Picture me 7 years ago, about 60 lbs. heavier than I am now, with a chubbier face, a growing gut, and an addiction to junk food.
I ate pizza, chips, cookies, fried meats and cheeses, French fries, and drank beer and sweet & fatty lattes. I was 32 and headed for diabetes and heart disease, and couldn’t figure out how to change.
And yet, a year later I had lost about 20-30 lbs. and ran a marathon. The pounds kept dropping away, year after year, and more importantly, I was eating healthier foods. I now love fresh fruits and veggies, raw nuts and seeds, beans and whole grains that haven’t been ground up, real unprocessed food.
According to rabbinic tradition, the first commandment God gives Adam and Eve in the Garden is to have sex: Pru vehravu, “be fruitful and multiply.” It’s little wonder then that Christian theology has pondered for centuries the place that human sexuality and bodily existence have in God’s plan for the universe. On the one hand, anyone familiar with the Jewish testament knows that sexual attraction (and sexual sin) permeate virtually every book. What’s more, two centuries of crusading secularism has exaggerated Christian pruddery in the early centuries of Christianity and in the Middle Ages.
On the other hand, it’s also true that the monastic movement that led to so many cultural and educational achievements in the West did tend to emphasize the negative aspects of human sexuality and bodily existence — if only because vowed celibate monks and nuns inevitably saw sexual feelings as temptations to be avoided at all costs.
Into this tangled history stepped the late pope John Paul II. Raised by his widowed father in Poland during the nightmare of World War II, Karol Wotylwa was a working man, athlete and actor before he became a Catholic priest and a philosopher. His experience with young married couples during his early years as a pastor — combined with his in-depth study of early 20th century phenomenologists — allowed the young priest to see the sexual embrace and life in the body in an entirely new way: as quite literally a way to God.
When he was elected pope, John Paul delivered a remarkable series of 129 lectures during his Wednesday audiences on what has become known as the Theology of the Body (TOTB) — a very traditional, very radical teaching on human embodiment and sexual attraction that papal biographer George Weigel has described as “a kind of theological time bomb” that will have dramatic consequences …perhaps in the twenty-first century” (Witness to Hope, 343).
John Paul’s argument, in essence, is that both secular libertines and Christian pruddery have missed the point. Human beings are radically, essentially physical. Human beings are not “ghosts in a machine,” as Descartes described it.
In a dramatic way, the entire Christian understanding of the incarnation means that Christians are and must be “pro-sex” and must celebrate the body generally. I would even say that Christians take the body at least as seriously as the devotees of most religions, including even Hinduism. The doctrine of the bodily resurrection reflects the Christian belief that we are our bodies — that if we are to survive death then it must be a physical survival. A disembodied spirit would not be a human being.
In the Baghavad Gita, Krishna teaches Arjuna the exact opposite of the Christian view of our essentially bodily natures:
As a man discards his threadbare robes and puts on new, so the Spirit throws off its worn-out bodies and puts on new ones… The Spirit in man is imperishable.
While Christianity agrees with the Gita (and with yoga!) that there is an imperishable, immortal essence of the human being, which, for lack of a better word, the west has traditionally called the “soul,” it does not agree that the physical body is merely incidental to that essence — something that can be “thrown off” for a new one.
Rather, in the Christian view, we are embodied spirits or spiritual bodies — and thus it is our bodies themselves that are (or will be) immortal. Thus, the Christian hope is even more absurdly optimistic than people give us credit for: We actually believe that we will live forever… in glorified “resurrection” bodies, not as disembodied spirits. I’ve never been the least scandalized by those radical yogis who claim that yoga can lead to physical immortality of a sort or at least extreme longevity: it seems perfectly plausible to me given the Christian revelation.
