With the wedding season around the corner, allow that perfect lehenga to serve as motivation to power you through to your ideal weight. From celebrities to your colleagues, abroad and on the home turf, you’ve heard people swearing by the transformative powers of yoga for weight loss. The good news is that yoga doesn’t mandate an intensive overhaul at the gym, or an army of personal instructors. When done at the right pace, this beginner-friendly workout simply requires you to set your alarm for half an hour earlier each morning. To help you get up and get going, we called in celebrity yoga instructor, Anshuka Parwani, who has trained the likes of Kareena Kapoor Khan and Malaika Arora Khan, to share her cheatsheet. Here’s what we learned.
Yoga for weight loss—how does it work?
One of the crucial reasons why you’ll find yoga being used in the same breath as weight loss is because of the role it plays in activating the thyroid gland, primary purpose of which is to regulate the metabolism by secreting the requisite hormone. Many cases of weight gain often involve a condition called hypothyroidism that refers to an imbalance in the endocrine system due to the improper functioning of the thyroid hormone. This is where yoga comes into the picture, as certain postures and inversions like the sarvangasana, or shoulder stand, and matsyasana, the fish pose, may help regulate the balance in the metabolism.
The frenetic pace of our daily lifestyle also means that we are facing unprecedented amounts of stress that leads to an imbalance in the nervous system. To help you channel inner zen, yoga postures help strike the right balance between the sympathetic nervous system, that controls the body’s fight-or-flight response, and the parasympathetic, that relaxes the body’s impulses. Look to pranayams like anulom vilom, viparita karani and shavasana to soothe the nervous system.
Additionally, if the body is too acidic, it protects itself by storing fat as insulation. The key to breaking this vicious cycle is to make the body alkaline, with poses such as paschimottanasana, or the seated forward bend, and janu sirsasana, the head-to-knee pose. The primary purpose of yoga is also to stoke the internal heat, or the agni sara, that helps burn the visceral fat accumulated in the body—low lunges, like anjaneyasana can be of help.
The yoga routines that could help with weight loss
In the same way an activity is necessary to burn calories, yoga could also prove essential by helping nudge any errant hormonal activity towards balance. Supplement more active forms of yoga with the following routines to do both, help reset your body’s internal processes, and leave the body supple and with increased flexibility.
Begin by bending your knees and placing your palms on the ground. Stretch your right leg behind, as far as it will go, and take a deep breath as you raise your head upwards.
Lie down on the ground and gather your knees to your chest. Slowly, stretch your lower body upwards in a straight line and use your hands to support your back as you do so. Hold the pose for 10 seconds before lowering your body to the starting position again.
Sit on your yoga mat with your legs stretched before you. Bend your hips as you stretch forward and align your upper body parallel to your leg, with your nose touching the knees. Clasp your feet with your hands, and hold the pose for up to a minute.
Sit down in a comfortable spot, close your eyes for a few minutes and concentrate on the rhythm of your breathing. Curl the length of your tongue and project it outwards as you inhale deeply. Draw your tongue back in and exhale through your nose.
Remain seated with your eyes closed, and separate your lips to enable yourself to draw in breath through the gaps between the teeth. Slowly exhale through the nose and close your mouth, before repeating again for up to 10-15 minutes.