Losing weight is often a losing battle when you’re leading super busy lives. Finding time to exercise every day may work well in the short-term, but for many people, sticking with a fixed routine seems almost impossible when office, household chores and children and constantly vying for your attention.
If you’re one of those people who want to lose weight but keep failing at it because of time constraints, here is a smart solution you’ve probably never considered before.
Exercising while driving!
Yes, it sounds like a rather strange and unsafe idea, but the exercise we’re going to share with you here can be practiced even while operating a vehicle because it is essentially a `breathing’ exercise. By controlling how you breathe for just a few minutes, you can get a very effective weight loss workout, even as you’re commuting back and forth from work.
Disclaimer: be responsible with this, please. Use common sense, and keep your full attention on the road at all times.
The exercise is a Pranayama or `breathing yoga’ technique called Kapalbhati. We don’t hear much about `breathing yoga’ in the United States, though its practice has been popular for centuries in India, the birthplace of all yoga disciplines. So let’s dive into the subject by explaining a few basics first:
What Is Pranayama?
Pranayama is an ancient set of breathing exercises that removes blockages from nerve channels, so prana (life energy) can flow freely through a spell of `deliberate’ breathing and supercharge the mind and body.
A central belief system in yoga is the power of breath. By controlling the flow of oxygen, our mind, spirit and body can be detoxified and rejuvenated, naturally and holistically.
What Are The Benefits Of Kapalbhati Breathing?
Of all the Pranayama breathing exercises, Kapalbhati is perhaps the most celebrated because it’s benefits are countless. Here are some of them:
• Weight Loss Benefit: By practicing Kapalbhati for just a few minutes a day, you should notice remarkable weight loss within 4-6 weeks. Baba Ramdev, India’s leading yoga guru, is a huge proponent of Kapalbhati for weight reduction, and results for people who diligently practice this simple breathing routine is quite astounding. A casual Google search will reveal reports of people losing 20 lbs-35 lbs in 45 days, and remember that there is no hard-sell or marketing strategy behind these testimonials because there is no product to sell or make money out of.
• Health Benefits: Regular practice of Kapalbhati improves digestion, builds immunity, detoxifies the respiratory system and improves kidney and liver functions with plentiful supply of oxygen.
• Mental Benefits: We do not usually realize this, because respiration is an involuntary activity that our body does for us, but we mostly breathe shallowly from the chest throughout the day. This sends signals to the brain that all is not well, and our mind tends to slip into a defensive/negative mode. (Notice how you’re always advised to `take a deep breath’ when you’re angry or agitated?)
As you keep practicing Kapalbhati breathing, you will notice a significant decrease in your mental stress levels. By promoting optimal oxygen supply to the brain, you will enjoy an overall sense of well-being and be less prone to bouts of negative ideation, anger, impatience and depression.
• Beauty Benefits: Kapalbhati is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates as “shining forehead”. The increased intake of oxygen during this exercise reverses the ageing process and adds youthful radiance to the face and skin.
Before You Begin Exercising While Driving
Practice the technique well at home first. Get used to breathing deliberately like this, so it feels completely natural when you’re behind the wheel and hardly takes up any attention at all when you’re negotiating traffic. Also, choose to do your Kapalbhati routine on quiet roads. Or when you’re stopped at a light or caught in traffic jam. It takes only a few minutes and you’re breathing anyway, but it is always good to err on the side of safety.
How To Do Kapalbhati
The technique is all about forceful exhalation and passive, effortless inhalation:
1) Sit up straight. Take a few deep breaths before you begin.
2) Breathe in naturally.
3) Now exhale the breath forcefully, with a short, sharp `wooshing’ sound from the nose. Pull in your stomach completely as you exhale like this, as if you’re trying to make your navel touch the spine at the back.
4) Don’t raise your shoulders to compensate for the sudden contraction of the abdomen. The effort should come from the stomach area only, so you feel tension in the abdominal muscles.
5) Now exhale naturally. Let the air flow out on its own.
Begin this practice at home for about 2 minutes at first and then build comfortably up to 5-15 minutes – as you can. Do it while driving, so long as it is safely possible. You can always supplement later, when you’ve reached office and sitting at your desk. The idea, after all, is to use your commute time productively.
Here is a video that demonstrates the practice:
Practice Breath `Retention’ In Between
While driving, you may not be able to do it continuously, but that does not matter. Practice `retention’ between bouts of Kapalbhati instead. Breathe deep, hold for 10 seconds, and release. Push out as much of the air as possible, and then keep stomach compressed for 10 seconds (abdominal `hollowing’) before breathing in again. Practicing `retention’ between short sessions of Kapalbhati breathing is very beneficial to the process.
Who Should Not Do Kapalbhati
People suffering from epilepsy, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, acidity or gastric problems should not practice this heat-generating technique. Do not do this if you’re pregnant either. It is always best to seek medical advice before starting any new exercise routine.