Being a practitioner of yoga is like a certificate of sexiness. Yogis are invariably lean, strong and toned, with flat bellies, limber limbs and healthy, glowing skin. It’s the exercise, sure, but those flat bellies and powerful muscles also come from yoga’s nutritional principles. Yoga, after all, goes hand in hand with the Indian practice of Ayurveda, a centuries-old medical practice that’s based around proper nutrition.
But while it takes years to learn how to wrap your leg around the back of your neck, the weight-loss benefits of Ayurveda are only a few short sips away. As a medical doctor, I often hear patients complain that they can’t lose weight using traditional Western methods—calorie-restrictive diets and long, plodding workout sessions. And I often prescribe for them a diet based on the principles of Ayurveda, which helps to soothe the digestive system while stimulating weight loss. Try one or more of these yoga body drinks, and watch how quickly your own belly can go from nasty to Namaste!
Yoga Body Drink #1: Mango Lassi
<strong>Because it: Stimulates weight loss</strong>
Lassi is a popular drink from India and Pakistan, made from fermented yogurt. In Ayurvedic medicine, lassi “cools” the digestive system, aiding gut function. From a modern medical perspective, lassi is a fermented food that contains many healthy bacteria, or probiotics, which decrease bloating and reduce inflammation—two key contributors to weight loss. While lassi can be made with any number of fruits, mango lassi is one of the easiest and most popular drinks in India: Simply combine in a blender one cup of plain Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp of sugar, ½ cup frozen mango chunks, and enough water to blend. Pair it with these exclusive 14 Ways to Lose Your Belly in 14 Days.
Yoga Body Drink #2: Golden Milk
<strong>Because it: Makes you more flexible</strong>
In Ayurvedic medicine, the way one prepares milk has everything to do with how our bodies react to it. To prevent bloating and allergies and maximize the health benefits of dairy, Ayurvedic practitioners brew golden milk. Mix one cup of milk with ¼ tsp of turmeric, and bring to a boil. Sweeten with a touch of honey. Turmeric has been shown to act directly on the genes that control fat storage, while the calcium in milk is linked to lower body mass—a University of Tennessee study found that dieters who consumed between 1,200 and 1,300 mg of calcium a day (about four cups of milk) lost nearly twice as much weight as those getting less milk. Golden milk is used to in Ayurvedic medicine to improve joint pain, muscle stiffness and to boost the immune system. No wonder yogis have such amazing flexibility!
Yoga Body Drink #3: Ginger Tea
<strong>Because it: Shrinks your belly</strong>
Ginger is a well-known digestive aid, and a yogi secret to a flat belly is to start the morning with a cup of ginger tea to "activate" the digestive system. It is thought to help the vata and pitta doshas—the digestive and circulatory centers in the body, according to Ayurveda—thereby reducing bloating and warming up the circulatory system. To get the most powerful benefits, simply grate 1/4- 1/2 tsp of raw ginger into your tea kettle. Boil for 3-5 minutes and then pour into a cup with your favorite tea bag. Add 1-2 teaspoons of honey for a sweeter taste. Dial up the belly-slimming effects by trying all of the 4 Teas That Melt Fat Fast.
Yoga Body Drink #4: Amla Juice
<strong>Because it: Gives your skin a healthy glow</strong>
Amla, or Indian gooseberry, is a sour fruit native to India. High in antioxidants, it is prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors for glowing skin and hair; in some preliminary Western studies, amla has been shown to reverse diabetes and cholesterol markers. You can buy frozen amla berries online. Defrost the berries, cut into small pieces and run through a juicer
Yoga Body Drink #5: Chai
<strong>Because it: Reduces weight gain</strong>
Chai may be among the healthiest drinks on the planet, but like so many other things in our diet, it’s been turned into a festival of sugar and artificial chemicals by our modern food industry. Chai is at its healthiest when made with fresh spices that are boiled and then steeped in tea leaves. While there are many different recipes and variations of chai, here’s a simple version I like: boil one cup of milk with 1 tsp each of ground cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, fennel, anise, ginger and nutmeg. Pour the boiling milk over your favorite tea leaves. The cinnamon will help stabilize blood sugar, reducing weight gain; cloves have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic benefits, while cardamom boosts circulation, helping skin to glow. Fennel, anise, ginger and nutmeg help boost chai’s digestive benefits.
Yoga Body Drink #6: Karela Juice
<strong>Because it: Boosts energy</strong>
Karela, also known as bitter gourd, is a prickly looking vegetable, shaped like a cucumber. Bitter gourd is valued for a number of properties by Ayurvedic medicine, including reversing diabetes, gout and psoriasis. The high levels of B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc help make this vegetable an immune booster and energizer. Try adding this juice into the mix of your favorite fruit smoothie.
Yoga Body Drink #7: Aloe Vera Juice
<strong>Because it: Balances your hormones</strong>
One of the great weight-loss secrets, aloe vera juice has been a mainstay in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. The juice helps maintain weight by balancing the digestive system and regulating female hormones; it’s also believed to enhance fertility.