The Beauty of Morning Practice

Do you have a morning practice?

Why? Why not?

I’ve always been a big fan of mornings. They seem to have a clear and majestic feel to them. And, over the years, I have found that having a morning practice sets the “tone” for the day ahead.

Now, before I explain the details of my morning practice, I want to say 99.999% of humans are morning people, or “diurnal”, which is the fancy biological name for daylight creatures.

We are biologically wired to be daytime creatures – it has little to do with personality or psychology. It has everything to do with biology.

As soon as the sunlight hits our eyes and bounces around our brains, it triggers one of the most powerful glands in our system, the pineal gland, which floods our system with chemistry for awake, conscious, activated living.

These chemical systems trigger rhythms in our physiology. Our brain waves, our heart rate, and our breath respond to daylight and the lack thereof.

If you were to dig into the health of any long-term shift worker and people who stubbornly work against daylight living, I bet they have a smorgasbord of complicated health related conditions from anxiety, to insomnia to blood pressure issues and everything in-between. And most, if not all, of these health related conditions are largely contributed by their going “against the grain” of their natural biological systems.

It is ok to have a late night every now and then or have a phase when you go out of sync for a while; however, I would never advise living a night focused lifestyle for longer than a few months at a time, because after just a few months, things will usually go out of sync.

 

If one comes to be naturally waking early in the mornings, it is usually a sign of good health, good internal chemistry, and good internal biorhythms.

 

What happens to us when we sleep is another, somewhat complicated story. However, I will just summarise a few main points here. Each night when we sleep, we leave the body and enter the energetic realms. In these energetic realms, we can travel and receive insights and vast amounts of information. Many sources say we receive a “download” from our soul each night we successfully enter these energy realms.

So, when we come to wake into conscious awareness each morning, we are in a state of transferring the information and insights from the energy world into the physical world and throughout all the cells in our bodies.

Each morning when we wake, we move through an “afterglow” state as we transition from the energetic realms to the physical realms.  This “afterglow” is a similar state that every newborn baby experiences.

 

And, like a newborn baby, how would we treat it and nurture it as it enters this world?

With news reports of terrorism and homicides? With alcohol and drug use? With loud noises and arguments? Would we thrust a newborn baby into the rush hour of an urban environment first thing out of the womb?

Of course not.

Any sane person would provide a gentle, nurturing and quiet space for a newborn baby to feel safe and at ease. A safe, nurturing and quiet environment allows a new born baby to relax, play, grow and develop at their own pace.

This is the same approach we should take with ourselves each morning when we wake. Be gentle with yourself.  Slowly and caringly welcome yourself into your body and into the new day.

Listen to gentle, loving music. Take your time. Meditate, do yoga stretches, read some inspirational works, use affirmation, and even say a prayer. Treat yourself to a healthy and nutritious breakfast. When eating, eat mindfully. Minimise talking for the first hour and avoid the news or anything that may generate stress or unnecessary tension.

There is plenty of time left in the day for stress if you still crave it, so why burden your mornings with it?

 

Over the years, I have always had a morning practice that usually involves meditation and listening to music.

This is my current morning practice, which take around 10 minutes:

Current music choice: Snatnum Kaur channel on Pandora.

1. Nadi Shodhana Breathing for 5 minutes (single nostril breathing)

 

Breathing is, by far, the fastest way to adjust your chemistry and balance the nervous system. Learning to work with breath is essential for anyone interested in enhanced health and wellbeing.

2. Sound work – Chanting “A-O-M” at least 7 times.

Sound is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. A-O-M touches each of the fundamental tones that the universe resonates at. Activating these tones, helps to bring your own vibration into alignment, relaxes tissues in the body, warms up the vocal chords, and enhances the depth of breath. It is also amazing at “nulling” the mind into pure vibration.

3. Hands into prayer – 3 x Thank You

This sets up the energy field of gratitude, which is another powerful vibration to set yourself on.

  • The first thank you is for something very simple – like, thank you for the bed I slept in last night, the shelter over my head, the wind on my face, the warm clothes I have on.
  • The second thank you is for the life force that courses its way through my body and being. I become aware of the blood and energy flowing through my body and system, and I give tanks for such a gift of life.
  • The third thank you is for having such an awesome day. With this thank you, I get into the feeling of having a great day, making new friends, having a good flow of events, and being productive. I give thanks in a way that allows me to feel like it is inevitable.

