The power of yoga

Amrita Prasad
Sunday, 13 August 2017

Actor and entrepreneur Malaika Arora, known for her fit body, shares her favourite yoga asanas and their benefits

Without a doubt Malaika Arora is one of the hottest actors in Bollywood. The 43-year-old diva who recently joined Reebok’s ‘Fashionably Fit’ family never misses a day without yoga for she believes that it not only helps her stay in shape but also keeps her away from stress, fear and anxiety and helps her lead a balanced life. The style diva decodes her favourite asanas and their benefits for a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Headstand (Shirshasana)
“Inversions are my favourite part of the practice. It helps overcome fear and also fires up the core along with its other numerous benefits. To stay upside down for any amount of time requires a considerable amount of focus and concentration,” informs Malaika. Practising this frequently will build your ability to concentrate in other situations off the mat.

Begin by sitting in Vajrasana or the Kneeling Pose

Slowly come up on your toes and raise your heels but keep your knees on the floor

Extend your arms straight out, in front of you and bend them at your elbows

Interlock your fingers so that your forearms and elbows form a triangular shape

Bend down and place the top of your head right in the front of your interlocked fingers

Your hands should lightly cup around your head

Straighten out and lift your knees and lean your body forward so that your head is resting on the floor

Hold this pose for 30 seconds

Lower the knees to the floor and return to Vajrasana

Lie down on your back and relax in the corpse pose or Shavasana 

Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana)
Warrior is great for the legs, gluteus, hips, core muscles, chest, shoulders and the arms. Says Malaika, “This is a full-body pose that essentially, if you’re doing it correctly, works every muscle you’ve got. For me, warrior is all about finding peace in the moment.”

Begin in mountain pose (Tadasana), standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms at your sides.

Exhale as you step your feet wide apart, about 4 to 5 feet

Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, so your toes are pointing to the top of the mat

Pivot your left foot inward at a 45-degree angle

Align your front heel with the arch of your back foot. Keep your pelvis turned toward the front of your mat

Press your weight through your left heel. Then, exhale as you bend your right knee over your right ankle

Reach up strongly through your arms. Keep your palms and fingers active and reaching

Gently tilt your head back and gaze up at your thumbs. Keep your shoulders dropped away from your ears. Feel your shoulder blades pressing firmly inward

Press down through the outer edge of your back foot, keeping your back leg straight

Hold for up to one minute

Tree Pose (Vrukshasana)
Malaika says that Vrukshasana, is one of the first postures any yogi learns. It seems simple enough, but is physically challenging for the hips, balance, ankles, and feet. “This pose is known to enhance confidence and create a more positive level of self-esteem. Standing tall and proud with good posture, whether in a variation or balancing whole-heartedly on one foot, the alignment alone broadens the shoulders, opens your heart, and raises your feel-good factor,” she adds.

Stand tall and straight with arms by the side of your body

Bend your right knee and place the right foot high up on your left thigh. The sole of the foot should be placed flat and firmly near the root of the thigh

Make sure that your left leg is straight. Find your balance

Once you are well balanced, take a deep breath in, gracefully raise your arms over your head from the side, and bring your palms together in ‘Namaste’ mudra (hands-folded position)

Keep taking in long deep breaths. With each exhalation, relax the body more

Repeat this pose with the left leg off the ground on the right thigh

Boat Pose (Naukasana)
 Malaika swears that “Boat can be an extreme workout for our abdominal muscles, and mine usually shake like crazy. Boat is special because it literally connects our root into the ground. The tailbone is the foundation for this pose, the place of power that allows the rest of the body to grow long and tall. Therefore, in Boat pose, we create this wonderful connection to the earth, grounding ourselves and coming back to a place of self-knowing.”

Lie on your back with your feet together and arms beside your body

Take a deep breath in and exhale, while you lift your chest and feet off the ground, stretching your arms towards your feet

Your eyes, fingers and toes should be in a line

Feel the tension in your navel area as the abdominal muscles contract

Keep breathing deeply and easily while maintaining the pose

As you exhale, come back to the ground slowly and relax 

Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
“Utkatasana is also known as the powerful or fierce pose. The power or fierceness would signify the importance that every part of your body tries to attain. Here the imaginary chair helps you find that power, the power by which your sitting pose can be achieved without any support. Learning this would also let you know about your strength and stamina to hold this pose,” says Malaika.

Stand erect with your feet slightly apart

Stretch your hands to the front with palms facing downwards. Do not bend your elbows

Bend the knees and gently push your pelvis down

Ensure that you keep your hands parallel to the ground

Sit straight and lengthen your spine to relax

Sink deeper by gradually going down but ensure that your knees don’t go beyond your toes

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