losing weight: more about release than resistance

Trying to slim down and wondering if yoga is the answer? In order to lose weight, you need to burn calories, and like anything physical, doing yoga can help you achieve that goal, but it depends on what style of yoga you do. You want to choose vigorous vinyasa, power, or ashtanga classes rather than slower-paced styles such as kripalu or iyengar. These classes move quickly so they really get your heart pumping — you can burn over 400 calories per 90-minute class! These styles also incorporate poses that strengthen your muscles, and more muscle mass also contributes to your caloric burn…


chances are, every yoga-practicing person on the planet with access to the internet has hopefully tried to search for statistics on the relationship between yoga and weight loss. we’ve seen the lithe, long-looking yoga teachers and we want in on whatever they’re doing. 

the general consensus seems to be pretty much as the paragraph above states: yes, yoga can help, if you’re doing something vigorous (cue alarm bells in the heads of those-who-do-not-do-vigorous: PAIN, TOUGH, MAYBE NOT THEN.) 

but there are other sites (eg. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/07/three-reasons-why-yoga-can-help-you-lose-weight/) which pay more attention to the power of yoga in causing weight loss through the elements of emotional healing it provides. the truth is that weight (and I’m assuming we’re talking about fat here, as opposed to unusually heavy bones) can much of the time be manifested stress and negative feeling, or the symptoms of an unhealthy lifestyle, rather than simply something that exercise or diet alone can help to take off. 

I believe that, as usual, the truth of the matter lies somewhere in the middle: there has to be some element of resistance and cardio in the bodily movement we do, but on the other hand what really works the magic is the wholesomeness and the holistic(ness?) of the approach yoga takes in the 

honouring of the body as it moves through the process of exercise,
rather than the pummeling of the body for the sake of the outcome of exercise.

(we all have that friend who seems to be continuously jogging and berating herself for not ‘eating healthier’, while simultaneously- and mysteriously- making limited progress in the realm of fat-busting.) 

I have chosen yoga as my dominant exercise routine because it helps me honour my body as I move it through asanas. I treat it not as an asset to be earned but as a friend- the closest lifelong companion I will ever have- to nurture, develop and invest in. Before this, whenever I pushed my body through vigorous and often violent, competitive sports, it resisted any weight-loss efforts by resisting the negative self-talk I was feeding it: when you lose this much weight, you will be better/ worthy/ satisfactory. Enter yoga.

Now, when I honour my body through mindful exercise, I release the excess fat weight naturally rather than struggling to drop every last gram- I am reminded that I have no need for anything in my life- negativity, drama, excess fat- that holds me back. I am reminded that I have no need to hide, and that I can stand brave and strong and free in the world. And when the movement in my body translates into the movement in my life (shrink sessions, erin stutland), weight loss becomes not a ‘goal’ to be ‘achieved’ (as stated in first quote above) but a natural symptom of a bigger change in a bigger, more profound relationship.

The best part: this way, I know it’s sustainable.

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