Many yogis are reminded of their excess when they are attempting a twisting pose and a roll of flesh on the hips or abdomen gets in the way. And while most know the importance of reducing unnecessary fat for health reasons, they may not realize how excess weight can hinder their practice by reducing vitality and restricting range of movement.
In traditional Ayurveda each constitutional body type is said to have both its virtues and weaknesses. Body fat is a product of the kapha dosha, which comprises the elements earth and water and generates the physical substances and structures of the body. By virtue, kapha is grounding in nature and stabilizes your being; however, an excess of kapha in the form of fat can be obstructive and weigh you down in life and yoga.
The challenge of excessive kapha, like fat, is that the more you have, the more difficult it is to eliminate. Excess kapha impairs basic metabolism, restricts circulation, and adds unnecessary weight to your practice. Strong practices such as Ashtanga and vinyasa (flow) styles generate the needed tapas (heat) and sweat necessary to counteract kapha accumulation. They stoke the internal fire, increase pitta dosha, and facilitate the burning of excess body fat through a process known to sports physiologists as thermogenesis. Thermogenesis involves a natural intensification of the metabolism resulting in a conversion of fat into heat.