Ancient yoga newest mantra for weight loss

March 23rd, 2008 - 10:23 am ICT by admin  

By Kavita Bajeli-Datt
New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) Move over crash diets, tummy tucker belts and fat-loss pills. The latest craze in the battle against the bulge is yoga. Those who are practising yoga are aware that they are not only getting rid of obesity but preventing major diseases like diabetes and coronary heart disease. Yet others are practising this ancient discipline to lose fat and to gain a figure that would cause envy to others.

“Last year, about 4,300 people took training and therapy at the institute. Fifty percent of them were there due to obesity,” Ishwar V. Basavaraddi, director of the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, an autonomous body under the Department of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy), told IANS.

AYUSH comes under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Basavaraddi said people are increasingly feeling that yoga is the best preventive method to deal with flab.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 1.6 billion adults (above 15) were overweight globally in 2005 and at least 400 million were obese. It predicts that by 2015, approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese. WHO recently said that the economic consequences of obesity are as bad as those due to malnutrition.

Listing heredity, faulty lifestyle, stress and hormonal imbalances as the main reason for obesity, Basavaraddi said yoga could easily tackle any lifestyle disease.

“One just needs to do a few asanas like forward and backward bending, lateral bending, twisting and topsy-turvy. If people do these asanas for just 15 minutes every day, they will feel the difference themselves,” he said.

If obesity is due to psychological factors, then meditation is the best way, he added.

“Yoga means freedom from all kinds of suffering. It is the ultimate method. It not only treats the individual but the disease too. It is an important application to cure the body, mind and soul.”

Such is the demand for yoga that Basavaraddi said his institute had to request some of its old students to take classes. “We are bombarded with requests for yoga classes both by government and private institutes. And most people attend these classes because they are obese.”

“I have seen that women in the age group of 25 to 40 are more concerned about their weight,” said Satwinder Kaur, 27, a trainer who passed out from the institute two years ago.

She said people are aware of obesity-related problems and are keen to be disease-free. “They know that obesity could lead to other diseases and believe that yoga would be able to help them out.”

This could be the reason why Rekha Kapur took to yoga. Both her mother and grandmother are diabetic and she was scared that she would become its victim.

“I am very conscious of my health and don’t want to take any chances. My friends are taking classes to stay slim and fit. As I am overweight and bordering on obesity, I know I have chances of getting diabetes. So I joined yoga,” she said.

Anup Misra, director and head of the Department of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases at Fortis Flight Lieutenant Rajan Dhall Hospital, said yoga could be a good option to reduce obesity.

But, he said, it needs to be scientifically proved that yoga could deal with obesity. “Yoga has been tested to help diabetes and hypertension patients. But there has been no clear-cut study to prove it could tackle excess weight and obesity,” Misra told IANS.

He said a study is needed as the urban prevalence of obesity has increased alarmingly. Almost 50 percent of adult Indians in Delhi fulfil criteria for either obesity or abdominal obesity.

“The prevalence of obesity in children has increased from 16 percent in 2003-2004 to 29 percent in 2006,” said Misra. It leads to 30 different conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, mainly heart diseases and stroke, diabetes, cancers of breast and colon, he added.

But for Satwinder Kaur and her hundreds of students the belief in yoga is very strong. “Yoga is the perfect answer for a person looking for a cost-effective method, which not only cures them but keeps them fit and thus healthy,” she said.

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