Combat the Holiday Bulge
Fight Fat through Yoga for Long-term Results
When VL asked me to write about ‘how to combat the holiday bulge,’
I contemplated listing off the top 5 postures (asana) to practise that tone the abdomen and reduce stress-induced weight gain. Then, I would try to convince you with this formula that your holiday indulgences won’t count. But I know as many of you do, that there is no quick fix to solving bad habits. With so much temptation in front of us at holiday time, it’s human nature to spoil oneself on the occasion. However, by the time the bulge has developed, so too have some of our poor choices.
The discipline of yoga, as those of you who already have a regular or established practice will know, is that these teachings humble us and provide insider information to our psyches. Overeating is a habit for some, and a developing one for many of us, especially prevalent during the holiday season. Too much food, sugar, and fat is confusing for the brain and digestive system to communicate as the nervous system finds itself hovering between a place of sheer fulfilment and guilt-ridden nausea.
Fast forward to the most wonderful time of the year…it can typically be a lonely, stressful, and difficult time for many people. The holiday bulge, often disguised as a pretty tin box, filled with sugar and spice and everything nice, allows us to hide behind overeating and indulging too much. The outcome can prove to be a time of duality between pressure and pleasure, fight and flight, indulgence and self-shaming. And with that, I can confidently advocate that a comprehensive and committed yoga practice can increase self-esteem, lift your spirits, and reduce your bulge! And it’s not about how many times a week or how intensely you practise (although that counts, too), but more about the stimulation and balance of your nervous and endocrine systems.
If you really want the ‘skinny‘ on staying on track and not falling prey to the holidays and your own indulgences, regardless of what time of year it is, here is what I recommend. It is not a list of postures and drills, but a more yogic approach to changing our psyches and metabolism for long-term effects.
• Increase your own awareness of your actions, reactions, and habits. What activities do you do everyday that perhaps would be better less frequently practised? Awareness is the key to being honest with yourself.
• Instead of indulging in that second chocolate surprise, ask yourself if you feel thirsty or hydrated first. Water is an element that will flush the toxins out, reduce bloating, and help keep your joints lubricated for a healthy and safe yoga practice. Water is your front line defender and quickest fix, next to sleep.
• Improve your quality of Sleep. Sleep affects almost every type of tissue and system in the body – from the brain, heart, and lungs to metabolism, immune function, mood, and disease resistance and weight gain/obesity.
• Make your mouth water! Chew your food more slowly than your normal pace. We all eat and breathe to live, but need to make efforts to eat and breathe with intent. The intent is to process food better while offering the digestive organs the opportunity to perform efficiently and effectively. Proper absorption and optimum metabolic consumption and weight management starts in your mouth.
• Create time and space for a Yoga practice. If you already have one, apply yourself differently, adding in more inversions, meditation. Make a Commitment to you and your mat.
Namaste and Happy Holidays!