Friday, 28 June 2013

How to lose weight with Yoga and Kapalabhati Pranayama

Healthy way of losing weight   
The earliest memory of me checking my weight was when I applied for a job at the age of 18. I was 5.2" with a weight of 52 kgs. I had always been conscious of my weight since then, both from the point of looks and health, and have been steadily monitored it. Even after my two pregnancies, I had taken care to get back into shape once the children started growing up. But then suddenly I lost control. Though I was aware that I was putting on weight, as invariably happens once you near forty, I just could not control it. Suddenly one day my weighing machine showed 71 kgs and I panicked.

Never skip breakfast
Then started my rigorous journey of exercises, experiments with diet, trying every trick of the trade, but to no avail. The first thing I did was to skip my breakfast and eat light which proved counter productive as the early morning empty stomach made me weak and moody and in fact my weight increased.

Walking and Jogging
Then I started walking and jogging. Both my friend Kalpana and myself would set out in the morning at 6 o'clock to Krishna Rao park and jog. Alas! Being very beautiful and attractive ( seriously :-), when we started jogging, we not only had the company of dogs wagging their tails running behind us, but some grandpas also started to accompany us to every corner of the park trying to show off their wrinkled biceps! We were in no mood to pamper and provide free entertainment to these oldies a la Ashok Kumar in Shaukeen and soon did a disappearing act.

After Ashok Kumar, came Rekha. Yes forever young rekha, a great inspiration to us with her aerobics practiced sexy and lustrous body. Off came Jane Fonda and her DVD, (of course she was an inspiration for REKHA too ) and there started the aerobics dances at home. No doubt it gave some free relaxation and entertainment to my hubby, who would sit behind me with his coffee cup when I practiced in front of TV. It kept me extremely fit and energetic, but weight loss? No sir. Sorry.

Liquid diet          

So it was back to basics again. My father had once narrated, how during his young days, on the advice of some Ayurvedic doctor, had survived on a liquid diet for a month and had lost almost 20 kgs. But there was a hitch. Every morning you have to drink one spoonful of castor oil on an empty stomach which was supposed to cleanse your system. Not only the taste of the castor oil but the failure to attain weight loss has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Weight loss fads and gimmicks by clinics 
Then came the wonderful advertisement from VLCC, a health clinic which promised an assured weight loss of 5 kgs for 5000 rupees in 10 days. What is 5000 rupees compared to a sculpted body? Off I rushed to their center and was thrilled to bits when I lost 750 grams on the very first day. Yes sir that's how they measured - in grams! I calculated in my mind, if this is the result in a single day, where would I be after 10 days! All my tight dresses pushed at the back of my wardrobe started dancing in front of my eyes. Ha! Only dreams are made of such stuff. What was actually being done in the clinic was, like in a physio therapy lab, they would connect low voltage wires with pads to our body and make us lie down for 45 minutes. Immediately on coming out they would ask us to urinate and then check weight. Naturally, when your body is heated, the fluids would dry up and the body would lose some weight. After coming home, I drank lots of water and ate one small custard apple and maintained the diet chart they had provided. Next morning I was aghast when the scale tilted to an additional kg. Instead of admitting the shady deal, they had the audacity of admonishing me for eating a custard apple. So the crux of the matter was, had I stopped eating and drinking lifelong and continued with their ironing, I would have lost a lot of weight. But the better sense prevailed and a bid a hasty retreat.
Yoga - Pranayama - Holistic treatment by Baba Ramdevji
Every cloud has a silver lining. It came in the form of Yoga Guru Baba Ramdevji. One morning when I was surfing through Aastha channel, I came across the live telecast of Yoga Shivir being conducted by Ramdevji where the participants were sharing their experience of losing 5, 10 even 15 kgs of weight. As I was always inclined towards Indian system of medicines, Yoga and Ayurveda, and also impressed by the rhetoric and impressive oratory skills of swamiji, I thought to give it a try as I had nothing to lose except weight! I ritualistically started practicing the yoga and kapalbhati pranayama as propagated by him every day. When I first checked the weight after one month, I could not believe my eyes. The scale which had almost stuck at 71 showed 70. It inspired me so much that every month on the same date I had a steady date with the weighing machine and it never failed me. Each month it was a reduction of a minimum of one kg. After I reached 61, I have been maintaining the weight. I know if I push a little harder I can go down by another 3-4 kgs. Mmm. Will do it soon.
Maharshi Patanjali - The Yoga Sage from India
It is an ancient breathing technique taught by Indian sage Patanjali, a breathing exercise for our internal organs. Just the way we do push ups and bending and stretching exercises for our external body, the pranayama is for the naval and heart centers. It activates the cells, removes toxins and fights obesity in abdominal region and helps digestion and tones down the abdominal muscles.

What is kapalbhati ? 
The method of doing kapalbhati is simple. Just sit in sukhasana or padmasana, hold your thumb and index finger touching and resting lightly on your knees with palms turned upwards.Sit in a calm erect position closing your eyes. Inhale slowly and exhale forcefully through your nose. This will cause the abdomen to contract and activate the inner organs. Repeat this process in a cycle of ten rounds and gradually increase to a batch of 5 or 10. But those with high blood pressure or heart disease should not do this.

