Burn Fat with Awareness: Yoga for Weight Loss

Yoga for Weight Lossby Jacci Collins

My journey in yoga began as many of yours probably did: I wanted a work out, I wanted to increase flexibility, I wanted that yogi buzz of blissful relaxation… and I wanted to lose weight. While first focused on postures and technique, I soon began to realize there was much more to this practice than physical postures alone. My intentions, my goals and shock-horror–my feelings were waiting to surface.

Since I began my journey over 10 years ago, I have lost over 40 pounds.  Now I am not saying this happened over night, because it certainly did not. I had tried every diet under the sun. I would have success for a limited amount of time, and then the pounds would pile on again, usually adding a few more to boot. Yoga is not a quick fix, but a long term tool to build the relationship between your body and mind. It requires patience, compassion and persistence…

…Still with me? Good.

It took me a long time to realize that I was literally burying my feelings with food, and then even longer still to undo the habits that had gotten me to the place I was at. Yogis call these habitual reactions, samskaras. Samskaras are like little tracks or ruts of a wheel in a muddy road. The mud hardens into permanent fixtures, then anytime a car travels down that road, the car’s wheels want to slide into those tracks. It takes a lot of awareness and effort to derail that car, but it is possible. What you practice gets stronger; this I know for sure.

What yoga continues to teach me is how to sit with uncomfortable feelings. It allows me to sit and feel whatever comes up. Those sensations can often be very overwhelming, sometimes they even seem unbearable. What we know is that those feelings won’t last forever. If we really sit with them and see them through, rather than distracting ourselves with tv, food, alcohol or gossip, they will dissipate and lessen their grip and their track will begin to soften.

As a yoga instructor, one of my responsibilities is to provide my students with an experience of themselves. Sometimes when we really see ourselves, we do not like what we see. But once we see ourselves as we truly are, faults and all (and without judgment), we can accept, assess and make changes as necessary. It is those who cannot or are not willing to see that stay stuck in the mud.

As I began to acknowledge my feelings, I also began to recognize and differentiate between them. Where before feelings of anger, sadness or boredom might be confused as feelings of hunger, I can now recognize feelings of hunger as just that. We often reach for something to eat or drink when we are nervous or have feelings we don’t quite know what to do with. Once I became aware of this, the mindlessness began to lessen. I eventually began eating only when I was physically hungry and slowly, the pounds began to drop. Now I savor food, rather than mindlessly consume it.

So unfortunately I cannot provide you with a yoga prescription that you can practice for a week in order to shrink your waistline and reveal the “new you”. The good news? The “new you” has been there all along, just waiting to be recognized.

As Sri K. Pattabhi Jois said, “Do your practice and all is coming.”

See you on your mat.

Jacci Collins is a yoga instructor, dancer and blogger living in Vancouver, BC.  A lifelong student of yoga, she strives to find balance in the body and mind with humor and grace.  Join her at www.jaccicollinsyoga.comfacebook, and twitter.

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joshuamiller 3 years ago

Diet and exercise two main factors comes to our mind when we think about to lose an excessive amount of fat. Choosing yoga is one of the best option to cut the excess amount of fat and lose weight. The most interesting thing about yoga is that it doesn't make you feel exhausted as you feel during gym. Yoga does not only help to reduce fat contents but it also promotes the overall wellness of the body. I have gone through an informative article “Yogic Yoga and Weight Loss” at zovon.

millon03 4 years ago

I really appreciate your comments about using food to bury feelings and emotions. I am 52, close to 100 lbs overweight and am on the brink of disease, at least that's the way it feels. My mother, sister and two brothers have all been diagnosed with T2 Diabetes and I am afraid I am next. And I have decided that I am not going to be next. I want to live the 2nd half of my life "alive" and not dependent on a medicine cabinet full of poison. I have worked through a lot of "issues" in the past couple of years and the one I can't seem to get a handle on is regarding myself; how I feel about myself and how to I get to a place where I really love myself, flaws and all. So this is what I am seeking to find. I love meditation and believe that I would benefit greatly if I could connect my body and mind while meditating. I have started a 30 day challenge and eager to see what I feel like after the end of that short journey. Thank you!

Revend 9 years ago

Yoga is best way of weight lose. It is a natural way of living healthy life. Yoga activity is best from all because it is good for mental and physical fitness. It is best to do yoga morning and evening. Very nice blog and i really like it.