Recover from the holiday season by putting yoga on your New Years resolution list! Yoga is a great way to improve digestion and detoxify the body! It's also a great way to lose and maintain weight.
If you are like most of us you may have overdone it a "tad" over the holiday season. Hopefully, you enjoyed all that the holiday season had to offer and had your fill of delicious food, ample libations, decadent treats and wonderful memories. Now, that the season to be merry has come to a close you can think of the New Year as a time to continue celebrating your beautiful life!
Many of us start off the New Year with renewed determination to diet and get in shape. The question is: How can we maintain that same momentum and determination to get healthy and stay in shape through February and onward? The answer is: Creating a balanced lifestyle and making health a priority in our lives. Unfortunately, you can't just go on a diet, exercise and stop a month later thinking you will maintain your weight and stay in shape. It takes making a commitment that will last over time.
That's where yoga comes in. Yoga is not merely a physical practice. It is a philosophy. The physical practice exists to help detoxify, strengthen and relax the body in preparation for meditation. By practicing yoga and studying yoga philosophy we learn to slow down and become more mindful in our everyday lives. As a result of becoming more mindful we begin to eat slower and with more awareness which has proven to promote long term weight loss. We also become more mindful of the choices we make in our lives. These choices may include the type of food we choose to eat, the people we decide to spend time with as well as the career paths we choose to take. We begin to ask ourselves, "Does this choice support my highest beliefs and goals?"
We are taught to be compassionate and kind toward others but are we compassionate and kind toward ourselves? In order to be compassionate toward others we need to first and foremost learn to be compassionate toward ourselves. This means taking care of ourselves on all levels: physically, emotionally and spiritually. How do we learn to care for ourselves so that we break old patterns that do not serve us? The answer again is, awareness. Begin to identify your beliefs and patterns clearly. Begin to identify the voices in your head, which may be critical and therefore self -defeating. Overtime try to replace these negative internal thoughts with more positive ones. This internal shift along with incorporating a healthy diet and yoga practice can support and sustain a vigorous and joyous lifestyle until we are in our 80's, 90's and perhaps until 100.
I recently watched an inspirational video of a yoga instructor named Tao Porchon-Lynch who is 91 years old. She says she never thought about age and her advice is "Never Be Afraid."
I am not suggesting that other forms of exercise are not beneficial. They are! One should always practice whatever forms of exercise they enjoy. Regardless of what your favorite form of exercise is you can benefit from yoga. On a purely physical level yoga decompresses the body, which has been shown to prevent injuries and help athletes excel at their chosen sport.
There are many ways in which yoga promotes digestion and boosts metabolism. Certain breathing practices (pranayama) as well as asanas (postures) aid digestion by increasing blood flow to the digestive tract. They also help stimulate the stomach, pancreas and intestines, increase absorption of food and decrease gas and acid production.
Spinal twists are the best digestive aid! They also energize the spine and stimulate the liver and kidneys. When we twist we are massaging, stimulating and detoxifying the liver and the entire digestive system. This aids in elimination and can help relieve constipation. In the same way you would squeeze water out of a sponge, twisting squeezes toxins and waste out of the body. Yoga is best practiced under the guidance of an experienced teacher. You will notice very quickly how your digestion and elimination improve after incorporating twists into your daily routine.
Forward bending when done properly also aids digestion by massaging and detoxifying the digestive system.
Inversions such as Shoulder Stand and Modified Shoulder Stand stimulate the thyroid, thereby speeding up metabolism.
Gentle Seated Spinal Twists: Practiced on a Chair
Spinal twists energize the spine; stimulate the liver and kidneys as well as aid digestion.
Align yourself sitting tall with legs separated hip distance apart. Inhale deeply and lift your sternum and as you exhale turn your torso slightly to the right. Place your left hand on your right thigh and your right hand on the seat of your chair behind your right hip. Inhale again and gently twist a bit deeper to the right making sure you spiral up from the base of your spine so that your head and neck are the last to turn to the right. Soften your gaze as you look behind you or close your eyes and bring all your awareness to your breath. Hold for 5 to 7 cooling breaths. Each time you inhale lift your heart center and lengthen your spine. Be sure to keep your shoulders nice and relaxed. Come back to center and rest for a few breaths and then repeat to the left.
Wishing You A Happy Healthy New Year!
Published On: December 30, 2010