Can You Really Lose Weight with Yoga?

It’s a question that comes up a lot. It’s a personal interest, and unavoidable in our crazysexyvisual yoga world. But how does yoga fit in, exactly?

With this in mind, the timing was perfect for this past Wednesday’s “Learning Lunch” with two of the finest ladies and yoga teachers I know. We get together periodically for lunch and giggles, oftentimes serious, sometimes not, but always candid and interested talk about a specific topic that’s been coming up in our travels through the yoga teaching world.

Wednesday’s Topic: Yoga, Weight Loss and Body Image.

We started out exploring yoga and body issues, and our role as a teacher. We acknowledged that weight issues persist and they’re showing up for our students regularly.

As the conversation grew, a specific question popped up:

Do you feel comfortable telling a student that yoga can lead to weight loss?

Me: Yes. Them: No

Oooh, now the conversation is getting interesting!

To explain, in my opinion yoga does not directly lead to weight loss. The yogic middle man is the “mind/body” connection. A sound mind/body connection allows you to FEEL your body, feel what it needs, and feel what it doesn’t. If you can quiet down, listen and feel your body from the inside out you can experience the effects of eating an extra helping at breakfast, taking a mid-day nap, or a child’s pose instead of an extra vinyasa, for example. All these things can be appropriate, or not, depending on what your body is asking for at any moment, on any particular day.

You won’t always get it right. Your body’s needs are not always easily understood by our loud, often confused minds. Therefore, you might sleep when you should have done laps at the pool. Or vice versa. But that’s information too–what does getting it wrong feel like? Are you lethargic? Groggy? Or perhaps hyperactive?

But get this–you can also feel the effects of getting it right. Like when you show up to yoga class after sitting in a desk chair all day. You’re mentally tired and physically zapped, heavy. Remember that feeling of the first downdog of class, the re-awakening of your body, the sudden rush of eneregy you didn’t have just 15 minutes ago on the cramped subway ride that got you there? That’s YOU feeling YOU, you feeling your body and delivering to your body just what it wants and needs.

Keep on practicing yoga to strengthen the mind/body connection. When you feel what you need, you’ll be more inclined to treat your body well. And in turn, your body will respond well, become healthier. You’ll lose extra weight that shouldn’t be there. You’ll keep it off because you create a new rhythm for eating and physical activity that feels good.

Now, I can’t promise you’ll lose 20 pounds. I can’t predict how your body will change. No one can. And even if this does happen, it wont necessarily be fast. Much like any loving relationship, the mind/body connection takes patience, compassion, and hard work. There will be lover’s quarrels. Then you’ll make up. Ultimately, you’ll fall ecstatically in love with your body over and over again, no matter what the scale says!

And just in case you were wondering…..

Wednesday’s Menu:

Main: Salad w/ lettuce, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado. With a yummy dressing that I couldn’t identify but would have drank plain.

Side: Thick fresh whole wheat bread. Goat cheese.

Beverage: Sparkling water with Mango Puree. We’re fancy.

Dessert: Fallen chocolate soufle. And fruit tartlettes. One dessert is never enough.

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Filed under Inside the Yoga Studio, Inside Your Lunch Pail

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