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Change the shape and size of your body

It’s official: you can change the shape of your body with yoga. So says celebrity yoga trainer Payal Gidwani Tiwari who has just written a book on the subject, From XL To XS.

health and fitness Updated: Nov 06, 2010 18:00 IST
Payal Gidwani Tiwari

It’s official: you can change the shape of your body with yoga. So says celebrity yoga trainer Payal Gidwani Tiwari who has just written a book on the subject, From XL To XS.



Exclusive extracts

2003, I opted for yoga as it is a holistic way to good health. I told myself that I would try it out for six months and see whether it worked for me or not. As fate would have it, I was hooked.



Many people ask me how yoga differs from other forms of exercise, and why they should follow this ancient form of exercise when there are so many new and exciting options around.



SaifeenaYoga works on your internal organs. The exercises massage the internal organs. This helps in their better functioning, and makes you healthy inside out.



Yoga teaches you the right way to breathe and to control your breathing. Did you know that just by breathing properly you could control ageing?



Third, yoga propels you on the path of self-realization. With regular practice, you can understand yourself better, and learn to control your anger as well as various negativities and urges.



Fourth, there is a popular myth that ‘yoga doesn’t make you lose weight’. This is absolutely incorrect. If done in the right way, yoga can definitely help you lose weight and that too naturally, without popping pills and taking fat burners. And all this without any side effects. When you hold an asana for more than a minute, it melts the fat cells and helps you to reduce weight. You can lose kilos or inches with diets as well, but you can never look toned. You have to exercise to prevent your body from looking flabby and shrivelled.



Fifth, yoga consists of certain inverted postures or asanas in which you have to bend down and the blood flows to the head and other areas. Such inverted postures are unique only to yoga and do not form a part of any other form of exercise. When the blood flow is directed towards these organs, it lends an extra glow to the face and the skin. Such exercises can even cure ailments like migraine, sinusitis, asthma, acne, etc...



Lastly, and most importantly, yoga can can change the shape of your body. Often I come across people who are slim, yet not satisfied with their bodies. They have different problem areas that they constantly worry about, like for example, they feel that their waist is a little broader than what they prefer. However, through regular practice of yoga you can get the body you dream of. By working on your specific problem areas, you can change the structure of your body. And by following your workout regularly, you can become a perfect ten with a perfectly proportionate body.



"Yoga has a calming effect on my body. i feel refreshed" – Saif Ali Khan

Discovering a new exercise routine


There are many forms of exercise to keep you fit; like weight resistance training, cardio vascular activity, kick boxing, mountain climbing, etc. The list, in fact, is unlimited. However, what all the above activities have in common is the requirement to push the body and the mind beyond the limits of endurance in order to break the mental and the physical barriers to achieve your goal. I have noticed that the discipline and the commitment to push the body and the mind, results in a similar approach to all spheres of life.



Of all the various forms of exercise I have practised, I find yoga to be the most satisfying. It is a complete workout – mental and physical, internal, and external. The strength and determination required to complete a yoga class has to be tried to be ‘believed’. If done in the right way as Payal trains, it is the definitive and the most complete of all workouts.



It is also important to exercise regularly so that you can maintain your fitness levels, and that does not only mean having a good body. Fitness is much more than that, and encompasses factors such as flexibility, stamina, and endurance. When I do yoga with Payal, it has a calming effect on my body, and I feel refreshed. I have been working out for the past two years with her, and I really enjoy it.

– Saif Ali Khan



Saif is one of the most energetic people I have ever come across. He has this unique ability of going on and on, and is able to juggle many things successfully. He is also extremely fit.

– Payal Gidwani Tiwari

Perfect ten
A perfect ten as I call it is the perfect balance of the following ten parameters – height, weight, fat percentage, arms, chest, stomach, waist, hips, thighs, and calves. If you have a proportionate body, that is, the right measurement in all these ten categories, you can be called a perfect ten.

This is what gives shape to your body and makes you look sexy. Smita Reddy, a 24-year-old flight attendant was at her ideal body weight of fifty-six kilos as per her 5 feet 5 inches height yet she wondered why she did not look as good as her colleague Manya Patel, who was the same height and weight.The reason is simple. Although Smita’s weight was fine yet her body was not well proportioned. Her arms and upper body were extremely thin whereas her lower body was bulkier. As a result, she did not look as good as compared to her perfect ten colleague, Manya, despite being at the right side of the weighing scale. Working out blindly, without knowing where you need to lay stress on and which areas you need to work on more, can never bring about the desired results. You might achieve your ideal body weight but you cannot look your best.

Gift yourself a measuring tape
Before you start losing weight, the first thing you should do is gift yourself a measuring tape. It is an excellent way to do a regular reality check. Measure yourself from time to time.

How to become a perfect ten
You don’t need anybody else for this. You can do it all by yourself! You need to take into consideration ten different attributes of the body – height, weight, fat percentage, arms, chest, stomach, waist, hips, thighs, calves.

To be a perfect ten, there should be a difference of around 8 inches between your chest and your waist as well as your waist and hip measurements. Also, the size of your chest and your hip should be the same.

Exercise is the most important aspect of getting to a perfect ten size. Remember, with a diet, you can only lose weight but you can never get a bikini body. When your body loses fat, it sags down, and you need to exercise to tone it. A case in point is my husband Manish, who drinks two bottles of beer and smokes around ten cigarettes a day. Yet, he is one of the fittest people I know, with a perfect ten body. Manish is a Bollywood yoga expert like me, and he is able to maintain his body even with his so called ‘unhealthy habits,’ only with regular exercise.

What you need to do is to maintain your healthy diet and concentrate on getting a proportionate and toned body, which only exercise can give you. So if you want to be able to wear whatever you like and show off a fit body you need to get your act together.

