Yoga to nourish your tummy

Here’s the third blog in my series about using yoga to help you maintain a healthy weight. This time I’m going to look at how our yoga practice encourages

Matsyasana

Aid digestion in the fish pose

us to make helpful food choices.

I am not a nutritionist or dietician, and I am not going to tell you what to eat. There’s plenty of food help and advice out there if you need it. I will, however, just mention a couple of things that have always served me well :

  • Be honest with yourself. Food diaries are a great way of keeping a track of what you are really eating.
  • I have never touched a diet / calorie counted / low fat product in my life. Good quality fat is what gives food it’s flavour, diet products replace this with sugar or, even worse, synthetic sweeteners to make them more palatable, this makes them less satisfying, messes up your endocrine system and leaves you craving more. Sugar and sweeteners are the real problem not fat.
  • Ayurvedic philosophy teaches us to eat nourishing foods full of vitality and energy ie plenty of fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds, organic meat and fish if you eat them and good quality unrefined grains. In ayurvedic terms refined food, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, chemical additives are dead foods and will not give you the “prana” (life force) you need to live a healthy, vibrant life. You are what you eat.
  • If you feel hungry, have a drink of water and then see. Hunger and thirst produce the same urges from our brain, often we are dehydrated not hungry.
  • Yoga is all about balance and moderation and that applies to the foods we eat too. Fancy a piece of cake, fine have one, really enjoy it for what it is but leave it there, you don’t need a second slice. (Yoga also helps teach discipline!!)

During my years of teaching yoga, one of the most common “results” that I witness, which often goes unnoticed is that students who practice regularly, start taking better care of themselves. They start practicing at home. They start inquiring about how yoga or other holistic practices can help them deal with health conditions. They start toning up and like how that feels, often inspiring them to take up some other exercise. It’s quite common for people to tell me that they are hungry after yoga class but they are craving “good” foods and consciously making healthy food choices.

I believe that this is because yoga makes you feel good physically and emotionally, you feel relaxed and you are more aware of what your body is doing and what you need. Use relaxation and meditation time to check in with yourself, this is the time to think positively and ask your soul what you need. Restorative yoga, such as energy block release sequences, gentle practice of forward bends and lying twists, along with sequences such as earth and moon, are also helpful.

Any posture that opens your heart centre will help you to feel good about yourself and boost self esteem. Dru Yoga is particularly good for this, as just about everything we do is about opening the heart! You deserve to eat only the best foods, that are going to nourish and support you.

If you need to foster some discipline work with the Warrior poses, whilst in them feel yourself strong and in control, use affirmations (which you can continue throughout the day) and let that energy of success, strength and courage flow into every layer of your being. If you are using affirmation or visualisations to help you meet your wellbeing goals, always see them in the present eg. I am fit and healthy; I choose foods that nourish and nurture me. If you put them in the future eg. “I will be 10 stone by Christmas”; “I am working towards my ideal weight”, that’s what they will also be, in the future. The universe always says yes.

If you practice balance poses, such as tree, dancer or eagle, as your physical balance improves, I promise you will notice balance coming into other areas of your life too.

Here’s one of my favourite posture duos :

Tranquility pose – beneficial to the endocrine and digestive system, very relaxing and brings balance. This is an inverted posture, therefore there are lots of contra-indications so do check them out with your tutor before practising.

  • Lie on your back and let your body settle.
  • Knees into chest, strong core, lift hips and low back, placing hands into small of back.
  • Don’t lift on to the shoulders, find your balance point resting around the shoulder blade area.
  • Extend legs overhead so they are parallel to the floor.
  • Place hands on the knees and take  your time to steady.
  • Slowly straighten the arms which will automatically lift the legs to about a 45 degree angle.
  • Hold it steady there as you breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Come out slowly and in control. Bring knees into head, then lower back down vertebrae at a time, NEVER lift the head off the floor as you lower. Keep your core strong to do this. If you cannot lower in a controlled manner without lifting the head, your core is not strong enough to support you yet, so go back to working on your core strength.

Now counter this with Fish (see photo). Fish completes the benefits to the digestive and endocrine system. Is great for boosting self esteem and because it works strongly on the thyroid gland it will help to regulate appetite and encourage you to eat healthily.

Hope these ideas help and next time we’ll explore how yoga can help you gain a positive mindset, much needed when you have a goal to meet. Ix

PS. It’s also very difficult to get into the biscuits if you are tipping upside down 😉

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