That is why St. Paul tells the (male) Corinthians that they should take good care of their bodies and not defile themselves with prostitutes — and why Christian practitioners of yoga celebrate the body and do what we can to maintain good health. That is also why Pope John Paul II, in his teachings on the Theology of the Body, emphasized how incarnate human beings come to God in and through their bodies — and that sex, far from being inherently sinful, is actually a way to God. In John Paul’s teaching, sex (for non-celibate “householders”) is a sacrament (a “sign”) of divine presence because it is the preeminent example of that spiritual intimacy that is the birthright of all human beings.
A recent randomized, controlled, six-month trial of yoga practice among healthy seniors found significant benefits in physical health but no improvement in cognitive tests. It appears that a regular practice of hatha yoga does result in better health and even weight loss, the researchers found.
Yoga is a commonly practiced, mind-body approach that has components centering around meditation, breathing, and activity or postures. In recent US surveys of adults, 7.5% reported having used yoga at least once in their lifetime and 3.8%–5.1% reported having used it in the previous 12 months.1,2 Iyengar yoga, one of the active, or Hatha, yoga techniques, is a system for developing physical and mental well-being through stretching of all muscle groups for strength, flexibility, and physical balance. A person assumes a series of stationary positions that use isometric contraction and relaxation of different muscle groups to create specific body alignments. There is also a deep relaxation component. Iyengar yoga is amenable to easy adaptation for elders through modifications of the poses and the use of props, such as blankets and chairs.
The results of the study surprised the researchers. While there was no improvement in cognitive skills among the regular yoga practitioners, there were significant gains in other measures of health.
The improvements in physical measures directly related to the yoga intervention are not surprising. Yoga practice involves training on poses very similar to these outcome measures. One-legged balance may have some health implications, such as risk of falls, and has been shown previously to be improved in healthy older people practicing tai chi, another mind-body technique of which balance exercises are a component.61,62
Though this study did show that yoga produced beneficial effects on quality-of-life measures, the mechanism of action of these improvements may not relate directly to the yoga. Socialization, placebo, and self-efficacy effects are other potential mechanisms. The exercise group controlled for socialization to some degree, but there was less of a class format in the exercise group. At least 1 previous study has suggested that exercise-related improvements in stress were secondary to class participation and not to improvements in fitness. Future yoga intervention studies will need to carefully control for the class aspect that may be beneficial to everyone, but especially seniors. There is also likely some placebo effect related to the yoga intervention. One group has already shown that psychological benefits of an aerobic exercise intervention in a group of healthy young adults could be increased simply by telling subjects that the exercise program was specifically designed to improve psychological well-being.64 The placebo effect, expectancy, and self-efficacy may have a significant impact65,66 and are difficult to adequately control for in behavioral interventions that are necessarily non-blinded. Even reported cognitive improvements related to transcendental meditation may be related to expectancy of subjects recruited for trials.
New York yoga instructor Sadie Nardini, a columnist for many top Internet yoga sites, demonstrates a vinyasa routine that can help you lose weight quickly and easily. Sadie calls this a “calorie torching” sequence that “tones and stretches you whole bod.”
Sadie critics yoga for keeping her weight down and giving her a healthy, flexible body.
You can lose weight quickly with 5,000-year-old secrets from yoga.
Have you ever wondered why the people you know who practice yoga are so thin? It’s not an accident. Yoga practice, combined with the “green,” organic diet followed by many yogis, seems to burn off weight faster than almost any other weight-loss approach. Unfortunately, busy modern people often find it difficult to follow this “green” diet — which is why many modern yogis use supplements. (You can get a FREE bottle of a wonderful organic “green” diet supplement by clicking on the link below.)
Both anecdotal reports and some research supports the belief that regular yoga practice, combined with some weight loss secrets from the ancient Indian health care system known as ayurveda can result in significant weight loss.
Of course, the amount of weight you can lose with yoga depends on the kind of exercises you do and the regularity of it. Using yoga is one of the most effective, natural and long term way for weight loss. The weight loss may differ from person to person.
