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‘Yoga injected life back into me’: Celebrity yoga trainer Anshuka Parwani

Celebrity yoga trainer Anshuka Parwani is a name to reckon with. Her yoga training sessions, a favorite with celebrities, have been making waves on social media. Opening up about her personal journey with yoga — that started after meeting with a near-fatal accident that left her temporarily immobile — Parwani, who is also a national level gold medalist swimmer, shares how it helped her heal.

“Recovery took a huge mental and physical toll on me Not being able to even stand up on my own was the hardest thing to deal with. I am very lucky to have a mother who realized this quickly and pushed me towards joining a yoga school to help with my rehab in all aspects. Fast forward to months later, I had recovered and was now a certified yoga teacher. I’ve never looked back ever since,” said Parwani, sharing that yoga helped her “mentally, emotionally and physically”.

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Este International Day of Yoga (IDY), she talks about her tryst with yoga, why it is for everyone, and lists some of the biggest myths that need to be done away with.

Would you agree that the world woke up to yoga amid the pandemic?

Yoga is an age old practice and science that is really here to stay. It is clearly not a fad. Of course, the pandemic has forced people to really take a pause and realize how important their health and wellness is. It has put focus on understanding what our bodies need and that we need to take out time to make sure we’re doing something, whatever it may be, to help holistic health and wellness. It has made us realize the importance of our breath – which is where life starts. Yoga, as a discipline, focuses on your breath. So the pandemic has definitely brought about a shift towards yoga.

…And of yoga’s contribution to mental health?

Yoga is extremely vital for mental health because the practice works to connect your mind, body and soul. In today’s day and age, where everything is fast-paced, and stress levels are through the roof, a lot of us are very disconnected within ourselves and we forget to listen to what our minds and bodies are telling us. Yoga works on grounding us with breathwork which kicks in our parasympathetic nervous system. This helps us rest, relax, tune in and rejuvenate. Yoga also helps release happy hormones, so you feel great after practice.

Yoga is more than just a workout for me. It has healed me mentally, emotionally and physically. It’s safe to say – it injected life back into me.

Anshuka Parwani on her yoga practice (Source: PR Handout)

Tips for beginners

Yoga is so accessible; you don’t need a gym or any equipment. You can grab anything that’s a bit soft – a towel, a rug, a quilt or a mat and practice. It doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful – sit on a mat or whatever you have, start practicing Pranayama and build from there.

Yoga props are widely available to help you, so don’t shy away from using them.

As long as you don’t have any injuries or contraindications (please check with your doctor and yoga practitioner), you can do yoga asanas any and everywhere. Do this for yourself because once you are in unison with yourself, you automatically connect with the world around you in the best possible way too.

The theme for this year’s International Day of Yoga is ‘Yoga for Wellbeing’. So it is driving home the message of leading a balanced, healthy lifestyle. No matter who you are, where you’re from or what you do, yoga can be included in your life as a discipline to ensure you’re working towards leading a healthy life with your mind, body and soul balanced.

Along with yoga, it is also essential to eat healthy. What does your daily diet consist of?

I am an absolute foodie and I love my food. I don’t follow any specific diet but I make the right choices. I am 100 per cent gluten and refined sugar-free and these two things are something I do not eat at all. Apart from that, I indulge in dishes and cuisines I love as long as they don’t have gluten and sugar. There are so many options to choose from now so it isn’t that hard. I love it when my plate has different colored foods and flavors – I like to make sure it’s a balanced meal.

Some yoga poses that you would recommend to everyone.

My favorite pose is Yoga Nidra which is a guided form of meditation, relaxation and inner Shavasana. So, when you’re practicing this, you’re not sleeping but consciously relaxing and aware of your breathe.

The second one is the headstand. Being inverted makes me feel calmer, stronger and more centered. It also releases all my happy hormones so I feel great the rest of the day.

The third one is the Surya Namaskar because it takes care of stretching my muscles, strengthening them, and it works on my flexibility. It’s really a full body movement.

My breathwork and Pranayama is something I cannot live without!

The many myths associated with yoga that you would like to bust.

*Yoga is just for people who are flexible
Yoga is for every BODY. From children, to pregnant women, men, and senior citizens – yoga adds value to everyone’s lives. It is so much more than just a physical practice so the crux of it isn’t about getting into that head stand or being super flexible, it’s really about being in tune and aligned with your mental and physical self.
*Yoga is just for women
Why someone chose to attach gender to yoga fails me! Yoga is a holistic wellness way of life and practice. It is not gender-specific.
*Pregnant women cannot do yoga
Yoga has so many benefits to provide pregnant women. I had had some of my students do yoga with me until their ninth month and their birthing process was much easier thanks to their dedication to the practice.

Deepika, Alia, or Kareena. Any favourites?

For a teacher from any discipline, be it at a school or college or someone like me, choosing and picking favorites is impossible. I am eternally grateful and blessed to be surrounded by these women and men that are such powerhouses in their own respect. I get to learn so much from each one of them and that to me is so rewarding.

anshuka Anshuka Parwani lists some of her favorite poses (Source: PR Handout)

Yoga wearables have become a rage. How does the attire help?

It’s like a second skin to you. Being a national level athlete, I understand how important that is. The material and the fit enables you to really flow like water into your practice. That’s why, Adidas’ Yoga Make Space campaign spoke to me. The fabrics are all made out of recycled material which just makes it so much better. Introducing the different elements as inspiration for the pieces also adds so much value to the entire collection and points to the foundation of yoga as well.

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