Fight Obesity with Yoga
Of the many medical conditions that we face due to our stressful lifestyles, obesity is perhaps one of the most harmful one. Defined as a condition where excessive fat is accumulated and stored in the body, obesity is known to increase health risks like heart attacks.
What is Obesity?
According to a factsheet available on the WHO website, worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 1980. In 2008, 300 million women and 200 million men were obese. Do these figures have you worrying about your own health? Before you start sweating, understand that you may not even be obese. Technically speaking, being obese is different from being overweight. To put it in simpler terms, a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25 classifies as being overweight. However, a BMI greater than or equal to 30 falls under the obese category.
What’s the Way Out?
Regardless of the category you fall under, both situations call for some serious action on your part. If you are unsure about how to get a grip on obesity, you are at the right place. To work on reducing your obesity, it is important to cut out things that are harming you and pick up things that are good for your health. For starters, make sure that you are following ahealthy diet plan and are doing some physical exercise. If hitting the gym isn’t your ideal idea of workout, then lean onto the natural alternative – yoga.
Rebuilding Health Naturally
Yoga is an ancient technique that has always aimed at promoting holistic living through better lifestyle, improved food habits and a physical regime. Being a natural technique that focuses on controlled breathing through various postures, yoga is a completely harm free and perfect alternate for allopathic weight-loss pills. Whether your BMI is abysmally high or you just believe in staying fit, yoga caters to all. Here are a few yoga techniques that you can start with on the path to shedding your weight:
This breathing technique increases the rate of metabolism and thus helps in reducing weight. It also improves digestive tract functioning, absorption and assimilation of nutrients.
This pose massages and tones the abdominal and pelvic organs. It also improves digestion and is highly effective in reducing obesity.
This pose improves balance in the body and builds up stamina. The abdominal organs are also stimulated by practicing this pose.
This pose is an excellent abdomen toner. It is good for the upper body as it strengthens the wrists and arms.
This pose stretches the intestine and abdominal organs. It also helps in toning the abdomen.
This pose strengthens the abdominal muscles, improves digestion, and stimulates the intestine.
This pose massages and tones the abdominal organs. It also improves digestion and flexibility in the body.
This pose strengthens and stimulates the abdominal muscles. It also alleviates stress and fatigue.
The effect of every effort that you put in for reducing obesity can be significantly improved if an overall good lifestyle is adopted. Apart from practicing yoga, your weight loss efforts can be accelerated by following an ayurvedic lifestyle. Often referred to as the sister of yoga, ayurveda has been around for as long as yoga itself. Ayurveda is an ancient system of natural and holistic medicine that also provides guidance on adjusting the lifestyle for greater health benefits. Further, turning to ayurvedic cooking ensures that shedding weight does not turn into a sour experience for your taste buds.
Respect Your Limits
Yoga may seem intimidating at first, but is really an easy-to-approach alternate for overpowering obesity. While it may seem difficult to bend into some poses initially, being consistent in practice will help you stretch further with every passing day. It is also important to remember that your body has its own limits and it would be unwise to stretch beyond those limits just to lose weight quickly. Stretch until where your body permits and then rest in that pose, while breathing consciously.
Lose Your Weight, Not Your Mind
Yoga does not offer quick weight loss. However, it does offer long lasting effects. Initially, you may feel that you aren’t making any progress with weight loss but you’ll start feeling more active and alive inside. Eventually, the body will start responding and come back in good shape. Always remember that patience is of the essence. Don’t lose hope and be regular with your practice. Talk to your yoga instructor and chalk out a custom-made regime to help you lose weight.
A healthy body can be a home to calm and receptive mind. It not only makes you look good but also adds confidence. It also takes you away from health risks so that you can enjoy life more freely. Yoga helps you gain all this by losing what harms your body. It’s a perfect win-win situation where you lose weight and gain back control of your body. So, roll out your yoga mat and take the natural route to fighting obesity today.
Yoga practice helps develop the body and mind bringing a lot of health benefits yet is not a substitute for medicine. It is important to learn and practice yoga postures under the supervision of a trained Art of Living Yoga teacher. In case of any medical condition, practice yoga postures after consulting a doctor and a Art of Living Yoga teacher. Find a Art of Living Yoga program at an Art of Living Center near you. Do you need information on programs or share feedback? Write to us at [email protected]
Kapal Bhati Pranayama (Skull Shining Breathing Technique)
Kapal = forehead; bhati = shining; pranayama = breathing technique
Here’s a very powerful breathing exercise that not just helps you lose weight but also brings your entire system into a perfect balance. Dr. Sejal Shah, Art of Living Yoga teacher, explains the importance of Kapal Bhati, “80 percent of the toxins in our body are released through the outgoing breath. Regular practice of Kapal Bhati pranayama detoxifies all the systems in our body. And the obvious sign of a healthy body is a shining forehead.” Kapal Bhati literally translates to ‘the shining forehead’ and this is exactly what happens with regular practice of this pranayama. A forehead that glows not just from outside but also an intellect that becomes sharp and refined.
How To Do Skull Shining Breathing Technique (Kapal Bhati Pranayama)
- Sit comfortably with your spine erect. Place your hands on the knees, palms open to the sky.
