Will Yoga Help Me Lose Weight?

Will Yoga Help me Lose Weight

This question comes up a lot in a yoga Facebook group I belong to.  I also had someone ask me recent what kind of yoga they should do to lose weight - so I'm gonna answer this today, I think....I'm gonna try. 

We live in a society where we want to lose weight quick and easy with as little effort as possible so we try diet pills, wrapping our stomachs in seaweed or plastic wrap, and drink some weird liquid that will supposedly help burn off fat. Yeah I've tried all of that stuff - except the seaweed and plastic wrap.  Because the truth is, I was lazy and didn't want to give up the food I love.  This was before I started yoga. 

Yoga is more than just stretches and holding poses, there are several different types of yoga practices where some are more sweat-inducing than others.   While there are actually Eight Limbs to Yoga, I am only talking about the Asana (postures) limb of yoga.  When I talk about "Yoga", I'm only referring to the movement and poses.  Ok! Moving on!

The way to weight loss is increasing that heart rate and you can do that with Power Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga or any style that is heavy with Vinyasa Flow (lots of movement, less pose holding) but I'm not sure if it raises your heart rate enough to see a significant amount of weight loss. You'll definitely burn some calories, gain flexibility, strengthen muscle but it also can relieve stress and calm your mind.  I watch enough of the TLC show "My 600 lb Life" to know that a lot of weight loss struggle has to do with your mental abilities and gauging what your body craves.  So yoga helps the mind, which will help you through your weight loss journey.

Everybody is different, and weight loss is different for everyone.  Some people can do it with just yoga and a plant-based diet alone. I am not switching to a plant-based diet and I'm not gonna "give up" foods that I still love - #notsorry. Even though I currently practice Baptiste Power Yoga and sweat off buckets after every class, I know that I need more cardio than this yoga practice can provide so that's where the spin and boxing come in.   I always hated cardio and never wanted to do it until I found something that is fun and keeps my brain engaged.  

Can yoga help you lose weight? Yes! It is still movement and beats sitting on the couch for an hour, how much you lose and how soon? That all depends on the amount of work you put into your physical practice. But if you go deeper into your yoga practice, it can help you shift your eating habits and change the way you think about food.  Your mind becomes more in tuned with your body and what it needs. Eventually, you may crave less junk food and more water, fruits and veggies.  This continues to happen with me where I lose the urge to eat certain foods, it just happens organically. 

I'm not here to say that yoga is an easy way to lose weight. Like with anything else, if you want to get real results that will last, you have to PUT IN THE WORK and stick with it for the long haul.  You will start to feel the difference along the way and feel more confident about yourself. You might even become less concerned about losing weight and more about just feeling energized and healthy!

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I'm Doing Yoga Teacher Training

YTT

I recently made my deposit for the Yoga Teacher Training at the studio I go to for this Fall! Holy Crap!!!! Freaking out much?? Yes. Yes I am. 

This is such a big deal for me and something I've been going back and forth on for ages.  When I started practicing yoga back in 2003, I fell in love with it right away and knew I wanted to do more than just take a class once or twice a week.  Then I learned that there were Yoga Teacher Training programs available and thought about it....a lot.  Thought about it TOO much. So much, that doubts were getting to me: 

You're too fat, no one will listen to you.

You're not that flexible, how can you teach something you can't do?

You're not that strong.

You can't do (insert advanced pretzel pose here).

You're wasting your money.

And then I lost my job and I stopped going to my old yoga studio in the city and eventually stopped practicing altogether.  Years passed and I didn't practice.  I started up my yoga practice again last year and I've been IN IT!  Doing the damn thing 3-4 times a week and after finishing the 40 Days To Personal Revolution Challenge, it got me thinking. I wanted to go further and deeper in my yoga practice and the studio's own Yoga Teacher Training program came up.  Right away I thought "Nah....no money, my practice is better but it's not as strong, I'm still not where I should be physically..." and FUUUUCKKKK I'm doing it again!!!!

