Cleansing with Ayurveda - the Art of Living Retreat Center

Wellness, Naturally: Cleansing with Ayurveda

By Kim Rossi
July 30, 2018

Cleansing with Ayurveda - the Art of Living Retreat Center

I first dipped my toes into Ayurveda as an extension of my yoga and meditation practice. I was looking for a complete experience of vitality, optimal health and well-being, and lots of energy. My first intention was to go into Ayurveda School for my own personal vitality, but as it turns out, I fell in love with sharing it with others, too.

 

Building a strong container

With Ayurveda, we have this container around us, or as I like to call it, our capacity. Without a strong container, the ways in which we take care of our health–exercise, meditation, yoga, and a healthy diet–just flow in for a bit of a boost and then flow right back out again, without much long-term benefit.

 

Without a strong container, we can do everything right and still find ourselves off-balance. We can rise with the sun, go for a walk, drink our lemon water, scrape our tongues, have a meditation session and perform asanas, but can get in our car and encounter traffic and still become completely disrupted and aggravated.

 

What Ayurveda does is strengthen our container. It extends our capacity, our radiance, and our potential, so that external factors don’t hit us as hard. Of course, we’ll always encounter inconveniences, but in the long run, they won’t throw you off and ruin the rest of your day.

 

Beginning your journey

Ayurveda is incredibly simple, and unlike so many other systems of health, it doesn’t demand perfection from you. You can incorporate Ayurvedic principles and practices four out of seven days of the week. We don’t want to be feverish and do everything every day! That’s not sustainable. Incorporating Ayurveda is as simple as finding a few practices that really resonate with you, and then building upon it as you continue your journey.

 

The basics of Ayurveda

The essential first step of Ayurveda is finding your dosha, or constitution, and beginning to incorporate the recommended diet habits associated with that dosha. Our diet is the foundation of our Prana, or our life force energy, and so much of imbalance, disease, and physical and mental unwellness stems from poor digestion. Start with three meals a day.Fine tune and tweak these meals to be more pacifying to your dosha, and you’re already off to a great start.

 

The second step I’d recommend is looking at your sleep habits. Make your bedroom a sanctuary–no computers, TVs, or cell phones; a comfortable mattress; curtains that close and create a nice dark room. Get a good night’s sleep and rise with the sun, and you’ll have more energy throughout the day. Just by incorporating these two basic things, you’re practicing Ayurveda.

 

Ayurvedic cleanses

Ayurveda recommends a seasonal cleanse every spring and fall, because wisdom dictates that it takes six months for disease to accumulate. During winter, we store toxins in our fat. When it starts to warm up, these toxins are released. That’s why so many people are more vulnerable to sickness in the springtime! A spring cleanse flushes these toxins out and bolsters our health. In the summer, we accumulate heat in the blood, which can also manifest in disease. We dispel that heat when autumn moves in, and a fall cleanse can help support your body in that process.

 

Each cleanse eliminates these toxins in a very gentle, nurturing, and highly effective way. We’re resetting our digestive fire, which is thrown out of balance from stress and a low-quality diet. Cleansing also gives you an opportunity to reset your relationship with food in your habits and behaviours. It’s gentle, nurturing, and nourishing to mind, body, and soul.

 

Ayurveda and weight loss

I do a lot of Ayurvedic consultations with predominantly women, and one of the major focuses for this group seems to be finding and maintaining an ideal weight. The media goes wild promoting the latest weight-loss fads, but many of these fads are counterproductive to our digestive system. Extreme diets actually diminish the digestive system’s capability to support and maintain an ideal weight. While we may lose weight quickly in the present, we’re destroying our body’s ability to maintain a long-term healthy weight.

 

Weight loss is actually pretty simple. We bring our weight into balance by eating the right foods at the right times and in the right quantities, and by doing the right amount of exercise.

 

There are, of course, some constitutions where eating lightly serves you, and other constitutions where a gentle diet of kichiri once a week to reset the digestive system is satisfying and nurturing. But that’s the wonderful thing about Ayurveda–your ideal health is always dependant on your individual needs and constitution.