- Take a deep breath in.
- As you exhale, pull your stomach. Pull your navel in back towards the spine. Do as much as you comfortably can. You may keep your right hand on the stomach to feel the abdominal muscles contract. Pull the navel in.
- As you relax the navel and abdomen, the breath flows into your lungs automatically.
- Take 20 such breaths to complete one round of Kapal Bhati pranayama.
- After completing the round, relax with your eyes closed and observe the sensations in your body.
- Do two more rounds of Skull Shining breathing technique (Kapal Bhati pranayama).
The exhalation in Skull Shining Breathing Technique (Kapal Bhati Pranayama) is active and forceful. So just throw out your breath. Don’t worry about the inhalation. The moment you relax your abdominal muscles, inhalation will happen naturally. Just keep your awareness on breathing out. Learn this technique from an Art of Living Yoga teacher and then you can practice it at home on an empty stomach.
Benefits of Skull Shining Breathing Technique (Kapal Bhati Pranayama)
- Effective in reducing weight by increasing the metabolic rate
- Clears the nadis (subtle energy channels)
- Stimulates abdominal organs and thus is extremely useful to those with diabetes
- Improves blood circulation and adds radiance to the face
- Improves digestive tract functioning, absorption and assimilation of nutrients
- Results in a taut and trimmed down belly
- Energizes the nervous system and rejuvenates brain cells
- Calms and uplifts the mind
Who Should Avoid Doing Skull Shining Breathing Technique (Kapal Bhati Pranayama)?
- Avoid practicing this breathing technique if you have an artificial pacemaker or stents, backache due to slip disc, recently went through an abdominal surgery, or are suffering with epilepsy or hernia.
- Women should not practice Skull Shining breathing technique (Kapal Bhati pranayama) during and shortly after pregnancy, as well as during menstruation as it involves vigorous abdominal squeezes.
- People with hypertension and heart problems should practice this breathing technique under a yoga expert’s guidance.
Curb Cholesterol with Yoga
Cholesterol is a lipid found in the bloodstream that is often considered as harmful for the body. Contrary to this popular belief, cholesterol is highly essential for normal functioning and maintenance of the body. Cholesterol is required to build membranes and membrane fluids. It is also known to play an important role in the synthesis of Vitamin D and hormones such as progesterone, estrogen and testosterone.
Although it is good for the body, excess cholesterol can be harmful. Too much cholesterol in the bloodstream can cause blockage of arteries and eventually, heart related complications. To keep a check on its level, it is important to adopt a healthier lifestyle that includes healthy food habits and regular physical exercise.
Various studies suggest that yoga can help curb cholesterol naturally without any harmful side-effects on the body. Yoga is an ancient discipline that shapes up the body and calms the mind through yoga asanas, pranayamas and meditation. These yoga postures can help you bring your cholesterol level under control:
This pranayama increases the metabolic rate and reduces weight. It also stimulates the abdominal organs and improves digestive tract functioning.
Chakrasana (Wheel pose)
The Wheel pose massages the abdominal organs and helps alleviate constipation. It also improves the functioning of the liver and thus helps get rid of excess fat and cholesterol.
The Locust pose stretches the belly and stimulates the abdominal organs. This pose too helps overcome constipation.
The Shoulder stand stimulates the abdominal organs and improves digestion.
This pose stimulates the liver and kidneys; reduces obesity and gets rid of excess fat from the abdominal region.
This pose massages the abdominal organs, stimulates the liver and helps in overcoming indigestion.
Curb Cholesterol at its Root
Cholesterol is created in the body from the food that we consume. Hence, it is essential to weed out the problem from the root. Junk food, deep-fried food and meat products are practically a storehouse of fats, and thus inevitably – cholesterol. Consuming such fat-rich foods cause sluggishness, mood swings and obesity.
Ayurveda is an ancient branch of natural and holistic medicine that promotes health and wellness by balancing the diet and improving eating habits. Also, ayurvedic cooking is something that every food lover will enjoy as it will let them indulge in food that’s rich in sattwa and is healthy at the same time.
- Keep away from sweet, sour and deep-fried foods.
- Avoid eating junk food and excessive caffeine.
- Say no to alcohol and tobacco.
- Consume more fibrous foods.
- Eat pulses, oats, fruits and green leafy vegetables.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Exercise regularly.
Walking the Tight-rope
If you are diagnosed with high cholesterol level, remember that it’s not impossible to get out of the danger zone. Even minor lifestyle alterations can help bring things under control. However, it is important to stay focused on overcoming the problem and being regular with the yoga regime. Like any other practice, the results of practicing yoga will take time to manifest. Speaking to friends and family can be very encouraging as they support you closely. Most importantly, stay positive about life. A happy state of mind can accomplish things more easily than a disturbed one.
Yoga or Medicines?
Yoga is an alternate approach to restoring cholesterol level in the body and should not be taken as an alternative to medicine. It is highly recommended that you consult your doctor before giving up any current medication that you may be on.
It is important to learn yoga the right way and under the guidance of a yoga expert. A Art of Living Yoga expert can teach you about best yoga practices and also help chalk out a customized yoga routine pertaining to your specific needs and condition. Learn more about the benefits of Art of Living Yoga here.