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Holistic Fitness Coach Sudipta Mondal Talks About Her ‘Bald And Bold’ Photoshoot And The Crucial Message She’s Trying To Impart

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In the world we live in, there’s an excess in everything—from material needs and greed to even expression of emotions. We eat more, sleep more, work more, and need more things. We also feel more deeply every emotion because of this. There’s deeper pain, anger, anguish, longing, vanity, insecurity and zero control over our feelings. In such times then minimalism as a practice becomes the need of the hour. How do we transform our current, overwhelming lives into a way of living that is wholesome, sustainable and doesn’t consume us completely? Well, holistic fitness coach Sudipta Mondal might have an answer to that.

 

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A post shared by Sudipta Mondal (@sudipta03)

 

Who is Sudipta Mondal?

Sudipta is a holistic fitness coach who has been committed to living a minimalistic and sustainable lifestyle. How does she do it? By making some conscious choices when it comes to her every day life. She’s a vegan, and practices a cruelty free and zero waste lifestyle that is devoid as much as possible of chemical dependency. For her, wellness isn’t just physical fitness but mental well-being too, and she believes that it all can come from within once you know how to look for it. The lifestyle she practices and also preaches, to several celebs even, is of course not easy. But it’s not impossible either. In fact, she’s been trying to send the message that minimalism can be woven into every feeling, every emotion, every action of your life, through her Instagram.
To impart this message in a way that grabs attention, Sudipta has done a bald and bold photoseries titled ‘Navrasa’, which might take your breath away!

Minimalism in each of the Navrasas

 

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A post shared by Sudipta Mondal (@sudipta03)

 

ICMYI, in the Hindu scriptures, the Navrasa are the nine emotions that we humans express. These are love (shringaara rasa), laughter (haasya rasa), compassion (karuna rasa), anger (raudra rasa), courage (veera rasa), fear (bhayaanaka rasa), disgust (bibhatsya rasa), wonder or surprise (adbhutha rasa) and peace or tranquility (shaantha rasa).

With a pose for each rasa, dressed from head-to-toe in minimalistic and organic clothes, makeup and jewellery, and with her head shaved, Sudipta Mondal brings out the message of minimalism through each rasa.

Clearly, Sudipta is striking in this photo series. We just had to talk to her, not just to know more about the lifestyle that she is propagating through her photos and the societal standards she’s challenging with the concept but also the process and thought that went into this Navrasa shoot. Sudipta answered all our burning questions candidly and with the integrity of someone who really wants to make a difference. Read on to be inspired!

Q: Please tell us about your Navrasa shoot. How were you inspired to choose this as a medium to put forth your message of minimalism and shattering beauty ideals?

A: Our goddesses have always been portrayed beautifully through hair and physical attributes. With this shoot, I aim to challenge the beauty standards set by society. A perfect amalgamation of the fit and responsible mind and body. I have used cruelty-free makeup; the clothes will be reusable; and no chemical has been used on my skin. I often tell students, especially women that I want them to feel healthy, fit and rejuvenated from within and not be concerned about doing more or buying more out of fear—be it medicines, clothes, skin and hair care products. Through Navrasa, I also aim to empower women to be comfortable in their own skin and own every emotion they feel, whether it is Shringara (love/beauty), Hasya (laughter), Karuna (sorrow), Raudra (anger) or Bibhatsya (disgust).”

Q: I’ve loved the captions that you’ve written for your Instagram posts on the shoot! Are those your own thoughts?

A: Yes, the captions are all drafted by me. It’s a whole process, I kind of reflected back on my own experiences, formed sentences and then I put it forward in front of the camera to emote the words and feelings.
 

Q: How was the experience of doing this photoshoot? Can you tell us more about the outfit you’ve chosen, and the products you’ve used?

 
The experience was really good. Everybody kind of empowered me equally—the photographer, his wife, both were very helpful and that really made me feel more free and comfortable. Outfits which I’ve chosen are bare minimum. I’ve used tribal jewellery to cover up my intimate parts and makeup products have been given to me in collaboration with Disguise Cosmetics, Daughter Earth Official and Gift Green. The whole idea was to keep things minimal and focus on the main objective of the photoshoot.

 

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A post shared by Sudipta Mondal (@sudipta03)

 

Q: Did you have any apprehensions about going ‘bold’ and ‘bald’ for this shoot?