 

Rewire your relationship to food

Ayurveda resets your relationship with food. Most of us deal with a lot of stress, and we tend to deal with it in two different ways. Either we skip meals and have no interest in eating, or we overeat out of a desire for comfort and groundedness.

 

Both of these cases are detrimental to the digestive fire. Ayurveda helps you learn how to manage stress and your relationship with food, to rewire it so that you perceive food for what it is: nourishment.

 

We are honored to hold space for you to begin your journey to health, happiness, and balance with Ayurveda. The Art of Living Retreat center offers personalized consultations, retreats, and treatments – check out our catalog or call 800-392-6870 to find the right program for you.

 

Kimberly Rossi, director of Shankara Ayurveda Spa, has been studying, practicing, and teaching Yoga, Meditation, and Ayurveda classes and workshops for seventeen years. Kim is a Kripalu Ayurveda Counselor. A certified yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner, Kim believes these paths assist us in being the very best version of our self.

     

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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TAGS: Ayurveda , Cleansing , diet , doshas , mindfulness , organic food , Panchakarma , weight-loss

Excess weight does not protect against heart disease

By Dr. Joel Fuhrman
July 20, 2018

 

Lately there has been controversy about a potential “obesity paradox” in heart disease; the idea that some amount of excess weight either does not pose any risk or is even protective.

Unfortunately, the studies that suggest there may be a protective effect of body fat are often the ones that get more news coverage; but this does a disservice to an already overweight and nutritionally misguided public, allowing them to believe that excess body fat won’t harm their health. The truth is there is no concrete evidence to support this paradox.

There are many studies that show elevated LDL cholesterol, hypertension, elevated triglycerides, inflammation, and blood glucose – are all exacerbated by excess body fat, and overweight/obesity itself is considered a risk factor.1-3

 

So what is the basis for this “obesity paradox”? It uses a person’s body mass index (BMI) to determine body fat.

However, BMI, which only takes into account height and weight, is not an accurate indicator of body fatness. BMI does not distinguish between fat mass and lean mass, nor does it take into account fat distribution (visceral fat vs. subcutaneous fat). Many people whose weights are within the “normal” BMI range are still carrying excess fat. Plus, there are numerous medical conditions that contribute to a low BMI including unintentional weight loss, depression, anxiety, autoimmune diseases, cancers, and digestive disorders. In the elderly especially, a low BMI may be an indicator of muscle loss and frailty rather than an indicator of a healthy low level of body fat. In short, people who are thinner are not necessarily healthier.

 

Body fat and heart disease; importance of more measures than BMI

new study  is helping to clear this issue up   A cohort of almost 300,000 people in the UK (age 40-69)  were followed for an average of 5 years. Their first analysis puts the optimal range of BMI for heart disease prevention at 22-23 kg/m2. It was a “J-shaped” association, meaning risk rose both above and below the 22-23 range.   Then the researchers went further. They used multiple measures of body fatness to get a more accurate picture: waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, waist-to-height ratio, and percent body fat.

Ultimately the researchers found using BMI produces different results than the other indicators. BMI was the only one that showed an increase in risk at the low end (<18.5 kg/m2). When they excluded smokers and participants with pre-existing diseases, the increase in risk associated with low BMI almost disappeared.

The more accurate measures of body fatness – body fat percentage, waist circumference, waist-to-hip-ratio, and waist-to-height ratio – showed a clear trend: more body fat, greater risk.4

 

Conclusion: Greater body fat, greater cardiovascular risk

The researchers concluded that the obesity paradox observation mainly occurs due to confounding effects of disease and other factors on BMI, and that the “public misconception of a potential ‘protective’ effect of fat on CVD risk should be challenged.”4

As discussed above, a low BMI is often an indicator of disease, rather than an indicator of a healthy weight resulting from healthful eating. The standard American diet (SAD) is fattening. If someone is eating the SAD and is not overweight, there is likely something wrong.

