You have probably had enough with comments like ‘why are they not feeding you?’ or ‘you look like a bamboo stick’ or ‘will you blow away if I breathe?’ and other variations of these. The stereotype associated with underweight can be scathing for some. But from a health and wellness point of view, It is important to look into what makes a person underweight, before we get into how we handle the issue of weight loss or underweight.
What is Underweight?
If you weigh anywhere between 15 to 20 percent less than the normal weight range for given age and height, then you are underweight. This can be calculated by your BMI or Body Mass Index.
Some common reasons for underweight condition are-
–Hyperthyroidism is where the body secretes excessive amounts of hormones called Thyroxine that control the usage of energy by each cell in your body. Secretion in excessive amounts causes weight loss.
-Some forms of cancers or tumors can lead to an inability to gain weight. This is accompanied by other symptoms too like tiredness, nausea, and poor appetite.
-Sometimes weight loss could be due to Diabetes
-Diseases like HIV/AIDS cause significant weight loss and it is difficult to gain back weight under the condition.
–Stress. Sometimes people who have high work stress or stress in personal lives, tend to have loss of appetite. This could cause weight loss in a person. So is the case with patients of depression, who could both, gain weight or lose excessive weight. Loss of appetite comes with a perpetual sense of tiredness, lack of interest, unwillingness to get out of the bed or do any tasks.
How can Yoga and Ayurveda Help?
Here are a few tips coming from the classical sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda that can help regulate body weight. According to Ayurveda, it is not just important that one gains weight but it is also important that the person has core strength in the body. The issue of underweight is not just a physical health issue but for most people it has a mental health repercussion as well. Yoga and Ayurveda have holistic answers to address both the aspects of underweight problem.
1) Surya Namaskar for alternate weeks
According to one of the Sri Sri Ayurveda doctors, a regime he has personally followed to gain weight is, practising Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations in alternate weeks. For example, if you are practising 6 rounds of Surya Namaskar during week 1, where each round had one cycle of Sun Salutations beginning with the right leg and the other one beginning on the left leg, then, do not practice Surya Namaskars for week 2. Week 2, you can engage in other activities or asanas. This will help tone the muscles in the first week and in the second the rest the muscles get will help them develop. You can practice anywhere between 6 to 12 rounds of Surya Namaskars every day in the given week.
Benefits of Surya Namaskar
- Helps improve metabolism.
- Improves the digestive system, which means, once the digestive system is restored, your appetite also improves.
- Reduces anxiety and stress, thus affecting some of the reasons can usually cause weight loss in some individuals.
- Also said to help reduce blood sugar levels
2) Protein Rich Diet
Asanas accompanied with heavy protein rich diet helps in increasing weight and maintain it as well. Boiled sprouted pulses like Moong or Split Green gram and Channa Dal or split chickpeas are strongly recommended in one’s diet. The asanas combined with proper diet will build muscular strength. Cow Ghee can also be added to the diet, for its nourishing value. It is a myth, according to Ayurveda, that Ghee can help you gain weight.
According to Sri Sri Ayurveda experts, Ashwagandhadi Lehyam (powder), Chyawanprash Lehyam, all nuts and pulses can help with weight increase.
4) Ashwagandhadi Lehyam is known to greatly help with issues of underweight, physical weakness or malnourishment. It is an effective Ayurvedic compliment to a good heavy diet. It brings vitality and physical strength. Ashwagandha also called Indian Ginseng or white cherry extract has multiple health benefits that address the problems that come with being underweight or its symptoms like,
-helps bring down cholesterol levels
-has stress relieving properties
-Helps increase red blood cell, white cells and platelet count
-known to be good for muscular strength
5) Some of the benefits of Chyawanprash Lehyam are-
-Helps increase muscle mass
-Rejuvenates all the tissues in the body
-Increases Ojas or vitality in the body
-Known to be very good for digestion and appetite building
-Good for heart and lungs
As we look for answers to increase weight, we must keep in mind that core strength and mental fitness, right diet, Yogasanas, meditation and Pranayamas or breathing exercises go a long way in leading a healthy, happy and peaceful life irrespective of our weight issues. As Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, The Art of Living says, “A strong mind can carry a weak body but a weak mind cannot carry a strong body.”
Surya Namaskar- www.mavcure.com