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Artistic asanas

Kareena Kapoor swears by it and so does Bipisha Basu. What is it about Artistic Yoga that has these celebrities hooked? We decided to check it out for ourselves.

Anumeha Chaturvedi | Print Edition: October 5, 2008

Usha Chengappa
Trade pundits may still debate her “size zero” frame, but there’s no denying that Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor has managed to transform herself over a short span of time. The once-chubby and now petite actress attributes her “svelte, but healthy” figure to rigorous sessions of Artistic Yoga—a form that’s a rage among her celebrity pals. What’s so “artistic” about it? Why not just sweat it out in a gym? 

And, how is it any different from other yoga forms like Bikram Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga? “Founded by Bharat Thakur, Artistic Yoga is a more vigorous and innovative version of regular yoga,” says Usha Chengappa (pictured left), an Artistic Yoga expert, as I sit down for a tete– a-tete with her in one of her classes of 20-odd students. “Regular yoga mainly includes stretching and meditation exercises, but Artistic Yoga works on every part of the body—touching on flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, strength and mental well-being.”

Halasana and Paschimottanasana: When practised together, they work on strengthening the back muscles. A little tough to practice and master, beginners should ideally attempt them in front of a qualified instructor.
The names and postures sound familiar enough, but there are other aspects to this class—it’s more energetic, fun and vigorous than the yoga I’m used to. For starters, there’s music to work out to—kind of fusion-sounding. There’s no rigid structure to the class, and there are people of all ages. “No two classes are the same,” says Chengappa. “Yoga has around 84 lakh postures and the emphasis lies on constantly innovating and combining them so that our students expect the unexpected. We don’t do pre-set exercises and they entirely depend on the flow of energy in the room at any given time.

Surya Namaskar: A combination of 12 different postures, with a special emphasis on breathing patterns. It helps vitalise and unblock the entire system.
Each class targets a specific body part. For instance, today I’m teaching exercises targeting the back or neck, but there might be another day where all we do is a series of reverse Surya Namaskars.” And, how is this different from other kinds of yoga? “We’re constantly innovating. No two trainers will teach you the same thing. Kareena Kapoor had specific problem areas and wanted faster results, so her trainer modified her exercises according to her needs and she did it in a closed, heated room, with no central cooling. In other words, our yoga can be customised to target weight loss, figure correction, anxiety relief and even some chronic diseases. It covers all aspects of fitness— stamina, strength, flexibility and endurance, which no other yoga does.”

It’s a fun class. The students chat and laugh along as they do the exercises. And with all the breathing exercises along the way, we walk out feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, rather than worn out. So, the name “artistic” might sound a bit gimmicky, but the results are clear. And, ‘converts’ swear by it. Try the free trial class for beginners—there’s a class in every metro. The regular fee is Rs 3,000 per month.

For information about the classes in your city, log on to: www.bharatthakur.com

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