 

Proven heart protection: Lose weight permanently on a Nutritarian diet

The dramatic weight loss-promoting effect of the Nutritarian diet contributes to cardiovascular protection. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine analyzed and reported weight loss results provided by 75 obese patients who had switched to a Nutritarian diet. The average weight loss was 55 pounds after three years, which means they kept the weight off long-term.5

 

Join Dr. Joel Fuhrman live at the Art of Living Retreat Center from August 29th – September 2nd, 2018, for his retreat, Advances in Nutritional Science to Slow Aging

Dr. Joel Fuhrman MD

Joel Fuhrman, M.D.  is a board-certified family physician, nutritional researcher and six-time New York Times best-selling author. He serves as the President of the Nutritional Research Foundation. Dr. Fuhrman has authored numerous research articles published in medical journals and is on the faculty of Northern Arizona University, Health Science Division. His two most recent books are Eat to Live Quick and Easy Cookbook and Fast Food Genocide.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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TAGS: heart , weight-loss
Food & Happiness - Art of Living Retreat Center

How Food Affects Your Happiness

By Margaret Paul
June 16, 2018

Food & Happiness - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

This past May, the Art of Living Retreat Center hosted Dr. Margaret Paul for Inner Bonding, a weekend of transformative healing. Here, she speaks about how your diet is an essential ingredient to happiness. 

 

There’s so much unhealthy food that is normalized in our culture, and people don’t realize that it lowers their vibrancy. Food, alcohol, and drugs are addictive for those of us who don’t know how to manage our feelings. Anxiety, depression, anger, loneliness, helplessness, heartbreak, shame, and guilt can be completely overwhelming. We don’t know how to learn from our feelings, or to lovingly manage them, which is how people become dependent on these things to live their everyday lives. But instead of providing relief, this unhealthy food contributes to illness, anxiety, and depression.

 

How bad food lowers your vibrancy

When people eat junk food, it disrupts the microbial gut flora, and the toxicity that that process creates actually goes right up into the brain. This process can actually create anxiety and depression. It becomes a vicious cycle, and people have no idea what else to do. Their medication doesn’t work for them. They feel stuck. Their frequency is lowered.

 

The body-spirit connection

I was a sickly child, and I just hated being sick. So in my early 20s, I started reading everything that I could about health. I threw out everything in my kitchen, and started eating all organic, all fresh. I was the health food nut, and that was 56 years ago. I’m 78 now, and I have unbelievable health, so much energy, no arthritis, no brain degeneration. Not only does this help my body, but it helps me connect to spirit.

 

Even though I was eating well, it wasn’t an automatic connection to spirit. It was the intention to learn that really opened things up. Eating well and being open to learning helps you vibrate on a more spiritual frequency.

 

Inner bonding

With my Inner Bonding Process, you learn to make decisions that love your body. So now, when someone brings in yummy, sugary stuff, which I used to eat all the time, my higher brain says “you know, i love you too much to eat this.” I love being connected to my higher guidance. I know that if I eat this, my vibrancy, my health, everything is going to tank. I don’t even have a problem refusing poor food.

 

Dr. Margaret Paul is a bestselling author and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, and the related SelfQuest® self-healing online program – recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. She has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including Oprah. Margaret holds a PhD in psychology, is a relationship expert, public speaker, consultant and artist. She has successfully worked with thousands and taught classes and seminars for over 50 years.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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TAGS: Detox , diet , food , happiness , spirituality , weight-loss
Nature of the Yogi - Art of Living

The Practice: Sri Sri on the Nature of the Yogi

By AOLRC
January 8, 2018

Nature of the Yogi - Art of Living

Yoga is so much more than exercise — it’s a way of being. Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar shares his thoughts on the far-reaching impact of yoga on the body, mind, and spirit, and the true nature of the Yogi. 

 

A disease-free body, a violence-free society, a confusion-free mind, a inhibition-free intellect, a trauma-free memory, a sorrow-free soul and a quiver-free breath is the impact that Yoga can make on your life.