After that, I bow and relax my posture and practice.

 

This 3-stage morning practice takes around 10 minutes. I seem to adjust my practice a little every few months as things shift, yet I rarely miss a day, and the average time for this practice can be anywhere from 10-30 minutes.

 

What does your morning practice look like?

 

 

How to Treat Depression Without the Drugs… Let Me Explain

how to treat depression

(Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace advice from your preferred medical practitioner.)

Depression is spreading throughout the world at an alarming rate. Over 10% of the population in the USA, UK and Australia are now popping anti-depressant medications and the numbers are on the rise.

Current modern medical approaches, primarily using pharmaceutical drugs and counseling methods like cognitive behavioural therapy (C.B.T.), are providing only average results. While treatments seem mostly ineffective or in some cases actually make people worse off, more people are being diagnosed with depression every day.

Indeed, it seems that we have a big problem on our hands… so it’s time to look for new (and old) approaches.

Well, I’m here to break up some myths and drop some serious bombshells about depression. 

I’m here to shine light onto a new approach to understanding mild to moderate depression and how to go about treating it more effectively.

I experienced depression myself for a number of years yet I successfully came out studying and practicing yoga, psychology and traditional Chinese medicine. Now, I come with good news!

I’m here to share with you an approach that is grounded in traditional Oriental medicine. Traditional Oriental medicine is one of the oldest forms of medicine on the planet, which comes with over 2000 years of field-testing experience.

Now, before we get into it, I kindly request that you read the full article before sending me angry messages or posting comments – because I know there are going to be a few. Any new idea that challenges convention tends to cause tension – hey, I get that, however somebody’s got to do it…

 

The first bombshell ~

Depression has little, or even nothing, to do with a chemical imbalance in the brain.

This is complete nonsense because firstly, there is much more to it than that (from environmental factors, to genetics, to nutrition, to exercise, to inner attitudes, to the energy fields one spends their time in, and more to which require a lot of time or even a book to fully explain) and secondly, most of the dopamine and serotonin they refer to as “the happy chemicals” are actually located in your guts, not your brain!

brain chemistryNow, this whole “chemical imbalance in the brain” was just a loose scientific theory to try to explain what depression was caused by. It’s still just a theory that was never fully proven or confirmed, yet it seems to have stuck, and hence we are now popping more and more chemical pills to try and plug up this so-called chemical imbalance.

 

The second bombshell ~

Mild to moderate depression is very easy to treat.

Let me first be clear here that we are talking about mild to moderate depression – not severe depression or clinically diagnosed mental illness.

The symptoms of mild to moderate depression I’m talking about are most commonly: moodiness, easy to anger or frustration, lack of energy, feelings of being lost, confusion, boredom, mild to moderate drug abuse and easily putting on weight.

So, how and why is this mild to moderate depression easy to treat?

Because in most cases, mild to moderate depression is usually due to, a word and concept that we never use in western medicine or psychology, “STAGNATION”.

Stagnation is used all throughout traditional Oriental medicine as well as in the field of yoga and Ayurveda. It is mentioned so often in these disciplines that it is one of the leading causes of most diseases.

Ok, great, so what does stagnation actually mean?

Stagnation means that the energy and blood of the body (and mind) has become sluggish, impaired and/or “stuck”. The ideal state for the human being to thrive in health and wellbeing, according to traditional medicines, is when the body and blood flows smoothly and efficiently through the system.

feeling stuckWhenever the flow of energy and blood becomes impaired, it starts to impair the body’s physiology, from blood pressure changes, muscle atrophy and sluggish digestion, right through to mental sluggishness, tiredness and yes, depression.

Could it be that simple? Yes.

 

The third bombshell ~

Feeling shitty and uncomfortable every now and then is normal and part of the human condition.

I think that mainly through advertising we are often painted a picture of the “ultimate happy and successful person” and told that being surrounded by comfort and pleasure is the sign of success.

Yet in truth, every successful person is successful because they have learned to manage and deal with feelings of being uncomfortable every now and then. There are times when being uncomfortable is just they way it is, for a short while anyway.

