Soha Ali Khan is using her pregnancy down-time to write a book, The Perils of Being Moderately Famous , a collection of essays . It’s no surprise really, because beyond Rang De Basanti and Antarmahal , she’s always been articulate. She has a pedigree education (she went to the same college in Oxford her dad attended — Balliol, where she studied modern history, and then onto London School of Economics) and even has work experience outside Bollywood (in banking no less). Today, she’s taking us through her pregnancy journey, telling us how she’s still practising yoga, eating right and staying healthy.
For Khan, it’s all about leading an active life, not just now, but through life. “I enjoyed playing sports as a child in school and in college, and have continued to play badminton since, as often as possible. So my perspective on health hasn’t changed over the past decade. It has never been a trend- or fad-based approach for me, whether it has been hitting the gym, embracing yoga or practising a sport — badminton, tennis or swimming. My focus has always been on getting some form of exercise at least five times a week, and on eating sensibly — no diets!”
Khan has been a yoga follower for a while, and values her daily practice. “Yoga is absolutely wonderful and I recommend it to everyone, especially pregnant women. I have been doing yoga for about five years now, so it was not difficult to keep going once I discovered I was pregnant. I believe pregnancy is not the right time to start a new exercise regimen — you need to know your limits and be comfortable with the effect of the exercise on your body. I took on an instructor trained in pre-natal yoga because I needed to modify the asanas as my pregnancy progressed. The result has been absolutely amazing,” she says, (she won’t give us the due date).
“The headaches and stiffness I felt during the first few months of my pregnancy simply disappeared. Yoga has helped me tremendously in improving my flexibility, balance, focus, strength and stamina. Pranayam, in particular, helps me relax and de-stress.”
Once a woman is pregnant, everyone around becomes a self-appointed authority on motherhood. How does she deal with the volume of information? “Some of the advice is confusing and contradictory: that you are eating for two people and that you are not really eating for two, as you only need 300-450 calories more a day; that it’s better to put your feet up and better to stay active. I simply go by my own body’s signals. The best thing is to listen politely and then run things by your doctor, who is the final authority. Advice does not really bother me, as long as it is not pushed down my throat,” laughs Khan.
When she was in London recently for three weeks, she walked a great deal. “Walking is also a very pregnancy-friendly form of fitness,” she says. Before the rains started in earnest in Mumbai, she was swimming as well. “I wish I could swim more, but I want to be careful in this weather, and not fall ill. So I have decided to give the pools a miss for the time being.”
She says the one good habit she has inculcated while growing up is discipline. “I have always been able to exercise self-control, whether it is over food or bad habits — I am not easily susceptible to addictions,” she says. Her ob-gyn helped her decode a number of pregnancy myths along the way. People told her that eating ghee would ease the delivery. She will eat it, in moderation. Her biggest life lesson, that has stood her in good stead through her pregnancy too, is living life on your own terms. “As much as you do not force anyone to conform to you, do not conform to them, unless it is an improvement for the better!”