Yoga literally saved me this morning. Again. I was rushing over countless stairs in a Parisian subway with countless other Parisians — always late, always in a hurry. Of course, I was late too. And I was in high heels. Suddenly, someone turned abruptly and bumped into me! I almost fell down the stairs, which would have been a disaster with my bags and heels. In fact, I’m pretty sure I could have easily broken a leg.
It was a close call rather than a total disaster because at the last minute, high heels and bags or not, I used my Yogic core balance, strong feet arches, and inner leg strength to stabilize my body and grab the closest handrails.
What a relief! And how grateful I was to my yoga practices in that moment.
Truly, there hasn’t been a day without thanking myself for starting yoga and making it a consistent part of my life. I’m not joking when I say that yoga saved my ass, mental sanity, health issues and recovery speed. It’s even saved my relationships, but this is another subject for another day.
It saved my ass and abs by ending irrepressible self-sabotage. The number one (and massive) benefit I gained from my consistent yoga practice has been healing emotional overeating and finally losing weight effortlessly. Yes, despite what my boyfriend says, yoga can help you lose weight and re-shape your whole body.
I’m not talking about the “workout” side of yoga, even though hot yoga practices will definitely burn some fat, release a ton of toxins through sweat, and build amazing muscles for you to get that hot yoga body. I’m talking here specifically about solving the number one reason we may not be at our ideal weight: it is eating more than our needs, not a lack of exercise.
How frustrating is it when starting a new fitness activity or commitment to watch the scale like a hawk and see it refuses to budge one bit? How disheartening is it to feel like we have been killing ourselves on the treadmill but end up (consciously or not) sabotaging all our efforts in other unhealthy habits? All that sweat, pain, and willpower used for nothing.
I used to be very familiar with this frustrating feeling until yoga became part of my life. It taught me how to master emotional release without reaching for comfort food, endless amounts of sugar and fat, for too much screen time, and other habits and addictions that used to completely erase the benefits of my workouts. I learned to calm my agitated and anxious mind with wise ancient poses and strengthening my core. I learned to pause and delay gratification or irrepressible desires with deep breathing techniques and meditations. I learned to show up for myself, approve of myself and stop perfectionism with this deeply holistic practice that makes no room for judgment, comparison or body-hatred self-talk. Poses, even the hardcore ones, are always a way to access the unity of body and mind, and the wisdom and healing power alive deep inside us. And last but not least, I learned to let go of undealt with emotional issues thanks to purification techniques of the mind and body.
Yoga taught me to get reacquainted with my body, my feelings, my emotional needs, my ups, and my downs — all without needing to react and numbing those ups and downs with overeating. Yoga empowers me to deal with anything that comes my way (from internal or external triggers), with trust that I can come out of it stronger.
Thanks to regular yoga practice, I now know every muscle and joint of my body intimately.
And so, what? Why should we care about this? Well, I don’t care much about the names of my articulations (except maybe for teaching to my own yoga students), but I care deeply about truly knowing and feeling them and their counterpart’s muscles and joints. The instant benefit is that, on any single day, I can catch exactly how is my body health status and understand deeply in my body:
-Where is this pain coming from?
-What is this discomfort in my back: pain, muscles, tensions linked to the neck, or maybe the hips?
-Why am I feeling lethargic today? Does my body need more movement, breathing, or just more rest and sleep?
-Am I hungry or is my stomach actually sore and needs something else?
-Did I pushed too hard, or did I let slip too many days without sweating toxins out?
This is very powerful, and can even be used in many other ways — not only to relax and soothe pain but also to up and expand energy levels and even pleasure.
Yoga truly taught me to create space for any sensation, feeling or desire; and as a result, I stopped storing undealt with stuff in my mind and body.
Finally, not only can I fall asleep much faster, sleep for longer, and more peacefully, I can also fully restore and soothe tensions easily day and night. I can access this state of letting go (asleep or awake) with my breath, body poses, and meditation faster and faster. This helps me deepen my fitness abilities, heal my emotional overeating, and back to sleeping and recovering faster.
Editor’s note: You can learn more from the author and find her own online video tutorials here.