PART 1: Using yoga for weight loss might not look effective to most people. I bet you they’ll go: “Naw, it’s just stretching…what can it possibly do to burn calories?”
Well, a lot my friend. Yoga can work for weight loss if you use it right and I’ll tell you what to do in due course.
“But how exactly can yoga work for weight loss Foras? (That’s my name by the way), ya’ll just stretching that’s it…!”
Boy, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that comment.
Well for interested parties, yoga as an option for weight loss is wise, safe and effective.
Remember, it is the oldest physical culture known to man and not only does this exercise work the body, it works the mind and soul as well. Hey, have you seen Madonna, Sting or Russell Simmons lately? (I can just see you go: “Foras…they were never overweight so don’t go there! Well…they never gained weight either and they actually all still look good for there ages right?
Okay, here are the poses I recommend you use when using Yoga for weight loss.
Now my friend, I will go over what I believe is the CORE of Yoga Poses.
Trust me, there have been times when I did this alone and still got the benefits that yoga gives from daily practice.
Let’s take notes:
The Sun Salutations When using Yoga for Weight Loss:
These exercises are a combination of Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, Sun Bathing and Prayer. They have been practiced for centuries by Yoga Practitioners in India, Martial Artists and African Wrestlers and as a system to rejuvenate the body and soul are beyond compare. It’s been said in the Drugless Healing circles that one round of the Sun Salutations is much better than a week of exercises at the gym!
They are very simple to learn and just about anyone, regardless of their fitness or flexibility levels can learn these simple exercises. In actuality, if you are familiar with “burpies” (the calisthenics exercise), they do derive their origin from the Sun Salutations.
Here are some of their benefits:
-They alleviate disorders of the skin and waist.
-Flexibility increases and breathing is corrected, moreover, they mildly exercise the legs and arms, thus increasing the circulation.
-They are the best way to burn calories and reduce weight and are often recommended for obesity and depression.
-They are an effective way of loosening up, stretching and massaging all joints and internal organs of the body.
-They stimulate and balance all the systems of the body including the endocrine, circulatory, reproductive and digestive system.
1. Stand straight with the palms together as in a prayer position.
2. Inhale and stretch the arms above the head.
3. Exhale and bend forward while touching the toes.
4. Inhale and stretch the right leg away from the body in a big backward step and keep the hands and left foot firmly on the ground. Bending the head backward the left knee should be between the hands.
5. Inhale and hold the breath. Move the left leg from the body and, keeping both feet together and the knees of the floor, rest on the hands (arms straight) and keep the body in a straight line from head to foot.
6. Exhale and lower the body to the floor. In this position, only 8 portions of the body come in contact with the floor: the two feet, two knees, two hands, chest and forehead.
7. Inhale and bend back as much as possible bending the spine to the maximum.
8. Exhale and lift the body of the floor. Keep the feet and heels on the floor.
9. Inhale and bring the right foot along the level of the hands; left foot and knee should touch the ground. Look up, bending the spine slightly (same position as #4)
10. Exhale and bring the left leg forward. Keep the knees straight and bring the head down to the knees as in the third position.
11. Raise the arms overhead and bend backward inhaling. As in Position 2.
12. Exhale and drop the arms and relax.
You have now completed one round.
Perform as many rounds as possible in multiples of 3. Ideally you want to aim for 6 rounds minimum and up to a maximum of 30. It only takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on your speed and intensity and is best practiced with as little clothing as possible before an open air window first thing in the morning.
Okay, we’ve gone over the core pose or combination thereof when using Yoga for weight loss in this part of the series of this article. I’ll go over SPECIFIC poses (asanas) that will target the trouble spots and some breathing exercises that would speed up burning up of calories. But my friends, note, when I say use yoga for weight loss; I mean ALL its limbs: the poses, the prescribed diet for practice and mind-set. If you were doing conventional exercise for weight loss, you’d know to eat a healthier diet right…?
Well the same applies to yoga for weight loss as well friends.
