Posts Tagged ‘yoga practice’
When Brandt and I first met, we had a conversation about prana (life force, chi) and how it related to our individual weight loss success stories. I had been into expanding my prana via pranayama, asana, bij chanting, and chakra visualization. We discussed the importance of building prana as a first step towards sustainable weight loss. We had collectively lost over 150 pounds.
Yogis for thousands of years have been studying how to build their prana body. Or not lose prana/energy. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, an ancient yogic text, talks about prana. It offers us the idea that when our pranic body is balanced, our breath is natural and relaxes. Pranic balance enables us to “see” or feel the deeper aspects of ourselves and allows us to focus on them. So why is this important and how does it relate to weight loss? Furthermore, how do we practice to get these results?
In Peaceful Weight Loss terms, our “prana building” practice should leave us
- focusing on something other than food and body frustrations (more of the time)
- feeling relaxed and peaceful (more of the time)
- remembering that there is something bigger than our body battle (more of the time)
Most of the time a daily, 20 minute (or more) practice that leaves us feeling calm and energized does the trick. Note, the calm and energized. We don’t have to push, in fact, we don’t want to deplete ourselves at all. This is not an exercise program. We are not forcing our bodies to work hard. We are putting our effort towards breathing and moving most days. (For guidance, check our online practices or join our 9 month course, Transformation)
As a result, the rest digest and heal part of the nervous system is being toned and activated every time we take a deep breath. This builds our energy, prana. There is now the possibility of feeling better (more of the time). It is from this place that we can make food and lifestyle changes that allow us to lose weight. (Note the paradigm shift away from “burning calories” aka losing energy…)
Brandt had this experience. I’ve had this experience. And we’ve seen so many people change and take pounds off through practicing pranayama and calm and energizing asana. As we gather our energy we breath more deeply and compulsions to overeat shrink. Some say that they feel more satisfied and content. Others speak to the clarity they gain and the side effects of this. Time and time again, energy goes up and the number on the scale goes down. It takes time, but sustainability is what we’re looking for, right?
So find a calm and energizing practice to build your prana and reap the rewards of a life with less stress and less weight.
Om Namah Shivaya,
Some call it a roller coaster. Others refer to it as a yo-yo. On the wagon, off the wagon. Whatever the metaphor, weight loss can be an up and down, in and out, and all around experience.
Here’s the catch. It doesn’t have to be so hard. Even if the struggle is decades old, there is another way, a different path, a new and sustainable outcome. Imagine being more peaceful and losing weight at the same time. What would this look like? What would the metaphor become? I’m going with peaceful ocean waves moving in and out of the shore.
I believe that we can make our experience less extreme if we truly want this to be so. When we apply our effort in the right direction, magic happens. So, let’s begin with food. This is usually the first thing we go after when we’re trying to take weight off. It’s also where we think we have the most control. But really, this is where the extreme states happen because we aren’t approaching food in a relaxed way. It’s intense. It’s baggage. It’s manic, frustrating, habitual, and confusing.
So, imagine focusing your effort and attention away from food and set a new “weight loss goal” of practicing daily, or as much as possible. We are now putting our energy towards yoga. But not just any yoga. Your “weight loss” practice should leave you feeling calmer and more energized. Got that? This might be a 15 or 30 minute breathing and moving practice on the mat or a 20 minute yoga nidra in bed…I’ve seen all sorts of practices tone the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest, digest, and heal part) which is what we want. This will lessen anxiety and tell our fight-or-flight part of the nervous system to chill out. We arrive in this state more of the time. Our clothes might not fit differently at first and the number on the scale (if you even decide you want to use one!) may not shift, but we feel better already.
It’s from this place that we can look at our food choices. And incrementally we approach the “food part of weight loss” (because it’s only a piece) with more clarity, compassion, and awareness. But really without the letting go on a daily basis part, we are agreeing to the up and downs that keep the body battle going. (via deprivation, via stress, via life)
If this resonates with you, try it. Forget about food for a minute. Practice daily and ask yourself if you are calmer and more energized afterwards. If the answer is no, tweak your practice, or find us to help you refine. And if this eludes you completely, join our 9 month course to help and prioritize how to stabilize rather than continue with extremes. If the answer is yes, ask yourself what one food thing you want to do today until you practice again tomorrow, and the next, and the next. Like (calm) ocean waves.
May we all be happy,
Remember that Saturday Night Live character who said “it’s not how you feel, it’s how you look!” (Thanks Billy Crystal aka Fernando.)
