In our last article, we looked at key causes of weight gain and what body types persistently grapple with weight issues. Now, I’d like to share a few Ayurvedic tips for natural weight loss. Read on for more.
Dealing with Vata
For weight loss, it’s important to first balance the body’s vata, the dynamic element that dominates the body’s nervous system and coordinates all the movements of the body. If you compare, the two elements vata (light) and kapha (heavy) have opposite characteristics, apart from the cooling properties common to both. So normally, when vata goes out of balance, say if you have joint pain, gas, restlessness, the body naturally tries to balance vata imbalance by adding on kapha (heaviness) in the system — in other words, the body gains weight. And when we put on weight, a natural tendency is to do more exercise, which can increase vata. This can create a hidden cycle where the vata keeps rising, the body keeps adding fat and you don’t lose weight. So it’s important to first attend to balancing vata in the system.
The Importance of Self-Massage
Self-massage with oils is one of the main ways to balance vata and reduce fat. So for those who want to lose weight, I highly recommend to briefly massage your body everyday with sesame oil. Five to ten minutes, applying oil all over should be sufficient. To complement this, steam therapy, such as sweating in a sauna or in a traditional Ayurveda steam chamber (if you are on a residential program) is also very helpful to make sure vata is not aggravated.
For weight management, in your diet avoid or minimize foods that are
- sweet (including carbohydrates)
- dairy (Except for buttermilk; see more below).
Eating these foods may increase the body’s tendency towards heaviness.
Okay, enough with what to avoid—now what to eat? Generally, emphasize pungent, bitter and astringent tastes in your diet. This reduces heaviness in the body. Have a light breakfast of fruits.
Then, drink hot water throughout the day, which helps to lower weight. As an energizer two to three times daily, you can drink lukewarm water with one spoon of aged honey and a few drops of lemon juice for taste. The water should not be too hot, as overheated honey can be mildly toxic and difficult to digest. The honey should not be fresh honey, which for weight reduction is not useful, but rather be aged for at least one year. This aging process adds the weight-reducing benefit. Fresh honey, on the contrary, leads to weight gain. The best way to find out the age of honey is to ask your local honey producers or check the expiration date. Generally, an expiration date within the year indicates that the honey is already two years old. This will give you lots of energy, you may not even feel like eating much. Then eat when you really feel hunger.
Have a light lunch that includes some significant protein. Lunch can be followed by one to two cups of buttermilk. For dinner, have a lighter meal, which can be just soup. With this plan, you do not lose energy. Rather you feel more dynamic, lighter and more energetic, while at the same time losing weight.
The Ayurveda Home Cleanse
Beyond eliminating toxins from the body, the Ayurveda Home Cleanse also helps you to lose weight. It involves eating a special preparation of a soup called kichadi, which is made of mung beans, rice, and select spices. As much as you are hungry, you can eat this for five days for lunch and dinner. For breakfast you can have fruits. There are also additional herbs and self-care therapies. Everything you need for a successful home cleanse is included in the kit.
You will need exercise also because you need more oxygen to burn the fat in the body. In this respect, pranayama (regulating the flow of breath and energy through working with the breath) is instrumental in natural weight loss, especially a technique called kapal bhati. My favorite is Sudarshan Kriya which combines pranayama with advanced breath-work and is taught in the Art of Living course.
Combined with several of the strategies above, several herbal supplements can give added benefits (or losses;). Like regularly taking triphala at night. Also, Amrut is an herb that reduces toxicity in the body, balances vata, pitta, and kapha, and opens up the circulation in the body. Another useful herb for weight loss is Shilajit. There are many such herbs, such as guggulu and others. These herbs are most useful when taken for one to two month and have maximum effective when used for three months, especially when used alongside with the Ayurveda home cleanse, when repeated monthly. This helps the body to lose weight, then stabilize; to lose weight, then stabilize.
Maintaining Our Losses
It can happen that people go on a diet and lose weight very fast, but when they resume their normal diet, they may gain double what they had lost. That’s where this gradual program of natural weight loss, repeating a gentle Ayurveda home cleanse monthly is very useful, especially when done along with daily self-massage, exercise and supplements. This balanced, holistic program helps with natural weight loss and with maintaining our losses.
To review, the weight loss routine draws from all three areas of Ayurveda’s holistic approach to wellness:
- Herbal supplements.
So having fresh fruits for breakfast, a nice, hearty lunch and soup for dinner, along with lots of water and lemon-honey-water, you will lose weight, but you will not feel weak. This coupled with the cleanse, the herbs, some exercise appropriate for your type and some breath-work will all combined help you to lose weight and manage your weight. We’ll investigate in our next post how some these techniques can also be used to rejuvenate, regardless of your weight management goals.