Yoga, like many other exercise programs from Asia, can incorporate lifestyle and even religious overtones into its general practice. One leader who advises this approach is Swami Baba Ramdev. Based in India, Ramdev teaches more than 20 million followers via television, video disk and the Internet. In his teachings, he applies the austere yoga tradition to gain health, live simply and lose weight.
Swami Baba Ramdev was born Ramkishan Yadav. Since the 1960s, he was worked to popularize his vision of yogic tradition in India and the rest of the world. "The New York Times" compares him to Western fitness gurus Richard Simmons and Mehmet Oz. His claims about the potential power of yoga range from personal serenity to curing AIDS. Some call his beliefs optimistic, others a scam. In terms of weight loss, his teachings are congruent with more traditional diet and exercise programs.
Yoga For Weight Loss
Yoga is a resistance exercise, like weightlifting and calisthenics. A resistance exercise builds muscle, as opposed to raising the heart rate like a cardiovascular exercise. Personal trainer Bill Phillips, author of "Body for Life," notes that resistance exercise doesn't burn calories like cardiovascular exercise, but it will boost your metabolism as it increases your muscle mass. Phillips also notes that it will firm up your muscles beneath the fat, firming up the frame and creating an initial illusion of weight loss.
Ramdev and Diet
Baba Ramdev's yoga doesn't stop with physical practice. His austere dietary directives can be effective for losing weight. He recommends eating basic, natural foods free of the refined grains and processed sugars that make gaining weight easy. A Ramdev diet consists of fruits and vegetables, both high in nutrition compared with their caloric counts. Ramdev warns against eating fast foods and processed foods. He's also virulently against soda -- an attitude that matches that of Harvard nutritionist Walter Willett.
Ramdev's yoga teachings promote healthy living. Some specific principles include eating only twice daily, living actively, meditating, exercising and avoiding television and video games. Though none of these recommendations is profoundly new, they are congruent with modern understanding of weight-loss techniques.
Controversy and Swami Ramdev
Swami Baba Ramdev is a figure of some controversy, says "The New York Times." Some of his claims for what yoga can accomplish fly in the face of current medical understanding, but when it comes to weight loss, Ramdev's claims are well within the norm. His advice boils down to avoiding sugars, exercising regularly and being mindful of lifestyle choices. Oregon-based fitness coach Ben Cohn says that synopsis matches his own programs, and those of many of his colleagues.
- NDTV: Who is Baba Ramdev?
- New York Times: Indian Who Built Yoga Empire Works on Politics
- Eat, Drink and Be Healthy; Walter Willett, MD
- Body For Life; Bill Phillips
- Ben Cohn; Fitness Coach; Hillsboro, OR