As the weather in the northeastern US becomes warmer, people start dreaming of sunny days and the beach. This leads many people to seek out the latest fitness trends, including Barre, Pilates, CrossFit, Running and Yoga. As a yoga instructor, people occasionally look to me for a promise that yoga will help them reach their weight loss goals.
There are so many styles of yoga, and so many approaches by my students, that I will never give a promise of what a yoga practice may bring to anyone. When I trained for and ran my first marathon I only lost 4 pounds, yet I always hear that running makes you lose weight (it gave me the appetite of a truck driver).
Yoga can change you from the inside out. By turning the focus inward, it is easier to find peace. This may lead to weight loss if you're an emotional eater, but it may not. Either way, you'll be happier, healthier, and calmer. Isn't that enough of an incentive?
An active yoga practice can test you physically and mentally. Yogis do so much more than just stretch. You may or may not ever put your head behind your leg, but even physically fit people will be challenging their muscles in a new way when they enter yoga class. I've taught several fitness professionals who were shocked to take a challenging yoga class. The real work comes when you observe how you react, and begin to find calmness during the challenges that your practice (and life) throw at you. All this effort may cause you to find strength, find stability, cultivate awareness, lose weight, gain height, find better posture, decrease pain, move easier, or heal injury.
A restorative practice can be a bigger challenge. Some new practicioners even find it difficult to take rest for a few minutes in Savasana (laying flat on your back) at the end of class. An entire restorative practice can help you find softness and release tension, but it is very challenging for some people. Maybe allowing yourself to take the time to rest is just what you need.
Yoga can improve every aspect of your life. My practice has helped me find clarity, compassion, forgiveness, balance, love, sensitivity, awareness, and confidence. It has helped me to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, etc. My family and coworkers can tell if I've missed a few practices.
Yoga practice is more than just asana (postures). Try breathwork or study yoga philosophy. There is a whole world of information that is helpful in many ways.
Maybe you'll lose weight if you start a yoga practice, and maybe you won't. Either way, you should feel a lot better in the body that you're in. Your weight is just a number. You won't reach enlightenment by loosing 20 pounds, or by putting your foot behind your head, but your yoga practice can teach you a lot more while you're working toward either goal. I hope to see you in class, regardless of your goals. The practice is a gift that lasts a lifetime.
Namaste - Beth