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How to fight cellulite with yoga

Last updated on: February 17, 2011 16:14 IST

Yogacharya Shameem Akhtar takes you through five yoga poses that will help fight the battle against those unsightly bulges of fat.

Several factors contribute to cellulite and not all of them have to do with being plump. Cellulite shames skinny girls too, since hormonal problems, sluggish blood circulation, accumulation of toxins, damaged skin (from yo-yo dieting, erratic weight loss and gain, illness, stress) are all sly contributors.

The liver and kidneys, the body's detoxifiers, are unable to function effectively when there is a toxin overload (from hormones, metabolic waste, pollutions, even stress). This imbalance tilts the scale in favor of fat-storage. The bulging fat cells also block the smooth flow of blood to these regions. When blood flow is hit, the body cannot burn fat from these `trapped area'.

You must learn to do yogic squats like natrajasana and all its variations, utkatasana (chair pose), uttanasana (squat), kaliasana (mother goddess pose). Yogic crunches like the warrior poses (virabhadrasana series) create the ideal toning and calorie deficit which help control cellulite. But for these to be effective, you must learn to hold these poses for a longer duration. This requires commitment in terms of time and regularity.

If you've been inactive for a long time, you cannot suddenly plunge into intense activity. Your exercise regime must be designed to lead you gradually into more challenging grades, especially if you have problems like BP, heart ailments, arthritis etc.

The most important part of your arsenal must include meditation. This may surprise you, but since the stress hormone cortisol is guilty of inconvenient fat redistribution, relaxation must form an important part of your anti-cellulite gameplan.

In the following pages, we lead you through five yoga poses that will help fight cellulite.

For more of Shameem's yoga writings visit Follow Shameem's yoga products on her online shop . Shameem's second book Yoga in the Workplace, with photographs by ace photographer Fawzan Husain, is now available at online shops and bookshops across the country.

Disclaimer: This column just shares the columnist's passion for yoga, which is ideally learned under the guidance of an expert.

Naukasana (Boat pose, leg folded variation)

Image: Naukasana (Boat pose, leg folded variation)

Sit on the ground. If unused to yoga, you may lean against a wall for balance. Fold the right leg at the knee, placing the right foot high on the left thigh. Then bend your left leg at knee, holding it with both hands. Inhale and then while exhaling, liftyour left leg off the ground, trying to keep it straight. Continue normal breathing. Hold for as long as is comfortable. Return to starting position. Repeat for other leg.

Points to note: Duration must be slowly increased for anti-cellulite impact. Also, if using wall for back support, after a few weeks of practice, move away from that prop. This pose is best done after some warm-up like the sun salutation (surya namaskar series) or the pwan muktasana (energy release) series.

Benefits: Tighten the legs, improves blood circulation. Tones the digestive tract for better digestion, absorption and fat release.

Naukasana (Boat pose)

Image: Naukasana (boat pose)

Sit on the ground. Fold your legs at knees. Hold them with both hands. Inhale. Exhaling, lift your feet off the ground. Straighten legs. Continue normal breathing throughout. Release hands, if balance is steady, to keep them alongside either knees. Hold for as long as is possible. Return to starting position by bending legs at knees.

Increase duration with regular practice. Do thrice initially to built stamina. Later do once, but for longer.

Benefits: Tones, tightens leg and hip muscles. Releases fat by squeezing liver. Is therapeutic in blood pressure and diabetes.

Uttanasana (Full stretch, standing forward pose)

Image: Uttanasana (Full stretch, standing forward pose)

Stand up straight, with feet together. Inhale, raising hands. Exhale, extending hands in front, as intensely as you can, dropping hands to either side of feet. Hold ankles with either hand, trying to draw your head down to the thighs. Continue normal breathing throughout. Hold for a few seconds, slowly increasing stamina with regular practice.

Caution: If you have vertigo or blood pressure problems, you must learn this in a phased manner and with less intensity or for a shorter duration. Avoid if you have a severe lower back problem.

Benefits: Tightens and tones body along legs, hands, waist and hips. Removes fat. Improves digestion. Boosts skin tone.

Utkatasana (Squat pose)

Image: Utkatasana (Squat pose)

Stand up straight, with feet half a foot or so apart, pointed ahead. Hands should be held at shoulder level, in front. Inhale. Exhaling, lower hips as shown. Keep the back straight, chest out. Hold for a few seconds initially, with normal breathing. Return to starting position. Do a few times. Then later, with regular practice, increase duration, holding just once.

Avoid: If you have a back problem.

Benefits: Tones the entire body. Removes fat. Is therapeutic for several ailments.

Salabhasana (Locust pose, variation)

Image: Salabhasana (Locust pose, variation)

Lie on your stomach, hands under either shoulder as shown. Continue normal breathing. Fold right leg at the knee, bending it as shown. Straighten the left leg, lifting it and placing it over the right foot, so that the left thigh is resting on the right foot. Ensure the body is not tilting to one side. Continue normal breathing, Hold for as long as is comfortable. Release and repeat for other side.

Benefits: Is a soothing pose, once the flexibility is acquired through regular practice. Tone legs, waist, back of the legs, and hips thoroughly. Is therapeutic for spinal problems.