Thursday, July 22, 2010

Why Losing Weight is Like Yoga

Every summer my yoga practice makes progress. My instructors tell me that it's because of the warm weather.

Now, I'm not the most limber person in the room. Hell, I'm not even the second, or the third, or the fourth for that matter.

Truth be told, I'm tight as all hell. It took me two years of regular practice just to touch my toes. I have extremely tight hamstrings and glutes, which just don't want to give.

Still, with steady practice, I make progress. This year, I'm measurably closer to getting my forehead to my shins in forward folds. It may be nothing dramatic, I certainly won't be able to get my foot behind my head anytime soon, but it's certainly closer to it then it was a year ago.

Now, if I was the kind of person who wanted instant results, and frustrated easily, I would have given up yoga long ago.

But, I stuck with it, and I went from somebody who can't touch their toes, to somebody who can sit in Lotus.

Through my years of steady practice, I've actually seen a lot of people come and go through my Shala--many of them the kind of people for whom yoga does come easily. The ones so flexible, they can attain difficult binding positions in months, when it took me years to do the same. They came, they bound, they went, never to be seen again.

Others gave up because they are like me, stiff and inflexible. They gave up because they were intimidated by the yogis who can put their feet behind their heads, or pick themselves up to a handstand from a seated position.

I, however, stuck with it, and next week I start my training to become a Yoga Alliance certified instructor.

It's another case of slow and steady wins the race.

Better to make slow incremental changes to your life that you'll stick with, then grand broad gestures that you won't. Don't focus so much on immediate dramatic results, as the smaller changes that will be permanent.

I stuck with yoga, and saw transformational results to both my body and my life.

In the same way, when I stopped focusing on instant results, and just concentrated on celebrating the permanent incremental changes to my diet and my exercise regime, I finally lost the weight I was seeking to lose.

There was never a dramatic weight loss in a month, but a slow and steady loss of weight as I ate healthier, switched to my fresh fruits and vegetables, and exercised more.

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