I have wanted to delve into this branch of wellness for a long time. I’ve always felt that yoga, its philosophy and practice has so much to offer this cultural obsession, mega-industry and health aid called weight loss. Addressing weight loss from a yoga perspective or through a yoga practice we will also see many other personal benefits. Yoga’s aim is to balance and heal the mind and body therefore perfectly suited for a Weight Loss program. It actually is the ultimate weight loss program.
When addressing Weight Loss from a yoga perspective there is no set of rules, there are just certain principles. In other words, yoga will not tell you what to eat but will suggest that whatever you eat, eat it moderately. Yoga will not tell you what to do it will just ask you to “wake up and see what you’re doing and then ask yourself if what you are doing is helping or hurting?”
Before I get into the specifics I’d like to address the mental sickness and marketing manipulation around much of the weight loss and dieting mentality. The sickness really lies in not being able to see one’s own beauty and not trusting our own process. It’s so obvious that an anorexic does not see their beauty. Yet it might be less obvious that we too (to a lesser degree) cannot see our beauty clearly. Dieting, diet pills, diet shakes, surgery, wrinkle creams, hair dye, body sculpting, supplements & drugs, etc… These are common endeavors to fix (who we are, how we look, and our aging process) what might very well not be broken. We have been convinced that we are not beautiful by a culture that force-feeds us incessant images of what beauty is and by a culture more interested in us buying their products than actually being well. Constantly emphasizing beauty in a certain way as well as steering beauty to a sexual disposition (sex sells) rather than a unique or personal disposition.
Understand this: Next time you get naked and look at yourself in the mirror what you see is beautiful! If you have been convinced otherwise you are not alone. How come we can see the beauty of a mountain range or a field of wildflowers or sunsets and rainbows but we can’t see our own beauty? It’s all nature, all of it including ourselves. These ideas of human beauty implanted in our minds by our culture plays itself out to a large degree in our body image. Because of all this, there are many people pursuing dieting and weight loss unnecessarily. These folks don’t recognize their beauty because they don’t fit the image associated with our cultural ideas of beauty. They feel they are too big or some parts are too small or too old or too heavy or hairy or something. So they are trying to conform to our cultural ideals of beauty. Please consider all this. Be mindful of our culture’s emphasis on physical beauty and be aware that you are not allowing this emphasis to dictate your thoughts, actions, and truth. Basically what I’m saying is you may not need to lose weight. Your weight may be perfect for you. If this is you, my program will not help you lose weight although it will help you in many other ways. You know what’s harder than losing weight? Loving and accepting yourself the way you are! That’s why dieting is so popular because it is much easier than self-love and self-acceptance. Dieting is a shortcut to self-love that does not work! Remember if you saw your own beauty you would not need any of these beauty products, diets and procedures. The diet and weight loss industry has a tremendous investment in you not seeing your own beauty! Their marketing gurus have come up with clever ways and subtle psychology to help you despise yourself. Did you know if you grew up on a deserted island you would not even know you are fat and ugly? Can you imagine how you view yourself is not really how you view yourself but actually how you were taught to view yourself by our culture? I remember driving to work one morning listening to a commercial on the radio. The commercial narrator was asking the listening audience if they are tired of being bald if they are tired of people laughing at them? If so come to their hair growth clinic or method, which is proven to grow or replace your hair. The company behind this commercial is trying to manipulate you into buying their product by making you think there is something wrong with you. Yet before the commercial, you were rocking out to the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams feeling amazing, and now your feeling like shit because you’re balding. They are trying to create fears about other people’s perception of you or to activate or instigate fears you have about your appearance and aging process. Balding, greying, wrinkles, these are not diseases. There is nothing inherently wrong, these are a natural part of aging and changing and if you don’t embrace them you will be sorely unprepared for all that is coming! Marketing gurus will use deceit, modern psychology and any other means they feel will get their client a sale. If they succeed these marketers are rewarded with awards and bonuses. A “ sexy body “ has certain prominent features yet this is only one of many body types. So our cultural stereotype of beauty may not be congruent with my body and may prevent me from seeing my beauty. But for the marketers and most companies (especially if they are publicly traded), that’s the point! The more you don’t see your own beauty the higher odds that you will feel you need their products to become beautiful.
Now understanding all this and being mindful of all this, certainly, there is a valid reason one may need or want to lose weight because you are truly overweight. You are most likely overweight because of one or more of these reasons:
1) you eat poorly (types of foods consumed)
2) you eat too much (quantity and frequency)
3) you consume more calories than you burn.
4) you do not exercise.
Certainly, there may be psychological conditions that can instigate or facilitate any of these physical food-related choices. If so these conditions will need to be revealed. Yet these conditions can not be revealed if they are being camouflaged by food choices. So implementing new food choices may not only be great for the body it is a great catalyst towards awareness and the perspective and choices awareness brings.
So for healthy weight loss, this program will address these behaviors and steer us toward a higher quality and more balanced approach. This program has four components
4) abstinence or self-restraint.
In other words, we will address the mind, body and social input and habits, this will be truly transformative. Ok, let’s have a look at weight loss and its components: diet, exercise, meditation & abstinence(social-media input).
Let’s have a practical and balanced approach toward health and wellness and let’s allow our bodies to fall into a balanced place (homeostasis) by living in a balanced way. First things first, let’s agree that our goal of weight loss is a goal of health and wellness. When I make healthy choices my body will be at a healthy and natural weight. We will not be forcing our bodies to fit some image our society has emphasized. We will not partake in the age-old tradition of making ourselves sicker trying to look pretty. After all “the beauty of the human race is all the differences between us”. This is no longer a catchphrase for me, I am ready to walk the talk.
This program is going to be challenging! I will ask you to experiment with new ideas and practices, all tried and true yet may be new to you. The level of difficulty will depend on how deeply ingrained unhealthy habit patterns and behaviors have become. We all know how difficult it is to break addictions. What most dieters don’t understand is prior established behaviors such as food choices as in food frequency, food quantity, food types and food quality have become similar to addictions. I truly want to support you and set up a support group, but NOBODY can do this work for you. You may stumble but you will need to pull yourself up and continue. I will not ask you to partake in anything I have not done myself and of course, in line with yoga philosophy you should discard any suggestions I make that you feel are inappropriate.