This is a question I get asked again and again. In my 18 years of teaching I have witnessed and facilitated many transformations including students losing weight but what I’ve seen most frequently is people improving their ability to manage or control their weight.
People who do yoga regularly look leaner, stand taller and move with ease so they give the appearance of being thinner. But why yoga as opposed to any other fitness discipline?
All fitness programs are beneficial but most rely on repetitive motion and focus primarily on building or toning muscle rather than conditioning the whole body. That might be why you’re always changing programs, hitting frustrating plateaus and waiting for the next big thing. Thankfully, we are evolving and the idea that our bodies work as an integrated system, the sum of many parts, working in harmony to promote overall health and well-being points to yoga as the source.
Everywhere you look there are references to yoga and every year new celebrities are joining the fold. A big part of their job is to be fit and thin so perhaps they’re proof that there is something to this ancient practice.
Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman: “We did yoga a couple of times out there in Maui. We did some planks together,” Aniston said. “Yoga is all core.”
Sting: “Like music, yoga is a journey — one that is long enough so you keep developing, and keep learning. I don’t see an end to it.”
Jon Bon Jovi: I was doing Workout 101 for years: treadmill, elliptical, weights… Now I’m going to do yoga. I went for my first time, and I enjoyed it. I’m a 21st-century man. For an old man who has no plastic surgery, still has all his own hair and wears a 30-inch waist, I’m doing okay.
Adam Levine: “When I started practicing I instantly felt more sculpted. Yoga carves you into a different person—and that is satisfying physically…”
Michelle Williams, Gwyneth Paltrow, Christy Turlington, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry and the list goes on.
Yoga is referred to as a “practice” because you are in the process of mastering or learning and that’s what sets it apart from other disciplines. Part of what you learn is how to manage or balance your energy through the physical poses, mental imagery, and breath control. The result is a fit and streamlined body as well as a youthful appearance because you are comfortable in your own skin.
What you learn that applies to weight management:
Yoga poses: Compared to other disciplines yoga poses or asana demand length, spaciousness, and lightness. In order to twist, bend and fold into those beautiful and challenging poses your body has to change. By transforming to adapt to those demands you end up with a longer leaner and lighter body as opposed to shorter, thicker and heavier. There is a lot to be said for how you feel. If you feel lighter you will want to be lighter. Suddenly you find yourself craving lighter foods.
Balance: Balance poses whether standing on one leg or balancing on your hands requires concentration and prioritizing. To master these poses you need to pinpoint exactly what is throwing you off course, stay focused in order to overcome and not lose sight of the ultimate goal, to find your center. Those skills are invaluable when you are trying to balance your weight, which requires staying on course and prioritizing healthy choices.
Inversions: Yoga is unique as some poses demand that you literally turn yourself upside down. For most people it induces enormous fear but requires courage to facilitate. The end result is a sense of empowerment, the sky becomes the limit and those fears that previously kept you from your goals fade away. Don’t underestimate the role that courage plays when facing overwhelming challenges such as weight. anticreative.com
Mastering poses: Even though you may want to do an advanced pose immediately you will soon find out that it takes time and the best approach is to take baby steps. Perhaps when you are confronted with that impatience when it comes to managing your weight you will be reminded that everything takes time, patience and faith. Not a bad mantra to adopt.
Breath control: Last but not least and quite frankly the most valuable lesson of all is learning how to follow, direct and control your breath. Since there is quite a bit of evidence that links weight to stress breathing comes in as the first line of defense. Controlling your breath slows everything down and connects you to your self. Stress impacts your breathing, which is apparent in the midst of those trying times when the breath becomes short and shallow. As you become familiar with all the different ways to use your breath you become your own best advocate to slow it down and take a breath. Manage your stress and you manage your weight.
Knowledge is power and empowerment puts control back in your hands.
If you’re not meeting your fitness goals a visit to SPACE/Pilates, Yoga & Beyond might be the solution you’ve been looking for.
I am happy to answer any questions, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 914-246-0423.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
I am available for individual sessions or group lessons at SPACE in Bedford Hills.
Celia Hirsch has been a yoga instructor for 18 years teaching both private and group classes. Soon after taking her first yoga class she knew the potential for learning was endless and has been inspired ever since. Her previous career as an artist and designer enhances her ability to spot imbalances’ and misalignments, which a yoga practice can address. Celia guides students to a clear and pragmatic understanding of asana so that the ultimate goal of freedom of movement, maximum range of motion and balance can be achieved. She helps facilitate coordinating the breath to movement through her concise and imaginative teaching style.