How Yoga Helps You Understand What Your Body Needs, Not What It Wants
Like many of you, I struggled with weight maintenance in the past. I had to make a conscious effort every day to balance my schedule with exercise and eating well because if I didn’t, then I would easily put on weight. I discovered early on that practicing yoga actually helped me overcome this problem – I was able to use yoga to become one with my body, practice good nutrition, and almost effortlessly eat a balanced diet.
Yoga means a “union” between the mind and body, your inside and your outside. The mind takes an active part in any practice even if it remains behind the scenes. This mind-body union applies directly to healthy eating in the same way – the very real need and desire for a perfect balance, and the union of food groups.
Yoga and meditation calm, center and focus our minds. Meditation gives us coping skills and creates better functioning of our prefrontal cortex, the executive functioning center of the brain. This enables the body and mind to work together to achieve health goals. Once we conquer our minds, we will approach our life in a whole new way. Food choices become based on body need – not want. We begin to eat for energy, immunity and health and not for pleasure, stress or boredom.
But eating like a yogi also means being kind to yourself when and if you do overeat. It means eating slowly and savoring each bite. It means supplying your friends and family with home-cooked meals and nutrient-rich whole foods.
When you eat like a yogi, you hope to eat in sensible portion sizes, with a blend of tastes and flavors that suit you. Try to avoid strict dieting and skipping meals because that’s not a healthy practice to adopt for your body or your mind. Diets too low in calories and healthy fats may cause inadequate intake of antioxidant-rich vitamins and minerals from foods. Deprivation diets and too-strict eating practices are often too low in protein, and they can also compromise your immune system.
This may seem overwhelming, but by practicing yoga, you will clear your mind and be able to fully understand what your body needs – not what your mind wants.
Beth Shaw is the founder and president of YogaFit and leader of Mind Body Fitness education. For more information on yoga and nutrition, check out Beth’s latest book, YogaLean, which will be released September 2nd by Random House. For more yoga and meditation tips visit YogaFit.com