 

More than the body

If you claim that you are a Yogi, then you should have an undying smile on your face. I would say, that is the sign of a Yogi. Yoga makes your emotions softer and more peaceful, and you blossom in your emotions. It brings freedom in your expression and your thought patterns. These are the real signs of Yoga. It is not just to do with the flexibility of the body. Of course, that too is a part of Yoga. The body becomes flexible, and the mind grows in faith and conviction. If all this happens, know that it is the gift of Yoga, and consider yourself as a Yogi.

 

The path of the Yogi

Many people think of the eight limbs of Yoga as a step-wise process to go level by level. They think that one has to strive to become proficient in one level before ascending to the next. This is not really so. I would say that all these eight limbs or aspects of Yoga are woven together and happen simultaneously.

 

When a child is conceived in the womb, then all its organs are formed together. It is not that first the feet are formed and then the arms take shape. No, it is not so. All the limbs and organs develop together. This is why we must take all these eight aspects or limbs of Yoga together at every step. Only then can we experience the fullness and totality of Yoga, and can bring about an extraordinary transformation and experience in our life.

Join one of our upcoming yoga retreats and feel for yourself the power and light of the eight-limbed path.

This article first appeared on srisriravishankar.org

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , healthy lifestyle , sri sri ravi shankar , weight-loss , wellness , yoga , yoga practice , yoga retreat , yogi
health-benefits-ginger

Wellness, Naturally: Health Benefits of Ginger

By AOLRC
January 4, 2018

health-benefits-ginger

 

Health benefits of ginger

The perennial plant ginger is cultivated all across the world. It is available in different compositions and widely known for its culinary use. However, ginger is more than just a spice that can be added to your favorite dishes. The Eastern holistic healing approach of Ayurveda recognizes the interconnectedness of the mind and body and celebrates ginger as a tonic that can help balance the body. Ginger root also offers a huge variety of health benefits.

 

Ginger for weight loss

Obesity can reduce a person’s life expectancy by as many as 20 years. However, research shows that ginger may be instrumental in controlling your weight and suppressing obesity by reducing a variety of contributing factors, including glucose and body weight.

 

Ginger for beautiful skin

Thanks to its anti-aging properties, such as gingerol, this perennial plant also helps to rejuvenate your skin. Studies indicate that ginger helps reduce the synthesis of melanin and reduces aging of the skin.

 

Keep infections at bay

Ginger’s antimicrobial properties make it a powerful tool for fighting infections, including bacterial infections like strep throat. It’s been used to remedy a variety of conditions, including flatulence, nausea and flared sinuses. Ginger is also an ideal immune support during cold and flu season.

 

Minimize inflammation and pain

Some conditions, such as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, can come with chronic pain due to inflammation — the body’s natural response for healing injuries. The longer the inflammation persists, the more painful it can be, but ginger may provide alternative pain relief. Research shows that ginger helps to reduce inflammation and pain, due to the presence of gingerols and essential oils.

 

Ginger for digestion

This famous superfood can help you to not only digest your food, but it can also help control and enhance your appetite. A common Ayurvedic practice includes consuming ginger during lunch, as it is believed to facilitate nutrient absorption.

 

Including ginger in your diet

Leveraging ginger’s health benefits is not hard to do. Here are four simple ways you can include ginger in your diet:

 

1. Ginger Tea. Relieve stress and uplift your mood with the power of ginger tea. Ginger tea can provide soothing relief when you have a cold. You can boil ginger root in water to flavor the warm beverage for a potent taste. You can also add ginger powder to a hot drink or take an even easier route by steeping ginger tea bags in hot water.

2. Cooking With Ginger as a Spice. Ginger adds a little kick to the flavoring of meats, fruits and veggies. Try enhancing the taste of your steak, chicken or asparagus by incorporating some freshly peeled and diced ginger into your dish.

3. Pickled Ginger. You can include ginger in your diet in pickled form. Pickled ginger is great appetizer that for neutralizing your taste buds, especially after you eat sushi or raw fish.

