Shilpa Shetty is one of the fittest personalities in Bollywood, and yoga keeps her in good health. The actress, who has been practising yoga for the past 15-16 years, says that she took it up after suffering an injury. “I was down with a cervical problem in the neck and therefore happened to do a couple of asanas. After I took up yoga, I realised that it not only helped heal my injury but also strengthened my neck. I found the power of yoga and have been loyal to it since then. It not only helps in toning the body but also aligns the mind, body and soul, which is such a seamless blend. I have seen the effect it had in my life, mind, body and ageing process too,” says the actress who has been promoting yoga on multiple platforms.
Helps not just the body but mind too
Shilpa adds that yoga had its biggest effect on her mind, increased her immunity, and made her more focused and calm. With the kind of hectic and stressful lives that most of us lead, she says that yoga helps in sailing through it smoothly. “There are three types of suffering including adhidaivika, (suffering which is destined), adhibhutam (suffering because of natural calamity) and adhyatmica (suffering from individual tension). Yoga was created to control these negative emotions and balances them. Apparently, when Shivji saw this suffering, he sent Parvati to Earth to teach yoga to the yogis and maharishis so that they could spread the word about it,” she explains.
Time and again it has been proven that yoga has a huge effect on the mind. “When your mind opens up and the oxygen reaches the brain with the help of the right breathing process, it improves your thought process, creative expression and positivity,” she says.
A way of life
Sharing the role yoga plays, the actress says that ‘yoga is her life’. “Yoga is my world. In fact, some day I want to become a yogi but not the one who will renounce the world. However, that is the ultimate dream of every yogi — to take samadhi. I am still a little more human and unapologetically belong to the materialistic world,” says Shilpa.
She adds that sometimes while sitting quietly, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, around the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and space), she realises that it’s what you really need to live. “We want to take these vacations where we can experience all this, but we can actually shut our eyes and go to another world and live in its beauty without stepping out, right at our home.”
Not for the body, but soul
The actress, who has released CDs and videos on yoga, says that she would have been keen on learning yoga early in life. “But I feel that yoga comes into your life at the right time. Though I wish, I knew about the science before. There are people who are endorsing yoga among children. There is Bihar School of Yoga, where yoga is part of the curriculum. But we do not have such facilities available in the cities,” says Shilpa adding, “Personally, I embraced it because I saw the benefits it had on my mind. I only propagate it to have good health because we are suffering from so many illnesses, the biggest being stress. Being in the entertainment industry isn’t easy. But I did not take up yoga to look good. It was never for my body but for my soul.”
India busy in aping the West
In spite of yoga originating from India, it’s still not followed widely here. But the West has embraced yoga and promoting it too.
Shilpa says that it’s hard to explain why yoga isn’t reaching everyone in India. “Across the world, yoga is followed and they have embraced it. It actually gets diluted in our own country because we are so busy trying to ape the West by doing Pilates and following other fitness regimes. But what we have in own country is so beautiful. It is a scientific and practical art form and has to be projected that way. It has nothing to do with religion. Yoga only propagates to lead life sensibly and peacefully and nothing more,” she says.
The actress says that one cannot learn yoga and forget about it. “It has to be a part of your life and you have to make lifestyle modifications to lead a healthy life and not get a certain shape. Most people go wrong because they do things that are extreme and temporary, be it a diet fad or taking up Zumba. You have to pursue something to have optimum health benefits and sustain it. Fitness is like a marriage and commitment, you can’t cheat on it,” she says.
Shilpa is not against other fitness activities because she does it herself like weight training but one has to continue with it. “Because you have gained weight, you take up some form of fitness training. That won’t help,” she says before signing off.