Yoga and Nutrition as Weight Loss Tools

by Amber DeBarge (CAYAYOGA.COM) and Amanda Kunard (

Yoga by Amber DeBarge

Much of our lives are spent focusing on treating immediate symptoms we experience and less on the core issues behind them. When it comes to our bodies, we often ask ourselves why we’re heavier than we want to be. But the better question is: How can we physically, emotionally, and mindfully become more wholly ourselves? Instead of focusing on quick fixes to treat the symptom of extra body weight, yoga can help us work on the root of the problem.

We have started to see a lot of research studies and articles exploring yoga and it’s many benefits. Restorative Yoga (nonmoving yoga) has proven to be incredibly powerful in the weight loss journey. In general, yoga is showing increasingly solid results aiding the treatment and prognoses for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and weight loss (among other areas).

Restorative yoga can reduce pain, increase flexibility, and greatly reduce stress. When your mind and body experiences less stress, you produce less adrenaline and less cortisol. Cortisol has been linked to an increase in abdominal fat. But it’s not just a reduction in cortisol. With an increase in overall ease and comfort, you will likely find other activities become more appealing than they were before. And with that, suddenly you are moving, laughing, and burning calories.

Restorative Yoga isn’t the only style of yoga making significant strides in the weight loss movement. Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga also have benefits that can stimulate the liver and thyroid gland, lower blood sugar, raise PH, and stimulate the digestive system. Your liver processes both fat that you burn and fat that feeds your body. So keeping your liver healthy and functioning can help you get the results you want.

Talk to your yoga teacher about building a yoga practice that will accomplish these goals.

Imagine a mindset where we focus on our WINS, on the things that make us great. If we focus on the many capabilities of our bodies, specifically its deep healing capabilities, we can continue to wake up and work hard the next day.

We all want to lessen illnesses, but focusing on our shortfalls can inevitably do more harm than good. So you want to lose weight? Try this … let yoga work it’s core healing powers. Watch your stress dissipate and allow yourself to experience more joy and mindfulness.

Fair warning: You will probably feel better, do more, and start wearing a smaller size as a result.

With the focus on being good to yourself let’s check out some facts…

All styles of yoga aim to increase your focus and mindfulness. This focus and mindfulness can increase enjoyment of the food you eat, as well as the people you spend meal time with. It may also influence your food choices. This mindfulness and awareness of your body can improve your body image. An improved body image leads to confidence and resilience … a pathway to pure joy!

But it’s not all about stress. I recently started a program with Go Slim U, an online nutrition program for professional women. I was a little worried about getting into a nutrition program that dribbled information I already knew. I wanted to get right to the punch line. Amanda has a way of meeting each participant right where they are. If you want to learn about nutrition and start to make smart food choices, she can do that. And if you are like me, you can work right on the solutions to “MacGyver” your targeted nutrition or lifestyle challenges. I noticed changes in my habits and patterns of stress as a result of this program. By setting aside a small amount of time to plan and problem solve my meal planning, I was able to reduce the number of times I found myself stressed, hungry and tired because of food. Being hungry and figuring out what and when to eat in between classes had been a challenge. Planning a little meant a big reduction in effort to maintain and improve my eating habits. This program also helped me to reprioritize sleep and pay more attention to my water consumption. The lasting changes I have seen in myself make me feel so powerful and capable.

Our bodies are amazing, and with the right care and fuel they can repair damage that has been done over the years of stress, poor eating choices and not moving the body enough. The key here is that you need to provide your body with the right care and fuel. This means that what you gain from yoga, releasing stress and working on mindset, can extend into nourishing yourself with higher quality foods. When you start taking care of your body in these ways, you will be addressing any core issues, and you will see improvement in the symptoms.

Nutrition by Amanda Kunard

CAYA Yoga is one of only a handful of studios that offer restorative yoga and actively include joy and mindfulness in the classes. Restorative Yoga is a wonderful experience, and very easy so it can be practiced by nearly anyone. In addition, Amber’s knowledge of the body is unparalleled, in my experience.

The practice of mindfulness that you learn in yoga is a huge benefit when it comes to weight loss, because mindset is a key part of making any lasting changes in life. If you are not actively focusing on being good to yourself, most of us fall into the old routine of bad-mouthing ourselves, also known as negative self-talk. But here’s the thing – the more time you spend focusing on being good to yourself, the easier it becomes, and after a while, this can actually become the norm.

If you are constantly telling yourself that you’ll never lose weight, then that will be what happens. Instead, if you focus on being good to yourself by congratulating yourself for all of the good things you do, taking time to practice yoga, and learn how to feed yourself nutritious food, not only will your body be transformed, your whole life will be transformed.

Studies have shown that practicing gratitude actually changes the brain, and meditation physically changes our DNA. This shows the power of what is going on in our minds! We tend to think of thoughts as not physical – like a breeze. But thoughts happen in the physical world, and therefore can have an effect on our physical bodies. So when you are practicing yoga, you are improving your body and your brain.

In addition to moving your body with yoga and practicing mindfulness, there are a few other practices that will contribute to weight loss. As mentioned above, sleep plays a large role in our bodies’ ability to lose weight. And getting adequate sleep can also improve cardiovascular health as well as mental ability.

And perhaps the biggest part of the weight loss and health equation is what you put in your mouth. If you find yourself overwhelmed with information and confused by all of the latest studies and newest diet fads, just remember this: Aim for eating 5-7 servings of vegetables every day. If you do just that one thing (or 5-7 things), your body will benefit. Vegetables that are fried do not count; in fact, all fried foods should be avoided as they contribute greatly to the oxidation in our bodies. And while potatoes, corn, peas and carrots are vegetables, they are also the ones with the highest sugar levels and should be eaten in limited quantities; leafy greens are the best kind.

And fruit, while delicious in the summer and nutritious, also contains a lot of sugar and can hijack weight loss efforts.

In summary, to fight stress, lose weight, and address any core problems that might be causing pain or discomfort, it is important to incorporate yoga, while practicing mindfulness, getting plenty of sleep, and eating a nutritious diet containing lots of vegetables.