 

The health benefits of ginger stretch beyond its culinary appeal to help with skin rejuvenation, healing and appetite control. Using the power of ginger, you can adopt the Ayurvedic approach to extend balance from the mind to the body and leverage its numerous benefits.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

 
TAGS: art of living , Ayurveda , Ayurveda 101 , ayurveda cleanse , ayurveda detox , Ayurvedic diet , Ayurvedic Recipes , cleanse , food , ginger , Recipes , skincare , weight-loss

Ayurvedic Recipes: Indian Okra

By Diana Bellofatto
August 2, 2017

Summer is here, and you may be experiencing extreme temperatures and the imbalances that accompany the high heat. One of the most effective ways to regulate body temperature and bring one’s self back into balance is through diet.

Pitta is that which is governed, mainly, by the fire element, and responds well to sweet, astringent, and bitter tastes to bring it back into balance when overheated. Therefore, it would stand to reason that the hot summer is pitta season. We want to be careful not to add too much heat to this already fiery time of the year! Choosing the appropriate seasonal foods will help pacify pitta’s predilection for pyrogenic tendencies.

   

Indian Okra

  • 2 cups okra
  • 1 tbsp ginger grated
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ¼  tsp turmeric
  • Salt (to taste)
  • ½ lime
  • Handful chopped cilantro (for garnish)

Directions

When preparing okra use dry cutting board and knife to avoid okra getting wet.  Heat ghee in pan until melted.  Add cumin seeds until they “swim.”  Reduce heat and add fresh ginger.  Add coriander powder and turmeric.  Combine okra with spice mixture and cook on low for 15 minutes or until tender.  Add salt to taste.  Garnish with a squeeze of lime and fresh cilantro.

     

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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TAGS: art of living , Ayurveda , Ayurvedic diet , Ayurvedic Recipes , dosha , food , health , healthy lifestyle , natural lifestyle , Recipes , salad , summer , weight-loss

Ayurvedic Recipes: Sensational Summer Salad to the Rescue!

By Diana Bellofatto
July 3, 2017

Ayurvedic Recipes - Summer Salad

Summer is here, and you may be experiencing extreme temperatures and the imbalances that accompany the high heat. One of the most effective ways to regulate body temperature and bring one’s self back into balance is through diet.

Pitta is that which is governed, mainly, by the fire element, and responds well to sweet, astringent, and bitter tastes to bring it back into balance when overheated. Therefore, it would stand to reason that the hot summer is pitta season. We want to be careful not to add too much heat to this already fiery time of the year! Choosing the appropriate seasonal foods will help pacify pitta’s predilection for pyrogenic tendencies.

 

This light salad is a great way to honor your body’s nutritional needs without feeling too weighed down in the heat. See how the seasonal and light nature of this salad provides a tantalizing, tasty, and nutritionally balanced meal as each of the ingredients pave the way for pitta pacification.

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TAGS: art of living , Ayurveda , Ayurvedic diet , Ayurvedic Recipes , dosha , food , health , healthy lifestyle , natural lifestyle , Recipes , salad , summer , weight-loss

Healing Journeys of Ayurveda: Amy’s Story

By Paige Reist
April 20, 2017
 

Small changes can make a huge difference. Amy, one of our recent Panchakarma and Happiness Program participants, shares how much her life has changed since coming to the Art of Living Retreat Center – she’s happier, healthier, and forty pounds lighter!

Happening Upon Health

I love the program. I happened upon the Art of Living Retreat Center quite by accident – I had been battling some health problems over the past few years, actually.  I had looked for answers and hadn’t really found anything that worked.

The Art of Living Retreat Center happened to be about 2 hours away from my home. I said I can drive there, yay! And then I found a program that sounded like what I have been searching for for a very long time. I felt it could be my hope for health for the future.

Become the Person You Were Meant to Be

It’s been much more than a spa treatment. It was life-changing. It has been getting my health back. It has been getting my spirit back. It has helped me to retrain myself, to center myself and be the person that I really always wanted to be. The staff here works with you, supports you and gives you the tools you need in your toolbox in order to go home and start putting those items in your life. You can then start to implement them into your life for the future.