Then mortality smacked me in the face when I lost a loved one suddenly in March and it completely silenced those negative thoughts.  Life is short.  Don't delay.  Stop holding yourself back.  Do the things you dream of doing!!! It will all somehow work itself out.  So I'm going for it and I'm pursuing what I should have done 10+ years ago.  Back then was not the time and I wasn't ready for it mentally and emotionally.   I'm ready now.

Where life will take me after I complete my training? Who knows, but I can't close myself to opportunities and living my best life anymore.  Even if I don't end up teaching anywhere, that's okay.  I just love talking about yoga and how much it has helped me that I want to share those benefits as much and as accurately as possible, even if it's just to my friends and family.  I really want to know what I'm talking about.

So this Fall, from September to December, I'm going to be immersed with Yoga Teacher Training and I'm so excited, and so nervous, but SO EXCITED!! 

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Can't Sleep? Meditate

Sleep_meditate

After experiencing the sudden loss of a loved one last month, my mind has been hyper-obsessed with health and wellness.  Some of my habits need changing and one of them had to do with my sleep.  All the yoga and other workouts I did weekly was not helping me get a good night sleep.  I would fall asleep with no problem, but find myself waking up two hours later and either stay awake or fall back to sleep only to wake up a couple more times.  It was frustrating to the point where I dreaded bedtime, can you imagine? NOT wanting to go to bed because you knew it was gonna be another shitty night?  

I tried drinking a glass of wine earlier in the evening, that sometimes worked but mostly did not. I started taking Tylenol PM.  For a while it seemed like the Tylenol PM was working but it wasn't consistent.  Then I learned about the side effects such as messing up your kidneys.  I was responsible with how much I took every night, but I'm always nervous about what kind of long term damage I'm doing to my body.  That's why I never experimented with drugs and quit smoking 15 (!!!) years ago.  So damn, I was starting to think that maybe I should stop taking these pills that only sometimes helps me sleep.  What else can I try?

I recently brought meditation into my life and it has become a two-time per day (morning & bed time), daily practice.  A friend told me about Yoga Nidra for sleep and how I should give it a try. Using the Insight Timer, I found a few guided Yoga Nidra for sleep sessions and they were okay but some were kind of long and I've grown to like my meditations with background music.  Let me tell you, there are some great guided meditations for sleep and I've bookmarked a bunch.  I listen with my earbuds in so when I'm done (or if I wake up), I have to take them out and put my ear plugs in but find myself falling right back to sleep. It's become my regular routine and I can't go to bed without meditating first, even if it's only for a few minutes.

I'm happy to say that after doing this every night for the last several weeks, my quality of sleep has improved greatly.  I might still wake up but not as much as I used to, and I'm feeling more rested overall. I credit this all to meditation and not adding any foreign substances to my body.  There are so many benefits to meditating, not just for sleeping but being awake too. Meditation not only brings stillness, but it can also lower your stress level, improves overall health, increase your energy, taps in to your creativity, and bring some clarity to your mental well being - which makes sense, I mean, how many times do we lie awake in bed with a zillion thoughts racing through unable to sleep?

There are so many different ways to meditate, there is a style for everyone.  Meditation helps you to slow down and observe whats going on around you and how you respond to it.  In this current political climate, I think we can ALL use some meditating to help us step back and collect ourselves before we react to something.  

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Love and Acceptance In Your Forties

I wrote this in my private journal yesterday afternoon and felt compelled to share it here in case it might bring comfort, hope, reassurance to someone who is currently in a dark place hoping to get out of it.  Maybe it won't take you as long. It's never too late.

