In a world of abundance, people who seek fitspiration have a vast array of options available online. YouTube itself has an overwhelming archive of home workout routines ranging from yoga to zumba and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have a wealth of fitness content too, leaving us spoilt for choice.
It can be daunting for beginners to embark on a fitness routine, especially when they don’t quite know where and how to begin. However, adopting a daily exercise regimen is important for staying in shape, and your health will thank you in the long run. These can be anything from yoga to HIIT. You can even turn some household chores into an effective sweat session.
To get you started, we enlisted some of the most popular fitness gurus to share some home workout routines and diet tips, and have put together a beginner’s fitness guide that will help you break free from the shackles of a sedentary lifestyle.
Paloma Gangopadhyay’s yoga and mindfulness routine
According to celebrity yoga trainer Paloma Gangopadhyay, who boasts a clientele of Bollywood A-listers like Anil Kapoor and singer Arijit Singh, 15 minutes of mindfulness yoga can go a long way in improving your mental and physical health. Her routine begins with breathing, which she describes as “the most important workout”.
“Exercises like Anulom Vilom, Kapalbhati, and Bhastrika are important to regulate good breathing through your day. An integral part of daily routines, these exercises also channelise oxygen to the brain and pump fresh blood to every part of your body. This way, your body remains oxygenated and immunity increases to a higher degree,” she says.
These exercises are meant to prepare you mentally and physically for the upcoming day. Be sure to leave a two-hour gap between exercise and meals.
Gangopadhyay’s home workout routine comprises a mix of breathing exercises and a few simple yoga poses. She recommends beginning your day with the breathing routine. The other half of her yoga drill can be performed any time during the day.
Like how HIIT workouts begin with a warm-up drill, Gangopadhyay’s breathing exercises prepare you for a long day at work, and a more intense yoga routine.
10 minutes of breathing
A form of controlled breathing, Anulom Vilom is also known as Pranayam. This exercise involves holding one nostril while breathing in, and then holding another while exhaling. The process is then reversed and repeated for a few more minutes.
An active and passive breathing workout, Kapalbhati reduces stress and strengthens the respiratory system. For this exercise, sit in on a flat surface in a cross-legged position and rest your hands on your knees. Breathe in deeply and slowly, before exhaling. Rest and repeat this exercise.
Bhastrika is a fast breathing exercise that improves focus, torches body fat and calms the mind.
- Fold your legs and rest your palms on the thighs.
- Slowly breathe in and breathe out.
- Take a quick, deep breath in and raise your hands above your shoulders while keeping them parallel to each other.
- Breathe out while bringing your hands down.
- Start slowly and then increase the pace and intensity, somewhat like panting.
20 minutes of yoga
Sitting for long hours may affect the spine, shoulders, knees and even digestion. To break this sedentary cycle, Gangopadhyay has designed a brief 15 to 20 minute yoga routine which can be practised during work hours.
“During work hours, certain stretches can be practised to strengthen the knees, spine and shoulders. To relax abdominal muscles and ease digestion, pawanmuktasana, camel pose and cobra pose must be performed,” she says.
Pawanmuktasana (Wind-relieving pose)
This pose helps relieve digestive distress and releases gases trapped in the intestines. It can be performed first thing in the morning.
- Lie down on the ground facing the ceiling. Keep your hands beside your body.
- Take a deep breath in and bring your knees close to your chest as you exhale.
- Hug your knees with your hands and hold onto this position while inhaling and exhaling.
- Continue to breathe normally.
- Each time you breathe out, try to tighten your grasp to increase pressure on the chest.
- After 3 to 5 minutes, release the position.
Utrasana (Camel pose)
This move helps with stronger shoulders, reduced back pain and better posture.
- Kneel upright while keeping your knees shoulder distance apart.
- Slowly open your chest and move your hands backward towards your feet.
- Rest your hands on the tip of your feet.
- Hold onto the position for a few minutes, continue breathing and then release.
Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
For improved flexibility, toned abdomen and firm buttocks, Gangopadhyay recommends this pose.
