Learning to honor and nourish our bodies is a much more powerful, effective practice than counting calories.
1. Eat mindfully. Not on the run. Not in front of the TV. Not reading. (Except sometimes.) Notice the texture, color, and sensation of the food in your mouth. A regular yoga practice helps to develop mindfulness in all areas of your life. As you learn to be mindful of everything going on, on your mat, you learn to be mindful of what’s happening within you you, off your mat.
2. Nourish your body. Fewer simple, processed, unnatural foods. More hearty, lasting, natural ones: complex carbs, foods with protein, a rainbow of colours in your fruits and veggies. The awareness you develop through a regular yoga practice can help you become aware of how you feel after eating certain foods.
3. Reduce stress. Stress activates your sympathetic nervous system and your fight or flight response, when your body releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol into your body. Though helpful when we need to react to a threat, this response is not so helpful when over-active; among other things, it reduces digestion efficiency, so your body stores more calories. Research shows that a regular yoga and meditation practice dramatically reduces and prevents stress. So does getting outside, and doing something creative: writing, dancing, painting, drawing—whatever works for you.
4. Snack right. Everybody benefits from keeping their blood sugar stable. Low blood sugar as a result of poor food choices or not eating regularly enough can activate the fight or flight response, and reduce digestion efficiency.
5. Move your body. Walk, run, jog, do some power yoga, a Kundalini class, dance, rock-climb, hike, ski, swim—the list goes on. Exercise releases happy-making endorphins. It’s easier to make feel-good food choices if you’re actually feeling good.
6. Most of all: love your body. Your body is truly your temple and the vessel of your soul. It is your greatest tool for strength, peace, and joy. It is a blessing—no matter what your shape or size.
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