See you in part 2 of this article.
PART 2: Welcome back folks.
Okay, let’s cut right to the chase for how Yoga for weight loss works.
We’ve gone over the sun salutations and if you are anything like me, you probably tried them out and are sold on Yoga ‘the stretching’ exercise actually burning calories.
Now let’s target the trouble spots.
Poses for Trouble Spots when Using Yoga for Weight Loss:
1. Abdominal Region: The Forward Bending Pose, the Bow Pose, the Peacock Pose, the spinal twist and the Triangle Pose.
2. The Arms: Definitely the Peacock Pose! the Wheel Pose, the Crow Pose, the Side plank Pose and the 4-limb Staff Pose.
3. The Thighs: The Bow Pose, The Shoulder-Stand, the Hero Pose, the triangle and wheel poses.
4. Love Handles: The spinal twist, the triangle pose, (with practice) the Side Crow Poses, (for ease) The Side plank pose.
I realize the spots above are the ones most of us seem to target when trying to lose weight, so I have made sure to go over them first.
I’m under the impression that if you had searched in google or done some research on Yoga for weight loss, you must have gotten some degree of information on the poses above, or signed up for a class, bought a Yoga DVD, something to learn some more about it, which is why I did not go over each pose in detail. But trust me, they are indeed very easy. I will emphasize though, performing the Sun Salutations (upwards of 24 rounds) should be your main focus in using Yoga for a weight loss regimen, even before the other poses.
This too will help: One pose that some Yogis and Yoginis state to be a versatile enough pose for the whole body will be the Shoulder-Stand. It is best practiced with its counter poses, in fact, since these poses have effects on the meta-physical and spiritual aspects of our lives, it will be safe to say never execute a yoga pose without counter posing it. You may throw some things out of normalcy.
Here’s a brief overview on the Shoulder-stand as a yoga pose for weight loss:
Spread a thick blanket on the floor and place your yoga mat on it. Lie on the back. Slowly raise the legs. Lift the trunk, hips and legs to a vertical position. Rest the elbows firmly on the floor and support the back with both hands. (See the Illustration for Proper Execution). Raise the legs till they become vertical. Press the chin against the chest. This is the chin lock. While performing this pose, the back of the neck, the posterior part of the head and the shoulders should touch the floor. Breathe in counts of 5-5-5 (inhalation, retention and exhalation). Don’t allow the body to shake. Its counter poses are the bridge and fish poses which will target your forearms/thighs and chest/neck respectively.
As I promised; here is the Breath of Fire breathing exercise that you can add to your yoga practice to speed up the burning of calories. (Doesn’t the name alone tell you something…?)
Breath of Fire Exercise (aka Kapalabathi or Bellows Breath)
-Take a few breaths and see that the diaphragm is moving properly. Now with the eyes closed (as they should be when performing all breathing exercises) make a sudden contraction of the abdomen with a backward push. This leads to a sudden yet firm expulsion of stagnant air from the lungs.
-Now follow this with a sudden relaxation (which naturally makes the new air rush in) now perform the exercise in this manner: passive inhalation and active expulsions at a rate of sudden abdominal push per second one after the other. A round should have 15-20 expulsions. Do not exceed 3 rounds
-You may gradually increase to 120 expulsions per round and then perform only 2 rounds. (As soon as you are doing 50 expulsions per round, do not exceed 2 rounds!) Between each round take a pause for about 30 seconds of normal breathing.
Now, there you have it, the information needed to get you started on the use of Yoga for weight loss: The poses for the trouble spots, the bellows breath, the shoulder-stand and the almighty Sun Salutations.
Remember, for the same reasons Hippocrates-the father of Medicine stated: “Let your foods be your medicine and your medicine your foods”, you’ve got to include a proper diet when seeking to lose weight with yoga. Keep in mind this is an all too important limb of this exercise so, there’s no way around it friends. (But I’m sure you know that already)
So strike a pose, and see for yourself how Yoga for weight loss can be an effective and safe choice.