It was almost two decades ago that Bollywood diva Malaika Arora scorched the screen with her sexy moves in the song Chhaiya Chhaiya, with none other than Shah Rukh Khan. As she shimmied atop a train, all of India couldn’t stop swooning over the sexy actress.
Since then, her journey in showbiz has been nothing short of glorious. Malaika dons several hats with much elan—be it that of an actress, dancer, model, TV presenter, and now a yogini—and we’re in complete awe of her!
Over the years, her name has also become synonymous with everything beauty and fitness! Her svelte figure is the envy of many, but most are unaware of her undying commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Malaika works hard every single day, and there’s so much we can learn from her.
Just a few weeks ago, the actress was in the news after she was diagnosed with covid-19. It was her resilience and a positive attitude that brought her back on track, and now she’s stronger than ever!
In an exclusive conversation with Health Shots, Malaika spills the beans on her recovery from covid-19, her focus on health and fitness, and why she loves to go au naturel, when it comes to her skin and hair!
Never have any of us faced such unprecedented times, and Malaika shares the same sentiment. The most difficult part of being diagnosed with the viral infection was to stay away from people, and she calls it a “strange and weird feeling.”
“You are so unwell! If you’re asymptomatic, then it’s fine, you have no symptoms. But if you have symptoms, it’s a huge challenge because you have to take care, be vigilant in terms of making sure your vitals are fine, that you’re eating right, staying hydrated, getting enough rest, and taking medication. It’s not something you can deal with in two to three days, the time period is 14 days, which is a long time. But it’s important to stay calm and be positive,” she shares.
Malaika was partly symptomatic, and although she didn’t need to be hospitalised, she experienced extreme weakness. As someone who exercises every single day, she really didn’t have the energy to do anything!
“I think everybody was really shocked, and kept telling me ‘you’re someone who is so fit, how did you get covid? I think that’s a myth. We are fit and young, so the virus doesn’t affect us to that level, but people with underlying conditions need to be extra careful. We have age and health on our side, that’s why people insist doing some form of physical activity is a must. I feel that part of me really helped me to recover. All I would say is don’t take covid for granted even if you’re fit,” cautions Malaika.
Although coronavirus affects every body in different ways, Malaika feels there are certain common symptoms that all patients experience. For instance, she felt a loss of smell and taste, and barely had any appetite. But through those two weeks, she religiously followed some rituals that helped her recover quickly.
“It is important to stay hydrated. The other thing I followed was to steam and gargle twice a day, because your throat does bother you. Steaming is anyway good for your lungs. It is also mandatory to sanitise everything, and you have to make sure to do it every day, because whatever state you are in, you are still handling and touching things. And as it has been said, the virus stays on surfaces for a couple of days. If you have the energy, a little bit of yoga or breathing exercises are good. I also tried to religiously sit in the sun every morning for 40 minutes, and that really helped,” shares Malaika.
Malaika has a body to die for, and there are many who want to be like her! But being in fab shape is not an overnight job; it has taken her years of commitment and discipline to be where she is. And that’s exactly why she’s a firm believer of following a well-balanced organic life.
“Anybody who wants to emulate me or is inspired by me, the one thing they should know is that I will never ever propagate fad diets or unhealthy living. I am someone who is always particular about my fitness and my quality of life. Everything in moderation is good, that’s what I believe in,” she explains.
For Malaika, following a healthy diet doesn’t look like “eating two less gulab jamuns”, but instead practicing habits that can be sustained in the long run.
“I don’t mean to say dieting where you are not eating or starving your body, it’s about following a healthy diet. You can’t eat one whole box of gulab jamuns, and then say I am dieting, so I will eat two less. It doesn’t work like that. You have to cut out some things from your system which are harmful, like processed sugar and refined carbs. You have to eat on time, consume the right meals, increase protein intake, work out, and get enough sleep. Your last meal should be around 7 – 7.30 pm, because it is really helpful for your digestive system. These are things you have to do but none of this involves any unhealthy dieting; it all involves a good systematic lifestyle,” says Malaika.
Malaika doesn’t believe in propagating ‘skinny is sexy’ or being a certain weight. For her, it’s all about being happy with your shape and size, and that’s all that matters.
“Now of course being in shape doesn’t come easily, you have to put in hard work. You have to be diligent and a little disciplined, so you have to do these things,” she adds.
After her recovery from covid, Malaika began to slowly and steadily get back to her workouts. Although several people had questions in their minds, she knew she had to “test her body.”
“In those 14 days, I knew how weak I was, it was so difficult to go back to things I was doing every single day of my life. I started jogging and running a little, just to see whether my body was weak, or my lungs were able to take it,” says Malaika.
Scroll through Malaika’s Instagram feed, and you can’t stop marveling at how she performs the most complex asanas with such effortlessness! As someone who calls herself “hip heavy”, she feels yoga has helped her stay in shape all these years.
“I do one hour of yoga every day, a bit of asanas, and a full body session. Initially, when I started yoga, I could do only five surya namaskars, and now I can do 100 or so. I follow a proper practice that focuses on core strength, agility, flexibility, and that’s what yoga is all about. I don’t do the same thing every day, except the asana,” reveals Malaika.
“I firmly believe in home remedies. I think ghee is great for hair and skin, I still believe in my hair packs and face packs to be made in the house. Of course, if you don’t have the time, then you’re most welcome to pick up products that are least harmful and non-toxic for your skin. I drink loads of water, I sit in the sun every day, which is really helpful for the skin, I also try and do inversions—headstands or handstands every day, and that’s great for your skin and hair. I believe in coconut oil. In fact, all my food is also cooked in ghee and coconut oil,” she says, signing off.
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