The staff teaches you how to eat for your body type, and it’s not a diet, but a better way of life. I finally feel healthy and vibrant again! I’ve lost forty pounds to date because of the lifestyle changes recommended, and my family of four has lost over one hundred pounds! It’s not all about the weight, though – the dedicated, caring employees here encourage and inspire you to be a well-rounded person.

I am amazed at the simple changes we can make to become the person we’ve always dreamed of being.

Forming Special Bonds

My favorite part of the program was the people — bonding with our little group and the staff. Everyone here is so gracious and loving and giving. I can’t even start to name people because then I would feel like I was excluding someone from the list. But Dr. Lokesh, Medha, I mean, Mary, everyone… People in our group come from all walks of life, driving in from Iowa, New York, driving from North Carolina. We have come together and we’re a family now. And we always will be, because we helped each other through a journey that no one else in our life could share with us. We help each other get through it and we’re friends and family forever, along with the staff that supported us as well.

It’s amazing to bond with people that you wouldn’t normally get to meet or even think that you would be connected with. The people in our group were just awesome. I love sitting and talking with each one of them. In fact, if I had one wish to be granted this week it would be that we could add a week to the program just to sit and talk with Dr. Lokesh, Medha, and the staff. I’d love to talk more with the people here because all of them have a wealth of knowledge, and it’s just amazing to sit and talk with them. There’s just a feeling here of majesty and connectedness that I’ve never experienced anywhere else I’ve been.

Having the Ability to Feel Calm and Centered

One thing that struck a chord with me was the meditation, definitely. I can look back now and realize that in the past I was trying to find forms of meditating, but they were not exactly the right ways of meditation. And when I would get stressed or frustrated I would want to get away and rethink the situation. But now I have the tools to really meditate, center myself and calm down, whatever the case may be. I can put that into practice every day in my life. And I think that’s going to make the difference.

Body, Mind, and Spirit

I came back and completed the Happiness Program, and I am amazed at the simple changes we can make to become the person we’ve always dreamed of being. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have discovered the Art of Living Center. Each and every person here is dedicated to helping others live better lives, and they truly care. It’s like having an extended family high on the mountaintops of Boone. This place is majestic. I’ve made lifetime friends here, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to live and love more deeply.

I have had the greatest experience and I’m so blessed and grateful that I found this program.

 

Interested in learning more about the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , Ayurveda , Happiness Program , healing journeys , healthy lifestyle , Panchakarma , weight-loss , wisdom

Ayurvedic Weight Loss (Part 2): Stress Reduction

By Dr. Harrison Graves, MD
September 20, 2016

stress_fygzwkwo

In our last blog we discovered how Ayurveda has given us the tools for losing weight and keeping it off.  We learned what to eat and when and the reason why fad diets don’t work. Right lifestyle is the key to successful weight management. That lifestyle includes not only right foods but also right stress reduction.
In this blog we’ll look at the reasons why  stress = weight gain. You will also discover the #1 way to destress —  the stress-busting practice of conscious breathing, or pranayama.

Is Stress Causing Your Weight Gain?
For many of us, stress is a fact of life. Unfortunately, stress is also a fact of fat. “Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight—or even add pounds,” says Pamela Peeke, MD, author of Body for Life for Women.

The Cortisol Connection
Few of us reach for carrots in stressful situations. Instead we go for the cupcake or the Krispy Kreme. Why? According to Elissa Epel, PhD, a researcher on stress eating at the University of California, San Francisco, ”We crave sweet, salty, and high-fat foods because they stimulate the brain to release pleasure chemicals that reduce tension.” This soothing effect becomes addictive. When you become anxious, you start to crave fattening foods.

 

Krispy Kreme

Whenever you are having a stressful day, your brain instructs your cells to pump out more cortisol, that damaging stress hormone. When cortisol skyrockets, food cravings appear.
Cortisol also drives up the blood pressure and the blood sugar. It encourages the body to store fat. It tells the body to replenish energy, even if few calories have been used up.
Unfortunately, the body will keep on producing cortisol as long as the stress continues. For that reason,  stress reduction is a critical component of weight management.

