In January of 2008 I set off for a long trip to India to study in Mysore, when I returned in late February I was thirty pounds lighter and I have kept that weight off ever since. It’s been seven years!
A friend who knew me “before” and then “after,” recently asked how this happened. Exploring her question led me to understand that it was not just because of the yoga, or the food, and certainly not because I was mean or deprecating to myself.
Here is what I learned and the new healthy habits I implemented to allow the release to happen.
1- Loving Myself
There is no way around it, no matter who tells you that the U.S. has an epidemic of whatever it might, or that you need a diet or blah, blah, blah, it is all nonsense if we do not start at the beginning.
Loving and respecting myself enough to sit down and look at what was important for me in life was the very first step.
Take good care of yourself.
I know it may sound silly but I followed Louise Hay’s exercise of looking at myself in the mirror and saying “I love you” to my own image.
At first it felt silly, almost like a wrestling match, you know why? because I did not believe it.
But a few weeks into it I did start to believe in it, and it helped, it was the first step in establishing the most important love affair needed, the one with ourselves.
2- Daily Yoga-Asana Practice
The release of the weight for me had to do with a “momentum,” rather than a “get thin quick” mentality.
By the time I took my trip I had been practicing daily asana for almost one year (six times a week), and it had taken me about three years to build up to such a strong and committed practice.
When it comes to releasing weight it does not so much matter what kind of yoga one practices, what matters is that we do practice. Even if we have little time… Like at the airport…
The simple act of getting on the mat every day sends the body the message that one cares. The body gets to be stretched, paid attention to, re-aligned. Not only that, but yoga makes you very sensitive to what is happening in the body, it is almost as if the practice instructs us as of what needs to be paid attention to.
Also, daily practice has a way of informing the body that, for example, eating after 7 PM will not feel good at the time of the twists the following morning. Believe it or not the body does take over, and starts sending you signals to not go for that ice cream or anything for that matter, after is dark.
3- Verbal Messages: Think RELEASE
It is difficult for me to convey how important this point is, I find that people dismiss it quickly, so much so that I began to suspect it is a very well kept secret.
When somebody wants to manifest something positive, then keeping the vocabulary clean (no curse words, no negativity), is key. It surprises me to no end to see, even in yoga circles, a tremendous denial of the power of the word. I hear people complain all the time, say bad words, talk about their bodies with negativity.
Even as you read this, I know (from having worked with this concept for a while) that you will either get it, or dismiss it promptly. If you are still reading you are probably ready to hear it. If you are, then do not, under any circumstances allow negativity into you, in any form.
This has the effect of cleansing the mind, and preparing it for positive change. And as with everything in life, your healthy body starts with a thought, with a word. You can think of a diet of words as a foundation, the bad ones are very high in bad fats and calories.
CHANGE THE WORD LOSE TO RELEASE.
Because when you lose something, what are you conditioned to do? Find it right? So releasing is a better choice of word.
4- Try a Simple Cleansing
Weight release can also be thought of as “cleansing”.
What is necessary is to take a look at what is coming into our bodies, and how fast it is coming out.
If we are not going to the bathroom (both for number one and two) daily, then there is a problem. There are easy-to-use enema bags that help ensure that the “pipes” are clear.
When I talk to friends about enemas they usually freak out, and so did I when I first heard about the concept in Thailand. However I was blessed to have a teacher go over all of my fears and answer each one of them.
- Will it hurt? no, it does not.
- Will it be uncomfortable? Yes, but only when the bad stuff is coming out…
- What will happen? The water will move things and let old toxic waste come out.
- Will it be wierd? A little but you are totally in control and can regulate the intensity.
Some people go all out and do what is called a “colonics”. Movie stars do these frequently because of the glow it produces. I have not tried one yet, but I do want to. They are not too expensive and they have an even deeper effect.
5- When you are Hungry, Drink Water First
Most of us get the signal of hunger when in reality we are not sensitive enough to notice that it is thirst speaking. I have tried this many times, especially at mid morning when I hear the stomach rumble with noise in what seems like starvation.
