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Reverse Obesity with One Yoga Move

The obesity statistics are alarming: One-third of all Americans are obese and two-thirds are overweight. For individuals who are so overweight, losing weight is more involved than simply counting calories and exercise. It also has to do with how their relationship to food and exercise enables weight gain and the continuous cycle of over indulgence and a sedentary lifestyle.

Downward Dog

Downward Dog

The ancient system of yoga, which was developed in India thousands of years ago, has shown promising help for those who are feeling imprisoned by an unhealthy relationship to food. Not only is yoga exercise, which is an indispensable component to any healthy lifestyle program, but it makes us more aware of our thoughts and emotions and it engenders compassion and non-reaction when uncomfortable situations arise.

For those who struggle with their weight, turning to food for comfort following a stressful or anxiety-provoking event is often a knee-jerk reaction that enables overeating and binge-eating. What follows are feelings of remorse, guilt and shame. Yoga can help identify the feelings that trigger these situations and consequently help to create some space in our minds to contemplate our actions before we do something we will later regret.

Yoga deals with all aspects of the body: the physical self, mind and the spirit. Its comprehensive practice helps the practitioner become more in control of their entire body so that urges to eat can be observed and quelled without the dependence on food.

One simple yoga asana that anyone can do is a Sun Salutation. Sun Salutations are a complete practice by themselves. They raise your heart rate, improve muscle strength and definition, and quiet the mind.

Here is how to perform a basic Sun Salutation:

1). Start in a standing position with your heels together, arms at your side. Deepen your inhales and exhales as you breathe slowly in and out of your nose.

2) As you inhale, raise your arms up over your head bringing your palms together.

3) As you exhale, open your arms to your sides and fold forward, bending your knees if you need to. Let your arms come down towards your legs with your fingertips or palms touching or trying to touch the floor.

4). As you inhale, lift your heart and head up, halfway and look out beyond the tip of your nose.

5). On your next exhale, press your palms into the floor and step your right foot back and then your left foot back and lower yourself down onto your belly or keep your belly lifted off the floor. Your elbows should be bent, palms flat on the floor adjacent to your breast bone.

6). As you inhale, slide on to the tops of your feet, pulling your lower belly through. Gaze up towards the ceiling and allow your shoulders to drop away from your ears.

7) As you exhale, curl your toes under you, raise your hips and extend back into downward dog as your heels reach towards the floor. Resist the urge to bring your feet flat to the floor by walking your hands towards your feet or vice versa. Instead, keep your legs where they are and breathe here for at least 5 complete breaths.

8). At the end of your exhale, walk your feet to your hands and lift your head and heart up halfway with your fingertips still on the ground.

9) As you exhale, fold in towards your legs.

10). As you inhale, lift your torso up, taking your arms out to your sides and finishing with them over your head, palms together.

11.) As you exhale, lower your arms to your side finishing just like how you began.

If you are new to yoga, start out gradually by just performing a few Sun Salutations and then increasing the amount that you do as become more able. Try to do Sun Salutations every day, even if just for 10 minutes. Stay focused on your breath and notice how the stillness yet invigorating energy you develop stays with you after your yoga practice is complete.

November 23rd, 2008

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4 Responses to “Reverse Obesity with One Yoga Move”


Andrew R
Nov 23rd, 2008
7:11 pm

Hey Heather,

I really try to keep my comments as constructive as possible, so let me take a deep breath here. I’m all for catchy titles, but come on… I can understand how harnessing your body’s energy may aid in the battle of reversing obesity, but the title is a little misleading.

Coming from someone who went from being obese to being in great physical fitness, I know EXACTLY how hard it was to accomplish this feat. (you can check out my about me page if you’d like to see the details) It was a combination of will power, educating myself and most importantly, understanding how to eat properly. But one thing is for sure, this is a problem that is so widespread that it requires a little more responsibility on the part of those of us who have the knowledge to help people with a serious health matter.

For what it’s worth, I did enjoy the article, just not the title.

All the Best,

Andrew R


Bill4562
Nov 24th, 2008
1:01 pm

In the trailer of the movie http://www.whatifthemovie.tv, it showed a Hira Ratan Manek (HRM), one I had previously studied, an engineer who has gone for years without food, and months without water, and was studied by 2 universities for NASA for almost a year, in which he had no food, only a little buttermilk occassionally. NASA calls it the HRM phenomenon.

It just goes to show that we are limited by our belief structures in believing what we can or cannot accomplish.

Seems here that most of us don’t regard our minds as being possible to do such things. Even the trailer of this movie will take one onward into possibilities.


heather
Nov 24th, 2008
8:02 pm

Hi Andrew. I definitely did not mean to offend or undervalue anyone’s hard efforts to lose weight. My idea for the title came from an article I recently read on the nationally-recognized yoga teacher, Ana Forest. For years, Ana was a bulimic and binge-eater. After she began to do yoga, she continued to still wrestle with her food addiction. She self-devised her own therapy for helping her get through those tough moments when she was caught in the grips of her food-obsessed thoughts. Rather than succumbing to a binge, she would do a few rounds of sun salutations. This powerful and energetic sequence of movements in combination with the yoga breath not only gave her a physical workout but it also calmed her mind and allowed her to get her some needed space from her frenzied thoughts. The Sun Salutation also allowed her to feel her own power and strength, both in mind and body. On her road to recovery, Ana confessed to doing these preventive sun salutations hundreds of times until she became more in control of her thoughts, emotions and behaviors. It was this interview that I read on Ms. Forest that fueled my writing of this blog and the subsequent title. Thank you so much for your feedback and do accept my apologies for offending you in any way.


Andrew R - Go Healthy Go Fit
Dec 11th, 2008
5:25 pm

Heather,

I know that you didn’t mean to intentionally hurt anyone, and I apologize if my comment insinuated that. I just think that the title is misleading (and it seems to me that it would be hard for you to not have at least known that when picking it). If it was an actual quote from the article, then that’s another thing.

Again, I enjoy you’re writing (content) and I wasn’t taking a shot at that.

Thanks for the response.

All the Best,

Andrew R