Some people believe that merely the sustained attention given to your body from a regular, daily yoga practice — combined with the relatively few clothes you wear when practicing hatha yoga — simply provide additional motivation for people to lose weight. A new study at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that middle-aged people who practice yoga for as little as 30 minutes a week curbed the weight gain that is oh-so common between ages 45 and 55. Those who began at a normal weight weighed an average of 3 pounds less than their non-practicing counterparts 10 years later. And those who started out overweight lost approximately 5 pounds, instead of packing on the typical gain of 13 pounds among non-exercisers.
“Yoga makes you more mindful of your body and feelings, so you may also become more aware and sensitive to when you’ve eaten enough,” says study author Alan R. Kristal, PhD, who himself practices yoga. The secret to losing weight with yoga, he believes, lies not in burned calories but in increased body awareness. With yoga, he says, you become more focused and are better able to recognize emotional feelings for what they are and not mistake them for hunger.
Yoga, dating back to over 5,000 years ago, is a form of a spiritual and physical practice that its practitioners believe can help people in the west lose weight. Yoga practice provides an excellent means for maintaining balanced weight and overcoming obesity problems, provided a daily yoga program is followed with a regular routine. There are a number of contemporary yoga styles that can give us the traditional benefits of yoga and a cardiovascular workout at the same time. These include:
Vinyasa: This popular type of yoga is based on movement from one pose to another while practicing yoga breathing techniques. Sun Salutations are frequently used, but other poses are usually included as well. This is sometimes done in a hot room to increase sweating.
Ashtanga: Ashtanga is a complex style of yoga that includes six different series of poses. Each serious is more complex than the previous one, so it is important to start at the beginning and work your way up.
Power yoga: This Americanized version of yoga combines faster, more active movements with traditional yoga breathing techniques.
These types of yoga are more likely to increase your heart rate and work up a sweat than traditional yoga. While they may not give you as much of a workout as aerobics, they combine weight loss and cardiovascular benefits with the muscle building and flexibility training of yoga. And for those who do not have the time to participate in two separate workout programs but still want to lose weight quickly, they can be great options.
Hatha yoga experts believe that even gentle yoga asana (postures) followed by the Sun salutation exercise routines are very good for removing lymphatic blockages and liberating energy in your body that revitalizes the body and mind. To lose weight, yoga exercise does not have to be intense or vigorous, but it must be regular and should amount to at least 30 minutes a day. Along with Yoga exercise, a healthy diet based on yogic principles is obviously very helpful for overcoming obesity and maintaining balanced weight.
Ayurveda and a yogic diet can complement any hatha yoga exercises in a combined program for weight loss. Ayurveda or Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient Hindu system of health care, related to yoga, that is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is used by millions of people in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and increasingly in the west to lose weight quickly and easily according to ancient principles of health.
The word “Ayurveda” is a compound of the Sanscrit words ayus meaning “life,” “life principle,” or “long life” and the word veda, which refers to a system of “knowledge.” Thus “Ayurveda” roughly translates as the “knowledge of life” or “knowledge of a long life.” Recent medical advances are increasingly demonstrating that one key to a long life is weight loss.
While being a vegetarian isn’t for everyone (and neither is Pamela Anderson), I talk to lots of people every day who tell me they’d like to become vegetarian, but it seems like it would be too hard, and they don’t have the willpower.
But becoming a vegetarian, for me and for many others, is the easiest thing in the world.
If you’re not interested in becoming vegetarian or vegan, please skip this post (and don’t flame me in the comments). But I’ve had numerous people, just in the last week or so, ask me to post about becoming a vegetarian, as I seem to have become a poster boy for vegetarianism (move over, Pamela Anderson!).
So in this post we’ll look at some suggestions and tips for becoming a vegetarian without too much difficulty, and some reasons you might consider it.
Why Become Vegetarian?
Again, let me state that vegetarianism isn’t for everyone. If you are fanatically devoted to meat (and I was at one time, so I understand), you might not be interested. If you already eat healthy, or you’re not interested in your health, you might not be interested.
