July 10, 2011

To carry a burden: How yoga can help us women

Time to be honest.
I've been keeping up with the yoga challenge guidelines everyday, but I'm only doing the bare minimum.

I still feel like a slacker.
I have GOT to find some motivation to jump start my fitness again. It's officially week two into the challenge, so it's time to add a little bit more time into my practice.

However, I am starting to feel better mentally, if only just a little right now. Mostly I have been focusing on relaxation techniques before bed to help de-stress. I tend to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at 5 am everyday, I'm a creature of routine, but some nights I don't always quiet my mind down soon enough and have trouble either falling asleep or waking up not rested at all. I whole-heartily believe that is part of the burden of being a woman and wife. We often overfill our minds with so many lists and to-do's, and jobs and worries, that we cause ourselves to literally lose sleep over them. I cannot even imagine adding the job of mother into the mix.
*If sleep is something you struggle with, check out the linked article above as well as this video: Jason Crandell evening relaxation sequence

This challenge has been hard for me but I've discovering it is much needed. Work is really dragging me down lately, and Music Man and I have been traveling the last two weekends. So not only have I been trying to adjust my practice to traveling, but I've been trying to balance the whole mindful eating part of the challenge, too. (I am very proud of myself though for only eating one piece of CakeLore cake at the wedding we went to this weekend.)

See, I grew up in a house where I ate what was put in front of me. My mother did not buy soy, or tofu, or organic. We ate red meat, and dairy, salt, and sugar. But in moderation and in good balance. These things have carried over into my own family now. Music Man and I are still newlyweds, and I bake with real butter and sugar. We just got a fourth of a cow from my mother-in-law. And I purchase regular milk and store produce. The truth is, we simply cannot afford to eat any differently. Unfortunately, to eat "healthy" by society's standards (and by that I mean strictly whole-grain, organic, hormone-free) it costs money and giant farmer's markets that we just don't have.
So I do the best I can. I buy store brand items, but try to stay on the perimeter of the store (that's where the more healthy items are.) I don't buy boxed mixes or side dishes: I like to use spices and I steam a lot of vegetables. But yes, I do buy Wal-Mart bagged chicken and produce. But that's what I grew up on: hormone-filled and non-organic. And I'm healthy.
Don't get me wrong: I won't judge you on what you eat, and I would strictly shop at farmer's markets or Whole Foods if I could afford it. But since I can't, I make do... and I try to be mindful about what I eat.
I have a sweet tooth, but I'm learning I cannot deny myself sugar. For me, mindful eating does not mean to cut out any certain one thing from your diet (unless you are allergic) but instead, to eat in moderation. To stop eating when I'm full. To eat smaller portion sizes. To limit my sugar intake to maybe only a sweetened cup of coffee a day instead of that plus chocolate after dinner.
It means much more fruits and veggies throughout the day or with meals. It means swapping white for wheat bread and whole-grain pasta. And drinking lots and lots of water.

Yoga is helping this. A study has found that regular practice of yoga helps us to "be more aware of our actions" thus causing me to think twice about having cookies after dinner, and to maybe eat a banana instead. (I'm still struggling with the yogurt over ice cream, though.)
Just like the sleeping thing, eating can also be a burden. I know many women, and I am very guilty myself, who struggle with emotional eating. My hope is that not only will yoga become a physical practice to heal my body, but an emotional one that causes me to genuinely be more aware of my stress and my eating.
And to maybe share those techniques with you.

I challenge you this week to try simply 5 minutes of relaxation techniques before bed. But before you do that, turn off the TV, computer, and smart-phone and read a little, or even stretch out the 5 minutes to 30.
I also want to challenge you this week to be more aware of what you are eating. You don't have to keep a journal or anything... just stop eating when you are full. Try to empty that water glass every couple of hours. And swap something sugary sweet for something naturally sweet.

I think you'll feel a little lighter by Friday.

1 comment:

  1. Great post today on eating well. Thanks for the affirmation that we didn't always eat junk food and tried to be at least somewhat healthy in our house without going overboard and spending tons of money. This woman appreciates it greatly!