Obesity is a lifestyle disorder that comes with the process of development. According to WHO, overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A body mass index (BMI, is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults) over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese. And it is estimated that over 4 million people are dying each year as a result of being overweight or obese (1).
5 Amazing Facts on Sun Salutation and Reducing Belly Fat
- Sun salutation consumes calories moderately without much fatigue or exhaustion
- Sun salutation is more efficient compared to other cardio workouts as this can be practiced in a little space in a little time.
- One month of regular surya namaskar (sun salutation) reduced weight in obese people
- Effects of fast sun salutation are similar to those of physical aerobic exercise with increased muscular endurance and power
- Endurance and flexibility which are impaired in obese people are highly enhanced due to regular practice of surya namaskar (sun salutation)
Obesity Causes and Related Diseases
The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Globally, there has been an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugars and an increase in physical inactivity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanisation. Physical inactivity coupled with obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular and other obesity related diseases. Hence it is necessary that one should try one’s best to keep oneself in their optimum weight.
Sun Salutation as an Effective way to Reduce Belly Fat
Sun Salutation can be a very effective way to reduce belly fat. There are different types of obesity and in this article we will be discussing abdominal obesity, commonly known as belly fat. People gain belly fat due to poor diet, lack of exercise, and stress. Improving nutrition, increasing activity, and making other lifestyle changes can all help reduce belly fat.
In this article, we will focus on the role of surya namaskar (sun salutation) in reducing belly fat. Surya namaskar (sun salutation) is a holistic yoga protocol that gives numerous health benefits. It is a great alternative to the common practices of gym workouts and aerobic exercises. Sun salutation is more efficient compared to other cardio workouts as this can be practised in a little space in a little time. So for the present day people, who hardly get enough time to balance a healthy work lifestyle, sun salutation is the most recommended practice to keep one in a healthy BMI.
Surya namaskar (sun salutation) consists of twelve steps and these twelve steps make up one round. The daily recommended ideal practice of sun salutation to obtain optimum health is about twelve rounds. For detailed explanation on how to practise sun salutation, please refer to Sun Salutation – All You Need To Know. Many scientific studies have found that surya namaskar (sun salutation) is effective in reducing the BMI and thereby helps in dealing with obesity, hypertension and cardiovascular disorders.
Scientific Research on Sun Salutation in Reducing Belly Fat
A study (2) conducted in 2016 concluded that sun salutation consumes calories moderately without much fatigue or exhaustion. This study found that one month of regular surya namaskar (sun salutation) reduced weight in obese people. Since it is an isotonic type of exercise it does not increase the tension but increases the metabolic rate. Dynamic stretches in forward and backward direction and rhythmic positive and negative pressure changes in the viscera stimulate various visceroceptors. That is why all the systems work at the optimum level. The intensity of the exercise can be increased by adding one or two rounds to everyday practice. This increases stamina and cardiovascular endurance. It mobilises the stored or accumulated fat by increasing the blood circulation. The practitioners were found to have little sweating but at the same time experienced a refreshed feeling (2).
Sun Salutations Increase Flexibility
Flexibility is needed to carry out daily tasks with ease. It is seen that practising sun salutation regularly increases flexibility (3). Also in Surya namaskar (sun salutation), with repetitive upper limb loading with body weight in specific asanas like Ashwa sanchalanasana, Chaturanga dandasana, Astang namaskara and Bhujangasana would activate various upper limb muscles to maintain the posture in that particular aasana. And hence accordingly, endurance and flexibility which are impaired in obese people are highly enhanced due to regular practice of surya namaskar (sun salutation). This improvement is as a result of improvement in metabolic status, more efficient musculoskeletal and the cardiorespiratory system that can lead to a parallel increase in lean tissue and reduction in fat mass. It appears that as long as the increase in energy expenditure is sufficient, low to moderate‑intensity endurance exercise is likely to generate beneficial metabolic effects similar to high‑intensity exercise. (3)
Sun Salutation and Cardiovascular Parameters
Another experimental (4) study shows that sun salutation has positive physiological benefits as evidenced by changes in pulmonary function, respiratory pressures, handgrip strength and endurance, and resting cardiovascular parameters. It also demonstrates the comparative differential effects of training in sun salutation when done in a slow and fast manner. The effects of fast sun salutation are similar to those of physical aerobic exercise with increased muscular endurance and power and thus helps in weight loss, whereas the effects of slow sun salutation are similar to those of Yoga training with fall in cardiovascular parameters toward lower normal values. On the basis of the study it is recommended that sun salutation be introduced to school children to improve their physical fitness. This will decrease the rate of obese adolescents. This study demonstrates the differences between sun salutation training when performed in a slow and fast manner, concluding that the effects of fast sun salutation are similar to physical aerobic exercises, whereas the effects of slow sun salutation are similar to those of yoga training.
Surya namaskar (sun salutation) is a holistic exercise to keep the body in optimum health. A fast paced sun salutation when practised regularly can show significant decrease in weight in a duration of a month since the start of this practice. And the specific asanas/poses like Ashwa sanchalanasana, Chaturanga dandasana, Astang namaskara and Bhujangasana focus on the upper part of the body and hence help in reducing belly fat.
Share your experience in the comments below on how Sun Salutation has helped you come in shape and reduce belly fat.
References and Further Reading on Sun Salutation, Obesity and Health
- World Health Organisation. who.int. [Online] 9 June 2021. [Cited: 8 March 2022.] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight#:~:text=Overweight%20and%20obesity%20are%20defined,overweight%20and%20obesity%20in%20adults..
- Effect of Surya Namaskar on weight loss in obese persons. Nautiyal, Rajni. 1, s.l. : International Journal of Science and Consciousness, 2016, Vol. 2, pp. 1-5.
- Suryanamaskar: An equivalent approach towards management of physical fitness in obese females. Komal A Jakhotia, Apurv P Shimpi, Savita A Rairikar, Priyanka Mhendale, Renuka Hatekar, Ashok Shyam, Parag K Sancheti. s.l. : International Journal of Yoga, 2015, Vol. 8, pp. 27-36.
- A comparative study of slow and fast suryanamaskar on physiological function. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, Kaviraja Udupa, Madanmohan, and PN Ravindra. 2, s.l. : International Journal of Yoga, 2011, Vol. 4, pp. 71-76.