I just finished filming a bunch of yoga videos for the launch of the Nissan Leaf, a game changer when it comes to how people drive. It's an electric car that's all about efficiency, so it was simple for me to link together the work I do to promote awareness and change in how we live our lives. They wanted the videos to primarily focus on weight loss. "Shape my buns" "Tone my abs" and so on. I get it. People need and want to lose weight, and being drawn into the practice of yoga by the lure of a tight tummy is often stronger than the lure of being more in touch with yourself. The big secret in my message is: there is no difference between being in touch with yourself, living a healthy life, and maintaining a healthy weight. If "Tone my butt" gets you on the mat, then I'm fully prepared to tone my butt right along with you.
Yoga brings you back to you. It is entirely experiential. People wonder how can a bunch of low impact activity lead to weight loss? Well, for starters attending a yoga class, or carving out a home practice that brings you to your edge and challenges you physically, will burn calories, blast fat, and tone everything up without harming your joints. But that's only part of the equation. I've gone through piles of modern research that is starting to catch up with what has always been true. In short, yoga works.
A regular yoga practice leads to a healthy body and mind. You will lose the weight, keep it off, and not feel like you are punishing yourself. We've been brainwashed that poisonous foods are fun to eat. When you have a regular yoga practice you'll be drawn to eat foods that are healthy and promote a healthy lifestyle. And the best part ... you'll actually enjoy them without feeling deprived. By contrast, a good gym workout might do very little for weight loss, instead leading us to eat more (often unhealthy) food. A recent New York TImes Magazine article titled "Weighing the Evidence on Exercise" points out that exercise alone is "especially useless because people often end up consuming more calories when they exercise." So we need something more than the gym. Maintaining a healthy weight isn't a vanity issue, it's a health issue. And your health should be a priority.
Yoga promotes awareness. Focusing on your breath, how your body feels, and how your mind feels puts us in a place where we are able to observe ourselves while we are living our lives. We gain more control over our circumstances and have more space in our bodies and minds. We start sensing what our bodies need to be healthy, and our actions naturally align with what we need. Which has a way of making us happy.
It's simple. You don't have to put your foot behind your head or have the desire to do so to gain the benefits of yoga. Simply following your breath instead of your thinking for a few minutes a day will start you on the right track to living a healthy life. Once we start to feel good, it's easier to seek out a yoga class, a helpful DVD, and make friends who can contribute to living a healthy lifestyle.
Health is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Be good to yourself and encourage others to do the same. Every choice makes a difference.