- Lie down on a flat surface facing the ground.
- Keep your palms by your chest and slowly raise your chest off the ground.
- Raise your body till the navel and look upward.
- Hold onto the position for a few minutes while breathing and then lower your body to the ground.
Shalabhasana (Locust pose)
The Shalabhasana or locust pose is an important stretching workout that strengthens the back and neck. It can be practised in full and half variations. In the half locust pose, one leg is raised at a time, and for the full locust pose, both legs are raised at the same time.
- Lie down on a flat surface and place your hands below the thighs, palms facing the ground.
- Now raise your right leg, keep it straight and toes in a pointed position.
- Hold on to the position for a few seconds and keep breathing.
- Switch legs and repeat the same.
- This is the half locust pose.
Gangopadhyay’s diet tips
“Have four good meals a day, keep a gap of three to four hours between meals, be aware of what you eat, and avoid calculating calories. If you have a heavy meal, either skip the next one or eat a small portion. By drawing this balance between your diet and workout routine, you will find the key to healthy living,” says Gangopadhyay.
Here’s a list of diet tips that Gangopadhyay says can support your weight loss efforts:
- Stay hydrated before, during, and after your home workout. Prepare a cup of green tea with a cinnamon stick, add some lemon juice to it. This beverage works as a cooler that prevents your body from dehydration.
- Those who break a sweat with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can include chicken broth in their diet. It is an energiser that helps boost one’s stamina.
- Replace red meat with shredded, boiled chicken.
- If you like to enjoy a bowl of soup every now and then, avoid using cornflour. It increases thickness, makes soup heavier, and increases the calorie intake too.
- Eat papaya for its ability to induce weight loss, and anti-ageing benefits.
- In order to boost immunity, drink warm water with pure organic haldi (turmeric). Honey can also be added to this drink if you are not diabetic.
- Drink a cup of pomegranate juice every day between 8:00 to 11:00 am. It helps lower blood pressure and improves overall heart health.
- Drink a glass of lemon water with some honey and a pinch of rocksalt 10 minutes before high intensity workouts. This will save you from mid-workout dehydration.
- If you are aiming for post-pregnancy weight loss, include kale juice and asparagus in your meals. Although kale juice doesn’t boast a delectable flavour, it is blessed with vitamin C, iron, potassium and zinc. Asparagus, too, is enriched with vitamins and helps in lowering blood pressure.
- Eat light food like salads or legumes after 6:00 pm and avoid carbs. This habit helps in reducing calorie intake drastically, thereby inducing weight loss over time.
Dr Mickey Mehta’s yoga regimen
Holistic health guru, and a radio and TV presenter, Dr Mickey Mehta has designed a home workout routine of yoga poses that boost immunity, fitness, and mental well-being. Start these off with breathing exercises like Kapal Bhati and Anulom Vilom.
“Yoga is a principle. It does not mean only asanas and breathing pranayama. It means postures, and when they are practised in sequences and variations, it collectively improves cardiovascular health, endurance, agility, boosts energy levels and lowers stress as well. My routine is a mix of yoga postures that promote a variety of movements,” he says.
Dr Mehta’s comprehensive yoga drill for wellness
Mehta has come up with a rhythmic yoga drill that works on the whole body, promotes mental, physical and emotional well-being, and leaves you energised. These movements can be performed daily for any amount of time.
Tadasana (Mountain pose)
This pose must be practised 15 times for improved agility, posture and height.
- Stand straight with hands by your side.
- Inhale and raise your hands above the head, interlock the fingers and pull your body upwards.
- Rest your body on the toes.
- Feel your body stretch through this as you hold onto the position.
- Now exhale as you come back on your heels while lowering your arms.
For improved posture and stronger mid and lower core muscles, perform 15 side bends.
- Stand straight with your feet and legs together.
- Raise your hands above the head, in alignment with your ears.
- Bend slowly on both sides while keeping your core engaged.
For a stronger core, physical strength and balance, twisting is recommended. In a gym, a twisting plate is used, however, you can do it easily without equipment at home.
