By Betty Murray
Many people practice yoga for its benefits in improving strength and flexibility, but exercise is just one of the three main structures upon which the ancient practice of yoga is built.
Breathing and meditation are the two other pillars of yoga. By incorporating breathing and mindful meditation into your yoga practice, you will see more benefits, including weight loss.
Meditation is a means of clearing the mind and calming the body. Meditation helps to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Stress is a nationwide epidemic that rivals obesity — it can lead to emotional disorders, hypertension, heart problems, headaches, and even obesity. By practicing mindful meditation through yoga, you can reduce your stress and fatigue, decrease risk of heart problems, and lose weight.
Hatha yoga is one form of yoga that incorporates meditation and breathing into the exercise. A slower pace and simple breathing exercises promote stress relieve and relaxation, while still giving you a good workout.
How can meditation and breathing help you lose weight?
By taking time to meditate, you are taking time to be present in the moment. In our busy lives, it’s easy to have our attention and focus split, and as a result, we become unaware of what we are actually doing. Whether it’s unconsciously overeating because your mind is elsewhere, or lying on the couch for hours without realizing how much time of inactivity has passed.
Practicing regular mediation helps refocus your mind so that your attention is in the here and now, but it is also a means of cleansing the mind, getting rid of negative thoughts and emotions that are increasing your stress levels and causing you to crave unhealthy foods.
Practice meditation in your daily life by taking time to sit in the quiet, relaxing your body and focusing on slow, even breaths. Continue your meditative practice for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, giving your mind time to clear and your body time to relax. Getting into that state of peace will enable you to make healthier choices.
If you are unfamiliar with yoga, sign up for a class at an area yoga studio. Participating in group yoga classes will help you learn to do the exercises correctly, and teach you the art of meditation.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.