The Yoga Body Diet is a four-week plan that inspires you to eat, move, and think according to your natural rhythms. It was written by Kristen Schultz Dollard who is also the digital director of Self Magazine, the former editor of iyogalife.com and a yoga teacher in New York. She wrote The Yoga Body Diet with Dr. John Douillard, a physician who has written and produced 18 health and fitness books, and is the current director of LifeSpa, an Ayurvedic rejuvenation and detox retreat center in Boulder, Colorado.
We had an opportunity to speak with Kristen about her new book. She shares with us some of the life-changing principles of yoga and Ayurveda, and how they can support weight loss and wellness in a way that is specific for you and only you.
What was your motivation for writing The Yoga Body Diet?
I thought I was incredibly healthy; I ate healthy and competed in triathlons. But then I was diagnosed with a hereditary hernia and learned that I had health complications that could lead to fertility issues. So to stack the odds in my favor, I decided to do all I could do for my health, and I began focusing more on the inner aspects of my health and not so much on my external health.
If you take care of your health, weight loss will happen. Stress is such a big factor in our health, yoga encourages you to embrace your shape. Ayurveda teaches us to understand our bodies and that when it comes to diet and eating, one size does not fit all.
How does your dosha (body constitution or make-up) shape what you should eat, how you should exercise and your overall health behaviors?
In Ayurveda, there are three constitutions which are your “essences:” Kapha, Pitta and Vata. The Yoga Body Diet is trying to let the Kashas, be a Kasha. Catherine Zeta Jones is a Kapha, so why would she want to try to be a Jennifer Aniston,who is not a Kapha?
The book doesn’t count calories or fat grams. The recipes don’t even include nutrition information. Why not?
We want to take the fear factor out of food. Dieting is inherently stressful. You might drop a few pounds, but they will come back. And when they do, they will come back bigger and more powerful than before.
Cooking and shopping are also stressful. It’s all antithetical to the yoga lifestyle.
But what we do need to do is to eat responsibly. We have numbed our intuition with food and stress. To understand how much you should be eating, start to listen to your body. Really know what is going to make you need a bowl of ice cream, not a pint. You don’t need all of that.
Throw away the stuff you don’t want to eat anymore. That old jar of pickles, the processed potato chips – toss them out!
It’s time to stop talking about it and just do it. Buy smaller plates that are a beautiful. Get out your China and use them regularly. Don’t worry about how much you are eating, just become more aware.
The Yoga Body Diet is a four-week program. What should be done after the program has been completed?
When you have lost weight, work on the fitness piece; focus more on exercise and practice breathing exercises, so that these behaviors become a natural part of your daily routine. In addition, do a cleanse twice a year. I have specific instructions in the book for the cleanses depending upon your dosha.
Essentially, you could do week four of The Yoga Body Diet for the rest of your life: Eat seasonally and when weight loss is no longer an issue, deepen your yoga and breathing practice. These are tools for life that will continue to pay off.
How has following the principles of yoga and Ayurveda helped you?
Yoga can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t be. Anybody can do it. Yoga is not just one thing. It’s all things: It’s chopping onions and it’s playing with your kids. Yoga is not just doing a posture or not eating this and only eating that.
The basis of my book was to create a life-approach; it’s not about perfection, just practice and do a bit more of what you did yesterday and you’re there. There will be results, but these small steps will inspire you to do more.