Meditation teaches us how to deal with feeling uncomfortable every now and then. Dealing with uncomfortableness is a sign of maturity and life wisdom. I’m not saying here to “put up with feeling like shit” or “shut up and deal with it”, I’m saying that sometimes you will experience feeling crap, and that’s normal as everyone experiences this. The key to moving through those occasional states is to watch it come up and then let it pass. What will tomorrow bring?

However, if these states don’t pass within a day, a few days or even a week, then you are most likely experiencing “stagnation,” and it’s time to get things moving…

A major point I want to make here is:

The sooner you catch onto “stagnation” and go about clearing it, the easier and quicker the body and mind is able to respond to it and clear it from the system.

The longer we ignore the “stagnation” or try and bomb it out with drugs, alcohol or incorrect treatment, the deeper the stagnation gets, and the more complex the depression becomes.

If we leave it for 6-12+ months, the depression will start becoming more complex and harder to treat, and there is the risk of it becoming “severe” depression, which would involve more inclination towards psychosis, clinical-level mental illness, insomnia, heart problems and so on.

Essentially, we want to prevent it getting this far, however if already at this level, we definitely need to seek advice, help and support from the best that both western and eastern medicine has to offer.

 

So there you have it. I’ve been dropping bombshells all over the place.

How does it feel? Does this approach make sense?

 

Time for a summery ~

Mild to moderate depression is likely be due to “stagnation” and not due to a chemical imbalance in the brain.

If you are experiencing “stagnation” triggered depression then:

 

Step 1 –

Exercise more

Find a movement-based exercise you enjoy. It could be yoga classes, tai chi or even dancing the tango. Whatever it is, do it at least 3 times a week to give that stagnation a good kick up the butt. To supercharge your stagnation-busting approach, get 3-10 sessions of acupuncture. This will massively speed up your progress.

 

Step 2 –

Mentally, intellectually and emotionally challenge yourself

If exercise doesn’t work or you are already doing lots of exercise, then it’s more likely you are experiencing stagnation on the mental (and emotional) level. Are you being challenged mentally and emotionally at your job and in your relationships? Do you feel like you’re growing and expanding the way you want to? Do you feel like the smartest person in the room? If so, maybe it’s time to find another room.

If not, it may be time to read more books, take on a new creative project, find a job that challenges you more or maybe start to reconsider who you are hanging out with. If you have a romantic partner, do you feel like you’re evolving and growing into a better, more aware, person because of it?

 

Step 3 –

Ask the big questions. Spend time in self inquiry.

If none of those prove helpful, it could be stagnation on the spiritual level. This involves asking yourself bigger questions like, “What is my relationship with God or the universe”, “Who am I?”, or, “What am I designed to do here on earth?” It may also be helpful to seek counsel from spiritual advisors and teachers to help you move your energy in this direction.

If the mild to moderate depression is due to stagnation, and you do go about clearing it with the suggested strategies, you will find that the depression will simply… DISSOLVE. This will result in all associated depressive thoughts and feelings simply disappearing of their own accord.

In fact, any disease triggered by stagnation will naturally dissolve whenever the stagnation is removed… it’s that easy.

Want a Step-By-Step System to Help Clear Your Depression?

 

If you want more support and guidance, I am offering a FREE 30min Clarity Sessions via Skype.

This 30min Clarity Session will help you identify what area of your life needs attention and what you can do right away to get it going in a more favourable direction.

Click here to learn more.

 

Feel free to comment and SHARE 🙂

Speak soon,

Michael H

Sadie Nardini Online Course Review: The Yoga of Success

A few weeks ago, I completed one of Sadie Nardini’s online courses on Udemy.com

The Yoga of Success: Messaging Marketing and Money

 

The course involves a panel-like discussion with Sadie Nardini herself and two of her business colleagues and wisdom advisors, Tyler McCoy and Ava Taylor, where they laid down “The 10 Steps to Success.” They targeted yoga teachers, however, I feel the info they shared is applicable to all business owners, in particular, those who are looking to build a personal brand.

The 10 Steps They Cover Are:

  1. Dissolve Your Money DiscomfortSadie Nardini Yoga Weight Loss
  2. Add Value and the Money will Follow
  3. Brand your Weird
  4. Get Clear
  5. Do it Yourself
  6. Make Relationships not Business Transactions
  7. Get Socially Smart
  8. Get Organized/Build a Team
  9. Get Passive
  10. Money Loves Structure and Freedom

 

I absolutely loved this course so much so that I gave it an easy 5 stars.

