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PrintYoga, an ancient Indian spiritual discipline, constitutes postures and breathing techniques (asanas and pranayamas respectively) to balance the body, mind and soul.

In its purest form, yoga is deeply entrenched in spirituality but over time several new and specialised forms of the discipline have evolved; these include power yoga, Bikram or hot yoga (practised in a warm room) and now a more gimmicky Bollywood yoga.

Whether it is traditional yoga (focused on balancing the body and meditation) or its new age incarnation (which is more like aerobics), Bollywood stars have a close bond with yoga. Throughout the history of Bollywood, when an actress has needed a serious makeover and physical transformation she has depended on the ancient yoga asanas.

Before she became a sultry screen goddess, critics called Rekha a plump “ugly duckling”. Rekha then underwent a physical makeover and started a fitness programme that included intense yoga sessions. She still practises the traditional form daily and says yoga is the secret of her youthfulness. Evergreen actors Hema Malini and Sridevi also admit that yoga is the secret of their fitness and high energy levels.

Bollywood’s reigning queen Kareena Kapoor reportedly cannot function without her 90-minute morning yoga session. She started power yoga a few years back and attributes her dramatic weight loss and new, toned body to this more strenuous and dynamic form derived from traditional yoga asanas. However, Kapoor recently shifted to Iyengar yoga, a more traditional and mellow form.

Ultra fit Katrina Kaif and Kangana Ranaut are among other Bollywood starlets who are hooked to power yoga, while Shilpa Shetty and Lara Dutta are devoted to traditional yoga. The latter two have yoga DVDs out too.

The latest yoga related news from Bollywood concerns Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who has reportedly commenced her yoga sessions in preparation for her post-baby comeback.

Although the older generation practises yoga for its holistic benefits – it keeps the organs in balance, tones the muscles and relaxes the mind – Bollywood’s current set follow new age yoga to sculpt their bodies and stay in shape.

– Leila Mahfooz Barry

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 28, 2013.