The Benefits Of Yoga For Weight Loss

yoga-poses-for-weight-loss

Synchronicity can be amazing sometimes.  I’ve been thinking for a while about taking up yoga.  As you get older your body loses its flexibility.  I’ve lost the weight, but now I still want to get myself into better shape, firm up my stomach, which still has loose skin.

Out of the blue I received an email asking if I would share a review of the best yoga mats out there.  Maybe this is the Universe dropping hints that yoga would be a good fit for me.

Anyway, this review is very thorough and if I do decide to buy a yoga mat I will make use of the review to make my choice. And I’m sure it will benefit others too.

So here’s the link to the post.

Best Yoga Mats

If you’re in the market for a new yoga mat but don’t know where to start, here’s your answer!

I’m always open to promoting other health and wellness businesses out there.

The Big Picture – What Was the Draw?

Today, we have a guest blogger, Poppy Wortman.  She is from New Zealand but now lives in India, and studies yoga and ayurveda. 

Ask a studio of yogis – be they first class, a year in or long term Sun Saluters – what was their pull to first go to yoga, and the answers will be manifold.

“My doctor recommended it for my tight shoulders”; “I needed some ME time”; “I wanted to get more flexible”; “I had Lululemon tights and wanted to wear them somewhere other than out for coffee.”

My call to the mat and doing a downward dog?

Quiet – and at times, not so quiet – desperation.

From the age of eight-years-old, disordered eating thoughts, patterns and ways of being started creeping up on my psyche, progressively consuming me. By the time I turned 19, my entire being was swamped and entrenched in an eating disorder. This is not the time nor space to delve deeper into that aspect – I sometimes enlighten on my personal blog, www.popyarns.com, should you maybe feel the pull to read into it a bit more.

Years of on-and-off counselling, psychiatry and even an attempt at hypno-therapy proved minimal, if any, recovery. I look back and have no idea how I got through those years; perhaps the perfectionist, high achieving tendencies that often come in partnership with bulimia-cum-anorexia-cum-obsessive-orthorexia got me through (I somehow managed to be awarded dux all three years, which absolutely astounds me when I recall my mind frame). But with assignments and exams and early-20-year-old worries on top of constant calorie counting and obsessive exercising, my mind was a very busy – and never winding down – place.

Upon graduation I moved to Australia to blow off steam. Living in Brisbane with a group of gal-pals, there was a lot of drinking, late night (well, early morning) stumbling back to our flat and irregular eating. Although my consumption remained very limited to a handful of edible options, the alcoholic ingestion and its subsequent binge out on “no-no” foods had me put on a few kilos.

I was in absolute despair.

I moved home to New Zealand – a new boyfriend in tow – and we decided to go travel around South East Asia. The whole trip I would get up at 6am to go running for a few hours and spend the days obsessing over what I was eating, determined to shed back to my “ideal” size. A big divide started to chasm out between us, and after a few months back at home after our trip, we decided to separate. (I think the moment was decided when he asked, “Would you rather be skinny, or be with me?” and I hesitated).

My inner reaction on us parting ways? Good. I can lose more weight without him in my life.

I was irritable and angry all the time. I was starving my body, then ramming it full of food when the cravings took control. Though my outside life was seemingly “perfect” (what even is that?), my head was in disarray. I was deciding whether I should move up to the city and take a journalism job, when one night I had this intense impulse that I wanted – no, I needed – to go to India.

Once the idea was in my mind, I didn’t waver once (well, at the airport as I was leaving I must admit I did have a moment where I considered going back home again). I started researching my forthcoming solo sojourn, looking at the standard touristy places to go and making a list: Varanasi, The Taj, a week on the beach in Goa. Then the idea came to me to maybe spend a few days engaging in a yoga retreat; It’ll be good for clearing my head, I thought.

I looked into a few options, and saw the price for a fortnight of “blissful restoration and rejuvenation” equalled that of a month-long teacher training course. As someone who is somewhat infatuated with the idea of adding more qualifications after her name (again, that high achiever-ness), I decided it was the way for me. I booked one that “felt right”, and come the end of July 2015, I was in the colourful chaos of Rishikesh, Northern India, with my bright pink Nike tights and a what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here panic.

Having only ever participated in two yoga classes in my life (I grew up always playing more combat sports like netball, basketball, athletics and water-skiing) I had no clue what I was up to. The other females in my course had been practicing the ancient science for a fair few years, already familiar with the Sanskrit terminology and what-angle-your-foot-goes-at-in-trikonasana. I wasn’t in tune with myself in any way whatsoever; when told to keep hips square or catch my left foot, I was so out of whack with where I even was. After a few initial days of anxiety and considering leaving, I somehow found my zone. By the time four weeks was up, I was utterly transformed.

To say yoga saved me sounds so proclamational and nonsensical. But I believe it truly did. By the end of my 30 days, I had somehow learnt to love my limbs, recognising them for so much more than just their size. I had learnt to applaud my body when it did me proud, looking at it with affection and not hatred. And when it did let me down (nailing a headstand took a fair few attempts), I learnt to give it care, not criticism.

That’s not to say I was “cured” – not by any means. But my head found some clarity as I contorted and meditated and chanted, and upon return home (after a flit up the Everest Base Camp, another transformational experience) I signed up for clinical rehab and only semi reluctantly received treatment. I was able to timidly admit that I was sick, rather than vigorously assert I was as I was as a result of veganism and a swift metabolism.

