Of flexible spines and half-warrior kicks

Jun 22, 2017, 06:00 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Ever since PM Narendra Modi got the UN to bend to his wishes and declare June 21 as International Yoga Day in 2014, the day has been marked with all manners of epic posturing

BJP president Amit Shah and Baba Ramdev at a yoga session in Ahmedabad. Pic/PTI
BJP president Amit Shah and Baba Ramdev at a yoga session in Ahmedabad. Pic/PTI

Ever since PM Narendra Modi got the UN to bend to his wishes and declare June 21 as International Yoga Day in 2014, the day has been marked with all manners of epic posturing. From Smriti Irani, who demonstrated the flexibility of her spine by grabbing her toes, with thousands of yoga enthusiasts encouraged by Art of Living Foundation founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Himachal Pradesh, to his orange holiness Baba Ramdev, who, between many perfectly performed downward dog and cobra poses, sent a few half-bound warrior poses and intense leg kicks in the direction of BJP president Amit Shah, in the form of some gentle teasing about his weight, in Ahmedabad. "Amit Shah has shed his body weight by doing yoga but has increased his political weight substantially, giving tension to many," Ramdev said, resulting in many amongst the gathering assuming the laughter sutra or laughing baby pose. Other leaders spanning across political parties and affiliations too were observed up at the crack of dawn to celebrate the great day.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too gamely set aside political differences with the ruling regime and attended a yoga session, though sources say that it was not clear which asana the CM was attempting. "Looked suspiciously like the shove asana to me," is what one observer said cryptically.

He said what??
The Oolong Tea Serving Hostess Friend seemed very cross when we spoke to her towards the evening of International Yoga Day. Not one to be left out of any trend that swept the world, (she'd gone on hysterically about 'Global Warning' (sic) the previous week), she had just concluded a session with her current teacher, Smarmy Take Da Moni Anrun, who she'd discovered that morning under a pothole in Walkeshwar doing headstands. "How am I supposed to 'flower my buttocks' and make my 'collar bone shine'?" she said, indignantly. Huh? we asked.

"It's Smarmy Take Da Moni," she wailed. "How am I supposed to do all these asanas?"

He really said flower your buttocks and make your collar bones shine? we asked.

"Yes; also, imagine your thighbones are rainbows, spiraling outwards," and, "Puff your kidneys and chant Ommm," she said. "How am I supposed to do that? He's such a sweet old man and all, and so spiritual and all, but these things are just impossible to achieve," she said, adding, "So, I had to sack him. That too on World Yoga Day."

And what did you do the rest of the day, we asked the OTSHF. "Well, after some Shavasan, I finished Nashtasan, then Bhojanasan. Now, it's Teaasan, and soon, it will be time for some Wine Asana," she said, at which point we said we had to run, but not before we heard her tinkle her little bell and say for the first time: "Boy, zara tulsi pani and honey chai ke liye lana please."

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and Poonam Mahajan on International Yoga Day at Bandra. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and Poonam Mahajan on International Yoga Day at Bandra. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

'I'm yoga, you're yoga' trend
The 'I'm yoga ,you're yoga' trend did not abate the entire day. Cricketer Ishant Sharma, not especially known for his grace and suppleness, threw in his two bits: "Yoga is not a workout, it is a work-in," he said.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police jawans performed yoga in freezing tempe ratures of -25 degrees Celsius in Ladakh.

Kangana Ranaut
Kangana Ranaut

Indian missions held programmes on yoga with participants from various sections in capitals around the world; celebrations of the day were held in Cancun with much excitement on the beachfront in the presence of dignitaries; yoga enthusiasts thronged London's Trafalgar Square, and yoga was performed onboard aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.

Far more thrilling, of course, was actress Kangana Ranaut's death-defying yogic poses, not to mention some mean moves performed together by the celebrated duo of Mumbai Yogic Masters Devendra Fadnavis and Jackie Shroff. In fact, from sunrise to sunset, all creatures big and small performed asanas in honour of International Yoga Day.

Shilpa Shetty
Shilpa Shetty

Holding on and letting go
As expected, the fittest and most supple amongst Bollywood's smart set were a-bending and a-stretching all through yesterday.

"Inhale positivity n exhale negativity. Happy international yoga day…" posted the gorgeous and supple, and supply gorgeous, Malaika Arora Khan on Instagram along with a picture of her performing a mind-boggling and body-scrambling pose with her trainer. This adeptness and adjustability was also observed that morning when she sat alongside her newly estranged husband, and current BFF, well-known yoga exponent Arbaaz Khan, performing various holding-on and letting-go asanas.

Of course, in the presence of all this heavy breathing could the statuesque Bollywood-Yogini-in-residence, Shilpa Shetty Kundra, be far behind?

The actress and fitness enthusiast who had produced and starred in a delectable yoga DVD not too long ago, put up her own evidence of ultimate yoga compatibility.

Bipasha Basu and Karan Singh Grover
Bipasha Basu and Karan Singh Grover

Not too far away from her in Bandra, young newlyweds (well, yoga keeps people young) Bipasha Basu and Karan Singh Grover attempted their own version of hot yoga.

"Yoga is like Life – It's a beautiful balance of Holding On & Letting Go," Basu declared, as if in symbiotic resonance with Arora and Khan.

Not to be forgotten, celebrated actor and the man most likely to get a Rajya Sabha seat or a ministerial berth (or both), Anupam Kher unleashed a yoga hologram in faraway New York. The sharp intake of breath that he emitted while doing so prompted many of his fans watching on TVs across the world to assume that it was Pranayama that he was attempting, and followed suit obediently, leading to an exponential amount of hot air being emitted all round.

Lisa Sadanah with her gang
Lisa Sadanah with her gang

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Of course, sundry Bolly stars and politicos were not the only ones to celebrate International Yoga Day in their own inimitable ways. Full-time mom and helmet-wearer Lisa Sadanah performed 108 surya namaskars along with what looked like all of Bandra and Pali Hill's yummy mummies, and a few daring daddies.

Union Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar was the chief guest at BJP's state-level programme. President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated a mass yoga demonstration at Rashtrapati Bhavan and told the assembled gathering, "Regular practice of yoga will not only help you have a fit body and a sound mind, but it will also take care of all disorders — mental and otherwise," prompting a few political reporters to question if the words 'mental and otherwise' had deeper political ramifications on the imminent presidential elections.

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