The practice of yoga is not at all based on any religion. For that very reason, anyone can practice yoga. The first requirement to practice yoga is to have a passion for learning and practicing yoga.
In today’s world, the gap between the reality of people’s bodies and idealized bodies is growing larger and larger. While unhealthy diets and lack of exercise increase obesity and diabetes. the idealized shape showcased by our media is increasingly created through combinations of plastic surgery, daily workouts, and equally unhealthy diets and eating patterns. Thus, we have two challenges to face today:
1) how to develop healthy, sustainable diet and exercise behaviours and
2) how to accept that our bodies are probably different than the infinitesimally small proportion of the so-called ideal bodies projected by the media.
Yoga’s “sister science” Ayurveda teaches us that there are three body types, or doshas: pitta, Kapha and Vata. In general, Vata tends to be thin, pitta tending to be more muscular and Kapha tending to be heavier. While an individual is likely to be a blend of types, there is usually a predominance of one dosha, and even a balanced person will naturally tend toward that category. Western society, in particular Americans, tend to look down on the Kapha type while every year the number of overweight Americans climbs. We know that in other countries and during other time periods, the body that was not rail-thin has not only been accepted, but it has also been idealized. Using yoga, we as individuals can develop a balanced perspective from both sides: we can accept and appreciate ourselves and our bodies, and we can develop lifestyles that will increase our health of mind, body, and spirit, and bring our weights to a point of healthy balance. While we may need to accept a wider range of body types, we also may need to study whether a person would be very overweight with a healthy diet and lifestyle and adjust accordingly.
Yoga offers and variety of mental, emotional and physical benefits which many people have found have led to successful weight loss which tends to be more of a by-product of balanced living than a goal in itself. Some of the ways that yoga may support weight loss include the following:
- Improvement in self-image and self-acceptance
- Improvement in physical condition, including increased muscle mass and tone, improved circulation, digestion, Improved mood and outlook, and metabolic functioning
- Increased energy levels
- Natural tendency to drop habits that are not serving you, including smoking and eating junk food
- Reduction in stress and negative thought patterns that may lead to emotional eating and behaviors which are not supporting a healthy state
- Improvement in hormonal balance and reduction in the production of stress hormones which are shown to be correlated with weight and fat deposits
- Increased ability to focus on your objectives and to incorporate new positive changes