- Stand straight with hands by your side and legs together.
- Lift your arms and keep them parallel to the ground.
- Now move your lower body from side to side while keeping your upper body intact.
- Begin slowly but increase your pace with time.
Forward and backward bending
If back and belly fat are bothering you, 15 forward and backward bends can be helpful.
- Stretch your hands above your head with palms facing forward.
- Inhale as you bend your body backwards.
- Exhale as you bend forward.
Mountain and cobra pose movement
Mehta recommends incorporating this small portion of the sun salutation series of poses into his routine.
- Begin in the mountain position.
- Keep your palms and feet flat on the ground, and raise your buttocks off the ground, in an inverted V position.
- Now slowly lower your buttocks and come to the bhujangasana position (cobra pose).
- Bring your right leg forward, and keep it in an on-your-mark position.
- Go back to the mountain position and repeat the process four to five times.
Pawanmuktasana (Wind-relieving pose)
Mehta says that this pose is good for boosting inner strength. In case you are dealing with digestive distress, this pose will be helpful. It also strengthens your back, arms and leg muscles.
- Lie down on a mat facing the ceiling.
- Inhale and while exhaling pull your knees towards your chest and hug them tight with your arms.
- Hold on to this position for a few seconds while breathing normally.
- Release your legs after some time and repeat.
Dhanurasana (Bow pose)
For a stronger back and abdomen, Mehta suggests this posture. However, he warns against practising it too fast, too hard.
- Lie down on a mat with your back facing the ceiling.
- Slowly fold your knees upward and hold the ankles with your hands.
- Breathe in and lift your chest off the mat and try to stretch as much as you can.
- If you still are confused about the steps, take a look at this video here.
Setu bandhasana (bridge pose)
This pose will help you achieve a stronger back, hamstrings, and buttocks.
- Lie down on a mat while facing the ceiling.
- Inhale as you lift your lower body off the ground.
- Try to touch your chin to the chest without moving your head.
- Hold on to this position for a few seconds and then lower your body to the ground.
Surya namaskar (sun salutation)
Surya namaskar or sun salutation is one of the best full-body workouts that energises you from top to toe. Mehta recommends 12 to 13 cycles of this exercise.
- Stand straight with your legs hip distance apart and hands by your side.
- Join your hands in front of the chest in a ‘namaste’ pose.
- Push your hands behind and bend backwards.
- Bend forward in a toe-touching position.
- Push your right leg behind and assume the on-your-mark position.
- Then push back your left leg and assume a hilltop-like pose.
- Now lower your body to the ground.
- Lift your upper body in the cobra pose (bhujangasana).
- Then return to the hilltop position.
- Bring your right leg forward, again in the on-your-mask form.
- Then bring your left leg forward, stand up in a toe-touch form.
- Pull your body up and bend backwards.
- Now stand back up and join your hands in namaste.
- Repeat the same with your left leg, that will be counted as one cycle.
Take a look at his video demonstration.
Slow spot jog
Slow spot jogging with increasing intensity over time can be helpful for weight loss. Do this for three to four minutes. Take a look at Mehta’s video demonstration.
Repeat twisting, bending and pawanmuktasana
- Conclude your yoga routine by repeating a few movements like twisting, forward and backward bending and pawanmuktasana.
- After this, lie down on the ground in Shawasana (corpse pose) for eight to 10 minutes.
This will help your breathing pattern go back to normal, and will leave you energised for the day to come.
Dr Mehta’s diet tips
“Eat regional and seasonal food. Eat clean, green, slow, and when you are hungry. Include lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, sprouts, millet seeds, and herbs in your diet,” says Dr Mehta.
- If you are craving a snack, prepare some sweet potato cutlets.
- Have a good complete meal especially after workouts. A bowl of vegetable pulao with some moong dal (petite yellow lentils) prepared in cow ghee (clarified butter) is a great way to keep your nutrient intake in check while maintaining a healthy BMI. Add a variety of vegetables to it like french beans, cauliflower, carrot, green peas, string beans, sweet potato, cabbage and pumpkin.
