Relax Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Meditation is one aspect of yoga, and is a process of quieting the physical body and the mind. Yoga scholar Georg Feurerstein, PhD, describes meditative absorption (dhyana) as the state of deep concentration in which an internalized object fills the entire space of consciousness. An example might be to focus on your breath, observing its rhythm, temperature, and the sensations you feel as you watch its journey into and out of your body. There is no loss of lucidity, but your sense of wakefulness may intensify even as your awareness of your external environment fades.

A steady yoga practice can help you to clarify internal (what you feel in your heart) vs. external (consumer-media generated) values. It can help you to develop the skills to differentiate between reality (that you are a divine being) and delusion (that there’s something deeply wrong with you that can be corrected by achieving cultural norms of beauty). And it gives you a physical context for emotional work. All told, it provides useful tools for the challenging personal transitions around eating, self-care and weight. As you develop your practice and become more familiar with your internal cues, you may become less influenced by the external values of beauty and excessive thinness projected in the media. You’ll be inoculated!

Many national health organizations feature moderation in their guidelines, but are light on the how-to’s of achieving a moderate lifestyle in our anything-but-moderate culture. In yoga philosophy moderation is not a passive state, but is more akin to “standing in the fire” between the two beckoning poles of excess and deprivation. The moderate yogini is no passive risk-avoider, but is a highly skilled and strong-willed warrior. The practice of yoga and meditation may assist the development of mindfulness during mealtimes, aiding awareness of portion sizes, food preparation, and eating speed.