Ayurvedic Stress Management
Obviously, getting completely rid of all stress isn’t an option. But by taking steps to beat stress, you can get your cortisol levels and your weight under control—and improve your health. Let’s look at one of the most effective tools for managing stress and lowering cortisol: conscious breathing, or pranayama.
Breathing with a Purpose: Pranayama
Both Yoga and Ayurveda, the healing branch of yogic science, have given us the tools to reduce the effects of life stress. Perhaps the most effective (and fastest) stress reduction practice is conscious breathing, breathing with a purpose.
The yogic science of breath (pranayama) links body, breath, mind and spirit. Just as a kite string links the kite-flier to his kite, the breath links the mind with the universal life force, cosmic prana. In Yoga, conscious breathing is a unique way to soothe the nervous system and influencing stress-related disorders.

Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY)
One of the most powerful pranayamas in Yoga is the Sudarshan Kriya, taught at Art of Living centers around the world. Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) is a special breath technique that calms the mind and energizes the body.  Sudarshan means “proper vision” and kriya is a Sanskrit term for “purifying action.” Here purifying means to make sattvic —  balanced, centered and calm.
Sudarshan Kriya Yoga has been taught to more than 6 million people in 152 countries worldwide. SKY has been reported to be effective not only for treating stress and anxiety, but also for PTSD, depression, stress-related medical illness and substance abuse.
A recent article in the International Journal of Yoga, “Sudarshan Kriya Yoga: Breathing for Health,” highlighted the benefits of this powerful technique on the body-mind. The article states, “rather than allowing the emotions to alter the breath (and cause physiological changes which may prove unhealthy), one can skillfully use the breath to transform one’s emotional state.”
Besides reducing stress, SKY helps the body burn more fat. It boosts oxygen and stokes the digestive fire. In this respect, pranayama (regulating the flow of breath and energy through working with the breath) is instrumental in natural weight loss.
For those interested in learning the The Sudarshan Kriya, it is taught at AOLRC each month in the Happiness Program weekend workshops.

Summary
In this blog we learned how stress is a major contributing factor for weight gain.  For optimal weight management, we must learn how to manage life stress. Yoga and Ayurveda have given us the tools for stress reduction. One of the most effective tools for stress management is conscious breathing, or pranayama, like the Sudarshan Kriya. The Sudarshan Kriya is taught in the AOLRC Happiness Program each month.

Question:  What is the fastest way to reduce the effects of stress on the body-mind?

Comments? Please share your favorite way to de-stress, using the comment box below.

 

And to learn more about Ayurveda’s holistic approach to weight management, please check out the ebook: Weight Loss with Ayurveda.

 

weight loss guide from retreat center

 

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.

 

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Yoga’s Mindful Approach to Weight Management

By Sejal Shah
August 21, 2015

person-woman-summer-girl

In today’s culture of stresses and excesses, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can be a daunting task. It requires a variety of deliberate life adjustments, and experimentally combining separate-but-intertwining skill sets in five key areas: lifestyle, nutrition, fitness, psychology and spirituality.

Lasting Change
Instant fixes and miracle cures will not create lasting and healthy change. It is essential to be willing to implement simple persistent lifestyle habits and work through self-harming patterns. You must be ready to overcome emotional or psychological problems linked with food, and let go of nutritional and fitness  misconceptions. Weight issues do not happen all at once, and overcoming them will not happen all at once. Weight and food issues are complex, involving the body, the mind and the spirit. Therefore the solution must be holistic, integrating all of these aspects.

Spirituality (Spirit) & Mind
Spirituality will give you a broader outlook on life. With this improved perspective you are not carried away so easily by quick fixes or short term temptations and will tend to make choices which have sustainable long term impacts. When we are connected to our meaningful life purpose, we are more likely to make conscious food and life style decisions. Over time your connection will build a natural self-discipline which will bring you enormous and real freedom. This freedom will empower you to let go of the instant-gratification of unhealthy foods and look forward to long-term benefit of health. By empowering yourself to be in charge of your health and your life instead of depending upon anybody else you will see health as your real wealth and your body as a divine instrument to live a meaningful life. Life becomes a celebration.