- Cut the fat. While meat provides a lot of protein, it also provides a ton of fat — especially saturated fat. Which means that by cutting out meat, you’ll be cutting out a lot of bad fat, and replacing it with things that are probably not only lower in fat, but that contain some good fats. This greatly reduces your risk of heart disease, and in fact numerous studies have shown that vegetarians tend to have a lower risk of heart disease, as well as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and other diseases. Read more here.
- Less food poisoning. Food poisoning gets millions of people each year — and many of them from meat, which is a good breeding ground for harmful bacteria, especially if not stored, prepared or cooked exactly right. Cut out meat and you lower your risk of food poisoning (especially if you also cut out eggs and dairy, but that’s optional).
- Reduce the suffering. You probably don’t want to hear about the horrific treatment of animals that are raised for food, even before they are slaughtered for our benefit. But suffice it to say, there are great amounts of suffering involved, and by cutting out meat, you are reducing your involvement in that. Read more here.
- Help the environment. There are actually numerous ways that the meat industry harms the environment, from a waste of our resources (animals raised for food eat enough grain to feed the world), to a waste of fuel, to the pollution caused by their waste matter, and much more. Read more about that here.
- Help your weight loss. It’s possible to be vegetarian and eat very unhealthy foods, including Coke and fries and fried stuff and pizza and chips. But it’s much more difficult. Studies repeatedly show that vegetarians are slimmer and are less likely to be obese than meat eaters. If you’re trying to lose weight, being a vegetarian can be a good part of your program.
- Get more nutrition. In general (though not necessarily), vegetarians replace meat with more nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and so on. If you do that, you will be getting more of the nutrients your body needs, giving you better health, less illness, and more energy.
20 Tips for Becoming a Vegetarian So, if you’d like to become a vegetarian, without too much trouble, here are my suggestions:
- Have good reasons. If you just want to become vegetarian for kicks, you probably won’t stick with it for long — not because it’s hard, but because any lifestyle change or habit change requires a little bit of motivation. You need to first think about why you want to become vegetarian, and really believe in it. The rest is easy.
- Read up. Before starting anything new, I tend to read as much as possible about whatever it is that I’ll be doing. I suggest you do so with vegetarianism. Check out a couple of good books from the library (or better yet, borrow from vegetarian friends). And there are tons and tons of good sites on the Internet. One of my favorites is GoVeg.com.
PHOTO: Sonia Monteiro of DeRose Antas School, Porto, Portugal
When I first started doing yoga, decades ago, many people thought it was a slightly feminine undertaking. And I have to admit, even today the majority of the students at my local yoga school are women — although that is changing. But the only people who think yoga is not a rigorous, difficult, often even aerobic activity are those who have never taken a class.
I’ll never forget one class I took in which there were three men among about a dozen women. It was a very ordinary, relatively basic class. At one point, the instructor guided us into chaturanga dandasana, the “plank” or staff pose. It’s basically like doing a pushup halfway down — and then holding it. The young woman instructor remained in the pose, calming issuing little tips and giving suggestions, her voice calm and not betraying even a hint of strain. Read more
The first thing I do every morning when I get out of bed is to do 30 pushups. It’s also the last thing I do every night before I climb into bed. That may not sound like a very “yoga” thing to do, but it’s a discipline I adhere to that I believe has been very good for me.
I’m 50 years old so, if you’re younger, you can do more. I will probably gradually work up to 40 or so just to show off but 30 is plenty for conditioning purposes.
To some, 30 may sound like a lot… so I want to share how I worked up to that number. I used a very simple method that I use for most difficult things: I did started with something very easy that I knew I could do: One pushup.
Anthony de Mello, SJ, was a famous Jesuit priest, psychotherapist and seminar leader who sought to fashion a “Christian spirituality in Eastern form.” Anyone interested in Christian Yoga should definitely check out his many books — especially his seminal and fascinating text, Sadhana: A Way to God.