I‘m changing the saying to “it’s not what you weigh, its how you feel and look!”
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that beholder is us. Often what we really deeply want is to look better. Not for others, but for ourselves. We are the ones that look in the mirror and say “I look great” or “not so much”.
The funny thing is that it’s not what we see that really determines our judgement of ourselves. It’s how we feel. When we are strong, have eaten well, and put on our favorite clothes—we look better. The scale number does not matter at that moment. So don’t step on it! It’s that mental state that allows us to move forward toward our goals of peace and ideal weight. Now I know that this isn’t everyone’s experience, but it’s my experience and enough of my client’s experience, that I thought I’d share with the rest of you.
So what do we need to do to have more days of positive self judgement?
- Put extra effort into eating meals that you love AND that seem satisfying and healthy to YOU. Shop for ingredients you love and cook or assemble your perfect meal more often.
- Practice in a way that makes you feel more embodied, empowered, and alive. That may be releasing tension with deep relaxation or a movement practice that embodies you. (Our videos are all online here if you need a place to start or join our 9 month course, Transformation)
- Wear clothes that you love. I know this is a tall order but find something that you like (comfort is key) and buy multiples if you need to. Help yourself love yourself.
By doing one or all of these things, we pave a way for more positive thinking around and through our process. We get to live a more pleasant experience and have less of those horrible, “I hate myself” days. And remember: “You look marvelous.”
May we all enjoy this embodiment today,
Well it’s officially winter. If you have the privilege of living in a place where the weather changes in extremes according to the season, you are also blessed with the body’s desires changing, as well. Here in New England it is cold. The lightness of summer’s raw veggie and juicy melons are long forgotten. I am eating more available foods like root veggies, meat, beans, and greens that are cooked down and warm. Warm food makes us feel better, more nourished in this raw weather. So how do we stay on track with our weight goals when what we want to eat is heavier? What does it mean to eat with the seasons while still remaining true to our weight goals? Even so, what does it mean to be on a cycle of eating even when it’s not affected by the weather but is more internal…say, from hormones?
In Peaceful Weight Loss we often focus on how we can bolster ourselves or lifestyle in order to make choices that leave us feeling our best. The ways in which we do this are with self care, yoga practice, sleep, good company, etc. When we have these other pieces of our lives wired, we are able to ride the waves of temperature change, hormonal change, life changing all around us.
We have constancy in other ways so even when we change what we eat here and there it does not mean that we are off track. It may be just the thing to keep us where we want to be. And, when we are nourished in ways other than food (a good movie, a pedicure, yoga class, a walk outside) our food changes don’t seem so wild or ground shaking. We are able to breathe and remember, even with some shifting around, what we need to do. So after the ground thaws, we won’t wake up, we will already be awake.
May we nourish ourselves, so we may nourish the world.
It’s not working!!!!
How often do we hear ourselves saying this. We get on that scale, or put on that old pair of pants and things are not better. We get frustrated, angry, sad, despondent or all of the above. Maybe we quit? Give up? What’s the point?
This last question is the only one that matters. What is the point? Are we trying to lose 30 pounds this week? Are we trying to eat as little as possible? What are we really trying to do here?
It’s important to regroup when we get frustrated. Numbers on the scale don’t always mean that we’re doing something wrong. Peaceful Weight Loss is the ongoing process of eating and LIVING in a way that brings us more mental contentment; shifting our body in beneficial ways.
We get frustrated when we are not losing weight even when we are not actually at a point where we are making changes that would facilitate weight loss. It’s important to recognize this and shift into a mental space where we are calm, centered, and most importantly clear.
This clarity often comes from practice. Asana with breath, yoga nidra, breathing, meditation. These practices are designed to shift us into a state that is more balanced. We can then ask ourselves “what is the point today?” What do we need to do this day that will bring us more peace and put us on a path to being less heavy?
If you are in our 9 month course then the answer will be to work on this month’s coursework. If you are dieting then find useful, pleasant ways to be on that diet. Let’s not let our frustration mind derail us from the contentment and joy that is available right now as we read this. Take a breath and find your practice.
May we all be happy,
My pants feel tight and uncomfortable. Are my pants tight? Or is my mind tight?
It happens all the time. We look for something to wear because, well, we need to dress ourselves. And then, poof! A fine mood turns into a bad/sad/angry/disappointed/frustrated/annoyed/wistful/collapsed mental state. It’s a cycle that so many of us struggle with. Our mood being determined by a pair of pants seems like a lot of control to give to an inanimate object, don’t you think?
