From flying airplanes to aerial yoga, this guru has found her true passion. Anshuka Parwani – yogi to Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Deepika Padukone and Ananya Pandey – shares her expertise and experience with Hannah Cardozo.
Anshuka Parwani is known for working with some of Bollywood’s biggest figures. Whether it’s Alia Bhatt in an aerial asana, Kareena Kapoor Khan working out alongside her kids, or on the sets of ‘Gehraiyaan’ with Deepika Padukone and Ananya Pandey, her clients have a newfound confidence in their bodies and their abilities. She is determined to help them stay fit not just physically but also mentally.
Excerpts from the interview…
What inspired your yogic journey? And how did Anshuka Yoga get its start?
I was a commercial pilot and I lost my job after a motorbike accident. I started yoga as part of my therapy. When I realised the effect yoga had on my life and the way in which it enhanced it, yoga became a part of my lifestyle. Soon after that, I started Anshuka Yoga to share that magic.
Yoga transformed your life, could you tell us some benefits of yoga that most people are unaware of? What are some of the misconceptions about yoga that you would like to bust?
The first thing is just how incredible our breath is, and it is something we take for granted. Breathing correctly can do wonders, not only for the way you look but also for making sure that your hormonal system is balanced, and your organs are functioning optimally. Some of the misconceptions I would say are that ‘yoga is just for women’ or that ‘yoga is just for the flexible’. Yoga is for anyone and everyone who can move and also for those who have difficulty with movement.
FlyFit is a concept that people find daunting, can you tell us more about aerial yoga and break down its perks?
At first, anything new is scary or daunting, but once you’re on the hammock, that completely changes because it is designed to protect you at all times. Every single teacher is certified by me and we understand what not to do. When people let go, they are extremely excited and adrenaline levels are high. I created this class because I realised that the hammock could help you get maximum benefits without having to wait for a few months to see results. For example, many people are not strong enough to do regular handstands but they can do it in a hammock very easily.
Food is an important part of fitness, could you give us your top three healthy eating tips?
Keep it balanced.
Eat as less refined sugar as possible.
For people who want to start practising yoga, what should a beginner’s routine look like?
A beginner’s routine should be a wholesome practice, with a mixture of asanas. It should be followed with attention, whether it’s beginner poses, or whether staying still for a few minutes. That is the most important thing to remember.
You train some of the biggest Bollywood stars – what are some of your takeaways from working with them?
Discipline is the one thing common among them all. When you have to get to a ten-hour shoot far away and you wake up early or make that time to prioritise yoga, that motivates me and is my biggest learning.
Alia Bhatt shared a picture in an aerial yoga pose right after giving birth, which left people in shock and awe! What has postpartum training with Alia looked like and how do you keep it safe for the mother?
I’m so grateful that she shared it; it’s important for postpartum women to understand that when you’re working with a certified teacher, we know how to help you. Postpartum for everybody is different. The guideline says that after eight weeks, you can hold a plank or do surya namaskars, but that isn’t true for everybody. Our training includes breathwork, strengthening the back and core again, building up muscle, and understanding that the body has changed for nine months and continues to change postpartum.
We’ve seen Kareena Kapoor Khan transform her look through the years, what role does yoga play at this stage of her journey?
Practising yoga is a lifestyle and therefore it benefits a person’s body, mind, and soul no matter what stage you are at (always check for contraindications). Kareena is very disciplined and dedicated to her practice and wellness as a whole, and it’s commendable.
You worked with Deepika Padukone and Ananya Pandey for ‘Gehraiyaan’, what was that experience like?
It was amazing to be behind the camera. What beautiful human beings, what beautiful souls. I was like an insider because I was involved in the film, choreographing the yoga sequences, doing workshops with all the actors, and creatively directing a few scenes. The experience was beautiful and exciting, and seeing your work on screen is a dream.
Deepika and Ananya continue to work with you since, what are some of their goals and how do you help meet them?
Yes, Deepika and Ananya continue to practise with me. The goals can move from endurance to cardiovascular to more strength and muscle building. The one common thing is the holistic way of looking at it, it is a well-rounded practice with pranayam and breathwork, tweaked for what they want to achieve.