This is the story of a friend of mine, Rachel. This is the story of her 30 days of yoga. What life was before and after the challenge.
Rachel always had a very interesting relationship with food all of her life. As a kid, she was chubby, and the weight kept piling up the more she grew. By the time she reached her teens, she weighed almost 160 pounds.
As a result, she had few friends and was bullied in school. To make herself feel better, she would indulge her sweet tooth more and more, but this did not help things in any way, and by her thirties, she had long since accepted her status as a plus size girl.
After her first child, whom she got through a C-section, she realised things were slowly getting out of hand, and she needed to make a change if she was to see her son through college, and this is when she was introduced to Yoga.
At first, she was skeptical, because, to say the truth. Rachel had tried very many fad-diets, and none had worked so far, and exercise was just not her thing. She couldn’t see how doing yoga was going to help her in any way.
She believed that it was one of those myths, or “old wives” tales that people hype too much. How was stretching and sitting in funny posses going to help her lose weight? If going to the gym every day did not work, then this was definitely not going to work either.
This is her story from her 30 day yoga challenge.
This is what happened during my 30 days of yoga challenge:
To start things off, it was not easy finding the time to do yoga on a daily basis. With a small two-year-old child, I had a lot on my hands, and leaving him was even harder for me. But, I decided to try this and made things work. Each day, between 2-4 was my “me” time.
I decided not to think about the baby, and to focus on making myself better. This worked, in part because I had a support system at home, and everyone wanted me to do this.
Now, remember my CS incision was just under 2 years old. I had healed, but the closing was still a little bit sensitive and I did not want to re-open it. Or have some other complications happen due to the yoga.
So, I did some consultations and got a go-ahead from my obstetrician, who also advised me to start small. He was very cautious and asked me to only do the exercises that he had approved, but with time, he became confident that all was well, and I could take it up a notch.
Now, you need to understand that I am one of those people that give up easily. I just don’t dwell on anything that does not give me instant results, and so, this was just a bit hard for me to keep going, even if I couldn’t see the changes immediately.
Everyone advised me not to give up, and I did not.
I would do 30 minutes of yoga, and for someone who had been diagnosed with obesity, this was not easy at all. I hated every minute of it, as I couldn’t do much. But as I kept on going, I discovered an inner peace, and pride that I had not felt before.
I even started watching YouTube videos and added ten more minutes each night before I slept. Pushing through the feelings of giving up has got to be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it was worth it.
Next, we look at the benefits and what I was able to achieve in just 30 days.
You are going to love this;
My Before and After – 5 Incredible Changes:
Imagine me, a 224 pounds woman, with a big tummy due to my CS, trying to touch my toes. It is impossible. I couldn’t even bend, leave alone do a backward flip.
This is what happens in yoga;
You become flexible. I could not believe it!
In just 4 weeks, I could strike some unbelievable poses, that no one could believe. Today I can do a Sirsa Padasana – this is a head to foot pose easily, but that’s because I have had lots and lots of practice. In my obese days, I could not even twist my body to make half of that pose.
So, yes, my body is much more flexible now.
I felt stronger than ever before. I could lift heavy objects after the 30 days, much more easily than ever before.
With yoga, I gained muscle strength that I did not even know I needed. Plus, it helped me look good even in the gym, where I now started to lift weights. If you are an older person reading this, you should know that doing yoga can make you strong, which will prevent you from losing your balance and falling.
A better heart rate:
I realized that before I started doing yoga, I was at risk of a heart attack, plus I had shortness of breath. Climbing up a flight of stairs was a big problem for me, as I would feel like my lungs were about to jump out of my chest.
With Yoga, my heartbeat was in the aerobic range, which they tell me is very good at preventing the risk of a heart attack.
The best classes for boosting your heart rate are the Ashtanga classes, as not all yoga will get you into the aerobic range.
But, even if you do not do the Ashtanga yoga classes, all yoga has the ability to improve your cardiovascular conditioning. This lowers your resting heart rate, improves your intake of oxygen while exercising, and increases your endurance.
Of course, with weight comes the risk of high blood pressure.
At my heaviest, my BP read 140/90mm Hg, and I was on medication to manage this. Not to mention plenty of other medications I had to take for different kinds of problems.
After the 30 days of yoga, I realized that slowly, my blood pressure was normalizing and sooner or later, I would not need to take medication for this anymore.
Studies have actually shown that people who have hypertension are able to reduce their systolic blood pressure with up to 26-points, and 15-points of diastolic blood pressure.
In fact, you will be surprised to know that the higher the blood pressure, the lower it will come down as a result of yoga.
Most people who are overweight will experience bouts of depression every now and then, and for some, it may even be more frequent. I was no exception, and once in a while, you would find me with a big bowl of ice cream, just trying to eat my troubles away.
What I discovered during yoga is that I was feeling much better about myself, and I was even smiling more often than before. For me, I thought it was due to the fact that I finally had taken matters into my own hands, but there is actually a more accurate explanation as to why you shall stop feeling depressed once to start doing yoga.
According to scientists, yoga can work as an anti-depressant and could help to reduce the issues of depression. This is because, yoga decreases the levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that stimulates the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that is associated with depression.
Once this is reduced in your body, you begin to feel much better and happier. People who do yoga are also less likely to commit suicide.
After 30 days of regular yoga, you will slowly start to realize some, if not all of the above benefits in your body. It is, therefore, safe to say that yoga will definitely do you a world of good. It will keep you sane in an insane world, and help you manage situations much better.
One thing you should note also is that the benefits of yoga are all interconnected to each other.
One benefit leads to the next, and the next, and so on…
You should therefore not go into it to improve one area of your life, use yoga to give you a holistic change.
They say that “persistence pays” it may be a cliché, but trust me, it pays. Now I do not need anyone to beg me to do yoga, I do it daily without any encouragement. It has become my way of life. This is what happens when you persist.
Pushing through the hard first few weeks was hard, but once I got into the habit, it was very easy, and now yoga comes naturally for me. Try first the 30-day challenge and see what you shall be able to achieve in that short period of time.