40 minutes to fitness

Belonging to a family that believed in exercising at least once a day, following a healthy lifestyle had been instilled since childhood. However, moving out of home and living alone in a city that never sleeps, robbed me out of my enthusiasm to snatch even 40 minutes for myself in a day. The result: a weak immune system and being a regular prey to diseases.

For the fit and famous
Finally, a choice had to be made. The choice to live a holistic life, the choice to respect my body and give it the time that it requires and to put my plan to action, I decided to drop by for a session with fitness guru Abhishek Sharma, who has trained the likes of Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone among others.

Sharma has charted out a special workout regime including elements of yoga, martial arts and athletics for people who wish to exercise without any machines and are hard pressed for time. What’s more? The roughly 40-minute routine also aims at making a person confident, alert and is a self-defense tool. After fixing my date and time, I got my exercise apparel out and headed to the studio for my first lesson.

On entering, it exuded a Zen-like calmness; I was offered green tea (step one to a healthy routine). Next, it was time for our workout. The wooden-floored studio was mirrored on three sides. We were ready.

Sharma handed me a yoga mat and we were ready for our healthy sojourn. Since the expert has mentioned in his book that it’s integral to follow a workout that combines stamina, flexibility and strength, I had anticipated what was in store.

Trying to touch your toes with your hands, is another form of stretches and is called Paschimottanasana

The workout
1. First up, I was asked to do some wake-up stretches, something that one is supposed to do as soon as one wakes up. It is important to hold each stretch and to move from one position to the next without rushing. A few of them are explained below:

>> Sit in Sukhasana (comfortable sitting position) and take two deep breaths, stretching both hands upwards with interlocked fingers and neck downwards. Hold that position for five seconds and repeat it twice.

>> Marjari asana (cat stretch) should be repeated twice. Breathe out when you pull the spine up and breathe in when you push the stomach down.

>> Bhujangasana should be done thrice. Breathe in when you come up and hold the stretch for a second. Breathe out when you come down. The third time when you come up, breathe normally, while holding the final position. Try to hold this position for 10 seconds. It prepares the spine and enables one to have an energetic day.

>> Another stretch is when you try touching your toes with both legs forward. Hold that stretch for 3 seconds

2. The next step is the Suryanamaskar, in which one has to adopt movements that are slow, gentle, fluid and graceful, almost like a dance with perfect breath coordination. Just a few cycles of the Suryanamaskar, which only take a few minutes, activates all muscles head to toe and gives one immense health benefits.

3. The third aspect is cardiovascular exercise, which is extremely essential as it exercises the most important muscle in our body — heart. Cardio exercises raise the heart rate, improve blood circulation, raise the metabolic rate and strengthen one’s heart. Brisk walking, jogging, running, skipping, cycling, stair climbing, shadow boxing, swimming and spot jogging are all forms of cardio exercises. One can choose any of these. In my case, we stuck to stair climbing and went up and down a number of times till the time I could feel my heart rate increasing.

4. The next step is to master some static and dynamic postures. One can try Vrikshasana (tree posture), Virbhadrasana (warrior posture), Bhujangasana (cobra posture), Tadasana (palm tree posture) Trikonasana (triangle posture), Ardha Naukasana (boat posture) and Vyaghasana (tiger stretch) among others. I tried all of these. In the beginning, it is tough to get them right but repeat movements, help understanding.

5. Incorporating free hand exercises is also essential. One can start with a basic warm up, going on to push ups (with knee support or wall support), squats, crunches, leg raises and back strengthening variations.

6. One can also add few martial arts kicks to the regime, which are not just helpful in muscle activation but are also great self-defense techniques.

7. In the end, it is important to cool the body down and hence “Om” chanting in Sukhasana position is what we rounded up our session with. 

Tips for a healthy lifestyle
>> Drink water as soon as you wake up. This starts the cleansing process in the body and will make you feel rejuvenated.
>>  Eat a few soaked almonds. Almonds are a great source of protein, vitamin E and calcium among a host of other nutrients.
>>  Eat seasonal fruits. Fruits give energy, immediately.
>>  Eat a full breakfast. That will keep you healthy and your weight in check.
>>  Take the stairs wherever possible.
>>  Move every two hours because when you sit in the same position for too long, your blood circulation and metabolism slows down and the muscles start getting stiff, weak and prone to injury.
>>  Keep your back straight.
>>  Get 15 minutes of direct sunlight a day because it’s the best source of vitamin D, which helps absorb calcium, making bones stronger.
>>  Commune with nature. It is very soothing and healing.
>>  Do not sleep immediately after having a big meal.
>>  Get around eight hours of sleep. 

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