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Written by Shalu Chandran,
A major social problem, Obesity is a condition characterized by the excessive storage of fat in the body. The condition is associated with major health risks, including hypertension, diabetes and increased mortality. In recent years, Obesity has reached epidemic proportions, in both developed and developing nations, and has been labelled as a ‘killing disease’. It is estimated that about 200,000 individuals, across the world, die of obesity every year.
Obesity is no longer confined to middle age. Today, children and young adults too suffer from the problem of obesity, much of which is related to unhealthy diets, lack of exercise and poor lifestyle choices. Obesity occurs when the body’s calorie intake exceeds the amount of calories being burned. This leads to the storage of excess calories in the form of body fat. Increased body fat or obesity puts a person at the risk for heart disease, liver damage, diabetes, arthritis and kidney problems. Western systems of weight loss have more of a one-size fits all model. On the other hand, Indian weight loss approaches have more of a holistic view that is based on individual requirements and body constitutions. For example yoga, not only provides exercise but also aids in digestion, activating various glands that come together to initiate weight loss. Indian weight loss methods are not short-term or quick fixes. They require and initiate more of a lifestyle change that is sustainable on a long term basis.
According to Ayurveda the body is made up of seven dhatus or systems. These include rasa or lymph, rakta or blood, maans or muscle, meda or fat, asthi or bones, majja or nervous system and shukra or reproductive system. In an obese person, meda is excessively nourished and the other dhatus remain malnourished.
In Ayurveda, obesity is known as medarog and is caused by the aggravation of Kapha. Kapha, which is dense, heavy, slow, sticky, wet and cold in nature is aggravated and gets accumulated, obstructing other dhatus that lead to the production of toxins in the body. The toxins which are heavy and dense accumulate in the fat channels of the body, causing an increase in fat tissue. When the body produces more fat tissues, there is an increase in weight.
Treatment in Ayurveda for obesity starts with the pacification of the Kapha dosha. Kapha-aggravating foods are eliminated from the diet, and the cleansing of the medovahi channels is prescribed through diet, cleansing herbs, detox and massages. Ayurveda prescribes a range of treatments for weight loss.
Detox and cleanses are recommended to pacify the Kapha dosha and restore balance to the body. This is supplemented by a healthy, nutritious diet that helps cut down the fat. The intake of bitter vegetables, fruits and raw vegetables is advised and daily exercise in the form of walking, jogging, swimming or yoga is recommended.
Other treatments, such as massages, that help in weight loss are also a part of Ayurvedic weight loss packages. The Udvartana or Udwartana massage, for example, is carried out with herbal powders that are mixed with oil, milk, or medicated juices. The mixture is rubbed upwards into the body and the massage, lasting about 30-45 minutes, is carried out every day for a period of 14-28 days. This treatment improves blood circulation, reduces skin diseases and aids in inch loss.
Yoga is the complete mind and body exercise system that also helps you burn calories. A favorite with international celebrities such as Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow, yoga is an Indian exercise form that activates important glands and organs in your body, while helping you lose weight and giving you a quiet frame of mind. Yoga also gives you the opportunity to observe your body as the changes occur and really get in touch with your inner self. When performed at a moderate pace, yoga becomes aerobic and helps burn as many calories as other aerobic exercises. However, the self-reflection that yoga allows you, makes it more interesting and effective compared to other weight loss approaches. It also brings about permanent lifestyle changes, persuading practitioners to discard destructive eating habits and adopt healthier ones.
Perhaps the best aspect of yoga is that there is a type for everyone. For those looking for faster more dramatic results there are forms such as Power, Ashtanga or Bikram Yoga. For those, unused to highly intensive workout programs and looking for less strenuous, but equally effective options, yoga offers forms such as Hatha, Ashtanga, Sivananda, and Vinyasa.
Power Yoga, perhaps the most well-known aerobic form of yoga, is the American interpretation of Ashtanga that combines the strength-training, stretching and meditative breathing. Many of the asanas include basic calisthenics, such as push-ups, headstands and side bends to produce sweat and build muscle. Instead of pausing in between the asanas, as in traditional yoga, power yoga involves the postures flowing into the next, making it an intensive workout, although many purists of yoga frown upon such forms of yoga as they believe that yoga is help bring balance for body, mind and soul.
A typical weight loss package can be anywhere between seven to 28 days long.
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