  Accept_forties

It took a really long time to get to this point, most of my teens and twenties, part of my thirties living like this. For many, many years, I hated who I was. I was so insecure, so unhappy. I carried so much anger and sadness. That's what initially drew me to Yoga, hoping it will change me and it did but it didn't come quickly.  It wasn't until I got to my 40s to feel comfortable in my skin - accept every extra pound, every dimple, every scar. To really get to know who I am, what I am made of, and who I am capable of being.  I am strong, beautiful, smart, witty, funny, weird, and open. My silence just means I'm observing, listening, taking it all in. I don't need the attention, I know where my support comes from. We go through the shit we go through so we can look back and at it and say "Oh....that's why." There's something to gain from everything.  I'm still getting used to not being angry or sad all the time. Instead, I'm replacing that energy with yoga and working out - which has saved my life, and saved me from more unnecessary pain. It's opened new opportunities to experience, new people to meet.  I write this now with a heart full of contentment, compassion and acceptance of the person I've become. Looking back at who I used to be with some regret that I let that person carry on that way for so long. Don't worry about the time wasted, I'm looking forward to what the next part of my life has in store - older, wiser, confident, loved.

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Be Willing To Come Apart

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The title of this blog post is the name of Law 2 from 40 Days to Personal Revolution by Baron Baptiste. When I was reviewing this Law/Chapter, I thought "Uh oh!"  I had a feeling I was gonna have to go to a place I didn't want to.

I'm a Type-A personality.   I'm very particular, I plan out everything, and everything needs to be done exact and if a monkey wrench is thrown in, I get frazzled or I just yell "#&@%!!!!!!!!" I used to punch walls until the last wall I punch ended up with a hole in it and poor Mike had to patch it up. 🙁That was embarrassing. The point is, I was never one of those laid back, go with the flow types.   I do feel like that is changing as I get older. 

Getting back to this law I was reading, I really had to look into what was holding me back from being my best self and this aspect of my personality was a part of it.  I can't control every aspect of my life and I can't lose sleep over it anymore.  Ever watch a Control Freak lose their shit? It always happens, because things never go exactly as planned, I know this...but I plan anyway without leaving room for flexibility or change. 

I'm learning that when you start to let go, that is when things start to fall into place.  Last Summer, when I was in the thick of purchasing my first home, I was sooooooo stressed out about everything - when do we close? How much do I need for closing? Can't they just tell me how much I need to close already? I need to be out of my apartment by the end of the month! What if we don't have enough money to pay for everything? This was my entire Summer.  Now I look back and everything went fine and I made myself sick for nothing.

That was a big lesson for me and was something I reflected on during this challenge.  I need to let go. Give up control to heal all the harm I inflicted on myself mentally and emotionally.  Let go of expectations and be open to what can happen.   Stop trying to make things happen but instead allow things to happen. I'm opening myself up to opportunities now that a month ago, I would not have considered (more on that in another post).    There are other things going on right now that have been unexpected and pretty upsetting but this new outlook is helping me get through it.  All of this recent self-reflection has totally shifted my way to looking at how I live life and the type of impact I want to leave on others.  

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Forty Days Later

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Forty+ days later!  I wanted to write a recap of the 40 Day Challenge in my last blog post.  I finished last week, I did it! I didn't drop out!   By about Day 20 I was considering it but I knew if I did, I would be really disappointed in myself, and I'm tired of being disappointed with myself. 

In addition to the insane amount of yoga I was able to fit in, I found myself feeling stronger, more confident, more self-aware and acknowledge the parts of me that needs improvement - not physically but junk that is taking up space in my brain.  The self-inquiry was the hardest part of this challenge, I really don't want to self-evaluate that much, I mean who does?? But it's necessary to do once in a while.

One of the things I learned is  that I cling to things too much, especially things that are no longer in my control.  I don't need to think about people from my past who I wish could see how much better off I am without them, who cares? And I don't need to plan every detail of my life.  It's okay to just be present, which meditation has helped greatly. 

I mentioned the Insight Timer app and oh my God, it has been life-changing! I went from a person who struggled to meditate on their own for five minutes, to meditating twice a day in the morning and at night.  So many bookmarks and teachers I follow now!  I continue to struggle staying asleep, some nights are easier than others.  The nightly meditations help. I really don't want to take Tylenol PM anymore, although that didn't always work either.  

