You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, yet I see so many people killing themselves with exercise that is going to “burn calories” and then “reward” themselves with a treat. They are performing the kind of exercise that has high potential for injuries and exercise that cannot be turned into a lifelong habit. This is because it is too hard on the body and brings a tendency towards avoidance, when the motivation wanes. I also see people spending a fortune on technological gadgets for fitness and then freaking out when they have to spend over $20 for a yoga class.
The media and our search for a quick fix has us ignoring reality.
Most studies estimate exercise’s ability to transform the body around 20% with the remaining 80% attributed to the food we put in our mouths. But yet we remain fixated on exercise being the key ingredient.
Why? Because when motivated, it’s easier to turn up to a class or go for a run than it is to change habits ingrained in us through eating, from family, culture and society. Most of us have been on diets and most of us know that they just don’t work. Yet we still want that quick fix. We want that 5km run that makes us feel like we’ve done something. Then we get injured, it all gets too much or we really, really don’t want to…. and we give up.
What does any of this have to do with yoga?
Well, we still need to move our body right? Our lymphatic system (which is like the bodies sewerage system, removing toxins and waste) literally does not move unless we do. Yep. So if you don’t ever exercise? Well you might feel lethargic, toxic, low in energy and physically ill.
Yoga has an array of systemically designed postures to move your body in it’s full range of movement. There is no other exercise that has you upside down, squatting, back-bending and side stretching quite as much as a yoga class. We are there to lubricate the joints, stretch and strengthen our muscles, pump fresh blood and oxygen into our cells and remove any toxins from the body.
By learning breath and meditation techniques, along with how to move your body safely and correctly, yoga assists in cleansing not only physical toxins but potentially emotional toxins as well.
Anybody that has ever had an angry outburst or an emotional breakdown knows that emotions build up in the body and the yogis can tell us where they are most likely to accumulate (hips, hamstrings, back of shoulders and neck). When you feel that general stress relief from most exercise – that is the result of getting the heart pumping and clearing the lymphatic system – but with yoga it is deliberate and intentional – we are clearing the stress from your body one area at a time.
You feel so amazing when you leave yoga class, not because the teacher was great or because you got into the splits, but because you’ve left negativity behind you. You’ve let go.
Again, what does this have to do with weight loss? Your still not eating better right? Even if you go to yoga class.
Most eating issues are psychological. We are not eating for nourishment of the body but for pacifying the mind. Whether your feeling anxious, depressed, nervous, self-conscious or just for the senses alone – we are eating to fulfill a need that is not hunger. We use food to give us identity (I like this, I don’t like that), status (I’m a foodie, a sweet tooth, organic, vegan, knowledgeable about the best restaurants in town), and self-soothing (I need a treat, I deserve this,).
So we let our mind run our appetites instead of the body. If we are in a good place mentally, then our body will reflect this, we will feel healthy and great about ourselves. If we are not then it will show.
This is where yoga comes in. Bringing yourself inward, learning to start looking inside and not outside for answers, starts to give you confidence. Yoga reaches in and starts to cleanse and polish our inner-self, clearing out the debris and mindless chatter and revealing what truly matters.
So each yoga class cleanses and soothes your body and mind, toning the outside and inside giving your mind a workout as it is trained to quieten down. This allows the messages from the body and soul to be given a voice. Suddenly you start hearing yourself, you start to give the answers on why you do the things you do, why these negative patterns keep showing up in your life.
Suddenly a year or two goes by and you realise you haven’t thought about your weight for ages. You didn’t change your diet but you eat less at meals, you stop snacking and your not going out with your friends just to get to the dessert menu anymore. Becoming peaceful and content on the inside has reflected on the way you show up in your life. Food doesn’t loom large in your thoughts anymore, what you eat and didn’t eat is no longer dissected meal by meal, calorie by calorie.
Your body is just your beautiful body. The vehicle that allows you to cruise around in this big beautiful world and your acceptance of yourself is a gift that no one can take away from you now. You have freedom, in your body, through the practice of yoga and also in your mind. Freedom to focus on what you are meant to be doing in this world, more time spent on what is truly important.
Yoga is the journey of the self, through to self, to the self. You and you alone are the key ingredient to creating your best body, mind and soul,
Yoga just shows you the way.
See you on the mat