So-called “yo-yo dieting” has been linked to poor health and
shortened life. The fact is that most who lose weight gain it back
within a few years. Some even regain more.
In both the Ayurvedic and theWestern medical view, excessive weight can be caused by several factors.
In Ayurveda, obesity is regarded as medoroga, a disorder of
meda dhatu, which includes fat tissue and fat metabolism. According to
Ayurveda, obesity begins with an imbalance of the doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha), an imbalance of agni (digestive fire), an imbalance of the malas (waste products) or an imbalance of the shrotas (microcirculatory channels). This collection of imbalances then interferes with the formation of the tissues, or dhatus (pronounced da’ too, singular) and leads to a tissue imbalance that we experience as excess weight.
From the Ayurvedic perspective, the key cause is found in lifestyle
and diet choices that disrupt balance. Ayurveda views weight imbalance
and obesity as something that should be corrected before it can
contribute to other health problems.
The Ayurvedic word for digestion and metabolism is agni. Agni,
loosely translated, means fire. It actually signifies something much
more than just fire and includes the idea of a precise and powerful
functioning intelligence. Agni has remarkable transformative qualities.
All the food we take in must be transformed into that which can be made
useful by the body (nutrients) and that which is not needed (waste). The
nutrients, or most refined products of our agni, are then used to
create the body’s tissues (dhatus).
The Vicious Cycle
There are seven dhatus, and they are created sequentially.
The creation of dhatus is an ongoing, complex process. The key word is sequential. If at any stage there is an imbalance, this disrupts the whole sequence of tissue formation. The shrotas,
or channels, play a big role, because they carry the information
required to properly form the tissues step by step. If blockages occur
in the shrotas due to toxins (ama), an imbalance starts. This explains
the time-tested Ayurvedic teaching: “…to maintain balance and health, keep agni strong and the shrotas clear.”
The cause of weight gain, from the Ayurvedic perspective, is
cyclical. It begins with balance-reducing choices in diet and lifestyle
that weaken the digestive fire, which in turn increases toxins, clogging
the communication channels, and thereby disrupting the formation of the
tissues. This poorly-formed tissue layer
manifests as an increase in fat dhatu and an imbalance in Kapha dosha.
This in turn leads to increased accumulation of toxins, which leads to a
greater imbalance in fat dhatu.
And this causes a new problem: an imbalance in the naturally-flowing
energy of Vata. When Vata is restricted or imbalanced, it ends up increasing agni
– the digestive fire – leading to an increase in appetite and thirst.
This leads in turn to an increase in Kapha and fat and the whole cycle
Breaking the Cycle is Easy
To break the cycle, the Ayurvedic expert (vaidya) determines the unique nature of the individual (called prakriti in Sanskrit), and the nature of the imbalance (vikriti).
The essence of the recommendations generally comes down to addressing a
few core issues: strengthening digestion (balance agni), removing ama
(purification), improving dietary habits, adjusting inappropriate daily routines and lowering stress.
These changes ultimately support a stronger state of mind-body
balance. In this state the body’s powerful natural ability to purify
itself and restore wellness operates unrestricted.
variety of approaches help the body restore balance. They include
avoiding the causes of the imbalances through better choices in diet and
lifestyle; the use of herbal formulations that help remove ama,
strengthen digestion and balance appetite; changing the kind of foods
eaten and daily routine; aromas; exercise; and Ayurvedic purification
therapy, known as panchakarma.
shows environmental toxins are also linked to weight problems. Removal
of toxins may be an effective way to support balanced weight. According
to scientific research, the Ayurvedic treatment known as panchakarma has been shown to be effective at removing fat-soluble toxins from the body.
The Raj Ayurvedic spa offers special traditional purification treatments called panchakarma.
These spa treatments are administered by trained Ayurvedic experts who
assess your state of balance, digestion and ama and then provide expert
recommendations that help support balanced, healthy weight levels.
End of Part 1: Coming next week in Part 2: How Weak Agni Can Mean Easy Weight Gain
(Cover photo credit: By RelaxingMusic , Flickr Creative Commons)