his International Yoga Day, Shilpa Shetty reveals how Yoga became her way of life – If there’s one actor who has been religiously practising yoga, it is Shilpa Shetty Kundra. She has been following the basic yoga form for the past 15 years now. It was when she was suffering from cervical spondylitis that she turned to it and since then, it has become a way of life for her. The actress, who is known for her svelte figure, has also released DVDs of yogasanas and pranayams. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had even invited her to be a part of the World Yoga Day a couple of years ago. Here, she talks about the importance of the ancient form of exercise, how it heals holistically and more.
What is the importance of yoga in your life?
It is extremely important and it’s been 15 years since I am practising it. This International Yoga Day, I will be in London, but I will practise it there, too. Yoga, according to me, is a science and an art that is performed by the body, but it actually sates our soul. That is the reason I have taken it up so seriously. I want to be connected with my soul. All of us are so disintegrated in this fast-paced life that we have forgotten how to be in touch with our soul or to be aligned with our mind. The minute your mind, body and soul are aligned, you will feel peace and tranquil in the situation that you are in. We are all just so worried about the future, thinking about our goals that we have forgotten about the present. In this time and age, honestly, when there are problems like mental health, I urge people to take up yoga as it is a holistic way to help in you the right direction. It will help in gaining mental health.
Over the years, have you seen a greater awareness of it?
Definitely. I see a huge difference in the way people even perceive yoga. I remember there was a time when it was associated with old people. But then it became rampant in the West and I suddenly saw this surge take over internationally and in India. I am really happy that in some way or the other, I tried to be a catalyst for the young people. I see a number of yoga studios coming up and the exercise being performed by younger people. There is a huge change especially after the PM took it upon himself to highlight the importance by announcing an International Yoga Day. That created far more awareness about it.
Now, there are lot of different forms of yoga, which are targetted at fitness. Have you tried them?
No, I haven’t. I do the oldest form of yoga, which is Ashtanga. Yes, there are different forms, but when I did the ‘Hum Fit Toh India Fit Hai’ challenge I had done the 2.0 version of Surya Namaskar. I have increased four more asanas since then which have been derived from yoga itself. The point is why do hot yoga? I know there are studios, which have higher temperature for yoga, but I never needed to resort to all that. When you are doing yoga, you burn up to 175 calories or maybe more in an hour. Hot yoga probably has you burning up 300 calories, but I don’t need to burn more than 175 calories.
If a person wants to begin practising yoga, what would your advice be?
Aap shuruat kar sakte hain with 15 minutes of breathing. Ideally, one should do 45 minutes to one hour of yoga practice. It’s more like action and reaction. So, when there is a front bend, there is back bend. If there is a movement that helps you stretch, then there is one that helps you tone. But if you don’t have that much time, I would urge people to start off with breathing. That is one thing that will help lower your blood pressure and many heart-related problems. It can also help you with diabetes. There is Kapalbhati — Kapal means mind or skull and Bhati means cleanse — in short it’s shining of your mind. It oxygenates your brain, it opens up your thoughts and gives clarity. So start with breathing exercises and then go on to simpler exercises before doing the heavy duty ones.
Can you do all the asanas now?
(Laughs) No, there are so many asanas that I haven’t been able to achieve yet. I started off with the Shirsasana, which I had a huge problem with but now I can do the coffin pose. I never thought I will be able to go that level. I also did the inverted bow and arrow pose in Shirsasana. As you do yoga, with time, you realise the potential of your body and after that you discover that it’s your mind, which is more powerful than your body. If you put your mind to something, there is nothing that you can’t achieve.