Tired of being known as the chubby one amongst your peers? Does shopping stress you out because you can’t find anything that fits you perfectly? Turns out the new easy diet your ultra-fit neighbour recommended isn’t that easy after all?
Guess what? You’re not alone.
The prevalence of obesity in South East Asia has gone up from about 11% to 25% from 1980 to 2015. In India alone, over 135 million people are known to struggle with obesity.
The struggle is real
You start exercising, but then stop because it gets tiring. You start a new diet but stop because controlling your cravings for your favourite but unfortunately unhealthy food becomes too tedious. Women in their 40s in Singapore say that with all their household work and job responsibilities, they do not have the luxury of time to maintain a regular exercise routine. Nevertheless, not being able to shed those extra kilos poses drastic risks to your health, like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease and stroke. 
But we are making the effort, aren’t we?
You think you are buying “healthy” stuff and incorporating physical activity into your routine. However, the results of a survey from April 2018 tell a different story. The study surveyed nearly 400 people in Singapore and found that only up to 25% of the people were aware that they should include fruits and vegetables in their diet or even exercise regularly. To top that, less than 6% of the participants knew the significance of incorporating both things into their routine, and the recommended amounts of each for a healthy life. This means that most of us aren’t even aware of how to build a healthy lifestyle, let alone fight obesity.
Yoga to the rescue!
So, what can help? Yoga – something that doesn’t require any specialised equipment, just a little space and as little as 10 minutes of your time every day.
A group of researchers in the USA monitored body measurements and vitals before and after six weeks of 8-minute workout sessions and yoga breathing techniques. At the end of the study duration, this group observed a loss of about 5 kg and about 6% reduction in body fat. This particular study may help give us some food for thought about yoga and its benefits.
Here are a few yoga exercises that you can do to experience the same benefits yourself. Do discuss any major changes to your lifestyle with your doctor prior to starting a new regimen:
- Surya namaskar: The sun salutation is considered to be one of the most important and effective exercises when it comes to weight loss. It affects the endocrine and nervous systems, and corrects your metabolic issues, which could be the cause of obesity.
- Pranayama: Breathing exercises can help the body regulate the amount of oxygen it gets and, therefore, enable you to get tired less easily. Practising pranayamas such as Bhastrika, Kapalabharati and Surya Bhedan can help stimulate metabolism.
- Pawan muktasana: For this pose, lie down and take a deep breath. Bring one knee close to your chest, hold it with your hands, and press it down towards your body. Lift your head and touch it to the knee. Continue to breathe slowly and hold the pose for as long as you comfortably can. Repeat the same for the other leg.[6, 7]
- Bhujangasana: This asana is also known as the cobra pose. You start by lying down on your stomach. Put your hands below the shoulders. Now, slowly breathe in and lift your torso such that you arch your back and straighten your hands. Hold the pose for a few seconds before slowly coming back to the original posture.[6, 8]
- Setu Bandhasana: Also known as the bridge pose, this asana targets and stretches the chest, spine, and neck. Start with lying down on your back on the mat, keeping your hands at your sides. Bring your feet close to the hips, keeping them apart. Now, slowly lift your torso, keeping your weight balanced on the arms, feet, and shoulders. As you do this, remember to inhale. Now finally, roll in your shoulders, and try to bring your chin close to your chest. Hold the pose for a minute or less, and then slowly relax.[6, 9]
These yoga poses not only help with weight loss, but many of them may help with other health ailments as well. Performing yoga regularly, five days a week for one year, along with a balanced diet can bring about a marvellous change in your weight. So, grab your yoga mat and move towards a healthier weight for real.
- Chooia YC, Ding C, Magkos F. The epidemiology of obesity. Metabolism. 2019 March:92:6-10. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2018.09.005.
- Ahirwar R, Mondal PR. Prevalence of obesity in India: a systematic review. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2019 Jan-Feb;13(1):318-321. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2018.08.032.
- Bu EQL, Chung HJ. Barriers towards exercise and physical activity of different ethnic groups in middle-aged female Singaporeans. J Exerc Rehabil. 2018 Oct 31;14(5):739-745. doi: 10.12965/jer.1836388.194.
- Goh ZY, Lee PY, Lai YF. Patterns of fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity among community-ambulant patients in Singapore: A cross-sectional study. SAGE. 2019;28(1):10-18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/2010105818769682.
- Petrofsky JS, Laymon MS, Khowailed IA, Lee H, Petrofsky A. The effect of an 8-minute yoga breathing program on fitness, weight loss and breathing capacity. J App Med Sci. 2016;5(4):57-80.
- Bhardwaj PR, Bhardwaj AK. Therapeutic applications of yoga for weight reduction in obese population: an evidence-based overview. OJMR. 2015 Apr;1(1):1-5.
- Pawanmuktasana [Internet]. [Cited on 2019, Jul 15]. Available from: https://www.artofliving.org/in-hi/yoga/yoga-poses/wind-relieving-pose-pawanmuktasana.
- Yoga – the natural immunity booster [Internet]. [Cited on 2019, Jul 15]. Available from: https://www.artofliving.org/us-en/yoga/health-and-wellness/yoga-natural-immunity-booster.
- Bridge pose (Setu Bandhasana) [Internet]. [Cited on 2019, Jul 15]. Available at: https://www.artofliving.org/in-en/yoga/yoga-poses/bridge-posture-setu-bandhasana.