This holiday season, love yourself. Be kind to yourself. And then let that love spread to others.
Yogic philosophy goes something like this: The self is everywhere—it is everything. As we nourish one piece, the others receive nourishment. When we are kind to our bodies by doing our asana practice, we are able to be more peaceful in our interactions with others. So, one way to be kind to others is to do your asana every morning. Then you and others are both helped.
Another way to spread peace is to nourish ourselves with foods that make us feel energetic and contented. From this calm, energized place we can be peaceful and be useful to our friends, family, and community. As we do this, the people around us are possibly also inspired to do the same—it’s catching. Then people everywhere are producing peace around themselves and, before you know it, it’s coming back to you.
Yoga practice continually asks us to find a way to be kind to ourselves. It’s “self centered”. As we continue to expand our view of the self, we find more and more ways to be kind, useful and helpful. We take care of our body, mind, and spirit. From that place, we help others do the same. When we do something like give to charity, we see that it is just another way to be kind to ourselves. There is no distinction, really, between eating appropriately, moving and breathing, and helping others. These are all ways of being kind to yourself.
All are useful and produce peace.
What I’m suggesting, then, is that we all try to do these things as part of our peaceful weight loss practice for the holidays. Practice our yoga in a calm, easeful, stress-reducing way. Eat in a way that helps us maintain that peaceful feeling we have produced. From there, let others enjoy the benefits of our practice by spending time with people we love. If we can, find a way to give a little extra to those in need. If we do this with the perspective that all these people are extensions of ourselves, it will produce tangible, positive, peaceful feelings within us. What more could we ask for?
May we all experience peace and nourishment this holiday season.
Loka Samista Sukino Bhavantu
May the entire world be filled with peace, love, and light.
There are many ways to approach weight loss. From one point of view it is a simple mathematical equation—less food = less weight. Eat a bit less than you need to sustain your weight and the pounds will come off. This is, of course, true. We know it because we have dieted and then seen the results. Most likely, though, the pounds didn’t stay off. We went back to our old way of being and ended up back where we started.
Another way to see our condition is to look down one layer below our physical to our energetic system. A simple way to conceptualize this is to see the energetic system as the part of you that makes you feel aware and energized in your body. When this system is in shape, one is able to bring attention to any part of the body and feel its “aliveness.” A sense of feeling, instead of a sense of dead weight. If this is difficult, then it is possible that your energetic system needs a bit of work.
Why bother? Because when this system is running properly, the body feels better—when the body feels better, the mind feels calmer. When the mind is calmer, it doesn’t send confusing weight-gaining signals to the body. Basically, a well-functioning energetic system immediately creates harmony in the physical body. Once this harmony is achieved, the actions needed to make weight loss happen become obvious and easeful. Working at this level makes the discipline of losing weight less stressful. In other words, once you set the stage by tuning your energetic body, the weight loss becomes just a final integration—an aligning of the physical with the energetic.
Do how do we tune the energetic? The regular practice of asana in a way that leaves you relaxed and energized is a great path. Combining breath and movement in any way will do the job as long as it has the result of lowering your stress levels and increasing your ability to enjoy and be aware of the here and now.
Try this simple version of mountain pose. Stand feet hip width apart and bring your arms up alongside your ears as you inhale. On the exhalation, arms back down to your sides. Make sure that you are moving with your breath so that the breath is longer than your movement. Do 12 breaths of these twice a day and see if you are more sensitive and aware of your body when you are done.
As always, email me with questions or comments.
May we all realize we are nourished and cared for.
The desire to cleanse increases in the spring. We also naturally grow more active. The trick is to manage this natural spring “push.” Keeping a balanced yet heightened energy for the next few months will allow you to purge what is not needed and take in the new, fresh energy.
Focus on practice
Reassess your schedule and make a little more time for your yoga practice. It may mean getting up earlier, or signing up for that class you’ve been meaning to take. Your practice is the base from which everything else grows. Spring is a good time to pick up the pace. Be open to your practice taking a new shape. Your practice is there for you to expand awareness and heighten your sensitivity. Shaking things up for the new season may help with this.
Clean up your kitchen
In order to make way for dietary changes, set the stage by purifying your physical environment.
– Clean your food preparation space
– Clean your eating area
Clean up your diet
The winter was a time to move inward and eat heavier foods. Spring asks us to turn our energy outward again. Foods that are less spiced and have more naturally occuring flavor will help with this. Your heightened practice will naturally lead you to a diet that is lighter and contains more live foods.
– Re-evaluate grocery store choices
– Find fresher food
– Buy more fresh produce and herbs
– Drop salty, heavy foods that aren’t that interesting to you
– Eat regularly, eating smaller meals
I’m often asked about fasting. Fasting can be useful, but not for weight loss. Strict fasting is too much for most people who are holding weight, and it ends up producing the opposite effect.
Instead, clean up your diet and watch the timing of your eating. Don’t eat at least two hours (preferably more) before you sleep. Fast from feeling “heavy” or too full after meals. The cleanup will have a gentle cleansing effect on your whole system. You will be able to maintain it throughout the spring and gain more benefits. If you must fast, remember that fasting is actually obstaining from any aspect of what you usually do. I suggest fasting from meat and/or dairy for a few weeks, and seeing how that affects you.
So enjoy retooling for the new season. May your practice open your heart to new possibilities. May we all have the good fortune to fully experience every day.