What my Dr.’s visit can tell you about your yoga practice

I made the mistaking of promising to pull together my recent visit to the doctor with what it seemed to say about my — and by extension, anyone’s — yoga practice.

I guess I need to own up, at some point, to that promise. I’m still a bit sketchy that  it will be too much about me — but I’ll try to avoid that. So here goes. All comparisons are to a year earlier, about when I started practicing at Omkar108:

Doctor’s report: Blood pressure was down about 20 points, taking me from the questionable to the perfectly fine level.

Doctor's caduceus, via drblayney.com
What it means for you: At some point during the year, and I think fairly early on (i.e. before I went to Tulum in late January with Tim Miller), I realized that my Ashtanga practice really is a moving meditation. I don’t think about anything for an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half. Add in some pranayama, and I think I can half-realistically claim to have a meditation practice. And now I have lower blood pressure.

Doctor’s report: 16 pounds lost, including loss of 4% body fat. (My doctor had targeted a 2% drop.)

What it means for you: Don’t eat wheat! Well, I suspect the cutting out/down on wheat in the final few months of this year led to about half of that weight loss, but in general it was the ongoing recognition that what I eat matter for how I feel, how I practice and, to go all Cosmo on you, how I look. Well, that and the most-everyday sweaty Ashtanga practice.

Doctor’s report: Metabolic rate up (so burning more calories), lung capacity strong, hearing great.

What it means for you: I’m not sure that last one is really an effect (unless you count Karna Pindasana, which I don’t do perfectly, by the way), but all the activity from the vinyasa practice is having the desired effects on the system. So don’t just do Iyengar, people!

Doctor’s report: As part of the weight loss, I did drop about 5.5 pounds of lean muscle — but 10.5 pounds of fat. Nothing to worry about, the doctor says, because of the ratio.

What it means for you: I’ve written before how I moved from weightlifting and running to just Ashtanga and, for the first couple of years, I kept about the same muscle mass proportions, and even added a little muscle. That changed this year, not surprisingly given the weight loss. (I’ll admit to being a little disappointed. A couple pounds drop wouldn’t have struck me, but five? And, yes, that’s not my being at my best.) I think it clearly is just a matter of my having upped the vinyasa (including incorporating jump backs). I do think I may have cut back a little too much on protein, and I’ll be thinking about that part of my diet. My doctor did suggest she expected an increase in muscle over the next year, that I’ve gone through the “burning through” stage, I guess. I’d take that.

Doctor’s report: And my prostate…

What it means for you: Just kidding.

Doctor’s report: Keep doing what I’m doing. She didn’t even push running this time, as she has in the past.

What it means for you: I seem to be living proof that a regular Ashtanga practice combined with smart eating (or, arguably, a nearly crazy diet) is enough, health-wise. Add in the mental/emotional/spiritual factors and…

Well, you be the judge.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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