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Health & Balance

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Yoga: Slim Bodies, Strong Minds

Slim Bodies, Strong Minds

Changing Your Lifestyle

Michael A. Taylor, MD, medical editor of Yoga Journal magazine, and a gynecologic oncologist in Carmichael, Calif., cautions that yoga itself will not do the trick in helping you lose unwanted pounds.

"When people are looking for a magic bullet, they're looking for one bullet, one thing that will change their life," he says. "Yoga isn't a magic bullet ... but it does offer the benefit of a change in philosophy and lifestyle."

If you take up yoga purely to lose weight, you may be disappointed, Taylor says. "It's when you become involved with the whole lifestyle process -- that's where yoga fits in."

Even if you're less than svelte, you can join a yoga class. "Not all yogis are thin," Taylor says. "Anyone can do yoga: older people, physically disabled people, overweight people."

What you need to do, however, is know your body's physical limitations -- and make sure that your instructor knows them as well, Taylor advises. "Correct guidance is important," he says. "When beginning the yoga process, it's important to be aware of your own limitations -- to rest when you need to rest, for example -- but it's also important to tell the instructor so that he or she can work with your individual situation."

In a yoga class, it's not important what you look like, Taylor adds. "The image of their body may concern people who want to lose weight, but in class, you're in your own space. You learn not to judge yourself or others, and this creates a safe environment."

Beginning yoga classes also focus less on postures and more on becoming aware of your body and learning how it moves, Taylor says. "You're really learning, from the very beginning, to nurture and take care of yourself."

Something for Everyone

If the poses are difficult for you, modifications can always be made. If you have a hard time bending, for example, you can start off doing the postures in a chair or even on your bed. Many yoga postures can also be done with props, like bolsters or blocks, so that you don't have to bend as far.

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