I love yoga and I love teaching and sharing yoga with others. Why? The simple answer is: It makes me feel good and I think it will make you feel good too. The complex answer you will find below.
If you don’t know a lot about yoga, you might immediately conjure up images of people in tight clothing putting their bodies into positions that would break most of us in two. Let me erase that image from your mind. Instead, imagine yoga as taking time for yourself to move your body in ways that feel delicious, breathing more effectively, focusing more easefully, and spending time with yourself in a nourishing way that connects you to your deepest and best self. Sound good?
Yoga is a combination of asana (physical poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation (mindful awareness), and philosophical teachings. You can do just the physical part and feel better, but you can benefit so much more if you jump into the whole practice. Review studies of yoga-based interventions indicate that improvements in physical, psychological, mental, and physiological areas cannot be attributed to the exercise-related effects of yoga asana alone, but from a complete practice of yoga.
Here are some of the reported benefits you will discover.
1. Increase strength and muscle tone
2. Improve your balance
3. Increase your flexibility
4. Improve your ability to handle pain and pain relief
5. Improved cardiovascular and circulatory health
6. Improved sleep
7. Increased energy and vitality
8. Improved bone health
9. Improvements in blood pressure, heart rate, cortisol
1. Reduces symptoms of anxiety and stress
2. Decreases symptoms of mild to moderate depression
3. Decreases self-criticism
4. Improves emotional regulation
5. Increases self-compassion
6. Increases psychological well-being
7. Reduces symptoms of PTSD and trauma
8. Promotes better self-care
9. Decrease symptoms of bulimia nervosa and binge eating
10. Connects you with a supportive community
1. improves focus and attention
2. Decreases rumination
3. Increases meta-cognition (the ability to decenter or detach from thoughts and emotions, and view them as passing mental stimuli, as opposed to completely accurate representations of reality)
4. Improves memory
Yoga for Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating
I am particularly excited that yoga is being used in the treatment of eating disorders. I have woven yoga into my Eat for Life class since the beginning and find that helping people who have challenges with food and their bodies benefit immensely from a friendly body practice like yoga.
Since my first yoga teacher training was at Kripalu, I was particularly interested in a study using Kripalu yoga for eating disorders published in 2020. This study showed that after an eight-week Kripalu Yoga program, participants experienced decreases in binge eating frequency, emotional regulation difficulties and self-criticism, and increases in self-compassion. Yoga participants also experienced increases in state mindfulness skills across the eight weeks of the Yoga program.
How much yoga should you do?
There isn’t a good guideline for how much yoga is the “optimal dose.” However, one review study of yoga suggested that you might consider three times a week for 45-60 minutes each time, like the suggestions for other physical activity.
Where can I go to learn or practice yoga?
If you already have a yoga practice that you’re enjoying, great! If you are looking for a place or way to practice, let me help you out.
I teach two times a week at alleyCat Yoga Center in downtown Columbia, MO. Don’t fret if you can’t make it in person, I teach a hybrid in-person and online class. You can just log in from the comfort of your own home. You can go to www.alleycatyoga.com for more information and to register ahead of time for a class. Here are the days and times.
Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. Central Time – EMYoga (Energy Medicine Yoga)
Fridays, 4:30 p.m. Central Time – Kripalu Yoga
In addition, I have yoga videos on my website that you can use to get you started. You can go to my website for all my meditations and yoga practices. Or you can use these two yoga practices on YouTube: One that is mainly on the floor called MBSR Yoga #1 and one that has more standing poses called MBSR Yoga #2. These were developed when I was teaching the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program and are helpful for beginners, in particular, but for anyone looking for a relatively easy practice. On my website, I even have versions of my practices sitting in a chair.
Lastly, if you live in Columbia and would like a personal session to get you started, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I would be happy to help you determine what type of yoga might be best for you and get you started on your path.
Your place on a yoga mat is waiting for you. It is a journey to joy you won’t regret taking. I hope to see you soon!
Brennan, M.A., Whelton, W. J. & Sharpe, D. (2020): Benefits of yoga in the treatment of eating disorders: Results of a randomized controlled trial, Eating Disorders, DOI: 10.1080/10640266.2020.1731921
Kobylińska, D., Lewczuk, K., Marchlewska, M., & Pietraszek, A. (2018). For body and mind: practicing yoga and emotion regulation. Social Psychological Bulletin, 13(1), Article e25502. https://doi.org/10.5964/spb.v13i1.25502