 

Why?

 

 1. Firstly, they tackled head on the common disconnection between living and working in the yoga, spiritual, new age industry and the issue with making and generating money. Often people sabotage their success because there is often a teaching or myth that money and spirituality can not co-exist. Or that being spiritual and yoga vibed, will not include wealth. This is complete nonsense, and they bring clarity and energy to the issue.

2. Secondly, I just felt high from watching it. There energy and vibe are infectious, and they make you feel like you are very welcome into their circle and their energy. It feels like they are genuinely offering a support network and that they care about your success.

3. Thirdly, I love how Sadie Nardini owns her uniqueness and encourages us to do the same. In step 3, they focused on how to “Brand Your Weird”. The core message here is that it’s good to be different and if you can hone in on understanding your differences, it will help you develop your message and therefore, your brand. I totally love this! There is nothing more uninspiring than another yoga teacher (or business person), doing what everyone else is doing! Being unique and owning it is what makes you more valuable and attractive to potential clients.

They encouraged us to get clear about who we are, what we are about and to drive that home as this is one of the major keys to success when it comes to personal branding.

Other things they talked about and encouraged was why skilling up with technology is important, how to build a team and how to generate passive income streams. All valuable information.

 

The only thing that I found a little disappointing is that it ended so quickly. It would be great if Nadie Sardini and her team where to suggest where to go next or have some next level course for ongoing support and business training.

 

However, all in all, it’s a great course full of good vibes and valuable information.

Highly recommended for all yoga teachers (newly qualified as well as experienced), therapists, healers, personal trainers, artists or anyone looking to build their personal brand, find their true voice and make Sadie Nardini Rockstarmore money and success doing it!

 

5 STARS

 

Check out The Yoga of Success course here on Udemy.com

Nadie Sardini also has some other excellent courses on yoga teacher training. She offers next level training with a focus on leading edge understandings of anatomy. She teaches with authority and clarity and I would also highly recommend any of her other courses.

14 Day Yoga Detox and Empowerment Course

Rockstar Teacher Training

The Warrior within: Empower Your Yoga and Inner Strength

The Journey Training

The Revolution Yoga Anatomy Teacher Training Course

 

 

 

16 Natural Ways to Reduce Jet Lag

Jet lag isn’t so fun, so any tips or tricks to help reduce its negative effects on the body and mind are worth exploring.

Jet lag comes about because of the disturbance to our inner biological rhythms.

The body’s myriad systems find it confusing and disorientating when we move through time zones and disrupt the cycles of light and dark.

Flying and travelling such vast distances in relatively short times puts the body under a great deal of stress. We have not had enough evolutionary time to adjust ourselves to the realities of air travel.

While we are unlikely to eliminate the effects of jet lag completely, we can reduce negative signs and symptoms with a few simple tips and tricks.

Here are 16 natural ways that I have researched and tried to help reduce jet lag.

 

Pre-flight (the day before)

1. Hydrate.
If you are hydrated at take-off, you will start your journey well and potentially reduce the after-effects of a long flight. I advise going to the chemist and getting a hydration formula or something similar. Have one or two hydration formula drinks the day before you travel. Avoid alcohol the day before.

2. Get quality snacks for the flight.
Avoid white bready stuff. Try and find protein sources like nuts, and for sweets, go for dried fruits.

3. Do at least a 30-minute yoga or stretch class.
(Try YouTube if you can’t manage to get to a class or studio.)

4. Do a strong resistance (weight) training session and/or go for a 30-minute run or jog the day before.
I find this practice helps a lot, because the day after any training session, the body wants to rest and repair. When we get on that plane, the body actually rejoices at the notion of sitting still and not doing much. This approach can really help people who (like me) have a tendency to feel stuck, with energy stagnating when on planes.

 

During the flight

5. Use ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones to reduce excessive auditory stress.

6. Try binaural beat audio mediations.
These can be really helpful, because they “massage” the brain and nervous system, helping it to adjust and relax. Putting on an eye mask and listening to binaural beat audio meditation at the time when you would normally be going to bed will help the body and brain to find states similar to sleep.

