Promoting Yoga as a Lifestyle

Yoga has many role models from fat happy Buddha’s to skinny contortionists, although one of my pet peeves is that everyone in the yoga magazines leans towards the later.  As someone who thought about weight a lot, especially as a teen, I found this info on Obesity from the Vitality and Stress course very interesting.

A person’s weight can affect their stress and their stress affects their body weight.  We know childhood obesity is a big concern for parents.  What I learned last week is our view of the cause of weight problems is distorted and can increase stress and makes matters worse.

The Survey Results
In surveys most people believe willpower is the biggest factor in weight problems (60%), followed by lifestyle (25%), and genes (15%).  However the facts show weight problem factors are the opposite:  5% willpower, 50% lifestyle, and 45% genetic.  If we believe people are overweight because they lack willpower or are lazy – we add to their stress and at the same time we don’t address the actual problem.

Our best results for weight loss come through lifestyle modifications.  Here are some to encourage:

  • a good night’s sleep is proven to help balance your weight,
  • use smaller plates (6″ plates are best) helps reduce food intake,
  • stay hydrated by drinking water, sometimes we’re thirsty when we think we’re hungry,
  • add exercise to our lifestyle like a sun salutation or some favorite yoga poses, start with small amounts then increase times,
  • bring awareness to our eating:  look at how we deal with our feelings, notice what we eat, how we eat, and when we eat.

It’s been proven over and over that diets and short-term exercise plans just don’t work in the long term.  As teachers, do we push for these?  Do we make kids feel like they lack will power?

My Meditation Mentor meditates on an Ancient mantra that includes these words:

“I am not the body, this body is mine, I Am.”
Tulshi Sen, author of Ancient Secrets of Success for Today’s World

When kids are unhappy because of their body, they don’t understand who they really are.  If our happiness is related to our body, then we are destined to diminishing happiness. As far as I know there has never been a  body that has not eventually become food for the worms.

Willpower relies on the mind and we all know the tricks the mind can play.

When we rely on Consciousness, I Am, as our true support, we find happiness in all conditions regardless of circumstances like how we look.  This is the way to become the masters of our happiness. Then only can we see that our body is ours, we can be free to choose the lifestyle we want to live.

Then we are truly living the yogic lifestyle.

Has weight been a concern for others out there?  Leave a comment on how weight has affected your life or your teaching.

 

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10 Comments
  1. A big YES to this post! I agree with all your thoughts. I never think of it as exercise because it makes me feel like I just do it because I need it. I want to enjoy every step of weight loss. I want to enjoy every workout that I do and think that I really want it and not just need. It makes my daily workout routine more easy and lighter.

  2. Amen, sista! I did a TON of yoga meditation cushion at classes when I was young and skinny (okay, not skinny but not FAT) in med school (at Ohio State). Even thinner me was still intimated by the rock hard but Gumby-flexible beanpoles twisted like pretzels. My thighs weighed more than the instructors. Now, two kids later, a couple abdominal surgeries and innumerable

    Fritos I still do a ton of yoga but in the comfort and safety yoga posture of my own home. Mirrors draped. No spandex allowed. I love it and there’s no intimidation involved.

    Yoga for Good Health!yoga and meditation

    I can tell you from my personal and professional experience of yoga techniques, fat doesn’t mean not fit. It means it’s harder to find good work-out clothes.

    Love the blog, by the way!

  3. Great blog. Do you know about these (adult) yoga books?

    http://www.yogavidya.com/freepdfs.html

  4. Wonderful thoughts. The “quick fix” or the “cycles” of weight loss don’t amount to overall health of the body, OR the mind. A healthy and BALANCED lifestyle is key, and yoga can be an integral part of that…cultivating a healthy mind to make healthy choices and decisions, and moving and working the body in a way that can be sustained and maintained forever. Rather than being a “workout plan,” or a “training program,” yoga is something that can (and should be) part of everyday life.

  5. Thanks for the comments – it’s true that kids pick things up so easily, we may not even realize the attitude we are creating when we make comments about our bodies around kids.

    I realize many of my weight changes are tied to lifestyle changes like a few years ago I moved and stopped riding my bike – what a difference that made to my cardio routine. I’ve moved again and I like that I’m in walking distance to a few of my classes.

  6. Last week when I taught a class of 5-6 year old girls at a slumber party one girl said she couldn’t do a pose because she was too heavy – my heart broke. For one so tender in years to already have such a warped sense of self is a travesty. I love the quote here “I am not the body, This body is mine, I am.” That is powerful and leads us to accept ourselves talents, abilites, failings, and body size. This is truly the journey. Now just to share the message in positive, powerful ways.

    Great post Aruna – You may also enjoy either of these articles:
    http://yogainmyschool.com/2009/11/10/how-yoga-helps-teens-battle-eating-disorders/
    http://yogainmyschool.com/2009/10/20/diet-vs-exercise-how-to-win-the-fight-against-childhood-obesity/

  7. Lovely post and a beautiful picture. I couldn’t agree more with your message. I find that when I think about “exercise”, it seems boring and painful, but when I think in terms of “activity” and “experiences” and visualize exciting goals, its a lot easier to go out for a run. I can’t exercise for weight loss. I can only do it for myself and my own pleasure.