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Yoga & Meditation: A Mindful Way to Lose Weight

by John Cahill

Even after all of the diet fads, pharmaceuticals, and surgeries there is still a problem in the United States with obesity. Obesity is similar to other eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia. Eating disorders are more about mental and emotional balance than our physical body.

The practice of Yoga and Meditation can mindfully examine why we eat the way we do and get to the root of our behaviors. When modified, these behaviors start to change and we accept who we are and allow ourselves to transition to a healthier way of life .When we start to move our bodies and calm the mind through Yoga, Breath Work (pranayama) and Meditation, we make better choices and become happy with who we are and not who we think we should be.

For those who are overweight, Hatha Yoga can be a perfect fit with many practices, including gentle, restorative, chair, flows, breath, relaxation and Meditation. The use of props (modi-fications) such as blocks, straps, blankets, pillows, chairs, tables and walls, can assist in the postures (asana) so everyone can enjoy the benefits. Yoga can start out slow and then progress as you become more flexible and experienced.

Yoga has many styles; some are physical like Ashtanga and Power. Some are more spiritual like Kundalini. Iyengar yoga created by BKS Iyengar is a very disciplined style stressing alignment and grounding, while holding postures for longer periods of time. Inversions (upside- down-like postures) are frequently done, like headstand, shoulder stand, handstand and legs up the wall.

Meditation can be a very important part of any weight loss program due to its ability to reduce stress. Hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, are increased during the fight or flight response, which occurs when we are stressed. These hormones make us eat more, cause more stress, then cause us to store abdominal fat, which also leads to high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. Doctor Mehmet Oz has stated that through diet and exercise abdominal fat is the easiest to reduce.

Meditation, through the use of breath, good posture, movements (Yoga stretching and qi-gong), thought reduction and concentration, impacts weight loss in a positive way. The benefits are so vast I will only mention a few: lowering blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol, and increasing motivation, energy, perfor-mance, immunity, sleep, and DHEA levels, which has been proven to aid in diabetes, obesity, and cancer .

Meditation, like yoga, has many styles and forms. Some of the forms are: seated, walking, lying down (nidra), mantra (sound and vibration), mindfulness, concentration, creative, heart centered, and reflective. Meditation and Yoga need to be practiced consistently to be effective. Practitioners need to choose a time of day and practice daily. The amount of time can start out at five to ten minutes a day and increase with time, but being consistent is the key.

Some people are misguided in thinking that Yoga and Meditation push people into a certain religion or to be a vegetarian. While neither of these is true. both practices do tend to promote a healthier diet.

If those who wish to reduce and maintain their weight practiced Yoga and meditation consistently they would find that their minds would calm, their bodies would move more freely, and they would be happier and able to maintain a healthier way of life.

John Cahill of East Northport is a certified Hatha Yoga and Mediation instructor with training in Nidra Meditation. He conducts both group and private instruction. Each private lesson is methodically planned to achieve goals specific to the needs of the client for improved health and wellness. Each client is individually assessed and provided a personalized program to optimize success. John Cahill may be reached at , John@northshoremensyoga.com , 631-560-0283. You can also visit his website at www.northshoremensyoga.com 

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