The best way to destress? Turn off your phone, says Kalki Koechlin
Born to French parents in Pondicherry and brought up in Ooty, Kalki Koechlin has made a career of doing strong, unconventional roles. An actress and playwright, she switches mediums with ease; her latest web-series, Bhram by Zee5, is a psychological thriller. Here’s how she balances it all…
I grew up a skinny, scrawny kid. But if I’m not careful, I put on easily. In just one year, at university in London, I gained 6 kg. On returning, I did a course at Sivanand Yoga in Bengaluru. Now I have a set routine, I try to do something every day — twice a week I swim, twice gym, and I do yoga.
I’ve never been fond of gymming, but this instructor I’ve found doesn’t use treadmill, it’s all floor, using your body weight, resistance ropes, pull-ups, monkey bars and weights. There’s a rock-climbing wall, and hoops and obstacles to run in and out of. I focus on strengthening, especially the core, as my lower back is weak due to a childhood injury.
I’ve never felt the ‘high’ of fitness, but enjoy sports and activity. I play basketball, go slacklining, and when away from Bombay, ocean-swimming or trekking. This way, you also discover new people.
Growing up, junk food didn’t exist in our house, breakfast was mom’s freshly baked bread, and meals would be south Indian or French dinners. Even treats would be mom’s apple pie or something, never fast food or packaged food. Even today, if I crave French fries and have such stuff for two or three days, my stomach can’t take it. So it’s about what you make your body used to.
Balancing physical and mental health is fitness for me. And mental health isn’t just about the mind; often, what we put in our system causes chemical imbalances, stress and anxiety.
I’ve gone vegetarian after seeing documentaries about the antibiotics that go into meat and the pollution (industrial-scale livestock farming) causes. I’m consciously sourcing from farmers’ markets and places that offer seasonal, pesticide-free produce. I make myself a breakfast of fresh cucumber-tomato salad, an omelet and baked bread, or just have muesli with fruits and dahi. Lunch and dinner are simple roti, sabzi and dal.
If we’re going to shoot at some place for a long time, on the first day, I go to the kitchen, show the chef how I like my salads and veggies. When you’re shooting, you often carry back different energies from the day and the character you’re playing, so yoga is a constant. I do it at the day’s end to get out of that space and calm down before sleeping.
A balanced lifestyle is tough to achieve in this fast-paced world, but I’m making small changes. I switch my phone off once I’m home at night and don’t check it until after breakfast the next morning. This way, I wake up to my own dreams and motivations for the day rather than external influences.
TV and Netflix ceased my reading, so now I’ve subscribed to a newspaper for news rather than catching it on Twitter and social media. I’ve also started reading books again and recently finished James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.