With parents who became the wind beneath her wings at every age and stage of life, Anshuka Parwani grew up as any other girl in the Indian society, but only “with a little more freedom”. It meant she could make choices as unconventional as becoming a national-level swimmer and a commercial pilot. A bike accident halted her flight in life, but she found new wings in yoga!
Today, Anshuka is one of the leading celebrity yoga and holistic wellness experts in India, training the creme de la creme of the Bollywood beauty brigade. Her own life story is an example of how yoga can make a person physically, mentally and emotionally stronger. The girl loves her adrenaline rush, but loves the calm of yoga nonetheless. In this Health Shots exclusive interview on the occasion of International Yoga Day, Anshuka Parwani has opened up about her childhood to her present-day passion, like never before.
Learnt swimming to fight asthma, reveals Anshuka Parwani
Our childhood shapes our adulthood. For Anshuka, it is her terrific and lovable family and supportive parents who became the biggest pillars of support. “My parents pushed me into doing anything or any sport that I liked. I was always getting injured and playing with the boys. I grew up to be a pilot, pretty unheard being a girl back then. I feel super blessed to have parents who always supported me,” she says.
Her two passions – swimming and flying – were empowering. One taught her to ride every tide, and the other to reach the skies. She shares an interesting story about how her tryst with swimming actually began!
“I was actually put into the swimming pool to strengthen my lungs. While growing up, I used to have asthma. My grandparents, who were both doctors, wanted me to jump into the water and strengthen my lungs instead of being on medication all the time. That’s how really my swimming journey started. I loved it so much that one thing led to another,” recounts Anshuka.
What about turning into a pilot? “Well, I always liked adrenaline, speed and travel. Planes always fascinated me. So that’s how really I was pivoted into wanting to fly planes and travel the world,” she shares.
The accident that changed Anshuka Parwani’s life
It was 2008 when a near-fatal motorbike accident left Anshuka bedridden for months altogether. She sustained multiple injuries, leaving her medically unfit to continue her commercial flying journey. The physical bruises aside, the experience was emotionally and mentally traumatic for Anshuka, who took a lot of years to bounce back.
Her mother, a yoga teacher, played a pivotal part in helping her to recover through yoga. Yoga, an ancient practice which connects the body, breath and mind, was not new to Anshuka. She had been practising certain asanas and Pranayama to manage asthma since childhood. But this time, it was life-changing for her.
After her physiotherapy sessions post the accident, Anshuka undertook yog therapy. “My mother recognized it at a very early stage that it wasn’t one of those injuries that you could just bandage up or have medicines for. Being an athlete and growing up being super active, being bedridden was very hard for me. Losing an airline job was even harder. My mom realized that I needed to get out of where I was and start tuning into yoga. That’s when I walked into a yoga school, and I walked out 9 months later with a teacher’s training certificate,” she shares.
The internal effects made Anshuka feel what she calls “the magic of yoga”. She could wake on days without spinal pain, move better and felt happier even though she wasn’t able to do everything she could pre-accident – all thanks to the benefits of yoga.
Right to say that you found new wings in yoga, then? “Absolutely,” exclaims Anshuka.
Watch the full interview of Anshuka Parwani on Health Shots She Slays!
Life as a yoga entrepreneur and influencer
“I don’t consider myself to be an influencer of yoga,” dismisses the trainer famously choreographed the yoga sequences in Bollywood film Gehraiyaan, and has a slew of celebrity clients including Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt.
“But do I influence people with the knowledge that I have? I do hope so, because I share all the goodness that it has brought me. To be honest, I believe in the magic of yoga. And when you believe in something, are passionate about it and have the knowledge, you should share it,” she adds.
The holistic wellness space is one she loves to be in. At her yoga studio, Anshuka offers classes in Traditional Hatha, Ashtanga Vinyasa, Aerial Yoga, Pre and Post-Natal, Kids Yoga and Pilates. She also has new plans in the pipeline. Keeping tight-lipped about it, she says, “Hopefully very soon, the whole dream will come true… It’s a great time to be in the health space because everyone is very conscious about what they do and how they feel.”
Anshuka Parwani on the pressure of being a celebrity trainer
Given that she trains some of the country’s top actors, who have millions of social media followers, the pressure to keep up her own image is inevitable. But Anshuka says she feels no pressure.
“I love what I do and I do it with pure intention, so I enjoy it. I am very mindful of what I share (online) because I am responsible for others who are following me because of what I have built.” This is the reason she has a message for all health and fitness influencers: “If you are giving advice, and if people love you, they are going to listen to it. So, please be authentic and truthful. I try to do that to the max!”
Ask her how she finds her calm in between the work storm every day, and she says, “I breathe. I just take a few minutes and breathe. I also spend most of the time with my dog. She is pure love, my meditation and my breath.”