Friday, September 10, 2021

Ayurveda for Obesity -- Part I: Urdhvartana Powder Massage

Obesity is a pressing and increasing concern for the health and well being of all. Defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation, obesity ranks as the fifth leading risk for global deaths. According to OSHA, 2.8 million people die from obesity or obesity related conditions each year. Unfortunately, obesity is one of the very few conditions in which there is no magical cure or quick-fix pill for. Thankfully, however, Ayurvedic healing provides us with multiple modalities to actually treat obesity... naturally! In this blog, we will explore the Ayurvedic modality called Udhvartana -- what it is, how the treatment is performed, and how exactly it remedies obesity.   

Unlike Western medicinal and therapeutic practices, Ayurvedic remedies are tailored to meet the needs of the unique qualities of each individual. So, in order to fully understand the science behind Udhvartana, we first must understand the type of individual the treatment is designed for. In the universe there are three life forces, called doshas, which intermix to create the characteristics of each unique human being. The doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Udhvartana contains healing properties specifically for Kapha type individuals, who are more prone to develop obesity. This is because the Kapha dosha becomes prominent when earth and water elements meet and elevate vitiate beyond a healthy amount and condition, creating a heavy, slow, sluggish, cold, damp and dense combination of qualities. Therefore, overeating, insufficient exercise, excessive sleep, slow metabolism, and water retention are common tendencies for the out of balance kapha type person. 

Udhvartana addresses the accumulated or vitiated Kapha properties, by the alleviation of excess water, and Shoshana properties, absorption. The treatment consists of a full body massage with the use of dry herbal powder and sometimes with the addition of flour and oils. The massage therapist lightly massages the body in an upward direction and opposite the direction of the hair with each body part placed in their respective positions. Thirty to forty five minutes is all it takes for this treatment to work its magic! The massage is followed by either a steam bath or hot shower. Benefits to Udhvartana include: stimulation of fat cell metabolism, decreasing subcutaneous fat by inducing heat and excessive sweating, that also tones the skin and underlying muscle, and gives a good sturdy figure. The specific techniques used in Udhvartana to target and remedy kapha type qualities creates a more effective remedy for weight loss than attempted remedies in the West. 

We now have an understanding of what Udhvartana is and the benefits it reaps, but how exactly does it work? Store Jiva explains, “When the herbal powders and oils are rubbed on the skin with a specific action it opens the pores, removes blockages in the vessels, increases heat in the tissues, and stimulates fat metabolism.” As the pores open, the herbal oil percolates deep into the skin and liquefies the fat. Unlike any “weight loss pill” at a drug store which you have no idea what it’s doing to your body, Ayurvedic treatments leave you feeling comfortable and confident about the science behind the treatment and what is actually happening within your body.     

In a case study, the results of a therapeutic program that includes Urdhvartana prove its steady effectiveness. A 36 year old woman, overweight, was experiencing laziness, fluid retention, high blood pressure, food cravings, anxiety, breathlessness walking up stairs, and dizziness. After one round of treatment of Udhvartana she lost 5 kg (11 lbs) and after a year of treatments she lost a total of 10 kg (22 pounds.) Her body fat percentage dropped from 40.68% to 38.64% after one treatment and after one year continued dropping to 36.47%. Her, along with many other’s body composition statistics clearly shows how beneficial Ayurveda, particularly Urdhvartana, is for treating obesity. 

To learn more about your dosha use our dosha questionnaire and schedule an Ayurvedic Consultation with Chaya. To learn more about Udhvartana and our Ayurvedic Massage & Bodywork courses visit ChayaVeda School of Massage.


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