Everyone knows what it’s like to crave something yummy without actually feeling hungry for it. Whether it’s sweet and decadent or salty and crunchy, sometimes our cravings cause us to lose our grip on our self-control and indulge in those guilty pleasures.
Food cravings are especially difficult to keep under control during the holiday season when baked goods, alcoholic beverages, and heavy comfort foods are abundant. Combine that with the stress of having to get all the holiday shopping, event planning, decorating, entertaining, and other tasks done in a matter of weeks and you’ve potentially got a high-sugar, high-fat recipe for disaster (no pun intended).
Believe it or not, yoga can help. Some research has shown that mindfulness-based interventions like yoga can help to enhance treatment, prevention, and recovery of addictions. And yes, that includes those food cravings that make us feel like we’re practically addicted to eating.
So next time you find yourself pining for a bag or chips or an extra large piece of chocolate cake, look toward your practice. Here are three ways you can tweak your yoga practice to help you get through the holidays without packing on too much extra weight.
Practice Yoga to Reduce Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety and stress cause us to reach for tempting foods in hopes that they’ll soothe (or at least dull) our emotions. They may work temporarily as a distraction, but you\re likely to end up feeling worse than before.
As a preventative strategy, you can target anxiety and stress imbalances by integrating yoga sequences into your practice designed to help you wring out negative energy from the body and mind. Think restorative poses like forward folds and empowering poses like the warrior poses.
Breathe to Mindfully Observe Your Cravings
In yoga, we move our bodies to the rhythm of our breath, but conscious breathing alone increases awareness. Sitting in easy pose while focusing on your breath may be all that you need to become aware of where your cravings are really coming from.
If you’re interested in trying other forms of pranayama, nadi shodana (alternate nostril breathing), is a powerful breathing technique worth trying. It’s thought that this breathing technique helps to restore balance between the two hemispheres of the brain to promote greater physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Meditate to Focus on the Foods You Desire
You’d think that to avoid giving into cravings, doing your best to ignore and avoid temptation would be the key to success. Interestingly, a study suggests that the opposite may be true.
When study subjects consciously imagined food first before given the opportunity to indulge, their food cravings were curbed and they indulged in smaller amounts compared to subjects who were asked to imagine scenarios unrelated to food. This suggests that using mindfulness meditation to focus on tempting foods before actually eating them may actually help you want less, so you can eat less.
While we always encourage our readers to do their best at seeking to balance their indulgent food choices with moderation, we understand that many could use a little extra help around this time of year. For this reason, Yogi Surprise members will be receiving their very own copy of Sugar Detox: Three Weeks to Healthier, Happier, More Balanced Life by Filippa Salomonsson in their December Lifestyle boxes to help them star the New Year off right.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!