Weight Gain and Obesity is the most common problem and is also the most frustrating and difficult to manage. We gain weight when we eat more calories (energy in the food) than we burn or burn fewer calories than we eat. Our body has a constant demand of energy and uses calories from the food to keep functioning. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are the types of nutrients that contain calories and the main energy source of our body. Regardless of where they come from, the calories we eat are either converted to physical energy or stored within our body as fat. These stored calories will remain in our body as fat in adipose tissue unless we use them up either by reducing calorie intake so that our body draw on reserves for energy or by increasing physical activity so that we burn more calories or both.

At rest we need energy for breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormones levels and growing and repairing cells. The number of calories our body uses to carry out these basic functions is known as basal metabolic rate or we might call metabolism. In addition to basic metabolic rate two other factors food processing and physical activities determine how many calories our body burns each day. We don’t have control over our basal metabolic rate but we can control how many calories we burn through the physical activity. The more active we are, the more calories we burn. The amount of calories average adult male needs depends on his size and activity level and various from 2000 to 3000 calories per day.

Unfortunately weight loss is complicated. It’s likely a combination of genetic makeup, hormonal controls, metabolic efficiency, diet composition, and the impact of environment on our lifestyle including sleep, physical activity and stress. All these factors result in an imbalance in the energy equation.

  • Psychogenic Factor- Forcing habit of eating three full meals in a day.
  • Genetic Factors -loss in appetite due to hindrance of production of leptin hormone.
  •  Genes-sex hormones affect the weight gain especially in women during their growth phase.
  •  In Hypothyroidism, there is not enough thyroid hormone to control normal rate of metabolism.
  •  Illness/Stress/Drugs can cause weight gain.
  •  Lack of physical activity caused by watching too much TV, working on computers for a long time etc.

Some of the disorders associated with weight gained body are Hypertension, type II diabetes mellitus, coronary artery diseases, joint disease and psychological disability.

In yoga we do practice asana not only for the sake of burning extra calories but also to develop body awareness, to understand the language of our body, the way it works and what suits it best. From this understanding we can modify or adjust our diet and lifestyle to suit the needs of our body and mind. Yoga will help the spiritual connection to our body that can help make changes.

On a physiological level certain dynamic style of yoga could help in reducing weight. Vinyasa style class where breath and movement link poses together can build heat and potentially result in greater calorie burn(eliminating toxins, increased circulation).Vigorous Hatha and Power yoga classes are also good strength training  practices. All these develop lean muscles mass and reduce fat muscles. The muscles starts loosening that have been tightened by inactivity, tension and stress. Asana practice also increase the range of motion of joints, enhances flexibility, tone the muscles, the appetite control and can help postural problem that may have resulted from weight gain. It also gets the prana of the body moving.

Suryanamaskar is most important dynamic practice for weight loss. It’s a complete practice itself because it’s a combination of asana, pranayama, mantra and meditation. The practice has a unique influence on the endocrine and nervous system, helping to correct metabolic imbalance.  Pavanamuktasana series are very good for removing extra fats from the abdomen,hips,thighs and activates the energy in the lower pranic centers.Its strengthens the abdominal muscles. Various asanas helps to eliminate energy blockages in the abdominal/pelvic area and to release the power of manipura chakra, the source of power and assertiveness.

Weight loss efforts get boosted when we follow a planned balanced diet and a good yoga routine.

Below are few of the yogic practices suggested for weight loss:

1. Suryanamaskar

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Surya Namaskaar

2. Asanas

  • Padahastasana
  • Halasana
  • Paschimottanasana
  • Dhanurasana
  • Sarvangasana
  • Matsyasana
  • Yogamudrasana
  • Parivarta trikonasana
  • Ustrasana
  • Ardhamatsyendrasana
  • Navasana

3. Pranayama

  • Bastrika
  • Surya Anuloma Viloma
  • Ujjayi

4. Kriya

  • Kapalabhati
  • Agnisara
  • Shankha Prakshalana

5. Meditation-(silent meditation 15-20 minutes)

6. If you are short on time here is the link to 40 min Total Yoga workout that you can do daily for a weight loss http://total-yoga.org/the-total-yogi-work-out/

7. Diet

Eat satvic food. It’s the purest diet which are freshly prepared, natural, neither under or overcooked, cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and milk products, nuts, honey etc.These foods balances the overall energy state.  Avoid oily, starchy foods; eat boiled vegetables, whole wheat bread and raw vegetables salad.

Yoga gives less stress, greater mental discipline and enhanced body awareness and we can use these benefits to motivate ourselves to exercise, eat healthy and stay active, here yoga is working indirectly towards weight loss goal.

Even if you lose no weight you are guaranteed to feel better about yourself. Yoga can still help lose weight by bringing a person to improve his self image, sense of well being and encouraging a healthy lifestyle.