7. Keep hydrating, and avoid alcohol or coffee.
If you drink a glass of wine most nights, you may benefit from having just one glass of wine or beer to help you sleep and relax. If you do that, however, make the extra effort to hydrate by consuming another one or two hydration formulas, as well as having water close by.

8. Avoid white bread and white rice.

These have a tendency to fill us up, but they make our digestion sluggish, which can lead to constipation and discomfort. To keep your body feeling light and your digestion functioning well, avoid white bread, pasta and white rice.

9. Meditate.
Being stuck in a small seat, flying through the sky at 20,000 feet, is actually a good time to meditate. Meditation is neither exotic nor complex. All you do its close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Observe each breath come in and observe it go out. That is all.

10. Using essential oils like lavender, frankincense, rose, chamomile or vanilla can help us to relax and reduce stress on the nervous system.

Acupressure Points

11. Tap acupressure points at least once or twice during the flight to stimulate the energy moving through the meridians.
When the meridians are stimulated they will automatically work to reorganize themselves into a more balanced state. To trigger this reaction, all you have to do is tap the points 10-20 taps per point before moving on. Ideally do three rounds. The most common feeling after tapping acupressure points is a deep sighing breath, a more relaxed feeling in the body, and a steadier, calmer mind. Here is a picture of the main acupressure points. You simply tap the points with one hand moving from the top of the head to the rib cage or hand and then repeat 3 times.

 

After the Flight

12. When you’ve arrived at your destination, avoid sleeping in the morning if you can.
Wait till at least the afternoon to sleep. The closer you can get to sunset, the better – it will help the body to adjust to the new day and night cycles.

13. Hydrate again and eat wholesome foods.
Have another one or two hydration formulas to support the body’s efforts to find some balance once again. Providing it with the essentials, like quality water and a boost of key vitamins and minerals, will increase the speed at which the body can regain its balance.

14. Listen to 30 minutes of binaural beats or yoga nidra audio mediation.
20-30 minutes of resting while listening to binaural beats or yoga nidra is equivalent to 3-5 hours of deep sleep.

Restorative Yoga Pose15. Legs up the wall.
In yoga language it’s called “Viparita Karani”. It simply involves bringing your butt close to the wall, then rolling onto your back and sliding the legs go up the wall. You can adjust your distance from the wall to find help you find the sweet spot where you can settle and relax. Ideally stay for 10-20 minutes to gain the most benefit from this posture. It has a very powerful effect on all of the body’s systems and will naturally induce a relaxed state.

16. Go for a long walk or a 30-minute jog/run.
Nothing works better than a good walk or light run to shake off any residual feelings of being stuck in a small space with your energy becoming stagnant.

 

It is not necessary to follow all of these suggestions. I offer them to serve as a guide. Try introducing at least one or two new strategies to deal with jet lag, and eventually you will find the system that works best for you.

 

Happy Travels!

 

Japanese Oki-Do Yoga: A Story of Joy and Discovery

“To be natural in all we do is vital. Yoga seeks to raise vitality to the highest level in order to give full, joyful expression to the life force.” ~ Masahiro Oki

When I was about 20 years old, my journey into the yogas really began. I went it alone as none of my friends at the time expressed any sincere interest in exploring it. But I was okay with that because deep down, I knew that to venture into any new world, I would probably have to go it alone.

And so, that’s what I did. For the next 8-12 months, I started rocking up to a variety of yoga classes, practicing different yoga styles, attending different studios, and had lots of different teachers to learn from. Most of the classes were good experiences and I felt great from the yoga practice, but nothing really “clicked” for me. There was something missing, I just couldn’t work out what it was at the time. From this limited experience, the impression I was getting is that yoga was a pretty serious physical practice, steeped in Hinduism and esoteric-like practices. Another thing I noticed at the time was that in most cases, the students in class seemed to leave the space as quickly as they had come and therefore, no real connections or friendships were made in that initial exploratory phase. Knowing there was more to it, I stuck at it and after about 8-12 months of trying out lots of different classes, I came across a very humble looking black and white photocopied flyer advertising Oki-Do Japanese yoga. It read: A unique combination of hatha yoga, zen Buddhism, and Taoism.

“Where and when?” was my first thought.

