I was reading a post on lifestooshortforlowfatcheese’s blog (wow that’s a mouthful!), and one of the things she talks about in this post is craving junk food. As a response to that, I was thinking about how stopping eating junk food isn’t really what makes me stop craving it, but doing yoga every day (and I would like to emphasize that: every day not every other day, not three times a week) does.

One of the results of doing my 30 day challenge way back when, was that I lost weight. Bikram says that practicing his yoga will bring people to their optimum body weight, whether that means gaining weight or losing it, and I think that the reasons for this are both physical and psychological.

Physically, some of the poses in Bikrams are designed to effect the metabolism, by either speeding it up or slowing it down. Other postures are designed to optimize digestion. Overall the Bikram’s series is a purifying ritual, and when you come out feeling so clean and pure, it doesn’t make sense to run for a hamburger. Psychologically speaking, when I leave my Bikram’s class, I feel strong and light and clean, and I like to hold on to that feeling for as long as possible.

Foods like bread, cheese, and chocolate stimulate the release of serotonin and endorphins that produce feelings of euphoria. When a person is feeling drowsy or depressed she might crave something high in carbohydrates or sugar, as they provide a quick source of energy (but of course lead to a blood sugar crash soon after). When you are doing Bikram’s, a lot of those types of cravings are taken away, because you are producing those chemicals organically. You are regulating your sleep cycles, improving your energy levels, and increasing your mental alertness. You stop needing those foods as much.

How can you increase the possibility of this happening? For one thing do yoga as much as possible. More importantly, when you are in class, really listen to what the teacher is saying. It is important to know the goal of the posture, and the target body part (hint: going deeper into the posture is often not the goal). For example in standing separate leg head to knee pose the goal is compression of the abdomen.

This doesn’t mean you will definitely stop craving junk foods, or wanting them, but you may find that instead of wanting to hoover a bag of chocolate chips, a small handful will satisfy you.

Happy Yoga-ing!