Actor and entrepreneur, Malaika Arora has always been in the news for her relentless passion for fitness. Having experimented with several kinds of fitness, the devout fitness enthusiast over the last few years has taken her love for yoga to another level, floated her own start-up for women and more recently, invested in another one called SARVA Yoga. Malaika even started her new year with a yoga practice and can’t seem to stress the benefits of the form enough. Here, she talks about weight loss with yoga, healthy eating, body image, and her own journey. This is followed by a video on 10 yoga poses that can help lose weight and are a personal favourite of the Bollywood actor.
In an exclusive interview with Zeezest.com, the actor and fitness expert, talks about her experience with the form, investing in a yoga enterprise while she busts some myths, too.
1. How has your fitness routine changed over the years?
Fitness has always been a top priority for me. My fitness routine revolves around a mix of workout forms; yoga alternating with a form of cardio (this could also be a brisk walk or a run). It’s very important to enjoy your workout. This will help you achieve your results faster. Choose a workout that makes you happy and is a stress buster, too.
2. What does a day in the life of Malaika Arora look like and what drives you to chase your personal fitness goals?
I start my day with a glass of warm water and a hint of lemon followed by my yoga routine. This sets the flow for my entire day. A typical day in my life revolves around business meetings with my team, rehearsals, shoots and planning out any pending work. Besides work, I make it a point to focus on clean eating and timely, healthy meals. I try to wrap up my day by 7 pm with an early dinner, which is usually a healthy bowl, salad, or wrap. What drives me is passion, discipline, and determination to be a better version of yourself each day.
3. When did you discover the magic of yoga and how has it helped you physically as well as mentally?
My tryst with yoga began when a friend took me to a yoga studio for a trial session. However, I began to see the real effects when I stuck to it. A couple of days into the practice, I began to see how powerful a practice it is. And that’s when I experienced its real magic. It has helped me build my strength, tone my body, and relax my mind through hectic schedules.
4. What would be your advice for someone who has never tried yoga and why they should do it?
Well firstly TRY IT, is what I’d say! Yoga can be very powerful for overall mental and physical wellness since it’s also backed by science and Ayurveda. To make yoga more millennial-friendly, I’d say start with yoga with a prop. SARVA Yoga offers 25 different forms based on authentic traditions with a modern twist.
5. What are the challenges in making yoga a mainstream fitness form in the land where it originated?
Yoga has a lot of preconceived notions attached to it like, it is boring, not intense, or doesn’t lead to weight loss or strength. These myths deter people from trying it out. I’d say this perception is the biggest challenge we face today. It’s ironic that even people in the birthplace of Yoga believe these myths to be true. Our first and foremost goal at SARVA Yoga is to reach out to as many people as possible and that’s why we’ve launched our one-year free yoga programme.
6. Regular yoga practice can influence weight loss, but not in the same way as running or gyming would, what are your thoughts on the same?
That’s a myth that I would love to debunk. Losing weight is about reaching the right heart rate during your exercise. It’s simple science, isn’t it? There are a lot of forms of yoga that one can practice with different intensity. These forms not only help you crush calories, make you sweat, and give you an energy boost after a session, but also help you improve flexibility, which sometimes other forms of exercises do not focus on. I would advise everyone who is looking to work on their weight loss journey to try yoga and consistent practice will surely help you achieve your goals. In fact, if you’re a runner, an athlete or a cyclist, yoga will also boost your performance.
7. There are a plethora of yoga studios in the country, why did you choose SARVA Yoga and what sets it apart?
It all started when my management team at Exceed Entertainment introduced me to the idea of starting a fitness brand. We developed the idea over time, focusing on a fitness form like yoga which I was already a practitioner of. This was an extension of what I truly believe in, that is, overall fitness and wellness. This is how Diva Yoga, a chain of yoga studios for women, was formed along with my partner and co-founder Sarvesh. Through SARVA Yoga our aim is to connect 7 billion breaths through yoga. I’ve trained and continue to train with the SARVA Yoga team but I was pleasantly surprised with how knowledgeable the trainers are and how well the guided workout went.
8. What is your message for women struggling with body image issues today?
Aim for strength, physical and mental. Weight will fluctuate and never remain constant all our lives. That is how the body functions. But strength will keep you consistent. Also, never skip your meals. Focus on clean eating and allow yourself that “once in a while” craving.
9. How do you keep yourself away from trolls and negativity on social media?
There’s negativity everywhere, but when you are content with what you are doing, that’s where the real power comes from. Don’t get affected by criticism, it’s a part of life. As a practice, I limit my time on social media and spend it reading about what’s happening in the world of business and brands.
10. As the judge of a dance show, can you tell us about your love for dancing.
I consider dance a form of meditation. The precision you need to channelise all that energy into getting those moves right needs focus and serious dedication. Not to sound too clichéd, but I can really forget everything else when I dance!
11. What would you pick between comfort and fashion?
That is a tough one! Can I say comfortable fashion?
12. You lead a hectic lifestyle, how do you balance multiple roles and responsibilities?
It’s not easy but I plan my day in advance and prioritise my work and responsibilities accordingly. Also, I strongly believe in a work-life balance and being present in the moment when I am with family and loved ones (by not being addicted to my gadgets).
13. Which are your favourite asanas?
I love practicing Trikonasana as it goes a long way in improving overall posture and spine health. I also practice Navasana daily, it is a wonder pose that gives a good burn to the core muscles and works effectively on the abs.
1) How do you unwind?
Listen to music and cook a healthy meal, meditate, watch a film or a show, and take my dog out for a walk.
2) A book that made a difference in your life.
Revisiting this book called The Green Room by the late designer and my genius friend Wendell Rodricks who’ll be missed forever.
3) Your beauty ritual and a secret hair care tip.
Eat in moderation, drink lots of water, and get eight hours of undisturbed sleep. A hair oil massage once a week at least is a must.
4) If you could invite three people for a meal who would they be and what would you cook?
Michael Jackson, Oprah, and I am still thinking of the third. I’ll probably just end up cooking some tasty and healthy food like brown rice with rajma and a side of vegetables.
6) You've aged so gracefully, what's your diet secret?
I don’t have a diet secret and eat everything in moderation.
7) What are your top three tips to stay sane in this day and age?
Find your strength. Focus on the positive. Surround yourself with people you love.