Working Body and Mind in Yoga

By

Published April 8, 2016
A A A Share
The Montclarion
Photo courtesy of distelfliege (Flickr)

Many people set weight loss goals for themselves, but if you are like most Americans, any success to shedding pounds is usually short-lived. While goals, like weight loss, begin as change for the better, more frequently than not, they become an intuitive exercise in self-loathing.

Sometimes health-related goals can actually be jabs at oneself in disguise. Trying to lose 10 pounds seems like a pretty innocent goal at first, but it may be the result of negative statements within yourself that say, “you’re fat,” or “you’re unhealthy.” However, no matter what progress or stage of weight loss you are at, it is never too late to start meditating.

Whatever the reason may be for adopting a healthier lifestyle, a good suggestion for a place to start would be yoga.

While weight loss plans often only focus on the superficial and harmful sides of ourselves like, thinking, “I need to lose weight, so no more pizza and chocolate,” yoga explores what’s behind those thoughts or moods. The meditative states achieved in yoga can lead to better understanding of the self and why you may do the things you do. Yoga can lead you to understand that you only want pizza and chocolate when you’re feeling stressed or upset. After realizing this, you can set an intention to be aware of this craving and rise above it, rather than fill up on fats, and conquer your cravings.

From a physical point of view, the stretching in yoga relaxes the body and increases the supply of blood and nutrients to the muscles. It improves the way we move, function and feel, all of which help your mental health as well. Do other forms of exercise give you all of these physical benefits? Yes, but recent research shows that yoga has an advantage over other types of exercise when it comes to emotional stability. From a very basic point of view, those who do yoga consistently learn to relax, so their stress levels go down and they become less reactive. Yoga is not just exercise. It’s mind control.

You don’t need to be flexible to do yoga. Yoga isn’t about touching your toes. It’s what you learn on the way down. Close your eyes. Breathe in and hold for ten seconds. Lengthen your spine as if someone were pulling a tiny string connected to the very top of your head. Breathe out, slowly. You’ve just completed a yoga practice.

Being a yoga teacher has taught me so much more than a simple back bend. It has completely restored my life and expectations. It teaches you to embrace each and every flaw that we have. Nobody’s perfect. I, too, have had so many transitory intentions of obtaining the perfect beach body through starvation and mindless cardio. Yoga has brought me past that.
In our society today, women are tormented by the idea of what a “perfect woman” is supposed to look like. Our society tells us the perfect woman has a D cup bra size, 20-inch waist, cut abs and a huge rear end, all while being able to squeeze into a size 2 pair of jeans. As a result, so many women are discontented with their appearance. They want to look like someone else. There are people that are willing to go under the knife to slim down enough to look like their idols, whether it is a famous movie star or an Instagram-famous workoutaholic. Some don’t even want to leave their home because they don’t want to be seen.

We are constantly being bombarded with unrealistic images of perception. We are constantly analyzing and judging ourselves and those around us. We are ridiculed for our flaws so often that we begin to hate ourselves, and from that, we ridicule others.

Yogis come in all shapes and sizes. Yoga not only modifies your physical health, but also how you feel about your body. The practice teaches you a new life style that allows you to appreciate life for everything that it’s worth. Yoga teaches each woman that we do not have to be Kim Kardashian to love ourselves.

The problem with society is that we are society. It won’t change until we change as individuals. We each have to learn to love our own image and love each other’s blemishes in return. That doesn’t mean we can’t get a little healthy, physically and mentally, while we do it.

Everyone is perfect in his or her own right, and no one should be allowed to say otherwise. Doing yoga will help us embrace ourselves and our bodies and start this change.

Join the Conversation