Yoga in Practice

Yoga May Aid Body Image, Cut Eating Disorders

Mind-Body Workout May Help Women Make Peace With Their Bodies

By Miranda Hitti

WebMD Medical News

May 20, 2005 — Yoga may make women feel better about their bodies, steering them away from eating disorders – a new study shows.

In fact, yoga may have an edge over other forms of exercise in that regard, according to the study in the Psychology of Women Quarterly.

The reason may be yoga’s mind-body aspect, say the researchers, who included psychologist Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD, of California’s Preventive Medicine Institute.

“Through yoga, this study suggests that women may have intuitively discovered a way to buffer themselves against messages that tell them that only a thin and ‘beautiful’ body will lead to happiness and success,” says Daubenmier in a news release.

If backed by further research, yoga may help prevent and treat eating disorders, say researchers.

Yoga Study

Daubenmier worked on the project as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She compared women who practiced yoga regularly with those who did other forms of exercise. Women who hadn’t done either form of exercise, for at least two years, were also included.

First, Daubenmier and colleagues studied women who were 37 years old on average. Next, they studied college-aged women.

The women completed surveys about the type of exercise they performed, how often they did it, and their feelings about their bodies. Those who practiced yoga expressed healthier attitudes toward their bodies and had less disordered eating behaviors.

Meanwhile, spending more time on aerobic forms of exercise (such as running or exercise classes) was associated with greater disordered eating attitudes, the study shows.

The researchers say body mass index didn’t explain the findings because they took that into account.

Which Came First: Yoga or Body Image?

Did yoga enhance women’s sense of their bodies, or did it attract women who already felt good about themselves? More research is needed to find out. Daubenmier’s study didn’t assign women to do any particular form of exercise.

Of course, many women who exercise aerobically don’t have eating disorders. Health experts encourage men, women, and children to exercise regularly and lead an active lifestyle for optimum health.

Yoga practitioners learn to tune in to the body as it moves through the poses. That could emphasize the body’s abilities, instead of its appearance, say the researchers.

That mindful approach is available to anyone, but yoga may help build that skill.

SOURCES: Daubenmier, J. Psychology of Women Quarterly, June 2005; vol 29: pp 207-219. News release, Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Yoga Teacher Training Question of the Month

Q: Some of my Christian friends are concerned that if I join yoga instructor training, I’ll become a Buddhist. My minister feels that in Yogic literature there is the essence of Buddhism. I see many different Buddhist meditation methods and wonder if this will challenge my beliefs.

A: Firstly, we don’t preach religion in any of our Yoga instructor training courses. However, there is a connection between Yogic philosophy and many of the world’s other philosophies and religions. Good ethical behavior is a universal concept, which is shared by most of the people on this planet.

About Yoga and Buddhism

For many people in the western world, the words “Buddhism” and “Yoga” have similar connotations, and the beginnings of both can be traced back to the spiritual climate of ancient India. Although the two systems share many similarities, they also have distinct differences.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is an eight-limbed Vedic philosophy that encompasses an entire way of living. Although many people confuse this with Hatha Yoga, a practice that involves only poses, it represents far more. The word “Yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word for “union” and can be defined as a spiritual path uniting the mind, body and spirit.

What is Buddhism?

While Buddhism began with the work of a man called: Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha), his teachings were not recorded until years later, when scholars compiled them into Sutras. The purpose of Buddhism is to avoid suffering and to gain enlightenment, ultimately being released from the cycle of rebirth. While practices vary among sects, mindfulness meditation, mantras and mandalas are associated with the religion.

How are Buddhism and Yogic Philosophy related?

Since much of Yogic wisdom and Buddhist knowledge were originally interconnected, their early traditions and messages were sometimes blended in Vedic texts. Today the boundaries between the two are blurring as elements of one are incorporated into the other in the western world.

One difference between Yogic methodology and Buddhism is the environment in which they are generally practiced. In the west, Yoga training is often practiced in a commercial studio and Buddhism is practiced in a temple. Michael Stone, Yoga instructor, Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist, leads a Buddhist community called the Centre of Gravity. In his words, he is “committed to the integration of traditional teachings with contemporary psychological and philosophical understanding.” An activist, he feel that coming together in a neutral place to discuss similarities and differences is the answer to creating change and strengthening both practices.

Just as Buddhism strengthens the mind’s ability to sit during mindfulness meditations, Yogic methodology helps to provide awareness of the physical body and its relationship to the psyche and the spirit. While a person can easily participate in Yogic exercise without being a student of Buddhist philosophy, each path offers ideas and traditions beneficial to the other. However, the same is true when you consider Yogic philosophy to any of the world’s universal philosophies, because each philosophy asks us to live an ethical life and to avoid harming others.

Yoga Teacher Training Recipe of the Month

Vegetarian Chili

There are so many ways to make chili that you should explore your own creativity with this recipe. You can substitute anything; sometimes, I use kidney or Cannelini beans instead of Pintos.


  • ½ lb. Pinto Beans
  • 3 minced Shallots
  • 4 Garlic cloves
  • 1 sweet red pepper chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
  • 1lb. Morning Star ground meat substitute, Tofu, or similar soy product.
  • 1 Tbsp. Basil
  • 1 Tbsp. Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. Rosemary
  • 26 oz. of your favorite tomato sauce, salsa, or a mixture of the two

Cook pre-soaked beans in large pot on medium heat. Add Tbsp. chili powder and keep adding enough water throughout the process to avoid burning.

This will take a while because Pintos and Cannelini beans take nearly two hours to get soft.

In a separate frying pan, add virgin olive oil and cook thawed meat substitute with shallots, garlic, and red pepper until caramelized. Once this is done, add the tomato sauce and simmer on very low heat.

When the beans are tender, combine both pans and stir in your large pan or a very large bowl.


If you want to thicken this dish: Use approximately 2 Tbsp. natural peanut or almond butter. Just make sure your guests don’t have an allergy to these nuts. Allergies to nuts can sometimes be fatal!

If you want this dish to be spicier, add ground cayenne to the beans when cooking or use a spicy salsa. Just one teaspoon of cayenne will make a difference, so spice to your taste carefully.

I actually make an organic cayenne repellant for squirrels and rodents. That one fact alone can attest to the strength of cayenne.

Lastly, you can use a little celery salt or garlic salt to enhance the taste.

Mangi e goda! (Eat and Enjoy)