There are so many reasons people gain weight. It is not always a simple matter of over-eating. There are metabolic disorders, stress and other factors. Fortunately, yoga is beneficial to those struggling with their weight.
Researchers from San Jose State University in California found that Surya Namaskar, or the Sun Salutation routine, not only helps promote weight loss, but also helps improve overall metabolic function in adults.
The following yoga for weight loss series should be performed on a regular basis, a minimum of 30-minute sessions – three to four times per week, for maximum benefit. As with any form of fitness, consult your healthcare provider before beginning this program.
Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation, is an aerobic yoga routine which combines movement with breath. It also provides a whole-body workout, toning and stretching the large muscles of the body from the neck down to the feet. Each “salute” has 12 basic steps:
- Begin standing in Mountain Pose, with the feet together, hands at the sides. Inhale and reach overhead. Exhale and press the palms together over the heart in a prayer position. This opens the series.
- Inhale and reach overhead in an upward salute, palms together, back slightly arching.
- Exhale and fold forward into standing-forward bend, reaching for the ankles, feet or floor. Hold here for several deep breaths. Let go of any stress in the upper back, shoulders or neck. Enjoy the deep stretch in the hamstrings.
- On your next inhalation, step all the way back with the right foot and come to a wide lunge on the left leg. Press into the hands and look upward slightly. Hold here for two or three deep breaths.
- On your next exhalation step both feet back together and bring the body into a plank position. Inhale and hold your breath here for a few seconds.
- As you exhale, slowly lower the body down to the mat. This pose is called chattaranga, and is the same motion you do when coming down from a push-up.
- Inhale and press up into cobra pose. Keep the shoulders down, and the arms strong. Arch the back and look up toward the ceiling.
- On your next exhalation, bend at the waist and straighten the legs and arms, coming into Downward-Facing-Dog Pose. Your body should look like an inverted “V”. Again, hold this position for several deep breaths. Make sure your legs are together, and your head and neck are completely relaxed.
- On your next inhalation, step the right foot all the way forward, bringing the foot up between the hands, lunging on the right leg. As with your first lunge, hold here for two to three deep breaths, looking slightly upwards.
- On your next exhalation, step both feet together between the hands, coming back into one final standing-forward bend. Again, hold here for several deep breaths and just relax.
- On your next inhalation, reach up, coming back up to standing and reaching overhead in another upward salute. Arch the back slightly and look up towards the ceiling.
- Close the pose by lowering the hands back down over the heart in prayer position and end in Mountain Pose.
This is considered one “round” of Surya Namaskar. For an aerobic workout, repeat this routine 10 to 12 times, or for a total of 30 minutes.
Utkatasana, or Chair Pose, is a powerful pose designed to strengthen and tone the buttocks, hips and thighs. It also opens the shoulders and helps improve balance.
Begin standing on the mat in Mountain Pose. Inhale and reach both arms overhead, palms facing each other. Exhale, and bend at the waist, coming into a “mini-squat”. Continue reaching overhead with the hands as you maintain your balance. Hold for two to three deep breaths. Rest, then repeat two or three more times.
Chair Pose can also be incorporated into the Sun Salutation when coming back up to standing. Simply pause in chair pose to add a little extra to your workout.
Reclined Cobler’s Pose
Supta Baddha Konasana, also known as Reclined Cobbler’s Pose and Reclined Bound-Angle Pose, is a restorative posture which helps relieve tension in the hips and back, while allowing the whole body to relax. It has the added benefit of stimulating digestion and relieving constipation.
Begin lying flat on your back on the mat. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat. Open the knees out to the sides as you keep the soles of your feet together. If necessary, support your thighs with two sofa pillows or bed pillows. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Stay in Supta Baddha Konasana for up to one minute.
As with all yoga sessions, in yoga for weight loss too, make sure you spend several minutes in corpse pose for final relaxation. Lie flat on your back with your arms and legs out-stretched. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Clear your mind and just relax.
1. “Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapy”; Acute Effects of Surya Namaskar on the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Systems; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21665111