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What is Yoga and How Can it Help Me Gain Peace of Mind, Lose Weight, and Feel Good?

Erica Goodstone, Ph.D.

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What is yoga and how can it help me?

Yoga, as it was traditionally taught in India, is an entire lifestyle including vegetarian diet, holding yoga postures as a form of exercise, relaxation, meditation, chanting and breathing. If you really do yoga the way it was developed over thousands of years, you would develop a calm demeanor, happy state of mind, ability to relax, concentrate, work and achieve whatever you desire in your life, almost effortlessly. However, if you think of yoga as just another form of exercise and you hold certain postures for brief periods of time, you will be loosening up some constricted neuromuscular patterns but you will not be fully engaging your mind, body and spirit. There will still be many important health benefits, certainly more than sitting on a couch watching TV.

Can yoga help me lose weight?

The yogic vegetarian diet is based upon thousands of years of tradition with an understanding of how different foods affect the mind, body and spirit. Yogic relaxation allows you to unstress you thinking and relax your internal organs so that they can function at their optimal level. Yogic breathing increased oxygenation of all your body cells, enhances the flow of blood into all your organs, and increases your mind's ability to focus on what you really want to attain in your life, including attaining your ideal weight. Yogic chanting facilitates the release of old mind habits and is another way for your body to let go of tension and for you to gain clarity of thought. Meditation brings you to an even higher level of concentration, contemplation, visualization, and clarity which helps you to attain whatever goals you aspire to. Also, it is not just the yoga postures but the complete combination of diet, postures, meditation, chanting and breathing that will balance your mind/body/spirit and would create rebalancing your body chemistry until you attain your ideal weight.

Can yoga help you to lose weight. The answer is “Yes" if you do yoga with an understanding of the full complexity of this practice and if you approach your practice with real dedication. The answer is “No" if you just hold some postures for brief periods of time and do not understand the messages in your own body and mind.

Is yoga really exercise and does it hurt?

If you have not been exercising regularly or if you have done exercises that tighten your muscles, and then you begin to do some yoga stretches and hold these positions for awhile, you will probably feel a lot of pain in your muscles - for awhile. Just like any other exercise, yoga is an exercise. Moving your body in unfamiliar ways, especially if you have been holding tension in different places (e. g. , your neck, your shoulders, your lower back), doing yoga stretches may help to loosen the tight fascia and connective tissues, but there may be some resistance in your body and in your mind, to change. Body posturing evolves over the years in response to all sorts of emotional reactions to people and events in your life. When you begin to move these postural tensions, the emotional memories stored in your brain and your body cells can be unleashed. You may feel physical pain and soreness as well as emotional pain and soreness that you did not expect. The end result is often a more flexible and pain free body as well as a more peaceful and balanced mind.

How can yoga and meditation help me to alleviate stress??

The regular, consistent practice of either meditation or yoga can alleviate stress. But doing yoga once in awhile or attempting to meditate one time, will probably not only not relieve stress but it could create additional stress. The first few times you try yoga postures, your body may be tight and resistant and the postures may feel uncomfortable. You may also perform these postures incorrectly and create more stress in your body and in your mind.

Meditation can be difficult at the beginning. You may have thoughts running through your mind. Your body may feel agitated. You may find you have difficulty sitting still. The process of sitting quietly with your eyes closed may feel like torment to you if you are an active or hyper type of person.

However, if you decide to study yoga and/or meditation, and practice it regularly with the assistance of a qualified, experienced and compassionate instructor, then both yoga and meditation can produce results that go far beyond merely alleviating stress.

Dr. Erica Goodstone has helped thousands of men, women, couples, and groups to develop greater awareness of the issues in their relationships and their lives, to overcome and alleviate stressors and discords, and revitalize their relationships and their own mind-body-spirit connection. A former professor of health and physical education for over two decades, Dr. Goodstone taught courses in health education and alternative approaches, stress management, yoga (including relaxation, breathing, meditation, guided imagery, chanting, hatha yoga postures, and yogic nutrition), as well as many different physical activity and dance courses. In addition, she has trained in various body therapy methods and somatic body psychotherapy (combining talk with touch). Her main modalities are The Rubenfeld Synergy Method, Polarity Therapy, and Somatoemotional Release. Dr. Goodstone can be contacted through her web sites at and


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