The great gym rush has slowed down and pumping up adrenalin is too much pressure. Rani Mukherjee has moved away from the treadmill and is breathing easy with yoga. Kareena Kapoor, Tusshar Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan too are stretching to surya namaskars.
The world is embracing gentler, lifechanging exercise. As modern yoga and spiritual gurus take the body to the next level, it’s no longer about how you look but how you feel. The body is taking a backseat, emotional high is the new priority. Says Payal Gidwani, yoga teacher to Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee, “The focus is on emotional rejuvenation and physical toning. Just achieving body toning isn’t enough. It’s a cleansing without punishing the body. And you can do it at home or in open spaces, rather than in a cramped air-conditioned environment. We’re trying to energise the self. It’s a feelgood way of living.”
The focus is not on attaining an asana. From Saif Ali Khan and Akshay Kumar to Shilpa Shetty, Deepika Padukone and Neha Dhupia, all have got a new life, cleansing their mind and body with yoga. Spiritual exercising is about the mind toning the body. Hence, we’re witnessing the rise of some unique forms of yoga. Jane Fonda experimented with yoga aerobics; Angelina Jolie buffed up her own version in Tomb Raider; while Charlie Sheen cleansed himself with it. Says Punebased Eefa Shroff, an expert in super yoga, “It’s not just about yoga. You could go for a super walk and come back energised. The focus is on grace and strength. In my retreats, I tell people how to practice exercise that’s practical in daily living. Hardcore gymming is exhausting for everyone. The goal is to go from understanding how to control the body and mind to a higher level of consciousness. You just have to find your personal exercise formula right there in your home. It’s fun, it can help you look marvelous or feel marvelous. You could be relaxing one minute and be dancing to Leo Sayer’s You Make Me Feel Like Dancin the next. The idea is to relax and as you relax, you heal. Being at the gym is a rat-race, you’re running fast, you don’t relax at all. You can’t heal by punishing your body, you need to surrender it to peacefulness.”
Agrees Ma Naina of Osho, “Osho always believed, ‘Learn to melt your body, mind, soul; find out ways when you can function as a unity’. Fact is, modern man is stressed out physically and mentally; hence, there is no unity. He is divided. When we practice gentle meditative exercises, we begin to see extraordinary colours, smell uncommon perfumes and hear unheard of sounds. In fact, the whole chemistry of the body undergoes a sea-change. The body begins to perceive things in a different way altogether. All the electric circuits of the body change.
The focus is on how you feel and that feeling can’t be got on a treadmill.” That’s the reason Osho’s Kundalini Meditation takes you to a higher level. Here’s how to do it: Begin with shaking, then dancing, and end with stillness and silence, first standing or sitting, then lying down. This meditation is usually done in the afternoon to let go of the accumulated stress of the day. Caring for the mind and body has inspired young trainers to innovate ways to be fit. Says Abhishek Sharma, who trains Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor, “It’s essential to look for newer ways to tone the body. I made Ranbir do a lot of skipping and toning. Even Naomi Campbell recently said that she skips a lot. We look for methods that are easy to incorporate in everyday life. Even rock climbing is fun and a body shaper. The gym is a great workout zone for a professional body builder but it can be suffocating, and you’re isolating certain muscle groups. Saina Nehwal and Leander Peas go to a gym, but only for specific exercises. They also jog, walk and do yoga.”
The ritual of relaxation comes at a cultural moment when noise is everywhere. We sit in noisy offices and work out in noisy gyms and thus, even the worked out body feels the fatigue. Says Mumbai-based Samanta Duggal of Yogasutra, “I allow every individual person to find his or her level. Even the dynamic young are bored with the gym. They want to understand their bodies. From Tai Chi to Aqua Aerobics, people are discovering alternatives to the treadmill. The fatigue also exists because there’s unhappiness over the gym body, which is exhausted due to muscle contractions with no stretching.” Spiritual healer Rohini Singh agrees, “The shift has to be about how we feel, not how we look. The focus should be on being mindful about what we do, which will energise us. Even if we walk on Mother Earth, it can be powerful. Don’t waste your energy on the treadmill tuned into the iPod, connect with the power of feeling. Look beyond the Om and the asanas too, look inward, tone your muscle and stretch that mind. You will feel powerful physically too.”
Now, exercise is about how you want it and where you want it. It’s personalised. The process isn’t automatic, like running on machines. That’s why Radhika Vachani, 41, founder of Yogacare Healing Arts Centre in Mumbai believes in ‘internal and external alignment’. She says, “We’re working out hard in offices, we’re working out harder in gyms — our muscles are screaming, not relaxing. We’re injuring our minds and bodies on the treadmill and not releasing the stress. There’s emptiness in the purpose of working out. I was a gym fanatic, till I was put off, I was hooked on weight training. But I was unhappy about it. We need to learn about our bodies. The focus has to be release from stress, there’s no one standalone physical therapy that works and everything is personalised for the individual body.”
Breathe easy and let your mind regain control over your body!