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Handstand By Handstand Sr. Editor - Mary on Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year’s often means Resolutions. Some of the most common resolutions in the U.S. are to cut back on excessive eating, stress less, lose weight, & improve cardiovascular health. (According to the American Heart Association, “Cardiovascular disease, is listed as the underlying cause of death, accounting for nearly 801,000 deaths in the US. That’s about 1 of every 3 deaths in the US”).


It’s an exciting, invigorating, but also daunting task.  We want to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more self-control—heck, just exercise more in general!  We want to become calmer, more spiritual, centered, and in control of our emotions.  We aspire to think before we speak, & to listen more than we talk.  We strive to stop allowing external situations to dictate our inner state, & to regulate levels of stress, worry & anxiety.  But…we’re human!  We’re juggling demanding careers, family obligations, sleep deprivation, & often limited funds.  How do we accomplish so much growth & advancement in multiple realms, when we feel like we’re already running on empty?


The brilliant researchers at Harvard Health Publishing have a comprehensive solution to your New Year’s resolution, & it’s a 4-Letter word. (Drumroll please…)  


YOGA.  If visions of scantily clad perfect yogis dance in your head, think again.

Yoga is a multi-dimensional practice that explores, & offers many layers, options & modifications for every practitioner.  While there’s numerous schools of thought & variations of the practice, keep in mind, that none is better, or less than, the other. Yoga isn’t one size fits all, rather all sizes, fits one!



Practicing yoga encourages mindfulness & fosters honest internal dialogue.  

“Yoga develops inner awareness.  It focuses your attention on your body’s abilities at the present moment. It helps develop breath and strength of mind and body.  It’s not about physical appearance.”  According to surveys, “those who practiced yoga were more aware of their bodies than people who didn’t practice yoga.  They were also more satisfied with and less critical of their bodies.  For these reasons, yoga has become an integral part in the treatment of eating disorders and programs that promote positive body image and self-esteem.” Harvard Health Publishing


Diet; AKA Mindful Eating

Being mindful refers to the observation of one’s actions and/or thoughts as an impartial observer, staying present, & without judgment.  


Researchers at Harvard Health, found that “people who practiced yoga were more mindful eaters according to their scores.  Both years of yoga practice and number of minutes of practice per week were associated with better mindful eating scores. Practicing yoga helps you become more aware of how your body feels. This heightened awareness can carry over to mealtime as you savor each bite or sip, and note how food smells, tastes and feels in your mouth.”



Increasing physical fitness & health

Yoga is hard!  There are many wonderfully restorative forms of yoga which are healing as well as relaxing & these forms could include Yin, & Restorative, but many of the heated, & Ashtanga based practices are strenuous & not the relaxing yoga classes portrayed in the media. It’s a full body, mentally & physically demanding practice encouraging the practitioner to continuously strive for a deeper edge in each pose.


According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Researchers found that people who practiced yoga for at least 30 minutes once a week for at least four years, gained less weight during middle adulthood. People who were overweight actually lost weight.  Overall, those who practiced yoga had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) compared with those who did not practice yoga.  Researchers attributed this to mindfulness.  Mindful eating can lead to a more positive relationship with food and eating.”



Keep your Anahata strong!

While the Anahata is considered to be the heart chakra in yogic philosophy, and it’s a pretty common belief that Ustrasana (Camel Pose) can release some underlying heart felt emotions, a regular yoga practice has some serious merits on actual cardiovascular health as well.


Another study found that practicing yoga improved lipid profiles in healthy patients as well as patients with known coronary artery disease.  It also lowered excessive blood sugar levels in people with non-insulin dependent diabetes and reduced their need for medications.  Yoga is now being included in many cardiac rehabilitation programs due to its cardiovascular and stress-relieving benefits.” 


At the end of the day, everyone’s practice is special & unique to them & there’s no plateau…which is why we say “yoga practice”, rather than “yoga perfect”.  Drop the New Year’s resolutions that you know you’ll never keep, save yourself the disappointment & unhealthy self-loathing, & rather cultivate a new space to open yourself up to more; starting internally to promote long term changes. The brilliant aspect of yoga is that it truly is for everyone, so don’t allow yourself to accept anything else; rather seek, explore, experiment, & discover YOUR yoga practice!








Photo by: JQ Williams, @jqww


Loved this post?  Let us know below in the comments, or feel free to comment and ask Mary D. a question.  You can also book her on our on-demand training app, Handstand, where top vetted trainers come to you, write customized plans and more. 

Handstand Sr. Editor - Mary
Hi Handstand Family! I'm excited to be here as a fitness, yoga, & writing resource for all of you! I teach yoga here in Los Angeles, & I'm so grateful to serve as Editor of Handstand's incredible blog. Feel free to reach out with any inquiries. Namaste! Mary

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