Despite misconceptions Yoga is one of the most effective ways to lose belly fat. It releases toxins, improves digestion, massages and nourishes the organs and strengthens muscles. Its role in toning the body in a holistic and healthy way cannot be compared to any other form of exercise.
Belly fat accumulates for many reasons. It could be because of a poor diet, lack of exercise and stress. It could also be specific genetic factors like diabetes and obesity. Irregular sleep patterns or an unhealthy lifestyle can also contribute towards belly fat.
How does Yoga Help You Lose Belly Fat
Yoga improves your mindfulness, making you aware of how much you eat and what you eat. Gradually, your diet becomes more balanced and healthy, which itself contributes to reducing belly fat.
Yoga asanas provide the necessary movement you need to work on the core, improving strength and burning calories. Twists and bends work on removing stubborn stomach fat, helping tone and flatten the tummy. Many postures eliminate digestive problems like constipation, indigestion and bloating - all factors that contribute to belly fat. In a yoga class, you will also be engaging your core constantly. This will help make your abs stronger and reduce fat around your belly.
Stress affects your digestion greatly. Yoga practices help you manage stress and keep it at bay. This ensures your digestion remains healthy and balanced. When digestion is good, you will avoid gut related problems which contribute towards reduced belly fat.
Yoga Postures to Reduce Belly Fat
Here are a few yoga asanas for reducing belly fat that you should practice everyday to see results.
Cobra pose or Bhujangasana
Cobra pose strengthens your abdominal muscles and relaxes your lower back. It massages the digestive organs and helps in toning the tummy.
How to do Bhujangasana:
- Lie flat on the stomach with the legs straight, feet together and the soles of the feet facing upwards.
- Place the palms of the hands flat on the floor, below and slightly to the side of the shoulders, with the fingers together and pointing forward.
- Position the arms so that the elbows point backward and are close to the sides of the body.
- Rest the forehead on the floor and close the eyes.
- Relax the whole body, especially the lower back. Now slowly raise the head.
- Straighten the elbows, using the back muscles first, then the arm muscles to raise the trunk further and arch the back.
- In the final position, the pubic bone remains in contact with the floor and the navel is raised a maximum of 3 mm.
- The arms may or may not be straight; this will depend on the flexibility of the back.
Bow pose or Dhanurasana
Bow pose works tremendously well on the abs and strengthens them. It massages and tones all the digestive organs like the pancreas and liver, improving digestion and relieving problems like constipation and bloating. This is a great yoga posture to reduce belly fat.
How to do Dhanurasana:
- Lie flat on the stomach with the legs and feet together, and the arms and hands beside the body.
- Bend the knees and bring the heels close to the buttocks. Grip the ankles with the hands.
- Keep the knees and thighs firmly on the floor and the arms straight throughout the practice.
- Place the chin on the floor.
- Tense the legs and lift the feet backward while raising the head and chest as high as possible from the floor without straining.
- Use the backward movement of the legs to assist the raising of the body, allowing the back muscles to remain passive. In the final position, the gaze is upwards without compressing the neck.
Plank pose or Chaturanga
A wonderful asana for building strength and working on the core, this posture burns tummy fat and helps in toning all the muscles. It also works on the thighs, arms and shoulders, as well as strengthens the spine. This posture is also a part of the Surya Namaskar series.
How to do Chaturanga:
- Lie on your stomach.
- Place your palms under your shoulders and lift your upper body, pelvis and knees up.
- Use your toes to grip the floor and keep the knees straight.
- Ensure that your knees, pelvis and spine are aligned
- Your wrists must be placed exactly below your shoulders with your arms kept straight
- Hold the final posture for a few breathes
Boat pose or Naukasana
The Boat Pose is a great asana for core strengthening. It reduces fat from the sides of the waist and tummy fat. It also strengthens the abdominal muscles. It removes gastrointestinal discomfort and improves digestion.
How to do Naukasana:
- Lie down on your mat. Inhale, and as you exhale lift your upper body and your legs up.
- Bring the legs straight up to a 45-degree angle. The torso will tend to fall back, but do not let the spine collapse. Keep your back straight.
- Stretch the arms in a straight line with your shoulders.
- Your body will be in a ‘V’ shape.
- Stay here for 5-10 breaths or as long as comfortable. Keep taking slow, deep breaths and engage your core.
Camel pose or Ustrasana
A backbend, the camel pose also reduces the fat from the sides of the waist. It tones the back and core muscles. The abdominal muscles get a nice stretch in the posture which helps in improving digestion.
How to do Ustrasana:
- Kneel on the mat and place your hands on the hips.
- Your knees should be in line with the shoulders and the sole of your feet should be facing the ceiling. Keep the knees hip width apart.
- As you inhale, gently lengthen the spine and bring the pelvis in line with the thighs.
- Now slowly, arch your back and bend backwards. Now place the right hand on the right heel and as you exhale, drop your head back, circle the left hand from forward, up and back to the left heel.
- Gently drop your neck. Do not strain it. You can also keep it in a neutral position.
- Your toes can either be tucked or softened based on your flexibility.
- Stay here for a few deep, slow breaths.
These yoga postures when done regularly will help you get rid of stubborn tummy fat. Along with that, you will reap all the wonderful benefits of losing weight in a healthy, sustainable manner, while nourishing and strengthening your muscles and organs.
Cleansing Yogic Practices to Lose Belly Fat
Frontal lobe cleansing or Kapal Bhati
Kapalbhati strengthens and stimulates the digestive system and abdominal muscles. It improves blood circulation, thus improving the functioning of various organs. It releases stress and anxiety from the body and helps remove excess or accumulated fat from the body.
Watch this video on how to do the practice:
Igniting the digestive fire or Agni Sar
This practice literally means igniting the digestive fire or agni. This agni is responsible for how strong your digestion is. The practice helps burn fat, wakes up lethargic organs and nourishes the digestive system.
Watch this video on how to do the practice:
Other cleansing practices like Laghoo Shankaprakshalan help remove practicals that are stuck to the linings of the intestines. These are extremely helpful in releasing toxins from the body and purifying the blood. It is advised to only practice such cleansing techniques under the guidance of a teacher.
As we’ve said above, stress is a big contributing factor to digestion. The lower your cortisol levels, the better your digestion, metabolism and weight loss. Manage stress with yoga practices like breathwork, meditation and relaxation. Oceans breathing (Ujjayi), alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana) and humming bee breath (Brahmari) are the most useful to release stress. Join a meditation or Yoga Nidra class with a teacher to experience the wonderful benefits of these relaxation practices.
In addition to this, ensuring you eat a wholesome diet and cut out sugary food and beverages, processed food, etc. is important. While adding yoga to your daily routine might take some time and effort, once you make it a habit and you start noticing the changes in your body, you will not want to miss a class!