Payal Gidwani Tiwari can take credit for making Kareena Kapoor and beau Saif Ali Khan, Tusshar and Ekta Kapoor and Sridevi, among others, bendy enough to put their head over their heels. Along with her husband Manish Tiwari, Payal introduced Bollywood’s swish set to her unique brand of yoga, which Kareena Kapoor credits for her dramatic weight loss en route to size zero. Putting together her experiments with yoga, Tiwari recently released a fitness book called From XL to XS.
The book claims that you can indeed drop several sizes by practising yoga regularly. More importantly, while most experts claim that yoga is more a tool for holistic living than a weight loss technique, Tiwari claims that you can significantly alter your body shape with yoga. "Yoga brings an intrinsic change in the body and mind," she says. "If you follow it consistently, every day for six months, you can achieve weight loss and alter your body structure."
But doesn’t body shape involve a lot of complex factors, such as genetic predisposition, and how can yoga reverse them? Tiwari illustrates with the example of Kareena Kapoor: "Kareena’s problem areas were her arms and calves. I recommended certain asanas just for those parts. Every asana works internally. It takes care of your hormonal and digestive system. Once you’ve achieved that inner balance, you automatically start losing weight."
Tiwari has been practising yoga for seven years. Her interpretation of yoga is based on the curriculum of the Kaivalyadhama School in Lonavala. "But we bring in modifications depending on each person’s body type," she says. "We look at five parameters that are crucial for fitness: cardiovascular strength, endurance, flexibility, stamina and body composition." Tiwari also brings in additional elements to the workout, including spot jogging and walking up stairs.
To start with, Tiwari says it’s important to have the right understanding of a healthy body. “I don’t believe in size zero at all,” she says. “Ideally, there should be an eight-inch difference between your chest and your waist, and your waist and your hip. You might be a little on the heavier side, but if you have this ratio, you tend to look very proportionate.”
If you’re a beginner to yoga, Tiwari suggests you cut your teeth with the surya namaskar, the series of twelve asanas that is considered highly beneficial for the body’s internal systems. “Surya namaskars are a complete workout,” she says. “If your knees and back are fine, you can start with five surya namaskars. As you go along, your strength and stamina increases.”
But in addition, you need to pay attention to your diet and lifestyle. “You need to have a balanced diet and eliminate sugars and fast food from your diet,” says Tiwari. “Even a small change in lifestyle can go a long way.”