As we discussed in our last blog post, Classical yoga has the potential to deal with many of our modern-day health issues. Probably one of the most widespread – and dangerous – of these facing the world today is that of excess weight.
The Weight of the World…
The World Health Organization reports that about 39% of the world’s adult population (aged 18 years and above) was overweight or obese in 2016. That’s more than one-third of the total adult population!
Even more scary is the fact that in 2016, over 340 million children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 19 years were overweight or obese.
These conditions are linked to several potentially life-threatening conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc. Fighting obesity, therefore, is the need of the day.
Mechanism of Weight Loss
So, how does one lose weight? Conventional wisdom states that in order to lose weight, the energy we expend should be more than the energy that goes into our body. In other words, output should be greater than input.
While this, along with a proper diet, is the basic foundation of maintaining a normal body weight, one study reveals some startling insights.
The results of this study show that the lungs are the primary excretory organ for weight loss. Using stoichiometry, the researchers showed that complete oxidation of 10 kg of human fat requires 29 kg of inhaled oxygen. This means that when someone loses 10 kg of fat (triglycerides), 8.4 kg is exhaled as CO2 (carbon dioxide). The rest (1.6 kg) is expelled as H2O (water) through urine, faeces, sweat, tears and other bodily fluids.
Inhale, Exhale, Repeat
The study concludes that “losing weight requires unlocking the carbon stored in fat cells, thus reinforcing that often heard refrain of ‘eat less, move more’.”
While activity itself is a good way to start getting on the track to weight loss, adding deep breathing techniques (pranayama) can help magnify its effect.
How can you use this knowledge to your own benefit? Start by focussing on your breathing during your yoga class. Practice the pranayama techniques taught to you every day. Gradually try to incorporate this mindful breathing into your daily routine, whether it is on a yoga mat, while waiting for a bus or even while watching TV.
Pranayama, which is an essential component of Classical yoga, may well be the golden bullet against obesity! Remember, it’s as simple as: “Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.”