- One can also prepare a pumpkin soup or a spinach and fenugreek soup. A healthy concoction, this one will keep you full for long while not compromising on nutrient intake.
- Two hours before your home workout, have a bowl of pomegranate, musk melon or honey musk melon.
- If you are opting for a post-exercise snack, make sure it is made from coconut or ground nuts.
Vesna P Jacob’s pilates and cardio way to weight loss
Fitness guru and pilates expert Vesna P Jacob has set a benchmark in the wellness world with her routines, and has also catered to Bollywood celebrities, politicians, and athletes alike. The Bosnian trainer is now helping her followers on social media find ways to lead a healthier life.
“One should do a form of physical activity every single day of the week for at least 15 to 20 minutes as fitness is not a few-days effort. It should be as integral a part of your life just like eating, sleeping and moving around,” says Jacob.
According to Jacob, pilates is the perfect home workout for everyone, including those who are dealing with or recovering from health issues.
“From teaching proper body alignment to setting a good posture and strengthening your core, pilates can do it all,” she explained.
While stressing on her area of expertise, Jacob did not undermine the importance of cardio and suggested simple ways to include this into a daily home workout routine.
“The best way to start with cardio is walking, skipping rope, jumping jacks or spot running. All of these are simple workouts that can help increase your cardiovascular ability over time. You can create a five-minute pocket for each movement and increase it to 10 minutes per movement with time,” she says.
Break a sweat with pilates
Once you have warmed up with cardio, you can move on to Jacob’s basic, beginner pilates routine. Take a look at her lockdown pilates video here. This 28-minute home workout routine will help you get back in shape before it’s time to return to the office. The only two equipment you need is a yoga mat, a ball or a cushion.
- Lie down on the mat with your knees bent and keep your body weight on the tailbone.
- Raise your shoulders, neck and head off the ground, arms by your side and palms facing each other.
- Slowly move your body up and down by the waist, while pushing your tailbone into the ground.
- Do it 4 to 5 times.
- Keep your hands behind your head while lying down on the ground in the same position and begin crunches.
- Pull your stomach in, breathe in, and breathe out while pulling your chin towards the chest.
- Do this 10 times.
Leg and knee raises
- While performing the 10th crunch, raise your right knee and inhale while bringing in towards your right elbow.
- Exhale as you stretch it out. Do this six times and while resting your neck and head on your palms.
- After this, raise your leg up and down while lying in the same position for five times.
- After this, move your leg sideways for five times followed by five circles.
- Repeat the same with your left leg. When you are done with your left leg, raise the right one in alignment.
- Move both legs in a cycling-like way for 10 times and then hold them in the tabletop position.
Tabletop position (Activation of core)
- While holding onto the tabletop position, keep your hands on the thighs and place the ball or cushion under your head.
- Now hold your knees tightly in a position aligned with your stomach and tightly place your hands on the thighs as though you are trying to push them forward.
- When you find a position where the two are in a firm position, pull your stomach in and breathe.
- After five breaths, stretch your right arm and right leg out in the opposite directions and breathe again.
- After five counts, come back to the same initial position and repeat the same with your left side. Do this 4 to 5 times.
Side knee bends in tabletop position
- Hold on to the tabletop position and keep your hands at a 45 degree angle from your body, palms facing the ground.
- Now slowly lower both legs to the ground on the right side, bring them back to the start position and then bend to the left. Do this four times.
- Now reduce the intensity of your bend on both sides and make sure that your hips hardly come off the ground.
- Do this seven times and then begin circles in clockwise direction.
- After five counts, change the direction and then relax.
Single leg stretches
- Hug your knees and then stretch the left one out while holding onto the other with both your hands.
- Now switch legs and continue this cycle ten times.
- On the tenth one, pause for a second, hold onto one knee and move the other one up and down, then repeat the same with the other.
- Do this ten times and then begin circles.
Double leg stretches
- Hold your knees close to the core, chin to the chest and hands by your knees.
- Now inhale and as you exhale, move your arms and knees in opposite directions, keep them high in the air and hold the position.
