When asked “what is the best yoga to do?” by people who have weight loss goals, my first response is usually Restorative yoga. Considering the scientific fact of the matter that weight loss is brought about by creating a negative calorie balance through decreasing energy intake (eating fewer calories) and increasing energy expenditure (burning calories, i.e. moving and sweating), it seems counter intuitive that to practice rest and stillness would be my answer to the question.
There is almost nothing more frustrating to the overweight person than to be told….”it’s simply a matter of eating less and exercising more”. Well, no shit Sherlock! Thanks for the info. Pardon my angst.
My personal experience with being overweight was that I was completely mentally consumed with a negative body image and gripped by food obsession issues. I KNEW what needed to happen, I just couldn’t mentally get there.
Restorative yoga helps to bring calm not just to the body, but to the nervous system and mental state as well. This is integral to changing the behaviors of compulsive and mindless eating that so many of us are prone to.
In the very first yoga class that I ever attended (which is a whole other blog post), when we were led into savasana (the final rest pose, which is a restorative pose) I was able to completely let go. I let go of the grip that I had been unconsciously holding in my belly for Lord knows how long. My shoulders which had also been holding unconscious tension, softened to the floor. And my consistently clenched jaw gave way to its natural supple state. These were no small feats.
I had not experienced this kind of peace in my body EVER. I didn’t even know that this kind of clarity and lightness of body existed. Afterwards, when I was alone, I wept. I knew I was carrying excess weight around, but I had no idea how much stress, and anxiety I was carrying in my body. I knew I had to release this pain out of my mind, body and Spirit just to live. Yoga simultaneously illuminated that I needed to release the suffering and gave me tools to do it.
There was literally no turning back.
That is how yoga, and specifically Restorative yoga saved my life.
After my first class, slightly desperate to find that same savasana experience again, I eventually and quite accidentally found an Iyengar Yoga class wholly dedicated to restorative postures. I was a dedicated student of that method for 10 years and still incorporate much of the philosophy into my daily practice and my own teaching style.
Ever since these early experiences I have been an advocate for the restorative practice for myself and others, no matter what the health aspirations are.
Restorative yoga (in addition to active yoga practices and cardiovascular workouts) has been a vital component in my wellness regime and healthy weight management for the last 15 years. It is and was THE answer for me.
I wish you Peace on your journey to balance and the life you are meant to live.