Jill Miller on Yoga, Weight Loss, and Eating Disorders

The GaiamTV interview series features in-depth conversations with some of the nation’s top yoga instructors and wellness experts. GaiamTV is a lifestyle media website that features thousands of online videos and yoga classes designed “to nourish your mind, body, and soul.” Every Tuesday and Thursday we’ll introduce you to a new expert. First up this week, Jill Miller!

Hi Jill. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us! We wanted to start out just by asking you about the video you offer on GaiamTV, Yoga for Weight Loss. Why would someone do yoga for weight loss? Why not hiking or biking or some other form of exercise… do you think yoga is more effective?

I would not claim yoga as a stand-alone is a “more effective” approach for weight loss. Changing one’s body requires change on multiple levels from inside-out: nutrition, mind-set, stress levels and day-to-day activities all bear weight (so to speak) when a body has decided that it is time to shed. What yoga brings to the table is a body-wide introduction into deeper connections between muscles and tissues that may be glossed over by simple one-plane movements such as hiking or biking.

Yoga has a way of teasing out dormant connections amongst multiple muscle and connective tissues layers which revitalizes a body’s way of moving in space, and a person’s connection to their body as a special entity… not just something to shrink or get rid of. A practice of yoga helps to harmonize a body that lives soaked in stress hormones or may be trapped in a mental state of having a negative self-image. Most yoga methods emphasize connecting emotions with actions, and slowing down a mind that may have removed itself (metaphorically speaking) from it’s own body.

In short, yoga is exceptional as an adjunct or additive practice for a person attempting to lose weight. 

How has yoga helped you personally find your ideal weight?

In general I am uncomfortable with terms like “ideal” weight, and “weight loss.” I feel that culturally, we are extremely obsessed with body fat as a barometer of health, well-being and social acceptance. Having survived both anorexia and bulimia as a young woman, my journey to robust health did not, nor was ever, satisfied by an ideal number on a scale. I can modify my shape based on the amount of activity I do, or the amount of calories that I eat, or by increasing or decreasing stresses in my life. Weight is hormonal, nutritional, emotional and responsive to exertion.

So, that being said… My personal Yoga Tune Up® practice has made me incredibly conscious of my own appetite, my cravings, and specifically what emotions might be triggering certain cravings. Yoga gives me a barometer to witness my behavior around food so that I can see whether I am eating out of genuine hunger, or whether I am acting on unconscious impulses. Additionally, my practice gives me a chance to feel deeply, both on a soft-tissue level, the movements of muscles, fascias and fluids, and a chance to feel my innermost secrets expressing themselves through movement, my drives, my thoughts, my clarity. All of this brings about balance, because I am seeing myself as I am and ultimately that helps me make better choices in my life.

What was your intent in creating the Yoga for Weight Loss Kit?

When I was initially approached about this title, I had a really hard time with it. Because I had gone through years of serious issues with anorexia and bulimia, I recognized that I was now in a position to perpetuate this never-ending product production around the concept of “weight loss,” which I feel in many cases does not create a supportive portrait around the process. So many thousands of products are designed to “shred,” “rip,” “destroy” or “annihilate” the body in the name of weight loss.  I truly find it repulsive and psychologically harmful to us all, especially the most vulnerable, young women and teens.

So I wrestled with these questions as I contemplated whether to create the kit or not. Ultimately I decided that I would rather have my voice contribute to the subject rather than be silent. My director, Rebecca Stetson was completely supportive of my approach, and gave me full creative control over my messages within the kit. My intent with the kit was to emphasize:

1) The practice helps put you in touch with your feelings, both physical and emotional to help you truly discern what you are craving.

2) The physical practice is novel with lots of surprising dynamic moves that are born from my Yoga Tune up® approach that safely prepare a body to move better as a human form… rather than an “ideal” form.

3) The practice makes you sweat, get strong, limber and is super fun!

I continue to have amazing feedback from video students who love my approach and who appreciate that their body is respected in all ways while encouraging them to make these new connections in order to live better in their body.

We recommend:

Yoga for Weight Loss Kit with Jill Miller.

Ignite your metabolism and increase endurance with this fat-burning yoga workout. Uniquely designed 3 lb. push-up weights add resistance to help you lose weight faster. The ergonomic weights are integrated into each pose in this 60 minute workout to heat up your body for ultra-efficient toning and fat burning. The round bolster helps add support to poses and with it’s unique rounded shape, can be used as a comfortable seat during the post-workout meditation. This program features 3 – 20 minute workouts.

 

 

Watch the Yoga for Weight Loss videos for FREE here:

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photo by: adria.richards

Comments

  1. I appreciate this interview so much! Working as a fitness professional, I too take responsibility for not perpetuating the unrealistic ideals our society has adopted. I always say, "function first, form follows!" I have battled anorexia and bulimia my self. I was chasing that "perfect body." I was miserable, I was torturing my self with food and exercise to reach a completely unattainable ideal. I wasn't listening to my body, I was using and abusing it. In the middle of my battle, I was invited to a yoga class. My body was in pain from the hours and hours of exercise and overuse. As the years of practice unfolded, so did my awareness. I really began to feel what the overuse was doing to my body and my soul. It got to a point where I couldn't ignore the messages my body was sending me. I was now battling those thoughts, and ultimately they won and I won the battle with ED(eating disorder). It is not to say that ED doesn't still creep into my mind, my yoga awareness has just made the voice of compassion for myself and those that I work with louder. I can't deny myself the love and care it deserves now that I have honed that awareness! Thank you yoga! Function first, form will follow!!!

  2. Its unfortunate that Jill has used false claims to market her yoga for weight loss. "maximizing fat burning" =false. you burn fat the most at when the body is at rest to mention one of them. Ironic since she says she hates that we are fixated on body fat.

  3. Hi Melissa, I'm curious where you found that I personally made that claim….are you perhaps referring to the paragraph above, next to the image of the DVD? I can personally tell you that the marketing strategy around the product (as produced and marketed by Gaiam) does not necessarily reflect my own values nor was my input requested on the "marketing strategy." This is the challenge for me as the creator of the content, I have no control over what the "machine" ultimately does to package, promote and sell…all I can do is respond to Intent.com's interview with my own truthful thoughts, feeling and perceptions, and also express gratitude the I have a platform like Gaiam that allows me to present my point a view, even though it may be in direct contrast with their message. And you are right, it is completely ironic, and I apologize for the mixed messages in front of you.