Yoga

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

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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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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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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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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!

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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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My Introduction to Hot Yoga

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It's been almost 3 months since I got back into yoga, hooray!  It's been great so far and I really wish I didn't wait so long to get started again.  Today I wanted to specifically talk about Hot Yoga which I started back on Friday, April 21st.  I mentioned in my previous post that the idea of "Hot Yoga" freaked me out.  I hate the heat! I don't like Summer! I'm clumsy, I'll probably slip on my own sweat and break my face. But Firefly Yoga in Fishkill is sooooo close to home.  I wanted to include more Vinyasa into my practice because I missed that flow movement and  it feels like a full body workout. 

I talked about signing up for a Power Vinyasa class, taking the class, and hating the class because I thought I was going to die from the heat, I was thinking negative thoughts about myself the whole time, but I couldn't stop thinking about the class afterward.  I've been back every Friday since - I went this morning!  It is just one hour but it is the most difficult hour I put my body through. 

I learned my lesson after the first class. I need to hydrate starting the day before, not just that morning.  Thursdays I am drinking water all day and peeing a lot.  When I went back the following week, I was better prepared for the heat and the mind games that may happen.  This time was better. I still took breaks when needed but I kept my mind on my breath and in each pose as I mentally cheered myself on instead of being self deprecating.  I was still super wiped out afterward but felt good.

In the weeks following, I can see a difference in my body.  Poses I struggled with the previous week were more solid the following week.  I know there will be weeks where my body will still struggle but these Hot Yoga classes have been more mentally challenging than physical - don't get me wrong, they are REALLY intense physically and sometimes my lower back just doesn't want to have it, but I see it as a real mind over matter practice. Plus my teacher, Noelle, is super sweet, it's hard to hate her lol!

Now I feel like I've turned into one of those Crossfit people who never shut up about doing Crossfit, except it's Hot Yoga.  I'm just so excited to have a regular practice and exercise routine again!

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Being A Yoga Beginner...Again

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Let's talk about really being into something and good at it, then stopping for many years, and then starting it again and discovering that you can't just pick up where you left off. 

Years ago, I was crazy about Yoga and practiced several times a week when I was still working in the city and living closer to NYC.  It was great, I was doing a bunch of crazy stuff and feeling confident in my practice.  Then I moved to Fishkill and my daily commute became a killer.  It sucked the life out of me and my yoga practice died off. I was always tired and just hating my situation.  

I neglected yoga for years! Even after I left my job, I didn't start up my practice. I had surgery, I got older, I gained weight, I tried jogging and other ways to get in shape, I wasn't driving yet so I couldn't get to a yoga studio even if I wanted to.  I've been driving for a little over a year and I'm feeling more comfortable behind the wheel.  I started thinking about yoga earlier this year but whenever I thought about going to a place, my insecurities would kick in - the same ol' nagging voice that's been sleeping for so many years: You're too fat for this, you're body is not the same anymore, you're gonna look stupid. Yes, I have gained weight and my body is definitely different than it was 8 years ago, more aches and pains, more cracks and pops but I don't want to accept this.

I learned about Two Trees Yoga in Beacon through A Little Beacon Blog and they have a lovely website.  I liked their brand of "simple, honest yoga" and being a place for "anyone who is living with movement limitations, body and joint stiffness, physical disabilities, chronic illness, pain and fatigue." I fit in there somewhere. I went to a morning Gentle Yoga class and felt right at home. I signed up for an Unlimited membership that same day.  I've been going to Gentle Yoga class twice a week and it has helped a great deal to get reacquainted with the mat and muscles that haven't been used in years. 

However, I wanted to push myself a little more. I missed that vinyasa flow of yoga, that good sweat where you feel like your'e cleaning the bad stuff out.  There is a studio very close to home, Firefly Yoga, but they do Baptiste Yoga which physically demanding and very hot, not "Bikram Yoga" hot, but still pretty damn hot.  

Hot Yoga always scared me. The last thing I want to do is pass out during a class, so I stayed away.  I've taken classes where I sweated my ass off but it's not the same. For weeks I kept looking at Firefly's website and their Facebook page and debating whether I should sign up for a class - a Friday morning to start off my weekend.

I was greeted by the instructor who was super sweet and welcoming. I stepped in the studio and it was already SO hot! I hope I was hydrated enough (I wasn't).  I was hating the class and thinking "This ain't for me. I'm not coming back. You tried and you suck." I took many breaks and internally kicked myself every time, I was disappointed that I couldn't hang like I used to, and was struggling to hold the most basic poses. I felt like my body gave up on me, defeated.  Finally came time for Savasana - it's over!! I laid there and thought "Yay! You did it!!"  I'm gonna write a separate post just on my introduction to Hot Yoga because it's pretty crazy.

I totally feel like I'm starting over again. I get frustrated when I am unable to do a pose I used to be able to.  While I "know" yoga in my head, my body doesn't anymore and I need to respect that. Some people say it will come back sooner than I think. I need to be patient with my practice.  This Hot Yoga class was a reminder that yoga is not just the poses (asanas) but also a mental practice which can be harder than the poses.

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