The Japanese have always been sincere, devoted and creative in their approach to wellness and well-being in life. They are hard working and have aligned their spirituality through physicality. In fact, they have used props in and around their houses to devise fitness routines in such a manner that devoting extra time to exercises doesn’t seem like another thing to strike off on the to-do list.
As part of this effort, they have made smart use of their towels. Japanese towel is made of natural cotton, so it creates a connection with the elements, the assumption being that cotton has absorbed all elements like sunlight, water and minerals, and in terms of body contact, it passes them to us.
Because towels are long, we can use them to pull and strengthen our biceps. We can push them down, use them against a hook and work on our triceps. We can further use them for chest expansions, stretching and opening out our shoulders. Weights can be added and we can do strength-training exercises, like squats and lunges too. We can do many exercises with towels but the one that involves lying down on rolled towels, balancing your body on them along the length of your spine and stretching your legs and hands at the farthest point from each other, certainly doesn’t reduce belly fat as claimed. However the Japanese towel exercise may be useful for improving posture, reducing back pain and aligning a pelvic joint movement to some extent. And if we focus and concentrate on a point while doing this exercise, we are actually meditating.
What is the Japanese tower roll?
The Japanese towel technique was developed by Japanese reflexology and massage specialist, Dr Toshiki Fukutsudzi, over a decade ago to get the body in shape. He claimed that this method could help to get rid of belly fat, correct posture, strengthen the back and reduce back pain. He suggested doing this thrice a day for five minutes each. So, what does this involve? Just place towels like cylindrical rolls on the floor, tie them up so that they do not move. Lie on your back with your feet apart, then let your toes come towards each other, make sure that you get the towel underneath the lumber spine. Then stretch your hands over your head and outstretch them high above your head. All you do is lie there for five minutes.
Belly fat, not so much. Just a good exercise for the back
What this exercise really does is that it balances the spine and helps you correct your posture. So by placing a towel behind your back, the method is said to help correct the posture by aligning the spine and pelvis, pulling the navel region and preventing the fat from accumulating in the abdominal area. This last bit is a far stretch. For abdominal fat is the most stubborn and needs intense exercise to burn away. Just lying down three times a day would definitely work your pelvic region, keep it supple but you would have to really work it out.
A yoga posture that can have a more lasting impact
Sahaj Matsyasana is a yoga pose similar to the one advocated by the Japanese. The following is the procedure to do the same:
1) Lie down on your back, with hands by your side and feet together.
2) Bend your elbows, breathe in and lift the chest and head up.
3) Keep the chest up, touch the top of your head lightly on the ground and keep the body weight on the forearm and elbows. Squeeze the lower body on the floor.
4) Maintain the posture for 10 seconds and slowly come back.
This posture is good for people with respiratory problems and thyroid problems. It is good for the women’s reproductive system. It strengthens the spine and helps in crunching abdominal fat.
Losing weight is possible only when you create a calorie deficit in the body. You have to burn off more calories than you take in without depriving your body of its optimal nutrients. And that surely cannot be done by lying down on the floor.
(Dr Mehta has trained Bollywood superstars Akshay Kumar, Preity Zinta, billionaires, politicians, Miss World/Miss Universe candidates and the Maharashtra Police. A best-selling author, he has been appointed FIT India Movement Champion by the Sports Authority of India).