Filed under: Essencia Acupuncture
As a yoga instructor I am asking people to breathe, breathe, breathe, and breathe some more. You would almost think that people would die in class if I didn’t remind them to continue their breathing. What is it about breath that allows people to deepen their yoga practice? That creates a safe environment for the body to heal itself through alignment and movement? That allows people to see great changes in their lives after beginning a yoga or breath practice? Consciousness.
When slowing time down and creating an awareness of your breath, you are allowing a greater awareness of each thought, each emotion, and each sensation in the body, to come to the forefront of your mind. When you are aware of your breathing, you are aware of all of your other actions. Sure, it comes in waves. When beginning a yoga practice, or any physical exercise like barre class, it is like all other things. The more you practice, the better and more focused you become. When I ask my students to sit quietly for meditation, what seems to come up the most is: ‘I’m not doing it right.’ I am here to tell you that the most important thing is to come back to the breath. There is no wrong way in how to be quiet, as each person experiences the process differently. When your mind wanders to the grocery list, or the chores in your life, eventually your mind will come back to what you are doing in the present moment: which is sitting and listening to your breath. Once you realize that you just took a jaunt into the outer space of your mind, you can come back and continue to focus on your breath and sensations in your body.
Some of the teachers at barre have been turning the music down and giving us the opportunity to ‘check in.’ Whether you are doing yoga, barre, or in the middle a stressful meeting, the breath allows us to reconnect to the self.
I am mentioning this idea of breath and being aware of your breath in relation to creating a healthy relationship with food and the process of a weight loss program. Weight loss is a huge topic of discussion in our world today. It could be an endless conversation as there are many methods, some very successful, some very disappointing and frustrating. Eating is an emotional experience and it is something we have to face many times a day. It is not something we can quit; it is not something we can ignore. It is a fact of life and if you are not prepared mentally, a simple meal can lead to a downward spiral of self-sabotage and punishment.
Consciousness in your barre or yoga class is something to be practiced in order to allow it to expand into all aspects of life. Consciousness allows us to be more aware of our actions, therefore more effective in the roles we take on each day: mother, wife, girlfriend, employee, daughter, or friend. Being conscious allows us to reach the goals we set for ourselves, which then allows the opportunity to truly love ourselves.
Before you eat, take a moment to breathe. Take a moment to check in with how you are feeling. Take a moment to see if the food in front of you is a good choice for maintaining your health, or a choice that is a reaction to something else going on in your life. Did you grab the potato chips because you’re stressed at work and have to pick the kids up in 10 minutes? Or did you grab an apple because you know the benefits it will reward you with? Are you eating because you are hungry? Or are you eating because that is something you typically do when you watch t.v.? Are you aware you are grabbing some things from the fridge as you talk on the phone?
Come back to your breath. When you check in with what you are actually doing, you cannot sabotage your weight loss program. You will realize that talking on the phone and eating your afternoon snack is not conducive because you cannot talk, eat, and be aware of your breath all at the same time. Muti-taskers beware: reading, eating, and working on the computer does not leave enough space for your mind-body connection to know when your body has had enough food. Eating should not be a pastime, but an event in which you nurture your body to give it what it needs to thrive.
My yoga practice led me to become an Acupuncturist. When patients come in to see me for weight loss, they are surprised for the first couple of weeks after treatments that they have not had the emotional ups and downs which have lead them in the past to overeat or make poor food choices. There are energetic imbalances in the body that create a need to fill the body with food in order to fix the imbalances. With acupuncture, the needles stimulate energetic pathways that help to regulate the hypothalamus, which is in the center of the brain. The hypothalamus is accountable for maintaining balance or homeostasis in the body, including hormone balances, body temperature, thirst, and hunger. Acupuncture aids a weight loss program (proper diet and exercise) by boosting metabolism, improving digestion, quelling food cravings, and regulating obesity-related hormones. It strengthens the function of the liver, which is critical in the production of chemicals that are necessary to process nutrients and break down fats. Acupuncture and weight loss go hand in hand as acupuncture helps to restore the imbalances in the body that are creating a need for the mind to put food into the mouth. Creating balance in the body helps to create balance in the mind, which helps you to see great change in the performance and functioning of the body.
And is it possible to enjoy this process? Yes. The benefits of listening to what your body needs, and responding in a respectful way are far greater than the short-term happiness found in overeating leftover cake. Be your best friend in this process and when in doubt, listen to your breath.