And here we are two years later, me back in India having redone my 200-hour Hatha Yoga teacher training (at Rishikesh Yog Dham, the school I came across in my first trip that I vowed I would return to) and currently in the midst of my 300-hour Vinyasa teacher training. At 10kg heavier, my body is far stronger and capable of achieving postures I once would never have been able to try.

I still have those awful eating-disordered thoughts each and every day, but I’m recovering, one moment at a time. And I firmly give that credit to yoga; it gave me the motivation and tools my mental state required to willingly save my life.

Yoga also puts me in my place. I physically cannot be the best; my left knee turns out, meaning any balance is fleeting. I have slight scoliosis, so my back has a little hunch that only semi straightens. But rather than frustrate me as it did in the beginning, I have come to accept these ailments and just look forward to the backbends.

There are many draws to the mat; health, the trend, a bid for self-love or even purely as a form of exercise. But regardless of what made you pick up the pencil and sketch that first stroke, yoga can be extremely beneficial – and sometimes even life changing – to all.

I shudder to think where I would be if I hadn’t found my freedom.

That’s the big picture of what drew me into being a yoga teacher. And what continues to keep me picking up the crayon of taking classes. If someone asks me what got me into it, of course I don’t share this extremely personal spiel; my usual response is something like, “I just decided to try it one day”.

There’s that whole “Keep Calm and Do Yoga” mantra that you often see emblazoned across social media. But I always think it should be flipped about; “Do Yoga and Keep Calm”. And balanced. And at peace. And able to find your inner strength. And your physical. Plus your shortcomings, your ailments and your abilities. Find yourself in general, really.

I know I did, And continue to do so every time I get on my mat.

Namaste.

Yoga Teacher Training In India

Poppy Guest 1[1072]

The Yoga And Meditation Center

I like to promote local businesses and we just recently found out about this Wellness center so I’m sharing it for anyone interested in learning about yoga and meditation.

This is a relatively new business based on Staten Island, NY.  We met with the owner the other day and got a look at the place.  The center offers beginners as well as advanced yoga.  The main area is a pretty decent size and the owner of the business, Dan Globus, is passionate about helping people.

Here’s the website for anyone interested in learning more.

http://www.thecompassioncenter.com/

The Compassion Center is located at:
4116 Hylan Blvd., 2nd Floor
(corner of Glover street and Hylan Blvd.)
Staten Island, NY 10308

There is a parking lot that can accommodate around a dozen to twenty cars.

The Compassion Center currently offers Meditation classes on:

  • Mondays: 7:45-9:00pm
  • Thursdays: 7:45-9:00pm
  • Sundays: 9:30-11:00am and 11:30am-1:00pm.

Dan can be contacted at: 347-770-7096

email: info@thecompassioncenter.com

For anyone who is looking to get started with yoga this would be a good place to start.

Guest Blog: Battling Cancer with Physical Exercise

I’m sharing a blog today from fellow blogger, Melanie Bowen. Her blog is about using fitness as a tool in battling cancer. As someone who has lost loved ones to this horrific disease, I am always eager to help any way I can in the fight against cancer.

Melanie is currently a Master’s student with a passion that stems from her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness. To read more from Melanie, visit her blog for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.

Battling Cancer with Physical Exercise

Whether you are recuperating from a diagnosis of breast cancer, mesothelioma or prostate cancer, you will surely want to rely on physical exercise to regain your former strength. In all cases, you will need to progress from light to moderate to advanced activities. As long as you give your body time to adjust to each new level of exertion, you will find the benefits to be quite spectacular. Before taking up new cardiovascular activities, you should speak with your personal physician to make sure your body can handle the task.

Light: Breathing Exercises

In the immediate aftermath of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, you will likely still feel a bit sluggish. By beginning with simple breathing exercises, you can slowly coax your lungs back into action. Breathing exercises will also improve your blood flow and circulation, which will be an immense help in your perpetual battle against fatigue. If you have had one of your lungs removed because of mesothelioma, you might engage in deep breathing techniques for several minutes at a time. As your respiratory system begins to function better, you will find yourself able to perform more of the essential tasks of daily living. By regaining some of your cherished independence, you can also give family members a bit of a break from attending to your needs.

Moderate: Yoga

As your level of fitness continues to make strides, you can eventually move on to yoga, which is considered a moderately strenuous activity. Yoga traces its roots to Eastern philosophical traditions that emphasize the melding of the mind and the body. In addition to increasing flexibility, yoga is also superb for the psyche. In fact, yoga enthusiasts have long found the activity to help with insomnia. If you are still suffering from quite a bit of pain, yoga has a remarkable ability to refocus the mind. Because a cancer diagnosis can also lead to anxiety, you will likely be looking for ways to relax. Yoga, in fact, can actually prevent the release of stress hormones within the body. The activity is excellent for men and women who have been suffering from mental distress.

Advanced: Weight Training

Once you have become a true expert at yoga, you can at last move on to weight training. Because weight training is specifically designed to build muscle mass, individuals who are underweight will likely benefit the most. If you have recently been battling stomach or prostate cancer, then building muscle mass will be especially important to the health of your body. To get started, you might want to join a gym. Most good gyms have a fair number of weight machines that will work well for beginners. Once you’ve become more confident that you are using the proper techniques, you can progress to free weights. By working your chest, back, shoulders, arms, and legs, you should be able increase cardiovascular health and regain strength that will help you continue your recovery.

As a cancer patient, you should develop an exercise blueprint before you begin any kind of physical activity. By starting with breathing exercises and gradually progressing to yoga and then weight lifting, you can give your body a chance to adapt to each new level of exertion. Exercise can ultimately lead to a renewed passion for life and a closer bond with family members and friends.