We often get asked whether Yoga helps to loose weight. The short answer is: yes but it requires a bit more than a few stretches a couple of times a week.
Society’s standard answer to loosing weight is often limited to workout and diet. And they are important factors. However, Yoga teaches us that well-being is not only dependent on physical exercise and nutrition but also our overall mental and emotional well-being. From a holistic point of view mind, body and soul influence each other. Think like this: An overworked mind will be an additional factor of stress when we change our diet to a more healthy one and want to increase our resilience to little food desires just as a low-energy soul will not be able to lift us up when things become a bit more challenging. A healthy body is built on body, mind and soul and it is important that we take care of all of them.
And this is where Yoga comes in: Yoga practice does not only work our bodies but contributes to a sense of relaxation and ease where mental and emotional body can find rejuvenation. But what is the right Yoga practice when we want to shed a few pounds? Choosing the right class asks for the golden middle way: while it might seem as if a physically demanding Yoga class such as Power Yoga and Vinyasa is the best choice, it is of little benefit to our well-being if it leaves us frustrated after 90 minutes of catching up. On the other hand, choosing a sequence of Yin classes might have beautiful effects on calming the nervous system and our mental and emotional bodies but it does not necessarily contribute to our fitness. A combination of both with a physical demand according to where our fitness is at is key. So keeping the right balance between physical exercise and mental and emotional well-being is a good strategy.
And apart from that: think continuity! The path of Yoga might not be the fast track to a slim bikini shape but if done with consistency it is by far more sustainable. If the body is brought in shape piece by piece and mind and soul are taken care of at the same time, the results are able to last longer. Habits are changed slowly and not abruptly (think new years resolution) and we can remain in harmony instead of pushing through goals with the risk of frustration and setbacks that come with it. All this fosters our resilience in times where old habits try to sneak in and we are tempted to fall back.
Another good idea can be to get a coach, a nutrition specialist or even a Yoga teacher who can provide support and tips. Even a group of like-minded can be beneficial and keep us motivated.
So, roll out the mat and enjoy the beautiful benefits Yoga can bring – on a physical, mental, emotional level and for our holistic and sustainable well-being.
The popularity of Yoga is impressive. More and more people get to experience and understand the beauty and benefits of Yoga and practice it regularly. But why is it actually of such high benefit? And how do we best get started with a practice?
The origins of Yogic practices date back to ancient times on the Indian continent. Yoga is a life philosophy that has at its main goal the awakening from a limited sense of self. Today we mainly know Yoga as a physical practice of postures (asanas), however the entire philosophy of Yoga contains much more than that. Hatha Yoga – the physical practice of Yoga – was in original sense meant to support the Yogi on his spiritual journey by relaxing and stretching the body so the body was prepared and strengthened for meditation.
Perhaps you have tried meditation. And perhaps you have made the experience that it is much easier to meditate when the body is relaxed, the mind has calmed down and we can leave the buzz of the day behind. And this is exactly where the practice of physical Yoga comes in: it helps us to decrease stress levels, it activates the para-sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for our bodily rest and digest processes, it increases our emotional stability and contributes to better sleep. The physical and emotional benefits are manifold and have been backed up by scientific research. Overall, Yoga brings our physical, energetic, emotional and mental bodies into balance. That is why we feel “so good” after a Yoga class without necessarily knowing what exactly to attribute to.
So how to get started? As the world of Yoga is booming more and more Yoga styles pop up. From Ashtanga to Vinyasa to Bikram to Iyengar to Yin to restorative, etc… This can be overwhelming for someone who is new to Yoga. The clue is: start somewhere and try as much as you feel like. It can take some time to find “your style” and “your teacher”. Styles and teachers varies tremendously and resonate with different people, bodily and mental needs at different points in time. So don’t give up if you don’t hit a jackpot in your first Yoga class.
Many people are concerned that they are not flexible about Yoga. This is a myth that has unfortunately spread widely! Flexibility is built up over time as we become consistent in our practice, it is nothing you come to your first class with (unless you have a background in acrobatics). We all start somewhere. A good Yoga teacher will be able to cater to the needs of every person in the room, no matter how advanced or flexible. And in the end Yoga is about much much more than a flexible body. A good Yoga class is one where you feel relaxed, rejuvenated and an overall sense of well-being at the end. Let yourself be surprised!
So, are you ready? Try out as much as you can, trust the process and don’t forget to have fun!