Yoga (Body)
Yoga, which literally means the union of the body, mind and soul, is a spiritual route to weight loss – that is why Yoga is such an effective way to tackle this complex issue. Yoga is certainly a means to that end, but not exactly in the way one would expect. Yoga will help you develop a leaner, more supple body not by emphasizing a restricted food intake and targeted muscle-building, but by nurturing an attitude adjustment that paves the way for long-term change. Regular practice of all 8 limbs of Yoga establishes physical and mental poise in a natural, gradual, lasting and organic way. With this poise, you will see life in a much more expansive perspective and you are naturally equipped to make far better choices and handle any situation in much more effective way.

The physical aspects of yoga have become more popular worldwide, and people do consider yoga as another means of physical fitness, but yoga as a way of life offers a holistic package for total personal transformation. More than a workout, yoga is work within! It brings harmony between our body, mind and spirit so that all three function in unison. Coupled with its sister science – Ayurveda, an ancient healing method from India, the practice of yoga becomes easier and goes even much deeper. Combining Ayurveda and Yoga offers a complete system of well-being for body, mind and consciousness.

When practiced regularly and in disciplined way, yoga will not only improve your physical health but also mental and emotional health. Practicing yoga changes the way you approach life, your body, and eating. Yoga shows you how to honor and appreciate your body for all of the amazing things that it can do for you and points you in the direction of wanting to fill your body with the best possible fuel rather than processed junk food. And changing your mind or the way you look to your body and the foods you feed it will be a much more effective weight-loss tool than mindlessly following any diet fads.

Typical weight-loss programs address the symptom (excess fat) and ignore the cause, which is essentially an imbalance caused by or manifested as any range of emotional problems, bad life style habits and poor nutrition. Unlike going to the gym, calorie burn is not top of mind for a yogi. Yes, aerobic exercise burns calories and can help you lose weight. But will it change you internally, thereby causing a lasting weight loss? The calorie calculated weight loss program does ultimately create a load on the system and eventually you will get bored and stressed by constantly remaining on your toes to watch the calories!

Yoga fosters a body awareness and discipline, which is something that goes deeper than calorie burn. Yoga cleanses and purifies your body from the inside and as an effect you will naturally want to put healthier and nourishing things in the body. Over a period of time, your taste buds change, and so will your cravings and aversions. Thus it can lead to healthier eating, mindful living, and self-care. Yoga can make you fall in love with healthy living. All of these things can lead to successful and lasting weight loss. While an hour spent at the gym exerts pressure on the body, yoga helps ease the resulting stress and helps tackle emotions like anger and frustration which often are often the cause of weight gain tendencies. Through a sustained yoga practice, your body will change, your health and metabolism will improve, and your peace of mind and self-discipline will return. A balanced mind and self-discipline are the key components for solving any kind of life problems, sustainable weight-loss is just one of them.

Are you ready for an experiment for 3 weeks?
Next time your favorite chips are in front of you and you are so tempted to eat the whole bag, just take a few deep breaths and then ask three questions:

  • Is eating this pack of chips going to make my life easy or difficult?
  • What will happen at the most if I don’t eat the pack?
  • What is better or healthier option than eating the pack of chips?
 

If you, like so many of us, have tried many quick fix solutions and you are feeling frustrated, don’t give up.  I am sharing this wisdom with the intention that it will help you to regain your hope and confidence and you will be ready to give yet another try.

Stay tuned, soon I will be sharing much more interesting tips and eye-opening facts to help you overcome your problem. Believe me, every problem is an opportunity and blessing in disguise and have faith that you are never given any problem which you don’t have the capacity to handle and solve.

Much love and peace.

 

If you’d like to learn more about a holistic approach to weight-loss that combines Ayurveda & yoga, check out our ebook on Weight-Loss tips from Ayurveda.

 

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