The very next day, I rocked up to the studio called zen central in the suburb of West End in Brisbane, Australia for a taste of Oki-Do Japanese yoga.

It was one of the most opening and joyous yoga classes of my life. What I noticed first of all was that there were thin futons on the floor instead of yoga mats and the futons were all placed into a circle instead of lines. The floor at the studio was also carpeted, giving it a soft and cozy feeling. I was then warmly welcomed and directed to a futon, where everyone shared gentle smiles, and we began the class lying down. We rolled, slid, and wobbled our bodies on these futons, the teacher often giving permission and encouragement for people to make noises and sounds as a way to release their bodies. Large “aaaaaahhhhhhhsss” came out of some of the students as we rolled on our futons with giggles often following. What ensued was a mix between moving hatha yoga postures, animal movements, expressive sounds, shiatsu massage partner work, and stillness meditations. We moved from the thin futons, to yoga mats, to moving freestyle around the room. Time felt altered, like we were all in a different place and in a different world. When the class had concluded with the palms in prayer and a gentle bow coupled with a Japanese “Arigato Goziamas” (thankyou), people lingered in the space, drinking cups of green tea and having chats. After the class, my body felt like it was buzzing from head to toe. I felt a great sense of inner peace and relaxation without a need or want in the world. I was hooked.

 

What was this practice?

What does Oki-Do mean and where does it come from?

 

This was really the beginning of yoga for me and its practices and teachings are now a part of who I am and are thoroughly ingrained in my own approach to teaching yoga and I feel blessed because of it. The founder of Oki-Do yoga was Masahiro Oki (1921 – 1972), a Japanese monk during the 2nd world war who travelled extensively through China and as far the Middle East, spending time with learned monks, saints, and desert nomads. From his worldly and spiritual experiences, he brought together what he had learned and built a yoga studio, or dojo as it is called in Japanese, where he opened his doors to all. At his dojo he offered “life training”, not just yoga training as he taught all of life was yoga. He housed and worked with many people whom were diagnosed as mentally ill and showered them with love, some experiencing miraculous recoveries. Although his teaching methods were not always logical (zen style), they did always have a purpose. Throughout the ongoing years of practice, I began uncovering the underlying philosophy and approach to this yoga.

Masahiro Oki focused on 9 primary principles of yoga:

1. Positive mind

2. Gratitude

3. Hara (centre of energy just under the belly button/core/stability)

4. Smile – laugh

5. Oneness

6. Mindfulness

7. Wholeheartedness

8. Love

9. Service

Oki-Do yoga does not heavily emphasize correct alignment in asanas, or the aim of achieving advanced yoga postures but instead, places more importance on the quality of mind of the practitioner. Oki-Do yoga also gives the practitioners time and space to find their own way into many of the postures, which allows room for creativity and individual expression. Its primary focus is on establishing strength and awareness in the Hara, or core center. It is from this strengthened Hara that we can then extend our energy and awareness out to the limbs and to the other aspects of our mind and body. Another important aspect of Oki-Do yoga is to mindfully adjust our yoga practices, our diet, and our mental energies to be aligned with the cyclic nature of the seasons.

I have found that some yoga styles and practices can become a little bogged down in the seriousness of “the practice” and the original joy is dampened out, but with Oki-do yoga, it is a joy that just keeps giving. Oki-Do yoga is a great contribution to the world of yoga, bringing in more laughter, joy, wisdom and Hara core stability.

Currently, there are Oki-do yoga studios and dojos in Tokyo, Netherlands, the UK, and in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, Australia. Yoga life teacher trainings are run by Peter Masters in Australia and there is also a 4 year teacher training program in the Netherlands. I would encourage anyone who is looking for a unique Oriental vibe to their yoga practice, which also offers a lot of laughter, to be sure to attend an Oki-Do class or workshop when you can. It might just blow your heart and mind wide open as it did with me.

 

 

The Truth About Yoga and Weight Loss

 

Yoga does provide favourable conditions for weight loss, however it is not the silver bullet that the marketing world has made it out to be. 

 

There needs to be a variety of elements at play before healthy and sustainable weight loss is experienced. Additional factors like nutrition, stress reduction, good quality sleep and other lifestyle factors also greatly influence people’s ability to lose weight effectively.