- Take four breaths and then bring your legs and hands back to the same position. This is one cycle, practice four to five cycles.
If you still are unsure about some of the movements, take a look at Jacob’s video demonstration of the pilates routine with a few more exercises and pro tips in place.
Jacob’s diet tips
“Eat organic and natural foods while limiting spice and oil intake. Practice a weekly detox where you deprive yourself of a particular form of food. This way, your nutrient intake gets balanced. A rule of thumb is to not be an emotional eater,” Jacob explains.
- Cut down on sugar intake. If you wish to enjoy a sweet treat, have a bowl of fruits instead. The fructose content of fruits make them a healthier alternative. However, one must try to stick to a limited serving every day.
- Vegetarian or non-vegetarian, protein is a must. You can eat beans, peas, tofu and paneer if you are a vegetarian. Non-vegetarians can enjoy lean meat options like chicken and mutton.
- Go easy on carbohydrates like wheat and rice. However, Jacob warned against the complete eradication of carbs from your meals owing to their fibre content. For those who enjoy a session of HIIT every week, carbs are an important source of energy.
- Carbs with a sweet flavour — like breads and potatoes — have a higher calorie content and must be consumed during the first half of your day. Protein-based foods like chicken, tofu, nuts and lentils can be kept for the evening.
- Do not avoid fats, they are important for the lubrication of internal organs and brain health. Have them during the second half of your day.
- Include foods like eggs, avocados, nuts, cheese and chia seeds in your diet.
- Avoid snacking between meals.
- Bring colourful foods like bell peppers, green leafy vegetables and red meat to the table.
Ranveer Allahbadia’s unconventional routine
Who knew household chores such as mopping the floor, could be counted as working out? Founder of YouTube’s BeerBiceps channel, Ranveer Allahbadia is a fitness trainer-turned online personality. He suggests an unconventional home workout and weight loss programme.
Do your chores
“You don’t have to follow a fixed workout routine like going for long walks and running,” he says, adding that wiping floors and cleaning dishes become a form of exercise for him during the lockdown — and actually helped him lose weight.
Mop the floor on all fours
An intense full-body exercise, mopping the floor on all fours strengthens arms and legs, works the abdominal muscles and induces weight loss. If you practise this for 20 minutes in a duck-walk pose, you can burn as many as 150 calories, says Allahbadia.
Do the dishes
Dishwashers witnessed a boost in sales this lockdown, but it added a gallon of lethargy to our routines. Washing dishes by hand may not seem an activity that involves much movement, but according to Allahbadia, it can help you burn as many as 125 calories per hour. This, combined with mopping the floor on all fours, can work wonders in inducing weight loss.
Preparing your own meals is a smart way to manage your diet, both in terms of nutrition and calorie consumption. You can increase your vegetables and lean meat intake while reducing the amount of oil used. Furthermore, activities like stirring, chopping and grinding by hand can also help you work up a sweat in the kitchen.
Do your laundry
Even if you have a washing machine, doing the laundry includes an array of activities like sorting, lifting, ironing and folding. These can help you sweat it out and lose some pounds.
Allahbadia’s dietary routine
A bigger portion of Allahbadia’s fitness regime is diet. Here’s a round-up of his tips.
- Avoid salty packaged foods – especially baked chips – they contain excess fat and refined flour which can hamper weight loss goals.
- Include raw vegetables and fruits in your diet and eat them during early hours of the day.
- If you are trying to shed some kilos, exclude desserts from your diet. If you have a craving, treat your taste buds with fruits.
- Avoid keeping a stock of processed food, which is high in calories.
- While cooking at home, use a smaller quantity of oil. Try replacing refined vegetable oil with clarified butter (desi ghee) owing to nutritional value.
- Avoid consuming carbs after dark and replace them with salad and a source of protein like paneer, lean meat, tofu and egg whites.
- Keep your snack breaks free of oily foods, and rich in nuts and seeds. Stick to smaller portions.
Hero image: Courtesy Katee Lue / Unsplash; featured image: Courtesy Vesna Jacob