I started going to yoga a couple of months ago because my shoulders were incredibly tight from weight lifting and it was leading to neck pain. I had no idea that the longer I went to yoga that I would fully embrace why I needed it in my life. Yes, the relief from the tight muscles in my shoulders felt amazing but really it was a place of healing that I needed.  I do not just mean physical healing. I also mean emotional healing.

I have a tendency to be so focused on exercising intensely and pushing myself that I didn’t realize how hard I had been on my body. As a former athlete, I was so used to shutting off any pain or discomfort physically and emotionally. Yoga helped me first accept where I was at and to just be in it. This was the first step in the healing that I needed.

This is a Journey

Often times we get so focused on exercising for a specific purpose like losing weight or changing our body in some way that we lose sight of the actual purpose. Exercise is a life-long journey. The need for it physically and mentally does not go away. That’s why one of the keys to being physically active consistently and for long periods is to add variety. Many people think that they need to do cardio to lose weight and to get in shape. That is not the case. If you have struggled with yoga being too slow and not challenging enough that is a signal that you have not found the right type of yoga. Yoga can help you build muscle and lose weight.

The Yoga for Me

My favorite type of yoga is called Vinyasa.  The reason why is because it is very active, challenging but also centering because it pairs movement with your breath. The way we breathe has an effect on the signals that we are sending to our body.  For instance, when we are scared or anxious our breath quickens and this signals to our body that something is wrong which responds by releasing hormones. It is terrible for your body to be in a continual state of chronic stress. You need a release. You cannot continue to grind it out on a treadmill just because you want to lose weight. Let that go.

Time to Focus on What Really Matters

This is a life long journey and honestly whether you weigh ten pounds more or less right now pales in comparison to the terrible effects of chronic stress on your body.

Instead be compassionate to your body both mentally and physically. Go find a physical activity that you enjoy. Maybe it isn’t yoga but instead playing with your kids at the park or taking your dog for a walk. That is wonderful. Choose whatever will make you the happiest. This is your journey.

Let’s Talk About Nutrition

Here is the little sneak attack when it comes to your fitness goals. If you are thinking “well if I back off and start doing yoga how do I lose weight?” Then my reply is “by eating healthy.” I’m serious. Nutrition goes hand in hand with weight loss. And I’m not talking about restricting your diet and eating healthy 24/7. What I’m saying is that there are lots of ways to improve your diet that have nothing to do with restriction.

What is the most foundational aspect of healthy eating? You need to eat whole, minimally processed preferably seasonal foods. Yes of course, this means that you should stop eating foods that come in those handy packages. Instead eat well rounded meals with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein.

Check out Precision Nutrition for some simple, straight forward nutrition advice.