Getting rid of the excess pounds could be a mountainous task for many. What is essential is a balanced eating plan coupled with adequate exercise ideal for your body type. And, this implies that there is no one size fits all solution that could give you results. What might seem to be good for others need not necessarily work for you! However, yoga is one of the most effective ways to eliminate the excess weight, from your body and mind. Yoga, being a body-mind-soul coordinated practice, works across all the three realms, thereby aiding your body to achieves its natural state of wellbeing.
Before we talk more about yoga for weight reduction, let us take a quick look at some of the factors that hinder the process.
Why do people find it difficult to shed excess weight?
There are numerous reasons, and as I mentioned above, it is a unique process. The factors mentioned below are pretty generic.
- Lack of mindful eating, especially when under the influence of emotions such as anger and frustration
- Eating to eliminate the feeling of void
- Improper exercising [Over-exercising is also as bad as not exercising]
- Stress, leading to secretion cortisol, the stress hormone, triggering expanded waistline
- Hormonal changes like hypothyroidism and Polycystic Ovarian Disease
- Lack of adequate sleep
- Chronic depression
Some of the factors listed above need medical intervention. Healing the cause will eventually help with weight reduction.
How Does Yoga Help to Reduce Weight?
Here are some of the ways yoga could help with weight reduction:
- Reduce stress
- Promote mindful eating
- Calm the anxious mind
- Foster self-acceptance and self-love
- Let go of judgment and criticism
- Regulate hormones
- Detoxify the body
- Promote metabolism
- Enhance digestion and elimination
- Induce fat burn
- Tone the body
- Promote better sleeping
In simpler words, yoga could help in restoring the natural state of the body, thus paving the way for better health.
Moving on, we’ll go through a few Yoga Asanas and Pranayama that could help you with weight reduction.
Yoga to Eliminate Excess Weight
Ashtanga Surya Namaskar Type B for Eliminating Excess Weight
Surya Namaskar or a Sun Salutation is one such powerful practice. It tones and stretches the muscles, massages the inner organs, that could enhance metabolism, helps to relieve constipation and pave way for the eliminating excess flab. The sequence can be used in preparation for other postures heating up and stretching the body, bringing the connection between movement and breath. It can also be used as a complete exercise in itself. Different schools of yoga follow different practices of Sun Salutations.
So even spending 15 minutes of your day practicing the Sun Salutations can be used to calm the mind, and promote health and balance.
Combine the different sequences for variation, and see how good they can make you feel.
1. Samasthitih or Equilibrium:
Prepare your body and mind to move in and out through the Vinyasa with a couple of deep breaths. Stand straight, lengthening the spine. Stretch your entire body, pressing the feet into the floor, and head moving towards the ceiling. Roll the shoulders down and away from your ears. Rest your arms along your body, palms flat on your thighs. Inhale here.
2. Utkatasana (Chair Pose):
As you exhale, bend your knees and bring the fingertips close to the floor. Push your hips back and adjust your knees so that toes are visible. Inhale and sweep your hands up, joining the palms into Namaste.
3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bending Pose):
As you exhale, fold forward from your hips. Rest the palms on either side of the feet, if possible flat on the ground. Gently straighten your knees and rest your abdomen on the thighs. Let the head hang freely close to the shin.
4. Ardha Uttanasana (Half Bending Pose):
Inhale and lift your head up, bringing the torso parallel to the floor. Lengthen your torso through the head. Rest the palms on your shin and gaze forward.
5. Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Plank Pose):
As you exhale, place the palms flat on the floor. Walk or jump back, lowering the body to the floor. Bend your elbows back, hugging your arms close to the chest. Adjust the alignment to bring your body parallel to the ground. Tuck the toes.
6. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose):
On an inhalation, scoop your body forward and bend your torso back. Open the chest. Lift your thighs and knees off the floor and straighten your arms. Deepen your backbend and gaze up.
7. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose):
As you breathe out, tuck the toes and lift your hips to the ceiling. Lengthen your spine and straighten the arms. Press the heels to the floor. Rest the head between the elbows; gaze at your navel.
8. Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose):
On the next breath in, lift your right foot to the sky. As you exhale, place it between the palms. Adjust your left foot so that it makes a 45-degree angle. Inhale and swing your arms up, aligned with the ears. Square your hips forward.
9. Chaturanga Dandasana:
Exhale, place the palms down and place the right foot back. Lower yourself into Chaturanga Dandasana.
10. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana:
Inhale and come into Upward Facing Dog Pose.
11. Adho Mukha Svanasana:
Breathing out, lift into Downward Facing Dog Pose.
12. Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose):
Inhale and repeat Warrior I Pose on the left side.
13. Chaturanga Dandasana:
Exhale into a low plank.
14. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana:
Inhale and come into Upward Facing Dog Pose.
15. Adho Mukha Svanasana:
Exhale into Downward Facing Dog Pose.
16. Ardha Uttanasana:
Inhale and press the palms to the floor, walk or jump between your palms. Take a short exhalation. On the next inhalation, lift your head up, bringing the torso parallel to the floor. Lengthen your torso through the head. Rest the palms on your shin and gaze forward.
As you exhale, push your hips back, and fold forward completely into Uttanasana. If possible, let the palms rest flat on the ground.
Inhale bend your knees, and swing your arms up into Utkatasana. Adjust the alignment so that torso slightly leans forward and toes are visible.
Exhale, straighten your knees and spine. Rest your hands along the body and come back to the starting position.
This completes one round of Surya Namaskar Ashtanga B Style. Practice 11 rounds.
Pranayama for Weight Reduction
There are two prominent Pranayama techniques that yoga gurus quite often recommend to ensure weight reduction. One is Kapalbhati, the Skull Cleansing breath. The second one is the Bhastrika Pranayama or the Bellows Breath. We will be talking about the second one here.
Bhastrika Pranayama is a powerful and intense breathing practice characterized by a series of forceful inhalations and exhalations.
Sit in a comfortable position, keeping your spine erect. Rest your back against a wall to avoid the involuntary muscle spasms that could happen during the practice. Take a couple of long and deep breaths to prepare yourself for the breathing exercise. Once you feel ready, practice active, forceful, and continuous inhalations and exhalations. Practice 10 such continuous in-breaths and out-breaths for three rounds. At the end of each round, take three rounds of deep abdominal breathing. Allow your diaphragm to rise as you breathe in. Let your stomach fall close to your spine while you exhale.
Increase the number of breaths per round to 30 with regular practice.
Avoid practicing this Pranayama on a full stomach. Aim to do this breathing technique on an empty stomach, early in the morning, after emptying your bowels.
NB: Please refrain from practicing this Pranayama if you have hypertension or respiratory conditions. Do not practice Bhastrika if you are menstruating or during pregnancy.
Yoga Mudra for Weight Reduction
Mudras, when translated into English, become simple hand gestures. We can practice various Mudras to adjust and regulate the flow of energy in our bodies. Every Mudra offers specific benefits. One of the most recommended and useful Mudras when it comes to weight reduction is the Surya Mudra.
It is the Mudra of the Sun. Known also as the Agni vardhak mudra, or the gesture that enhances the Fire element, it helps to accentuate metabolism, boost digestion, and promote detoxification.
Sit down in a comfortable posture, maintaining an erect spine to allow an uninterrupted flow of energy. Let the palms rest on your knees. Palms are facing up. Bend your ring finger and rest it close to the base of your thumb. Press the ring finger gently with your thumb.
Close your eyes, relax your body, and engage in the Mudra for 45 minutes. During the process, do not forget to breathe. You could also practice visualization to enhance your weight elimination process. If you are unable to practice for 45 minutes in one go, aim to practice the Mudra for 15 minutes, thrice a day.
A balanced diet, healthy sleeping routine, and these Asanas, Pranayama, and Mudras could help you get rid of the excess weight forever.
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