This has certainly been an interesting month-long challenge. In the latter half of the month, my resolution to do yoga daily completely fell apart. I could blame it on being busy with exams and moving, but in reality, the truth is that I grew tired of it and didn’t prioritize it. Towards the end, I was just doing a few quick yoga stretches each day, and there were a shocking number of days that I missed altogether.
That being said, I don’t feel that it was a failure of a challenge. I learned a few things this month, which I think were in part because of my yoga experience. I have been able to overcome my emotional eating quite a bit, which I’m very pleased about, and I’ve been paying much more attention to my body. Yoga is not something I would want to do on a daily basis, but I think that if I do it even once a week- or just stretch on a daily basis- I would still reap a lot of benefits of it. Practicing yoga really helped to relax my mind and allowed me to understand more about myself and my body:
1) Frequency of eating: Dr. J emailed me a while back to tell me a little bit about the Warrior-style way of eating. The idea behind this type of diet is that you allow yourself a window of about four hours each day in which to eat. During the other 20 hours, the person following this kind of diet fasts. It’s not something I would normally condone, because I’m a big believer in grazing throughout the day, but as I listened to my body this month, I realized that I don’t graze quite as much as I thought I did. I actually tend to eat most of my calories within the first five hours or so of waking up. This made me realize why I have so many difficulties with going out to dinner, for example- my body isn’t used to eating less throughout the day (as I try to do, if I know that I’ll be eating a lot later on), so then I just wind up eating my usual amount in the morning in addition to the big dinner. That’s rather problematic for maintaining a healthy weight! I’m not entirely sure what I plan to do about this, but it was interesting to at least be aware of this and recognize that my eating style has evolved from what it used to be. I’ve been deliberately trying to renegotiate my eating patterns, and I’m slowly weaning myself off of the habit of eating most of my day’s worth of food by noon.
2) Sleep: Yes, you knew I was going to bring up sleep yet again. My nightmares didn’t go away from practicing yoga, but I found that it was easier for me to fall asleep at night than it has been. It was nice to not toss and turn, lying awake for hours before falling asleep. I’m certain that it was at least partially related to my mind being calmer. It may also be because I’m now in my beautiful condo which I love
3) Stress: Finishing university classes, writing exams, finding someone to sublet my apartment, and moving from my apartment to my new condo meant that the stress was really piling on this month. Reminding myself to breathe really did do a lot. Taking those 10 or 20 minutes each day in the first half of the month to practice yoga and stretch my body and my mind relaxed me so that I wasn’t freaking out quite as much as I might have been. I tend to “freak out” more on the inside than the outside; I don’t usually show my stress to other people. However, I found that yoga was a good release to allow me to not get stressed on the inside, either. I wasn’t feeling as though I was hiding stress: I felt as though my stress was honestly diminished from the calmness that entered my life from the yoga. It seemed to me that I was more relaxed as time went on, so I think that even though I was practicing yoga less, it still contributed to helping me to learn how to relax at any time during the day.
An article about intuitive eating appeared a while ago at Confessions of a Compulsive Eater (if you aren’t already reading her blog, go check it out! It’s fantastic). It served as inspiration and motivation for me to listen even more to my body. My emotional eating patterns aren’t completely gone, of course, but listening to my body with the help of yoga did help me get a better understanding of it. And for that, I am grateful.
Are you a yogi? Did you take up this challenge? Have you heard of the Warrior-style way of eating?