The following information comes out of my own experience being a yoga student of 10+ years and a “hot yoga teacher” (2 – 7 classes a week) for a good 5 years. During this time I was witness to 100’s of students, myself included, and observed how the body tends to respond to yoga (in particular “Hot Yoga”) in relation to weight loss. During this time I also experimented with heart rate monitors during classes to help measure calories burnt and the results I discovered were eye opening, yet also supported my suspicions.yoga for weight loss

While yoga isn’t the ideal exercise or approach to support weight loss (especially on its own), it does however offer a lot of support to the cause.

 

One of the main benefits that yoga offers is in the support of the detoxification process via the lymphatic system.

 

As the lymphatic system does not have its own pumping system to move lymphatic waste through the body for elimination, it therefore requires physical movement, namely stretching, in order to flush itself properly.

If we repeat similar movement patterns and don’t stretch the tissues in the body, lymph waste and fluids easily stagnate.

This doesn’t support weight loss and the waste fluid tends to turn into a phlegmy-type substance which clogs up the energy system of the body. Therefore, we need to move the body in a variety of ways in order to support the lymphatic system.

 

Yoga also promotes tonification of muscle tissue and enhances flexibility, but the one thing it doesn’t get into deeply, is the cardiovascular system.

 

Generally the heart rate needs to be slightly elevated for at least 20 minutes for the cardio system to really get a good workout and most yoga practices don’t provide this. I see many people practicing yoga regularly yet they don’t tend to lose much weight.

Often this is because they are not including cardio exercise in their weight loss program, which I think is the missing piece of the puzzle. The most common forms of cardio are swimming, running, fast walking and cycling, and are therefore encouraged to be included in any weight loss program. The best book I have ever come across regarding working with cardio-based exercise is the book is called Slow Burn: Burn Fat Faster By Exercising Slower by Stu Mittleman. Stu Mittleman explains how exercising slowly, steadily and with more mindfulness enhances results and adds joy to our practice.

 

Yoga asanas and yogic breathing adds more digestive fire!

 

This is great news because many people tend to have a lack of, or weakened digestive fire, which we often translate as a sluggish or slow metabolism. Yoga and any exercise that generates more heat and circulation in the body will support digestion and speed up metabolism.

 

Other things to generally avoid in regards to diet are ice-cold drinks and phlegmy producing foods such as cheese, dairy and saturated fats.

 

These foods tends to extinguish the inner digestive fire which makes it harder for our digestive system to function optimally. Many people who are overweight have weak digestive fire. Thus the focus should be on re-igniting the fire using slightly spicy foods, warm foods and warm drinks.

I would generally suggest for most people that raw foods (especially in excessive amounts, meaning 2 meals a day as raw ongoing) are generally a no-no for those wanting to loose weight because they weaken the digestive fire!

If after eating any meal feels like its sitting heavy in your belly – its a sign that there is a lack of digestive fire. A small cup of hot tea or a shot of coffee can often help with that after a meal.

Interestingly, Ayurveda (the mother medicine of which yoga branches out from) does not supportyoga food raw food. Ayerveda strongly suggests warming, easy to digest, well cooked foods such as kitchari (image) and dhal for losing weight and for healing. How we connected raw food with yoga I don’t really know.

 

Another important factor found in yoga and Ayurveda is that the yogi never eats to over 80% full.

 

To do so damages and stretches the tissues in the gut, further inhibiting one’s ability to digest foods efficiently.

So, while yoga does support the body in the weight loss process, it alone is not enough to lose wiehgt. It offers support to the lymphatics and adds fire to the digestion but thats about it.

With a few extra adjustments in lifestyle alongside yoga practice, weight loss can be a successful, healthy, sustainable and enjoyable journey.

 

IN SUMMERY, THE 4 KEY LESSONS ARE:

1. Move the body in various and dynamic ways to support the lymphatic system in flushing waste materials out of the body.

 

2. Add some form of cardio-type exercise alongside the yoga practice.

Aim for a slight elevation in heart rate for 20 minutes at a time. Avoid overexerting yourself, as this tends to drain internal energy excessively.

 

3. Avoid ice-cold drinks, dairy and foods that are generally cold and phlegmy in nature.

Focus on stimulating and re-igniting the digestive fire with slightly spicy foods and warm drinks.

 

4. Avoid eating to more than 80% full.

 

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