Imagine a sack of 10 kilos building up slowly in weight over you body and you had to carry it all over with you. It could reach sometimes to even 30 kilos or more where you are termed medically as Obese. This would most probably result in lack of energy and confidence, low self esteem, gastrointestinal disorders, making you more prone to systemic disorders like diabetes and heart ailments etc.
Obesity a slow epidemic:
There has been a big increase in the proportion of the population who are obese, which has risen from 13 to 24 percent in men and from 16 to 24 percent in women between 1993 and 2007 and is still increasing.
The proportion of children who were overweight or obese in 1995 was 25 percent; it has now increased to 30 percent.
Foresight Reports estimates that rates of obesity will rise even further to 36 percent in men and 28 percent in women in 2015 and 47 percent and 36 percent respectively by 2025.
It is almost the same situation or even worse in USA.
Some of the major reasons for weight gain:
Eating excess of sweet, sour and salty tastes
Lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle
Very rich and heavy food, difficult to digest.
Sleeping during the day
Excess of dairy products, potatoes, white flour, beef, pork, seafood, bread, fizzy drinks and alcohol.
Ayurveda’s take on weight loss:
Ayurveda gives a five fold holistic approach to lose weight .i.e. of diet, lifestyle recommendations, internal herbal remedies, external massage based treatments and detoxification procedures called as ‘Panchakarma’. Let us see each of them in detail.
Panchakarma or detoxification:
According to Ayurveda, good health and maintaining weight are dependent upon our capability to fully metabolize the nutritional, emotional and sensory information that we ingest. When our digestive power, known as Agni (fire), is robust, we create healthy tissue, eliminate waste products efficiently and have a good sleep. On the other hand, if our Agni is weakened, digestion is incomplete leading to undigested food lying and then absorbed into the system from the gastrointestinal tract. This accumulation of toxic residue is collectively known as Ama.
The accumulation of toxins, or Ama, in the system leads to obstructions in the flow of energy, information, and nourishment and is the basis of illness, including deposition of adipose tissue leading to obesity or weight gain.
Panchakarma therapy, an ancient form of purification developed thousands of years ago in India, can be used to remove Ama and other elemental impurities from our system entirely. Panchakarma constitutes the foremost purification and rejuvenation therapy as it reverses the mechanisms that carry toxic waste products from the digestive tract into all the other tissues of the body. In other words, it reverses the movement of Ama, bringing it back to the digestive tract, and then gently expels it from the body. This is done either from the oral, nasal and lower channels of the body by medicated emesis, medicated purgation, medicated herbal enema’s and administration of herbal oil or smoke through nasal route.
By cleansing and detoxifying the body, the process helps to re-build the natural fire within the body (Agni) which naturally burns the little leftover toxins at the cellular level, preventing it from re-forming and helping to regain the normal digestive process once again, thus helping to lose and maintain weight effectively.
The most common Ayurvedic treatment used in for losing weight is the treatment of Udvartana, where we use herbal powders (in form of oils or dry powders) which are dry & rough in nature & hot in potency.
The oil taken for Udvartana, is sesame based which is hot in potency and is infused with herbs which create lightness, dryness, roughness, remove the blockages & stiffness, and also have a ‘cutting or liquefying action’ on the fat tissue. This oil also takes care that the skin does not become dry superficially & remains soft & supple after the treatment.
This herbal paste (powders & oils) when rubbed on the body in a specific manner creates friction, which open the pores, remove blockages in vessels, increase the heat in the tissues & percolates inside to stimulate fat metabolism.
Once the paste is rubbed on the body & the massage is over, the guest is asked to sit in an herbal steam chamber where the head of the person remains outside the steam chamber, so that they can stay in for a longer time. Over here, a lot of excess water is lost from the body. In addition, as the pores open the herbal oil mixed with the paste percolates deeper into the skin inducing its fat liquefying properties, doing its work as mentioned above.
Reduced cellulite / subcutaneous fat tissue.
Beautiful skin complexion.
Cleanses & revitalises the skin and removes body odour.
Better skin tone – even if you are losing weight with exercises, other forms of diet etc.
The best benefit of Udvartana, even when taken as a one off treatment is that, it is one the very few treatments that de-stresses you , but at the same time also have an invigorating effect.(reduces VATA & KAPHA)
The blockages in the blood vessels are removed & pores open, removing body stiffness, facilitating better absorption of oils etc. through the skin.
Importance of Ayurvedic consultations:
Though Udvartana is widely used to get a well-toned body, the actual outcome is highly individualized based on the specific need; hence the consultation with the Ayurveda physician becomes extremely important.
