Let me be clear, I hate that fat has a bad reputation. Fat isn’t bad. Fatty tissues help protect our organs, lubricate our joints, and store hormones so we can carry babies and breastfeed our little ones. Fat helps us stay satiated after a meal. Fat fuels our brains. Fat is wonderful. Now that we’re clear on the goodness fat offers us, let’s address the concern with having too much fat. Too much fat can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, joint pain, heart failure, and obesity. If you are struggling with excess fat, Ayurveda’s sister science, Yoga, offers us solutions, or Yog Chikitsa (Yoga Therapy). The following sequence is designed to help you burn fat.
Begin with the Breath
Pranayama brings vital energy to the body and prepares you for the poses. Begin by sitting in a comfortable cross-legged position. You can sit on a block or pillow so that your knees are comfortable and your spine is long. Your shoulders stack over your hips, your neck is comfortable as a long extension of your spine, and your chin is level with the earth. Start with Bhastrika (Bellows Breath). This breath is designed to lift sluggishness and fatigue. It also sparks your agni, or digestive fire, while increasing the flow of prana throughout your entire being.
Begin by exhaling forcefully through the nose. Follow by inhaling forcefully and rapidly. Make sure the breath is coming from the diaphragm. Start with 10 rounds of breath, then pause for a natural breath. Continue the next cycle for 20 rounds, then pause for a couple natural breaths. For the final set, do 30 rounds of Bellows Breath at the rate of one second per breath…it’s fast. When you’re finished, pause and embrace how invigorated you feel.
Move to the Poses
Begin with Plank Pose. Come to your hands and knees, making sure your shoulders are over your wrists. Lift your knees and straighten your legs so that they stretch behind you and your torso is parallel to the floor. Dig the balls of the feet into the ground, and press your heels toward the wall behind you. Your thighs will feel firm, and your core will feel engaged. You are using every muscle from your neck down to your knees. From the profile, your shoulders, hips, and heels should be in one long line. Make sure your butt is not lifted and your pelvis is not slumping towards the earth. You should look and feel like a solid plank board. Hold this pose for 10 slow breaths, come to your hands and knees to rest for a breath, then repeat plank pose 2 more times, again holding each pose for 10 slow breaths.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Lie on your back. Place your feet hip width apart with your heels directly under your knees. Allow your knees and all ten toes to face forward with arms down alongside your body. On an inhale, press down through your feet, raise your hips towards the sky, slightly squeeze the buttocks, and come in to the pose. On the exhale, gently come down, allowing the lower back to tap the earth. Inhale to press up, lift your hips, and squeeze your buttocks. Exhale, tap the ground. Repeat 25 times. Come down to rest.
This short series will enliven your body-mind, and help you burn excess fat. Take the sequence at your own pace and listen to your body. If something hurts, back out, skip it, or watch a video to make sure you’re doing it correctly. Most of all, be sweet to yourself. Society sells us on the idea that being thin, or rich, or whatever will make us happy; but truth be told, happiness is an internal declaration. We want to take care of our bodies because they are precious vehicles that move us through the world with grace and ease. I hope this series helps you accomplish just that.