I recently read this article in Elephant Journal about the downfalls of promoting yoga as a weight loss tool and I have to say, I completely agree. Yes, yoga can contribute to a healthy lifestyle that can help practitioners lose weight. And yes, we are a country riddled with obesity, so encouraging healthy practices is a good idea. However, there are two important downfalls associated with using yoga as a weight loss tool: it promotes a negative body image and it contributes to the commercialization of yoga.
As someone who struggled with body image for years, I know all about using exercise as punishment. Though I have always felt spiritually nourished by running, I used to use other forms of exercise – weight lifting, spin, step aerobics, cardio kickboxing and boot camp – as little more than tools to enable my fear of gaining an ounce. If I ate a few extra calories, I punished myself with exercise. And when I worked out, the anxiety over my weight would be quieted, but only temporarily. It was like a drug. I never had enough – and on the rare occasion when I missed a workout, I’d go into emotional withdrawal. In this way, exercise took me farther away from accepting myself and my body – the opposite of what yoga is supposed to do.
In addition, promoting yoga as a weight loss tool commercializes the practice. It puts it on par with jazzercize and zumba. Yoga, in this scenario, becomes something to market. And of course, it is intended to be something much more profound than a moneymaking gimmick.
What do you think? Is it a good idea to promote yoga as a method of losing weight?