Halloween is coming and my son doesn’t like candy. Well, that’s not entirely true. He likes the concept of candy—the shape, color, and packaging; something rare and valuable to get excited about. I have the same feeling, really. Rare special foods that please our senses of taste, smell, feel and vision are fantastic.
I’ve still decided, though, that he won’t be filling his mouth with Snickers, gummy bears, and Tootsie Rolls this Halloween. Why not? Because it’s not rare—not unusual—not really interesting. It’s EVERYWHERE all the time. We can’t go pick up a prescription, shop for food, or buy some cotton balls without encountering these things. It also turns out these foods don’t actually taste good. They don’t actually look that good and, strangely enough, compared to real foods they are also low in smell.
My parenting choices aside… the point is that you should definitely eat “candy” sometimes, without a though of its nutritional content. But let’s make sure it satisfies our definition of candy—special, rare, interesting to look at, and delicious. This real candy will allow your senses to guide you to a moment of bliss—and isn’t that really what you want?
It seems like everyone I know has been sick. My family has had the flu. My friends have all had colds. Events are constantly being canceled because of illness. It feels like all the forces in nature are conspiring to get us off track—to throw us from our routine.
It’s funny, really. This happens every year—colds always go around in February. We always feel like a unique horrible event is occurring, even though we’ve experienced it dozens of times.
And it’s the same in our practice. Whether we are engaged in sitting or moving meditation, We feel like a force of nature is pulling our attention away. Even though it has happened to us dozens of times, it feels like that storm is particularly unique and violent today. As I sit down to eat, the thoughts swirl again like crazy. Once again, before sleep, there it goes again, tempting me to eat to calm this storm down.
Or I can realize it’s just cold season—again. Just another weather event that happens regularly. Smile, take a breath, and laugh.
Vacation—a time to relax all discipline. A time to sit and see what happens. A time to be with no expectations—a time to eat. This can be quite scary. As we let our discipline slide, so do those eating habits, and our whole foods diet becomes a brownie sandwich for lunch. Our yoga practice goes out the window. Or does it?
On vacation, we take time out to be self-indulgent. To do whatever we want. This can be a scary proposition. For many of us believe what we want is terrible food and no exercise, no practice. This, however, probably isn’t true. For me it goes something like this.
Day 1: Pig out. No yoga.
Day 2: Pig out. No yoga.
Day 3: I get an inkling that I actually want to to yoga. So I do, and then pig out.
Day 4: I actually want to do yoga practice again, meditate a while, and eat whatever food I want without pigging out.
Then I spend the rest of my time eating a bit more than usual, doing a practice that makes me feel great, but not pushing it physically, and meditating whenever I feel like it.
Which, of course, makes my days on vacation more fun and relaxing.
Those early vacation days are days I wasn’t being present – especially to my actual needs and desires.
It never ceases to amaze me—our desires are always in step with what is healthy for us.
If we can relax and pay attention to ourselves, we move away from acting on neurotic mental states and into acting in step with our true desires. Then we don’t have to be frightened—because we can tell the difference between a brownie sandwich that doesn’t serve us and a brownie sandwich we truly desire.
Focus on what foods you need to eat to feel healthy, energetic, and mentally clear. Until this happens, the benefit from eliminating “bad” foods will not be realized.
A recent conversation with a client of mine:
C: “I had sweets in the house and I knew I shouldn’t eat them – but I did. Then the next day, I ate them for breakfast.”
Me: “ You mean at breakfast? What else did you eat?”
C:” No, I ate them for breakfast.”
Me: “Did you feel nourished?”
C: “ No, I felt bad. I ate cake.”
Me: “Physically bad?”
C: “Yes, I had eaten cake, and afterwards I felt so guilty.”
This isn’t uncommon. We judge ourselves for the “bad” food we’ve eaten for breakfast. What is interesting is that she didn’t see any problem with the lack of nourishment—only the “bad” food she’d eaten.
In my view, the real problem is the lack of giving herself any of the food she actually needed. A bit of cake for dessert is probably not a big deal, if she had eaten her usual eggs and toast.
Changing your view in this way is invaluable on your road to optimal weight. Focus on what foods you need to eat to feel healthy, energetic, and mentally clear. Until this happens, the benefit from eliminating “bad” foods will not be realized.
Do yourself the favor of having a baseline diet of nourishing foods, and what is “bad” for you will become unbelievably clear.
Be present, be present, be present.
We see and hear this often in self-help books and spiritual literature. For most of us, this isn’t enough—we need to “do” something—take some sort of action, or progress toward a goal. So the question becomes: WHY should I be present, and to WHAT?
Shifting our awareness to the present allows change to begin. A present-centered mind sheds anxiety and extra thoughts quickly and easily. This mental state then is transferred to the body, giving us physical comfort. Feeling satisfied in this way, we are not driven to other means of satisfaction—like eating. As we spend more and more time in this place, it becomes (surprisingly) obvious that this state is available to us at all times. We simply need to relax away from our conditioned behavior of not being present.
