Relax and lose weight!

If you’ve been doing all those lovely Goddess poses I suggested for home practice in my last blog, you are probably going to be thrilled that the next yoga practice I’m going to recommend for weight loss is …. savasana, our lovely relaxation pose

Savasana

Resting in savasana

! Yes, really. Relax and lose weight!

“Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight—or even add pounds,” according to Pamela Peeke, MD, author of Body for Life for Women. When we are stressed we still react in the same way as our caveman ancestors (see previous blogs for more info on this) and release the hormones, adrenaline to help us “fight or flight”, and cortisol, one of whose roles is to tell your body to replenish the energy you’ve used up when fighting or fleeing. Trouble is the stress we encounter in our modern day lives doesn’t really require us to do much actual physical fighting or fleeing, so we’re not really burning many calories in the process, but the cortisol is making us hungry! And it’s making us hungry for sweet, salty and high fats which stimulate the release of our pleasure, stress reducing hormones.

It makes perfect sense then, that reducing stress and getting plenty of sleep and relaxation is really going to help us maintain a healthy weight.

Relaxation and stress management is probably the number 1 reason that most people give for attending our classes and one the biggest benefits you tell us you get from our sessions. I’ve blogged about this plenty in the past so am going to try not to repeat myself too much, but a point worth repeating is that you cannot relax if you have not first burnt off the adrenaline that is being released whilst you are stressed. This can only be used up by physical activity and is why we make you move in yoga first, and don’t just go straight into relaxation even if you are tired.

If you’ve been doing your daily yoga practice or other physical exercise, you’ll already be feeling the benefit of this, perhaps you are sleeping better or your muscles don’t seem to be as tense or perhaps you have noticed you are breathing more fully. Now is the time to really double these benefits by doing some regular relaxations. Hopefully you’ve been giving yourself a short relaxation at the end of your yoga practice, now see if you can find time to do some longer relaxations, and if you are not used to relaxing after exercise, start now! It will also stop you aching as much, as the lactic acid (carbon dioxide) is removed more efficiently, which is a bonus.

Relaxation is best done lying flat on your back, but you can also relax laid on your front in crocodile posture or even in a comfy chair.  I’m really not bothered how you do it, just make sure you do! Put on some gentle music or a guided relaxation and let yourself soften, allowing the breath to deepen into your abdomen. I promise you will feel a marked difference in your general sense of well being and if you are trying to lose weight, the science tells us that you will be less likely to comfort eat and snack on unhelpful foods.

My final thought on this subject is in fact about thoughts! I don’t know about you, but if I am feeling relaxed, if I’ve had a good night’s sleep, I feel much more inclined to stick to my goals, to choose healthy options and take care of myself. If I’m over-whelmed or stressed, I find it much harder to keep my thoughts positive, I am not as alert to the sneaky negative comments that start to creep in and before I know it all my resolve has gone and I’m comfort eating.

There are plenty of tips on our website and Facebook page for helping you relax and / or get a good night’s sleep so please do take a look. If you need extra help with this ask your tutor, then we can let you know which yoga moves are best for relieving stress and insomnia, when we do them in class, so that you can practice them at home. Ix

 

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