For example if the person who wants to lose weight, is suffering from an eating disorder like bulimia, then Shirodhara (Rhythmic oil flow for 30 minutes to an hour over the forehead) with sesame based oils or Takradhara (Rhythmic flow of clarified butter milk infused with herbs like Gotu Kola, Shankhapushpi, Vacha, Jatamansi etc., for 30 minutes to an hour over the forehead ) would be very beneficial if combined with Udwartana.
The Shirodhara and Takradhara offer one of the most divine and tranquil experiences. After a relaxing massage of the head and neck, you lie face up while a warm stream of oil or medicated buttermilk, which is blended specially for your constitution is carefully poured on your forehead in a rhythmic manner. This often engenders a powerful meditative and takes the person is in a state between sleep and awakening. Here the subconscious and unconscious minds are fully awake and the conscious mind of the person sleeps thus inducing a new sense of calmness and serenity.
Some of the therapeutic benefits of Shirodhara are:
Based on the consultation, the Ayurveda physician chooses the appropriate combination of herbs & oils. This combination, especially chosen for the individual (depending on his/her body constitution, climate & ailment etc.) would yield the specific result that one is looking for.
According to the Ayurvedic principles there are things which if you incorporate in your diet ,will not only fill your stomach, but also will help you lose and maintain weight. Here are some of them:
Vegetables :Bottle gourd, bitter gourd, bean sprouts, bell peppers, bitter melon, broccoli , cabbage, cauliflower, cilantro, onions, eggplant ,green peppers, leafy lettuce greens, pumpkin, sunflower sprouts, sweet peas, turnips, zucchini, carrots, squash (yellow), okra , corn, , onion, spinach and radish.
Spices - Cardamom, coriander, cumin, curry leaves, fennel, turmeric, Asafetida, black pepper, celery seed, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger (dry), and sesame seeds.
Grains – Barley, corn flower, bran or jawar.
Fruits: Papaya, Indian gooseberry, pomegranate.
Drinking lukewarm water continuously could get you rid of the sweet craving or snacking after or in between meals.
Indian chapattis made of whole meal wheat bran and barley or plain rice/brown rice is a much better alternative to bread (and other bakery foods) which have yeast in it and are made of white flour which lacks fiber, thus making digestion sluggish resulting in bloating, acid peptic disorders or IBS.
Avoid Frozen or processed (pre- prepared) food as it lacks freshness and energy (Prana or life) in it, and becomes very heavy to digest helping in creating ‘Ama’ (Toxins) in the body. Re-heating refrigerated leftovers would also have a similar effect.
Avoid Yogurt, as it has a property to create blockages in various channels in the body, thus aiding in sluggish digestion and formation of Ama.
Internal Herbal remedies:
Ayurveda caters to more than three hundred herbs, out of which some herbs directly and others indirectly help in losing the extra weight in the body.
These herbs are used in various permutations and combinations by the Ayurveda physician, after assessing the person’s individual body constitution, called as ‘Prakruti’ in Ayurveda.These herbs not only help to stop the pathology of obesity right at the root ,but also help in detoxifying the body of all undigested food macroscopically in the gastrointestinal system and microscopically at the cellular level.
These herbal remedies change according the level of five elements in the body and hence it is most important to take them only after the advice of an Ayurveda physician with regular follow ups.
Some of the herbs that are commonly prescribed by Ayurvedic physicians to maintain weight are: Triphala, Khadir, Kutki, Chitraka, Guggul, Kanchanara, Aragwadha, Haridra, Ginger, Varuna, Guduchi, Patola, Meshashringi, etc. You can look on Google by typing these Sanskrit names and asking for their universal Latin name.
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Exercise: Ayurveda recommended following a farmer’s lifestyle and diet in India if you were obese. It meant doing a lot of physical work under the hot Sun and eating a very moderate and fat free diet.
Basically, it recommended to ‘Stop dieting and start moving’, where sedentary lifestyle and computer based office jobs are a major reason for weight gain.
Cycle or walk to work if possible, take the stairs and avoid the elevator. Evaluate your schedule and take brisk walks whenever you can squeeze them in.
Subtle and dynamic Yoga postures for 40 minutes, followed by breathing techniques or pranayama such as Kapalbhanti and opposite nostril breathing for 10 minutes, relaxation techniques like Yoga Nidra or the psychic sleep and meditation is a complete yoga routine that should be done at least four times in a week, to see effective results.
Yoga is most important in the long run as it not only works on the physical level, but also works on the subconscious and unconscious mind, clearing all our stress and greed, thus liberating us from the captivity of our senses and creating a perfect mind-body –consciousness balance.
Thus Ayurveda’s holistic approach is an antidote for almost every kind of stress and disease that ails us. It improves digestion, metabolism, elimination, complexion, body tone and strength, bone density, and helps us normalize weight. The whole experience is emotionally positive as it can be enjoyable, increase self-worth and bring us greater energy, freshness and success throughout.
This article was published between on www.therapy-directory.org.uk