Then there's also the community, I love my yoga studio!  I mean I loved it before but I have made more friends and connected with more of my fellow yogis, it's pretty special.  It's nice to go somewhere and be a part of a group that is so open, supportive and welcoming.  I look forward to doing more workshops and classes there.  Plus there's a group of us that's been taking Spin/Boxing classes in Beacon which I'm pretty obsessed with.

That's actual footage of me!  It's great to get my sweat on and move.  I've grown to like the cycling and my cardio is getting better. With Boxing, I still gotta work on my form but boy do I feel it in my arms and shoulders.  Plus my coach is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!  If you're reading this Eva, YOU INSPIRE ME!!

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Yoga Challenges And Trying New Things

Once again I am snowed in so I thought it would be a good time for a blog post - the first of 2018! The last day of 2017 was so bad. I woke up early in the morning with a horrible stomach bug and I broke in the new year binging on Ginger Ale and Pepto Bismol, it was pretty terrible.  I had wanted to take yoga classes New Year's Eve and New Year's Day but my body had other plans.  I ended up not practicing for a whole week because I was sick after the stomach bug wore off. I also wanted to make sure my body was fully recovered for the challenge I signed up for at the yoga studio: 

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I've never signed up for any kind of challenge before so I thought this would be a good way to start the year and commit to something to the very end.  It's more than just doing yoga for 40 days, it's about meditation and personal revolution - how to be the best YOU that you can be and address what is holding you back.  Getting the yoga time in is not a problem, but I need help with meditation.  I've wanted to add more meditation into my life but books, articles, podcasts weren't enough to get me to stick with it.  Doing a challenge and being a part of group to help with accountability is helping, plus I learned about the Insight Timer app which is awesome.

With all the yoga I've been doing, I thought about adding something different to my workout routine.  I don't go for my walks/jogs anymore because I got bored.  Through work, I learned about The Studio @ Beacon which just opened up this month.  They are a Boxing/Cycling studio and the idea of mixing the two sounded kind of cool.  I like the idea of going to these smaller fitness places over joining a gym. I think my big box gym membership days are over! I took my first class, which was the first class for the studio and it was fun!  I was reminded that I hate cardio, all the yoga in the world did not seem to change that. Thirty minutes of spin and the remaining 20 minutes doing boxing and core work wasn't bad.  Personally, I would prefer to do more boxing/core and less spin but again, that's my dislike for cardio talking. Maybe I'll grow to like it more like I have with Hot Yoga, either way, I'll be back next week!

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A Year Ago Today

Year_ago_today

A year ago today (well, in just a couple of hours), things were pretty messed up.  I went to bed hardly able to sleep because I was so angry at this country and what it allowed to do to itself.  Last November was an emotional roller coaster.

Needless to say, Trump has not disappointed me in his ineptitude and nonsense since he was elected.  I still can't stand the orange turd, probably more now than a year ago, and believe he is the BIGGEST EMBARRASSMENT this country has ever produced. 

HOWEVER

Things have changed in the last year, and I think the yoga helps! But seriously, today I am feeling better.  I went to vote last night and it was just a local election, no big offices were up for election, just local Comptroller, Town Council, Clerks, etc. It was the biggest turnout I've seen since I've moved here and I think I've been to all of the local elections where it's just me and Mike showing up.  I thought that was awesome!  

My Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds were full of people showing off their "Voted" stickers (I didn't get a sticker *kicksrocks*).   I was following the gubernatorial results in New Jersey and Virginia where they voted out Republican incumbents for Democrats. There were other elections where long time Republicans were voted out.  Not that I'm all "Wooooo Go Dems!!!" but it's nice to see a year later that a shift is happening and maybe the pendulum is already swinging back or at least evening itself out.  Hoping the backlash against Trump and his cronies continue to knock them out one by one.