So, how does one move into the present moment? Watching the breath is a good method—observing the movement of the abdomen and ribcage—they expand as you inhale and contract as you exhale. Observing this automatic movement brings us into a state of rest and relaxation. Our nervous system shifts into a lower gear as we feel the world breathing us. We are reminded that in many ways we have no choice but to go with the flow.
Another useful method is to feel sensation against your skin. The keys under your fingertips or the pen in your hands. Feeling our feet on the floor for even 15 seconds a day is enough to make an impact. Feel your feet as you walk down the street and notice if the experience changes for you.
Presence is addictive and contagious, because it is at the very root of our nature. We are always (although often in a misguided manner) looking for it. We stay up late—eat too much—strive too hard—and forget to do what comes naturally to us—all to feel what simple presence to breath or sensation quickly retrieves for us.
For few weeks, experiment with these simple techniques and see if you experience a shift in your level of contentment.
As always, email me with comments and questions.
May we all be free and happy.
Every year, right after New Year’s, I am caught up in a flurry of activity. People are interested in working on their New Year’s resolution—which is to lose weight and be healthier this year.
Of course, it is best if we are always as healthy as possible. But New Year’s does seem to be a good time to start something. We’ve seen our friends and family over the holidays, so this month we have fewer social obligations. At the office, sweets are not in front of us at every turn. The frantic holiday energy on the street has calmed down, allowing us to focus inward.
So how to start? A cleanse? A radical change in diet? Get up at 4 am for a three-hour workout? These measures are probably a bit extreme, and often lead to a short burst of adherence, followed by a return to old behaviors.
I suggest we all (new to this practice or not) focus on the joy in our practice.
If you are new to yoga, you are in for a treat—find a brief time (20 minutes or so) daily to do a stress-relieving practice. If done in a light, easy, not-too-serious way, you will experience great joy.
If you already practice, re-evaluate what you like about it. Go to classes or do sequences that leave you feeling energized and happy. Remember your beginner’s mind, and swim in the positive and peaceful feelings that your practice brings.
Extend this joyful practice to eating. Relish and enjoy the daily foods in your life. Take a small amount of time to contemplate how food enhances your life. Notice the complex and interesting flavors of your favorite foods. Allow the experience of eating to be fun. I was reminded of this while eating clementines recently. What sweet could be better?
If our resolutions include these joyful practices, the more challenging aspects of our lives will be balanced—and where there is balance, there is peace.
May we all be free and happy this year.
Yoga is compassion, love, and acceptance. In asana we accept our strengths and limitations in the pose. This attitude brings peace to our mind, body, and spirit.
With a little effort, skill, and luck, this practice extends from the yoga mat to our wider life and our interactions with the people around us. We accept our own behaviors, and the behaviors of those around us. Things get easier.
These thoughts occurred to me while eating my fifth gingerbread maple cookie at a party this weekend. It really was the best cookie I’ve had in years. I was thoroughly enjoying it. But as I looked around the room and met eyes with a weight loss client of mine, I had a sudden pang. Maybe I shouldn’t be eating this cookie? Self-doubt crept in.
It then occcured to me that the guilt was a cover-up—a pattern I’d seen before. It was easier to feel guilty than to fully embrace the moment, and enjoy my cookie! Could I just accept this moment for what it was and enjoy myself? Eat my cookie and move on? The answer was yes. I woke up the next morning and did my practice. Not an ounce heavier—physically or mentally—than the day before.
My holiday message is this: love yourself, enjoy yourself, and accept yourself. Let old habits go and enjoy the food, parties, family, shopping, etc… that are part of this season. Acknowledge that you will eat and practice a bit differently than at other times of the year. Be present, and you will know if you are practicing in a way that brings you joy and peace.
My annual charity appeal: Doctors Without Borders delivers medical care to those in need in really difficult situations. They go places where there is often no one else to help. If you can, please drop them few bucks this holiday season.
Loka samasta sukino bhavantu
May all beings be free.
What poses are best for weight loss? This is a question I am asked constantly. The answer is always the same: What pose or poses do you need to do to feel better?
Can it really be that simple? Yes. The foundation of our system is a practice that leaves us feeling less stressed – physically and mentally – and more energized. We are interested in “building” prana (energy). Stress reduces our energy. Forget targeting poses for weight loss – you’re on the wrong track. The mind IS the body. As we bring the mind into balance, our body naturally follows.
So, does this mean one should never do anything physically strenuous? No! In fact, that may be just the thing to bring you into balance. Discriminating between laziness and the need to take things slow and regenerate is a great point of practice.
Other times may find you reaching to do rounds and rounds of sun salutes to catch up with your sprinting mind. Ideally, your practice will change day to day, week to week, and leave you feeling peaceful and energized.
So, what poses should you do today? You tell me!