Relax Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Yoga and Nutrition: Tips & Articles

Relax Your Way to a Healthy Weight

by Annie Kay MS RD RYT
Author, Dietitian and Yoga Therapist

I just don’t recognize myself anymore,” said Barbara during our first meeting. “I can’t see myself inside my physical body, but I don’t recognize who I’ve become either. I used to be more fun and liked myself better. Food is my solace, and it shows.”

Millions of Americans feel just like Barbara.

We’ve all heard about the obesity epidemic, wherein nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and one-third of us are clinically obese. All our extra weight is not just a cosmetic inconvenience, but increases our risk for diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, some cancers, and even early death.

What’s going on? Just look around. Our modern environment, filled with junk foods and empty calories, pushes us toward weight gain. At the same time we are inundated with media messages that suggest we are doomed if we aren’t model thin. Living in our American culture and maintaining a healthy weight can seem mutually exclusive.

A growing body of science tells us it doesn’t have to be that way.

Did you ever think that simply relaxing in meditation or having a gentle yoga practice could help you find peace in the war on weight? Scientists and yoga practitioners are finding it so. Yoga is multi-tasker. It provides stress management, moderate physical activity, and its philosophical framework gives us a much-needed guide to a moderate lifestyle.

Yoga originated in India, and can be traced as far back as 5,000 BC. The word yoga comes from the Sankrit (an ancient language) root word “yuj”, which means to bind, join, and concentrate one’s attention. It also means unions or communion.

While yoga in America today is often only thought of as the physical practice (asana in Sanskrit), the full practice of yoga encompasses all aspects of your life including your mental attitude, lifestyle choices, how you spend your time and energy, and philosophical study and ritual. The essence of asana practice is simultaneous conscious physical movement, attunement to breath, and observation of sensation. So, your mind and body re-learn how to work together.