So how do we combat this unrelenting roller coaster ride of feeling bad about ourselves based on something as simple as what pair of pants or top we wear?
Practice. We practice. I practice. When we get on the mat and breathe and move, even if only for a short time, we are more likely to hold onto our power – our center. We shift our physical and mental state with movement so that even if our body is exactly the same, and our pants are exactly the same size, our “feeling” of “fatness” or “wrongness” is lessened when clothes enter the picture. Because so much of how we feel about our body is a head game. One we can win.
I’m not saying that we can imagine ourselves dropping weight and it will happen, but we definitely feel better when we do a little breath and movement. Consider yoga practice part of the formula for more peace and well-being from this perspective. Mental weight loss is a much better place to live then the helpless “clothes crisis” of a mental state. Not to mention that it’s also a much easier place to begin making small changes if that’s what you want to happen.
I certainly couldn’t have lost weight or attempt to lose weight in pants that make me feel bad about myself. Isn’t that what spandex is for? Start with your breath, and the rest will follow. Including your pants.
May we all feel cozy and comfy on and in our bodies.
That’s a really good question—glad you asked. It’s probably the most important question we can ask ourselves in the Peaceful Weight Loss process. In the past, most of us have moved forward with “a program” whatever it was: a diet or an exercise system. At some point we hadn’t achieved our goals so we stopped. The real failure in this approach is the failure to ask ourselves the question is this working? The reason this might be a hard question to pose to ourselves is that we don’t have the metrics to assess if it’s true. What’s working? How would I know? How do I assess today, or this week, or this month if what I’m doing is a good idea?
In our approach we have some goals for our practice that aren’t directly tied to weight loss. Feeling more centered, calm, energized, clear, aware. These are some of the reasons we practice. We know our yoga practice is useful if it helps us experience these states more frequently. If we aren’t experiencing some shifts from our practice, we modify so that we do. A different yoga practice or switching/adding meditation, maybe a few days walking outside. We change our practice if it’s not working and then when it does we regularly check in to make sure it keeps working.
When our practice is going well in these ways, “working”, we can then make food choices that will move us toward the weight we need to be. In this, we are engaged in our own evolution. Always moving toward our goal of an ideal weight and a peaceful mind.
May we all find our practice today,
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.
What makes you feel alive? What do you do on a regular basis that reminds you of your inner fire for life? This is the question I would like for you to ponder this month. As I work with more and more people, i see this correlation – the inner fire is dulled and the weight won’t budge. Yoga practice stokes this inner fire. For most people, releasing into the breath is enough for the fire to surface again. Meaningful connection with people helps as well. Occasionally, we must push ourselves to reconnect. This can be through extended physical practice, the discipline of meditation, or signing up for a pottery class.
Once we connect with the fire again, we can often see our detrimental food behaviors lessen. Once we can feel that fire again, we are less likely to smother it with food. As this continues and our energy is heightened, our bodies feel strong, and safe, and let unneeded weight go.
So re-commit to your simple daily practice as a start. Let the clarity that emerges from that guide you to the elements in your life that allow your fire to flourish.
As always, email me with your results.
I had the good fortune to take a yoga class with a fantastic teacher recently. He suggested that our asana practice was there not to change us, but to make us more comfortable with ourselves. To help our minds accept our present situation and relax into it. From this place, things do happen – things do change – maybe not as fast as we wish they would, but they do.
So I pose this question to you: Are you practicing in a way that will allow change to happen TO you, or are you struggling to make change happen? Are you finding a way to move and breathe in the morning as a simple expression of being an alive human being in a body? Or are you demanding that exercise be struggle? Bottom line – are you in your own way?
If the answer is yes – you are not alone. We all get in our own way – our silly minds are always involved in the mischief of making our lives harder. As we become more aware of it, however, this behavior lessens, and a feeling of ease and contentment moves to the foreground.
A daily yoga practice with this in mind is key to letting this happen for you. Having a time during your day when you move, breathe, and accept yourself is a perfect way to slow the mischievous mind down. We see immediate shifts in our consciousness, as evidenced by a general sense of well-being – an ability to physically move more easily – a lessening of urgency in all things, including eating.
Next time you step to your yoga mat, allow yourself to relax into your practice – notice when you are mentally in your own way – and laugh at yourself, knowing that is your only obstacle today!
Need help adjusting your practice? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
May we all be happy, relaxed, free, and in love.