Yoga expert Bharat Thakur has tweaked the ancient science to suit modern-day concerns. His brand, Artistic Yoga, is popular all over the country

To lose weight is the single burning desire of the majority of his clients. And yoga guru Bharat Thakur’s clientele ranges from the who’s who of Bollywood to celebrities the world over.

For a generation obsessed with the craving for a perfect body and good looks he has cleverly packaged the ancient life science of Yoga in a new avatar called Artistic Yoga. He brings it to three centres in Kochi.

What exactly is Artistic Yoga? “My yoga is a process. I use the five elements of fitness—strength, endurance, flexibility, balance and agility—in my programme. After one or two years, practitioners graduate towards meditation.”

Bharat, who is the secret behind Kareena Kapoor’s fitness , gave Rani Mukherjee the lithe body for her famous Hadippa number and made Katrina Kaif look fit in her latest film, debunks some notions on fitness that have gripped the current generation.

'Dieting, he says, is harmful and that over-exercise is the worst thing for the body.

Bharat believes Indian food to be wholesome and recommends an increase in the consumption of salads. Excessive gymming, he says, tires the body.

“The technique of yoga is not to tire you, but to relax and still get the results. It is a hormonal science.”

Bharat’s initiation into yoga is a strange fable. He was given away by his parents at the tender age of four to his guru who had prophesied a child for the childless couple and wished to take the first born.

Bharat went with guru Sukhdev Brahmachari to live in the mountains where he learnt and mastered the stoic way of life. He was chosen by the guru to spread yoga across the world.

“I am a man of the world,” says the dapper yoga expert. “I completely re-did yoga when I came from the hills. Before me people with pot bellies did yoga in the park.”

From that time to today’s smart yoga, the life science has indeed morphed stylishly. Bharat says that nobody can surpass Patanjali, the father of Yoga, but its way of dissemination has to change. Hence the many modern versions. “I did not want to wear the orange robe and sport a long beard. It puts you off. People don’t want to become a yogi. In olden days yoga was practised for attaining moksha, enlightenment. I ask why offer spirituality to a person who has come with a backache.”

Bharat says he is different from the rest of the experts in the field on the basis of his scientific research which he did while doing his Masters and doctorate in Exercise Physiology from Gwalior. He offers a programme derived from his studies in anatomy , psychology, sports medicine, and physiology along with yoga facets.

Ask him about his long list of famous clientele and their learning of yoga. “Kareena was a hardcore gym girl. She could never believe that yoga can give her the body that she wished for. But when we started, she could feel the difference.”

He spread his brand of yoga far and wide by establishing centres manned by trainers who have undergone a four-year residential programme under him. The training involves theory and practical classes. He says that each class is different. “My job remains in creating 365 hours of video each year. The content is regulated. The trainers teach via that. I have 140 trainers from Kerala.” He has prepared 40,000 passive stretching exercises that take flexibility of the body to the maximum.

His list of celebrity clients includes Michael Douglas, Shane Warne, Edwin Moses, Vladimir Putin, Nadia Comaneci, Ratan Tata and many others.

Ask him if yoga can give one a six-pack body and he says, “It can give you a John Abraham or a Salman Khan body but not that of a WWF wrestler. But what it can give one most importantly is a happy mind,” he says.