He may be a world-renowned yoga guru, but Bharat Thakur, the founder of artistic yoga, also admits to being a foodie, putting on weight easily and loving non-veg food. Thakur’s also an advocate of eating sensibly and abhors over-exercising, which makes him and his wife, actress Bhumika Chawla, the perfect people to answer all our questions about health, exercise and diet.
What is your daily fitness schedule?
Bhumika: I work out for one hour four days a week. Mostly, it includes 25 minutes on the treadmill, 20 minutes of stretching and yoga, and some weight training. If I cannot work out for some reason, I just put on music and dance.
Bharat: My fitness regime is really a tough one because I tend to put on weight easily. I love doing cardio and once or twice a week I run 10 km. I keep one day for swimming and one day for a long distance walk. But yoga is a daily must. My yoga routine is 40 minutes of intense asana practice everyday and one and a half hours of meditation.
I also do cleansing techniques like Neti (nasal cleansing), Vastra Dhauti (cleansing the stomach with a cloth), Kapalbhati (breathing technique to cleanse), have an enema once a month and practice Kunjal (drinking 6 glasses of lukewarm salt water and vomiting it out) once in 10 days.
Once a week I practice inverted postures like seersasana, sarvangasana, padmasana yog mudra and halasana. I hold these postures for two minutes. Being a Kriya Yogi, as part of my meditation regime, I practice all four kriyas everyday – Prakash, Anahad, Sumiran and Khechdi. It helps me to unwind, relax, and also to evolve spiritually. I don’t have a specific time for yoga or meditation. Morning is better for most people but it’s better to practice at any time rather than not do it at all.
What kind of diet do you follow?
Bhumika: I don’t have a fixed diet but generally start my day with fruits, a boiled egg or milk and oatmeal or cornflakes. For lunch I prefer a chapati made of wheat and ragi with a green vegetable and salad. I sometimes have yogurt. For dinner, I like to keep it as light as possible. Usually it’s a soup and salad, but If I’m really hungry I indulge in a little rice.
Bharat: I don’t follow any diet. I am a foodie and that’s why I need to do a lot of cardio every day. I love dal, rice, vegetables and non-veg food. I try to finish my dinner before 8 pm – that’s a must. I try eating lots of fibre, so I add bran to chapatis, and I eat lots of yogurt. Overall, I eat well. I prefer to eat well and exercise every day.
What suggestions do you have for people keen to lose weight?
Bhumika: Eat everything in moderate amounts. Eat salad as it has lots of vitamins and fibre. Most importantly, exercise well, because that’s going to keep your metabolism high in the long run.
Bharat: 1. Don’t starve yourself as your metabolism falls. 2. Fight the fat, not your weight. When you exercise, your lean body mass increases and so muscle weight increases. Don’t look at the weighing scale every day, you’ll get demotivated. 3. Eat every two hours. If you don’t get anything, eat two digestive or Marie biscuits. The moment you’re hungry and delay your intake of food, the acid levels in the stomach increase, and when you eat later you will end up adding weight. 4. Avoid alcohol if you can, especially whisky, and shift to wine or vodka if you have to drink. Drink water instead of soft drinks. 5. Avoid fried snacks or chips and eat roasted snacks. 6. Eat lots of fibrous food, like white oats, salad and green vegetables. 7. Avoid rice and sugar completely if you are a heavy rice eater. 8. Shift to green tea. 9. Never panic about your weight. 10. Avoid friends who have a bad lifestyle. 11. Accept that you are diseased and to cure the disease, you have to change your lifestyle because there is no medicine that can help you lose weight. 12. There is no alternative to exercise because you will look healthy only when your muscles are in shape. 13. Avoid over-exercising, which tends to burn you out and decreases self-confidence. 14. Exercise correctly with a good trainer. Understand that your lower body is important because two major joints can leave you bedridden – your knees and your lower back. 15. Strengthen your quadriceps and hamstrings. These huge muscles will eat up calories and make you slim. 16. A small injury can spoil your workout for weeks, so warm up adequately before doing cardio, stretching or weights.
If you’ve gone a week without exercising and eating healthily, how can you get back in shape?
Bhumika: Drink a glass of warm water with lime first thing in the morning and eat sprouts and fruits. Avoid juices because you’ll end up consuming more calories – four times as much as one fruit contains. Eat toast made from brown bread and a boiled egg without the yolk. And if you’re Punjabi like me, then completely avoid butter, ghee, lassi and parathas. After dinner, take a 30-minute walk.
Bharat: Start exercising slowly again to avoid injuries. Drink 4-7 litres of water everyday. Be careful with eating rice, fried foods and sugar. Promise yourself that you will not do the same thing again. Try this detox technique – have 2 tablespoons of honey with one glass of lukewarm water and one full lime for two days so that your body is detoxified and you lose weight.
How can you take care of problems like love handles through yoga?
Bhumika: You’ll have to ask my husband!
Bharat: There are specific asanas for side and oblique muscles. You’ll need to go to a good teacher to help you work on a specific body part.
How can people keep themselves motivated to exercise and stay fit?
Bhumika: Remember that your body is a temple. Keep admiring the people who you think are fit. Remember that when you are fit you are mentally more alert. At the end it is you who must push yourself to make fitness an intrinsic part of your life.
Bharat: If you are not motivated to keep yourself fit, then there is no real technique to get motivated. Unless you want to die early... That should be good enough motivation.