There are often new scientific theories about being overweight and many different ideas and approaches to weight management exist.
This month I will explore the Yoga and Ayurveda approach to managing your middle.
Firstly, it is important to ensure that weight does not accumulate around the thighs, hips and stomach.
The NHS UK website says that:
‘Being obese can lead to a number of serious health problems, as well as shorten your life expectancy (how long you should live). In 2004, it was estimated that 34,100 deaths were due to obesity. This is 6.8% of all the deaths in England’.
In a similar vein, and in his characteristically candid style, Krishnamacharya said, “The stomach is the cause of an untimely death. The dwelling place of death in the body is only the big stomach and nowhere else.” (Yoga Makaranada)
According to Yogis, once excessive flesh begins to accumulate in the body it blocks the correct flow of vital energy (vayu sancharam). Without this proper flow more fat accumulates, so a degenerative cycle is set in motion.
Ayurveda agrees and observes that the accumulation of fat around the abdomen then blocks the circulation of energy around the body and leads to digestive imbalance. We are left in a situation where we always feel hungry, but poor digestion means that nutrition does not reach the tissues so we never feel satisfied.A vicious cycle is initiated that is very difficult to break. We must remove the obstruction to resolve this situation.
Yoga recommends Asana practice (asana abhyasa)to restore the flow of vital energy.
“Only prana vayu has the capacity and power to completely destroy the excessive blobs of flesh that exist here and there in the body. This cannot be done with any other medicine.”, said Krishnamacharya.
Practicing vinyasas with correct breathing is imperative. There are a few asanas and sequences that are particularly useful for us. I will give a general outline of some possibilities here although I recommend working out a personal routine with a qualified teacher. The individual adjustments and adaptations that are required can then be safely applied.
Mitahara (moderate diet) is the first step which we can practise by eating measured quantities of nourishing food.
The Tadasana Sequence will give a good general workout and improve the circulation. The Uttanasana/Utkatasana minisequence is a beneficial practice for burning a few calories.
Uttita and Parivritta Trikonasana are useful for trimming the waist.
In seated postures, Janu Sirsasana is recommended.
By practicing this (janu sirsasana) regularly over a period of time, all the excessive flesh that has grown in or near the stomach and hips will melt, the joints and the nadis will clear up, the stomach will grow thinner and eventually the head will touch the knee. The deposits of excessive flesh are the main cause for the lack of flexibility in the body. All this can be melted away with asana abhyasa (asana practice).
Sri T. Krishnamacharya (From Yoga Makaranda)
If you need to lose weight, start Yoga practice gradually under the direction of a teacher. The idea that you have to perform aerobic exercise to lose weight is not supported by Yoga or Ayurveda. It can be sufficient to practice asana and some walking. This can be very comforting to those for whom the idea of running or going to the gym seems like the worst possible torture! If you are very overweight, starting jogging or some similar exertions could actually cause other problems, for instance excessive load on the joints. Because Yoga is so adaptable, you may be relieved to hear that you can begin wherever you are with a suitable programme.
Vinyasa Krama Yoga practice, along with a sensible diet, will help you lose weight and then maintain a trim figure.
Vinyasa Krama Yoga sequences mentioned appear in Srivatsa Ramaswami’s book, The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.
Ayurveda and Weight Loss
The problem begins when we reduce our digestive fire by overeating, poor dietary habits and sedentary lifestyle. Kapha dosha begins to dominate in the system. This leads to low agni(fire) and stagnation occurs in the digestion and tissues. Vata dosha becomes anuloma (reversed), which blocks circulation in the body. Low vata also causes the thyroid to slow and metabolism becomes sluggish. In this state there is excessive, insatiable hunger and overeating. This cycle can be broken by rekindling the digestive fire and clearing the obstructions.
This can be achieved through diet, herbs and exercise (Yogasana as suggested above).
For some more details on natural Ayurvedic Weight loss email your address to Harmony Yoga and ask for your FREE Ayurvedic Health Factsheet on Obesity and Weight Loss.
Wishing you health, happiness and peace.