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Where Weight Loss Begins

Wellness   |   April 22, 2016  |   by Brandt Bhanu Passalaqua  ~Yogaville

Does Yoga help you lose weight? Physically, it uses much less energy compared to hiking, cycling, and other health-promoting activities. So how did Yoga help Brandt, (then, a 30-year-old chain smoker struggling with an autoimmune disease and obesity) find his way to health only after he found Yoga? Explanations were found not in the movements he did on the mat, but the subtle changes he experienced while off of it. After losing 100 pounds and developing a program based around his findings, he offered us a few reasons why he thinks the answer to our question is: “Yes.”

Yoga Changes Our Relationship with Stress 

Stress activates our sympathetic nervous system, triggering our “fight/flight/freeze” reactions. Our brain then floods our body with cortisol, the stress hormone designed to help keep our primitive selves safe in times of danger. Unfortunately, unaddressed rushes of cortisol are linked to weight gain, insomnia, and depression. When practiced regularly, Yoga changes our nervous system’s response. Gentlepranayama, (breathing exercises) and mindful asanas (postures) activate our parasympathetic nervous system—also called our “rest and digest” reaction—which decreases cortisol levels over time, ultimately facilitating weight loss.

Yoga Wakes Us Up From Our Trance

Much overeating and binge eating can be attributed to anxiety, depression, or other overwhelming emotions—sometimes, even overwhelming positive emotions! For many people, this sort of eating is a habitual and automatic way to cope with feelings. Hatha and meditation practices help you become more aware of your body and your thought patterns, empowering you to “feel” stress in your body or mind before it translates into self-destructive behavior. This sort of fine-tuning allows you to respond wisely to your emotions, rather than react thoughtlessly.

By exploring our physical boundaries and potential, we can learn to apply this thinking to our lives.

Yoga Grounds You in the Present

Rehashing your “bad food day” or an overindulgent weekend is pointless: You can’t change the past; you can only make lifestyle choices that nourish your body and mind in the present. Yoga helps to ground you in the present moment—a place that’s much more easy to handle than the turbulent past or the difficult future (which may be figments of your imagination, anyway). By staying present in the Now, you’re less likely to feel like you’re spiraling out of control and thus reach for behaviors that are familiar but debilitating.

Yoga Empowers You 

Yoga helps us both expand our body’s possibilities while accepting its limitations. By exploring our physical boundaries and potential, we can learn to apply this thinking to our lives. Where are we feeling tension? What really makes us feel alive? Unlike an exercise that is constantly asking us to do more, Yoga asks us to be content. This creates a deep peace within us. Peace is true power. Change begins with this acceptance. This article was written in collaboration with Brandt Bhanu Passalaqua, creator of Peaceful Weight Loss and Breathing Deeply.

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