He was born in Bombay in 1931 into a large Portuguese Catholic family whose ancestors were converted by the early Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier. He attended a Jesuit high school and joined the Society of Jesus in India in 1947. Following a typical Jesuit course of studies that included philosophy in Spain, theology in India and psychology in the U.S., De Mello was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1961. Read more
Lose weight with natural yoga health recipes.
For fast and easy weight loss, you can’t beat the yoga diet! That’s because the ancient principles of nutrition taught by yoga for 5,000 years can help you lose weight even when western-style diets fail. Yogis have known for millennia that exercise alone is not enough. You can exercise all day long but if you don’t give your body the nutrition it craves, you won’t lose weight.
Yoga practice, combined with the “green,” organic diet followed by many yogis, seems to burn off weight faster than almost any other weight-loss approach. Unfortunately, busy modern people often find it difficult to follow this “green” diet — which is why many modern yogis use supplements. (You can get a FREE bottle of a wonderful organic “green” diet supplement by clicking on the link below.)
Think about it. Have you ever noticed how the people you know who practice yoga tend to be slim? One reason, of course, is that they are more conscious of their bodies. Daily yoga practice in light clothing naturally gives you a greater awareness of your physical health.
But serious yoga practitioners also follow proven nutritional guidelines that maximize weight loss. They guidelines include:
1. Eat primarily fruits and vegetables. Strict yogis tend to be vegetarians, which naturally helps you lose weight because of the limited amount of fat found in vegetables and fruits. However, even yogis who are not vegetarians find that by loading up on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables they are better able to reduce their dependence upon meat products.
2. Avoid alcohol. Yogis don’t tend to drink much – which is a good thing, because nothing stands in your way when you want to lose weight like the empty calories found in alcohol. In the West, of course, many people enjoy a glass or two of wine with their meals – and only the most strict of yogis would forbid that. However, if you’re trying to lose weight quickly and easily, try limiting your consumption of alcohol to the weekends. You’ll be amazed how quickly the excess pounds fall away.
3. Eat only raw and organic foods. Western food processing eliminates much of the nutritional value of food and destroys the enzymes that foster good digestion. If at all possible, only eat foods you’ve purchased in their natural state – and avoid all canned, frozen and processed foods.
4. Just Say No to refined sugar. Sugar is white poison. It really is. Almost all processed food made today contains large amounts of sugar in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) that many scientists suspect is the primary reason behind the epidemic of diabetes in the modern world. If you have a sweet tooth, try eating dark chocolate or natural organic honey instead of refined sugar. Also avoid all artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or Spenda.
5. Eat only “local” foods that are in season. This will not only save you tremendous amounts of money but will also make sure you get only the freshest foods without preservatives.
6. Don’t mistake Indian food for yoga food. While India is the birthplace of yoga, it doesn’t follow that the Indian diet is the same as the yoga diet. Quite the opposite, in fact. While many Indians are vegetarians, they also eat large amounts of deep-fat-fried foods and dishes that are a disaster for anyone who wishes to lose weight. If you want to lose weight, eat like Indian yogis, not the typical Indian office worker.
7. Fast regularly. Fasting is an ancient health and spiritual regimen practiced both in ancient India and throughout Christendom. It is also a very effective way to “jump start” a weight loss program. Western Christians are used to fasting, often on Fridays, because of the Roman Catholic custom of observing Lent. Originally, Catholics gave up all meat products during the 40 days of Lent. The word “carnival,” for example, which refers to the day or week preceding the start of Lent, literally means “goodbye” (vale) to meat (carne). When beginning fasting, always check with your doctor first.
8. Use natural herbal supplements for detox. Many western yogis take advantage of research into how natural plant products can help reduce your appetite and burn off excess fat quickly. Such products as Hoodia appear to help some people with weight loss. Yogis avoid “pills” as much as possible, however, and prefer herbal products in their natural state. The yogi motto is, “If God didn’t make it, don’t eat it.”
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