Advantages of Kapalabhati
The added advantage of kapalbhati pranayama is that not only does it cures the body ailments and drastically reduces the weight scientifically, it is also a great mind healer, making you emotionally strong and at peace with your inner self and also with your surroundings.
The points to remember is that this pranayama should be done on an empty stomach and at your own comfortable pace. Once you gain confidence with your practice, you can increase the duration to 15 to 20 minutes. The results are instantaneous.
So go ahead. Tone up your mind and body with yoga and pranayama. It will remain your friend for life.

Maha Kumbha Mela - The Cultural extravaganza of India
The images of Indian cultural extravaganza, The Maha Kumbha Mela are flashing across the media - both print   and visual, all over the world. There are images of sadhus, tents, temples, lamps and of course foreign visitors. But I am afraid  instead of highlighting the essence and the cultural value of the mega event, the focus is more on getting the snaps of the nude sadhus or sadhus smearing ash on their bodies or wearing odd costumes, lengthy hairs or nails. Besides the  ash smeared ascetics, wide-eyed stars and tourists and millions of pilgrims thronging the Ganges for a holy dip, there are a lot more interesting facts and intricacies involved in this mystique event.


The Puranas - holy scripts of India - link the origin of Kumbh Mela to the origin of the universe. Scriptures narrate that once Durvasa Muni, the short-tempered sage,  came face to face with Indra on his elephant. A pleased Durvasa offers his garland to Indra. Indra nonchalantly places the  garland on the trunks of his elephant, which throws it down to the ground and stamps on it. Durvasa, loses his temper and curses Indra to lose all his opulence and the demiGods, afflicted on the one side from demons and on the other side by the curse of Durvasa lose all their power in the three worlds.So the demi Gods led by Indra and Vayu bereft of all their power and strength approach Lord Brahma to seek his blessings and his help to regain their supremacy.Lord Brahma takes pity on them and along with Lord Shiva leads them to the Supreme power, The Lotus feet Lord Vishnu. 

Vishnu being omnipotent is aware of everything and offers a solace. He advises the demiGods to make peace with  demons and churn the ocean of milk where the rope will be serpent Vasuki and the churning rod would be Mandara Mountain. The nectar - Amrutha - will come out of churning which will make the demiGods strong and immortal. When the Amrutha Manthana - churning of the ocean ends with the arrival of the nectar, a tussle erupts between Demi Gods and Demons and Lord Vishnu taking the shape of Mohini wins over the asuras and give the nectar to Gods. But in the ensuing melee between Gods and Demigods  four drops of nectar supposedly fall in four places Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik and this has made these places with their rivers the most sacred places on earth.It is at these four places that Kumbha Mela is celebrated. 

The ardh Kumbha mela is celebrated  at Haridwar and Allahabad every six years and Purna Kumbha  Mela takes place  once every twelve years at four places Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. The mela alternates between Nashik, Allahabad, Ujjain and Haridwar every three years. Allahabad, the place where Kumbha Mela is being held this year is a mass Hindu pilgrimage in which Hindus gather at the Sangam, meeting place of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Sarasvati, at Prayag where bathing for purification from sin is considered especially auspicious.

There is a mention about the Maha Kumbh in the diary of Chinese traveler Huang Tsang back in 602 - 664 A.D. during his visit to India during the reign of Harshavardhana.It is the serene and pious atmosphere at the Himalayas and Ganges which was responsible for the positive impact on the hearts and minds of those visiting these places. Unfortunately the human greed has been polluting the land, water and air over the years and it is taking ugly proportions with the passage of time. The rural people who live one month 
every year in January in this place are called Kalpa Basis  Seers claim that a person who undergoes the Kalpawasa vrata is honoured with the title of Kalpawasi. They spend their entire time in Kumbh Mela living an austere and minimalistic life. Kalpwas is religious and spiritual sermon and scientists claim that spending a month at mela has a very positive impact on their hearts and minds.

This year in a study conducted by the social psychologists of British and Indian universities it is found that the Kalpa Basis return home healthier despite the fact that they have just one meal per day.Though they supposedly live in messy, unhealthy and unhygienic conditions, their health improves because of the environment and medicinal plants and air. Imagine what would have been the results if the Ganges were to be in her original purity.Under the aegis of many social and environmental organisations [river pollution control] [Ganga river basin management plan],steps are constantly being taken to prevent contamination of water and control water pollution.

River Ganga, popularly known as Ganges is held in highest reverence in India and its sanctity can never be lost in globalization of Indian culture. Indian culture and work culture in India cannot be representative of India unless the purity and sanctity of the Ganges is restored. As much as the Taj Mahal is the representative of India calling the world tourists, the festival hosting India can retain its cultural value not only by publicizing the Kumbh Mela but taking 
the Kumbh mela tours as divine Kumbh yatra.

The sheer scale and complex dynamics of the mela provide a big canvas and a platform in the study of socio-economic management. At an average estimate more than 100 million people are supposed to attend the mela this year. The Harvard University is engaged in studying the logistics that go into the organisation of the festival of this big magnitude. It is here that our country's history and heritage take a center stage. Imagine providing the facilities of 
health, sanitation, water, food and transportation to this enormous gathering where on the wide open land a city pops up and facilities are provided to millions of people.