Yoga is experiential. When you practice, you gain loads of benefits ranging across increased vitality, strength, flexibility, weight loss, and spontaneous joy. The poses were designed through trial and error with direct attention to results in the mind and body. This was long before we developed complex scientific measures and tests that disconnected our health approaches from direct, holistic experience. Many years of practice has given us a system of total body and mind health that also connects and grounds us in our lives, and aligns us with our intuition, creativity, and awareness of ourselves and the world. It's almost too simple to believe, leaving plenty of room for the development and evolution of skepticism. How can something so simple be so effective?
The evolution of food and yoga in modern culture have faced similar trials and hardships. When scientists learned to analyze vitamins contained in food, people decided we could ditch the natural food source as a whole, and insert vitamins and other bonus materials into "food-like substances" - a description given by my hero Michael Pollan.
According to the FDA, these nutritious food-parts inserted into anything that could be mass produced and ingested would make us healthier, stronger, smarter, and better people. It obviously didn't work. We've paid the price as a culture the hard way: early death due to heart disease and diabetes, quality of life lessened by obesity and depression, and possibly the most difficult to stomach, the rise of childhood obesity. Real food has become a luxury in many homes, replaced by the cost-effective chicken nugget. It's emotional and difficult to blame families with limited budgets for choosing low-price fast food, rather than spending hours learning how to cook and shop for fresh, real, and often higher-price food. But the cost of unhealthy food choices, both in medical bills and all-around feeling bad, is too high to keep making the same mistakes. We have to support, encourage, and help each other take our health back.
Yoga in modern culture has faced similar development challenges to food and nutrition. Yoga originated as a total body and mind health system that works. But similar to the distracting mass appearance of food-like substances in the last couple of decades, the waters have been muddied around yoga. Authentic yoga gets us healthy in our minds and bodies. We don't need a gym membership, weights, exercise machines, or boot camp. Somewhere along the evolution of fitness we decided health should be much more complicated than it needs to be. We gave our power away to exercise equipment gimmicks, swamis, and power-driven yoga leaders - which has lead us away from what yoga is all about. Yoga is powerful. It puts you back in touch with you, where all the good stuff is. When you practice you feel great, become healthy, and are put back in line with your intuition and awareness.
Eating healthy food and practicing yoga will get and maintain your body at the weight that it should be naturally. Scales and diet pills not necessary. We're stuck as a culture. We collectively need to lose the weight. You Huffington Post readers I'm assuming are conscious individuals working toward compassionate, healthy living and spreading your knowledge to help others. If you're reading this you're probably "in shape" or you know what to do to get there. In an attempt to stop preaching to the choir here, I encourage you to take what you know and help someone who needs it.
This is a simple yoga routine suitable for beginners (and everyone else) aimed at promoting body awareness and weight loss. Pass it around to friends, family, or any one else you know who could benefit from a push from a friend in the right direction. It's up to you to make a difference so we can stop focusing on the latest weight loss or food fad, and keep our attention on just being healthy. It all begins here.