Drinking one or two full glasses of water may not stop the feeling of wanting to eat, but at least will delay it.
It will also hydrate the body, and help it with the elimination process.
6- Cook Nutritious Meals
While in India I felt a little scared about eating in restaurants because the quality of their water is very dangerous for westerners so, for example, eating salads outside of the house was not an option.
This led me to start cooking, and I prepared lots of stews, and soups with boiled vegetables and olive oil which I served with rice.
I also learned how to make lentil dal, and kisheri, nutritious and easy meals that not only are, but they also feel nutritious.
Being around yogis all day long I learned a lot about nutrition, I understood that perhaps our bodies are starving for real nutrition
I have since explored the area of food, and found many recipes and books, I can recommend this one as a good start.
I’ve tried many of the recipes from Rich Roll and Julie Piatt and love them (you can see them in Instagram)… And she is coming on my podcast!
7- Take that Overdue Vacation: Make it Real
Taking time for ourselves seems impossible, but it is not. When a body is overweighted it is out of balance. When a body is out of balance it needs time for itself, to heal, to have an opportunity to assess what exactly is happening and what can be done to help it.
I was lucky to be able to take time off from work and save enough money to go away for an extended period of time, but there have been times since where all I could take was a week, sometimes a day, or sometimes an hour.
As long as the time we give to ourselves is dedicated time it is useful, otherwise we are not nurturing our soul, and an un-nurtured soul produces an unbalance that usually manifests in us reaching for the ice cream.
I have noticed that people who say that there is absolutely no way they can take time for themselves are actually saying that their priorities do not involve taking care of themselves first, but rather other things.
Our bodies are determined by our genes and ancestors. It is important to respect nature.
Yoga and these principles can restore our body to our original blue-print, to what our bodies would be like if completely healthy, but they will not transform us into super models.
The real miracle in weight release happens when we can accept our body as it is, and treat it well, with respect, providing good nutrition for it, so that it can function at its peak, which also means, mind you, at its ideal weight.
I pray: Please help me accept my body the way it is, please guide me to treat it well, respect it, honor it. Help me to nurture my body with foods that heal and make it healthy, most of all, let me surrender to your will.
9- Attend a 12 Step Meeting
I know that this is not a very conventional thing to say, but the reality is that our society is addicted in many levels that need rebalance.
There is a cathartic effect that happens when someone confesses to a group of people that he or she ate two pints of ice cream, or when someone notices and tells others that “I am powerless over this”.
12 step meetings work because they are simple steps that demand enormous courage, of the type that can only be navigated with help from others who also happen to find themselves in a similar setting.
There is a specific program for Overeaters Anonymous which has the biggest amount of telephone meetings ever. Yes, I have listened to some of them. I felt very shy about going to one, mostly because I do not look overweight, but the phone gives one the ability to sort of “peek in” without actually going.
The benefit of 12 steps is that they open people up, they reconcile people with their own humanity, through them we find that what we think is “crazy” in us, is just as normal as it is in any other person, we all share a common humanity, we are all one, and I have yet to see a form of therapy that is more effective than people being brutally honest in a group, and under very specific regulations for sharing, with proper boundaries and respect.
10- Be Patient
The caterpillar does not rush into becoming a butterfly. It surrenders to the process.
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Remember that the way in which a yogi, or a person on the path recovers its original healthy body takes time, but every day things speed up, there is a momentum that is generated by slowly adding more and more healthy habits and releasing the old ones that do not serve us any more.
So what if it takes six months or a year? I have seen with my own eyes fellow yogis practice for five years and then all of a sudden release an enormous amount of weight. In the end, the recovery of the original healthy body also happens by grace, we put all the healthy and nurturing elements in place, then surrender to divine intervention.
Claudia Azula Altucher is a teacher of all branches of yoga. She is the author of “Become An Idea Machine,” & Co-Author of “The Power Of No.” You can find her on Twitter, or sign up for her newsletter to stay in touch.