How Kareena changed her body
In Bebo’s case, I made her do exercises that work on weak areas, and her body has responded excellently. Although Kareena is pear shaped, her butt is her asset. Her arms were heavy and her shoulders were broad. Hence, Suryanamaskars worked wonders for her to get her upper body into shape. Some other upper body exercises; like holding Parvatasana for a minute, push ups, and holding the postures for longer have also helped her to get the lean look that she sports today.

Bebo also had heavy calves, and for that I made her stand near a wall, with her back facing the wall and then made her bend in a chair position for more than a minute. This was followed by raising her heels up and balancing the body on her toes. I made her hold her position for more than a minute.

Bebo’s lower body is her strength and she can do as much exercise as she wants with her lower body. But her upper body and core are weak, and to strengthen these I made her do Naukasana variations. I also made her do Simhasana (lion pose) for high cheekbones and helped make her cheeks thinner by sucking it inwards, and holding it there. Yes, you can even change the shape of your face with yoga!

“I have been doing yoga for the past seven years” – Sridevi

Flexibility is key
Tusshar Kapoor does not have any weight issues; he’s slim and has a toned body as he has been going to the gym regularly for a long time. But he felt that he could improve on his dancing skills if he were more flexible. So I designed a special regime to help him do that.

“Is feel i can stretch better now” – Tusshar

‘I saw it happen with my clients’
Q&A with Payal Gidwani Tiwari

You started doing yoga in 2003. What made you take to it? When did you qualify as a yoga teacher and from which institute?
I guess it was just faith and destiny that got me to yoga. I certified as a fitness teacher in 2002. And my husband (Manish Tiwari) and myself follow the Kaivalyadhama school of yoga, as taught at the centre in Lonavala.

What makes it the perfect workout? Can you or should you mix yoga with other forms of exercise?
Basically, yoga works on all the components of fitness that are important for your cardio-vascular health, strength, stamina, etc. It also works on your physical and mental being. And you can always mix different types of exercise to suit your body type. That would make it fun for your body as well as yourself.

What about diet. How important is that together with yoga?
You should always have a healthy and well balanced diet. That is very important whether you are doing yoga or any other form of exercise. You talk not only about losing or gaining weight with yoga, but also about changing shape. No one’s mentioned this before.

When did you realise this could happen?
Interestingly, even I didn’t know this could happen till I saw it happen with my clients. Such a realisation comes only when you spend time getting to know your clients and understanding their body types.

In the workout plans you have given in the book, you’ve said that readers should do the asanas in the exact order that you’ve set out. How have you worked out these routines, and why is it important to stick to the order?
Manish and I sit together and create fun as well as easy routines to adapt to each body type, taking into consideration all their health issues / goals / achievements, etc. Each asana works on a different part externally as well as internally, so if the routine is not followed in its proper sequence, it would cause repercussions. It’s best to stick to the order so as not to confuse yourself and your body.

Before starting, do remember...
Never work out on a heavy stomach.

Exercise preferably 2 hours after your breakfast and 4 hours after your lunch.

When you start following the workouts, there is a possibility that you may, initially, feel a certain amount of dizziness. This is very common among people who do not exercise regularly. This happens due to the toxins that are eliminated from the body in the form of sweat. However, your body should ideally get accustomed to the asanas by two weeks from the time you start exercising.

Soreness in the body is also something that you might experience, in the beginning of your workouts, as you might not have stretched your body in a long time. Here again, you do not need to worry as your body should adapt to the workout in two weeks.

It is very important to know how to breathe while doing the asanas. You need to inhale while getting into a posture in which you have to bend backwards, exhale when you are bending forward, and then breathe normally while holding a posture.

Focus on the muscle or area that is getting affected while doing a particular posture.

There should be a break of at least 10 seconds between each asana.

For best results, eat a balanced diet at regular intervals to avoid constipation and indigestion.

Never overstretch the body while doing any asana and do it with absolute ease, focusing on your breathing.

After any workout, maintain a gap of 45 minutes before having any food.

Stretch before and after the exercises, even if it is for a few minutes.

Drink at least four to five litres of water in a day.

“Yoga has Brought a glow to my complexion” – Rani Mukherjee

It’s cleansing
Slowly, over the last seven or eight months, I’ve moved on to four days a week of only yoga. I found that a lot of the asanas were working on my body from the inside. Yoga combines cardio, stretches, and rhythmic breathing that helps the body rid itself of any toxins or blockages thereby increasing blood circulation. This has brought a glow to my complexion.
– Rani Mukherjee

“I’m never tired after a workout, i’m charged for a brand new day” – Maria Goretti

I start my day by drinking a big glass of mixed vegetable juice and then drink at least three big cups of green tea through the day. I love fruits and make it a point to eat one fruit a day if not more, and I make sure I never skip any of my meals. What keeps me fresh and going are catnaps and drinking plenty of water. And for that extra-healthy glow, I often eat chocolates!
– Maria Goretti

How to look ten years younger
Drink 4 liters of water every day
Have 1 tblspn flax seeds everyday
Have sex at least 3 times a week
Do any physical activity at least 3 times a week
Be childlike and creative
Use the dustbin for bad memories

No airconditioning please!
A lot of people underestimate the importance of sweating while exercising, be it any form of exercise like yoga, aerobics, weight training, etc. This is because they want to lose weight and feel cool and comfortable at the same time. But you should never exercise with the air conditioner on.

The body is still warm and supple while the outside environment is cool. There is a sharp difference in temperature, which prevents you from sweating. Also, your muscles respond better without an air conditioner, as they stretch better in normal room temperature. So if you workout without the air conditioner, you lose weight faster. On the other hand, if you keep your air conditioner on, your skin is still cool and you don’t sweat enough. As a result, the excess salt remains trapped inside your body and cannot come out.