Democrats have a really long way to go, they need a good PR company to come in and help them rebrand themselves because right now, other than being "Anti-Trump" they really don't have much else going for them.  Being anti-Trump can only last so far before people want some real substance, and they feel like that substance was lost while Obama was President, all flash, no substance.

There are some great stories that came out of last night, such as Danica Roem in Virginia and Andrea Jenkins in Minneapolis.  Both are the first openly Transgender women to win public office.  Not only that, but Roem in VA defeated Robert Marshall, an anti-LGBT jerk who had no problem referring to himself as "Chief Homophobe" and drafting a bathroom bill similar to the one passed in North Carolina (it didn't).   

There's also the moving story of Chris Hurst, who went into politics after his girlfriend was killed on live television, went on to defeat a pro-NRA incumbent.  And Hoboken, NJ just voted for their first Sikh Mayor, Ravi Bhalla who was labeled a terrorist by what can only be ignorant idiots.  The moral of the story is, I love it when people come together and give ignorance and hate  a big "Fuck you!"

And last, to end this on a funny note, check out the funny meme's "Me on Election Day 2016 vs Me on Election Day 2017":

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Listening Make The Difference.....

From my Instagram today...

I guess what I'm trying to say is sometimes, when you KNOW you can go further, it's best to listen to your body say "Ease up! I'm tired!!!" and not push yourself.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes it's good to push yourself, that's how progress is made but there's a happy balance that's takes some time to figure out.   I hope I'll get a better night sleep tonight because I have another yoga class tomorrow morning. :) 

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Life Lately - A New Home and LOTS of Yoga!

Newhomeyoga
I'm back! Well, let me not get ahead of myself.  I'm back to writing my blog.....today. No promises of how regular this will be, but I have good intentions! 

So much has happened since my last post in July. For one, I bought a home! I moved into my new condo with Mike at the end of August. It's only a few minutes from where we previously lived and it's bigger.  The whole Summer was a big stress-ball and there were moments trying to get a closing date just made me want to give up and keep renting. In the end, everything worked out and we're settling in nicely. I can't wait until we are totally unpacked, shelves up, and more furniture is purchased but overall, I love my new home. 

Speaking of being home, I've been spending A LOT of time at Firefly Yoga practicing several times a week.  It helps that they're so close to home. I've completely fallen in love with the practice again.  I've dusted off some of my old books. I just finished The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita - A Commentary for Modern Readers and I'm now reading Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice.

I started posting videos on Instagram doing a couple of inversions.  I figured a couple of things: 

1) I see too many videos of people in the gym lifting weights. 

2) Not to sound egotistical, but I like to see myself.  I like to see if my alignment is right.  My lower back has been giving me problems for a long time and I don't want to make it worse. 

3) Being a bigger, stockier, bulkier, curvier girl - whatever you wanna call it, I hope someone who is curious about trying yoga but is afraid because they don't have that "yoga body" will see it and say "Wow! If she can do it, why not me?"  I got a yoga body too! It's just not what most people think of at first. 

I still have those insecurities.  Recently, I stayed in the city and reserved a spot for a class at Lyons Den Yoga in Chelsea. I've never been there before but I heard great things about it and they teach Baptiste Yoga which is the type of yoga I've been doing.   I could not sleep the night before because I had SO MUCH anxiety of walking into a yoga studio full of beautiful, tall, fit NYC people and then there's me.  I hate feeling that, I thought I was over it since I've developed a stronger practice but nope! Turns out I had nothing to be worried about and I felt like an ass afterward for losing a night sleep.   

No matter how much I practice asana, the biggest challenge is always getting out of my own head.  I learned from that day and hope to go back to Lyons Den when I stay in the city.  It would be a nice balance to all of the unhealthy eating I do when I'm there. =D

I hope to get back to blogging again on a regular basis, this Summer was just ridiculous with the move that I didn't get a chance to really enjoy the Summer.  Now that Fall is here and it's my favorite time of year, I hope to bring myself back to some kind of normalcy which includes writing more. 

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