Mat & Beyond Yoga Studio

Asana Journal

So will yoga help me lose weight?

As a yoga teacher and coming in contact with many people and enquiries, one of the most common questions is this..will yoga help me lose weight? and as i pause to gather my thoughts this post just forms in my mind:)

There are many components to weight loss known and not-so-known including diet, exercise, lifestyle and our emotions. And each of these components are important and require attention. We need to arm ourselves with the right information on foods..and though we all think we eat healthy, it would surprise you if you asked around what your friend or neighbor had for breakfast..biscuits, mee goreng and milo would certainly figure! And there is really no excuse in today’s information age with so much information readily available at our finger tips. And yes, keeping ourselves well-hydrated and cutting down on sugar would certainly help!

Then there is the lifestyle. If we spent a lot of time being sedentary, watching TV, lying on the sofa etc..its not going to help the weight loss process. Movement has to become an integral part of our life and instead of restricting movement and exercise to certain parts of the day; we have to see how we can incorporate movement into the whole of our day, from climbing stairs to parking the car further to walk a little longer to the grocery store to exercising in front of the TV:)
Emotions play a big part of the state of our lives. Deepak Chopra in his book “Super Brain” says “The key is to bring your brain into balance, then use its ability to balance everything-hormones, hunger, cravings, and habits. Your weight is all in your head because, ultimately, your body is in your head. That is, the brain lies at the source of all bodily functions, and your mind lies at the source of your brain.

So restore balance where you know that your greatest imbalance exists (eg emotions, stress, sleep). The moment you reach for food, ask yourself Am I am hungry? or Am I am pacifying a feeling (overwhelmed and exhausted, frustrated, pressured, anxious, bored, insecure, restless, angry). Once you identify the emotion..deal with it! Learn to cope with your feelings in ways that don’t involve eating!

Lets begin with asana..What is asana? When you look at pictures, it looks like a shape. But meaning is in the context; and the┬ácontext of the shape is yoga. It’s not about warm-up, cool down, stretching muscles, flexibility, strength etc..while shapes can be all that..only in the context of yoga can a shape be asana..So what is yoga? It is a “darshana” a clear insightful seeing, a clear seeing, an enlightening vision.

Once that is understood then we know that all constituents of yoga practice which includes asana as well, is about “seeing”. Seeing our body, our breaths, our minds, our intentions, our actions, our mental patterns, our inclinations, our disinclination’s..through our practice we begin to see it all. And if our intention is about losing weight; we begin to “see”; do our actions support our intentions? where/what are the situations despite our best intentions that we seem to cave in? what are our current patterns? What are the emotions that wreck our minds? Is it fear or anxiety or lack of purpose or depression? and how can we become more skillful?

Through the regular practice of asana; by shifting body patterns and flowing with the breath; we come into a state of balance, of harmony of clarity. Through the triadic process of iccha, jnana and kriya..desire, knowledge and action; our intentions and actions become aligned. The more we are committed to knowing and exploring ourselves, more is revealed. And afterall, as Deepak Chopra says; “your body is in your head”!