 
A: I didn’t have any apprehensions about being bold and bald because I am very comfortable in my skin as it has taken me 30 years to build this confidence, courage and the comfort level. I have worked from within not just physically, or aesthetically but also from my mind. But, yes I was just concerned about how it would be taken by the men in my society. Otherwise, my parents were very comfortable when I shared it with them. So I didn’t have many inhibitions as such. Of course, this was a new experience altogether as it was the first time I did something like this. I mean I was a little hesitant in the beginning for the first post (on Instagram), but eventually I went on and on and all the energies came together to actually make the shoot successful.

Q: How has the reaction been to the shoot? Was there any negativity from your family or from people on social media?

 
A: Fortunately, I think I have been able to put out my intentions well on social media, that’s why the reaction to the shoot was really, really good. Everyone encouraged and wrote good words, they kind of showered me with good  emojis which showcased a lot of power and beauty. There was no negative reaction at all, the family was also very supportive. The only person who didn’t like me being on screen was my ex-boyfriend. He shared with me that he didn’t feel comfortable seeing me on the screen. But then you know, 99% of people have taken this shoot the way I wanted them to, so my larger purpose is accomplished.

 

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A post shared by Sudipta Mondal (@sudipta03)

 

Q: Could you tell us a bit about how you embarked on this journey of adopting minimalism and a fit, organic, zero-waste lifestyle? In what all aspects of your life do you practice it?

 
A: I started my journey in 2018, I was suffering from lot of emotional trauma mentally and physically, I had constipation, sleepless nights and I actually came out of a very bad marriage. This is the first time that I’m speaking out about this and I’ve understood that the real change has to be in me rather than looking out and blaming people.
So in all the aspects of my life, I started practicing it, like sleep, the food products I use, the thoughts I go through every day, etc. I started making affirmations, started journaling, and started listening to masters of the world, and gurus from different religions. I also started reading the Mahabharata and the Gita. Basically, I started getting into spirituality without actually following any idol worship. It brought me close to nature and made me realize that if I want to be in sync with myself and understand myself better, I’d have to start my journey from the root level and not just on a surface level.

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Q: What’s an average day in the life of Sudipta Mondal? Does she also have cravings or give into laziness sometimes?

 
A: I don’t have any craving or laziness. Yes, there is less motivation and I can completely understand to that but the discipline I’ve set for my life is making me even better day by day. Even if I don’t feel motivated to get up some days, I do get up, go out there and do a less lighter routine than what I usually do. A change in routine can work for me but not any laziness or cravings. Also, I give my body everything in minimal like the sugar from fruits, natural minerals from  citrus fruits, veggies and leafy juices. I eat a lot of millets and 70% of my diet is raw so I don’t get any cravings as such. And if there is a festival, then I do kind of feel like having Bengali food, but even that I enjoy with an oil-free whole plant-based diet.

Q: What does holistic fitness include? How does one begin practicing it?

 
A: Holistic fitness includes all the dimensions of movement practices like  yoga, martial arts, calisthenics or parkour. Parkour is like crossing obstacles, one after another. So, be it parkour, running, jumping, hopping, leaping, squatting, pushing or pulling, all the basic locomotive patterns of the primal movement practices of human beings.
The first step towards embarking on a holistic lifestyle is changing your sleeping hours. Second, drink water by sitting down on the ground. And third,  move every day in every way you want to and can. There is no advanced or beginner levels in this. You can start with your household chores or you can just go in the park and try hanging onto the trees or branches.

Q: So many people are advocating for a zero-waste lifestyle. Is it really possible to pursue it, especially with our lives being so busy?

 
A: A zero waste lifestyle is hard, of course, but it’s really possible to make smaller changes and pursue it. Initially you would feel overwhelmed but you can obviously implement a few things in the first week and then more in the other week, and so on. There are a lot of books and courses coming out for zero waste which make your life easier and give you a step-by-step tutorial on how to practice zero waste in every aspect of your life. Be it with your clothes, your hair care, your machinery, your food or your exercise style. Everything has a tutorial and I think one should have a will to start it. It’s challenging but it is not impossible!

 

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A post shared by Sudipta Mondal (@sudipta03)

Q: What are some of the major concerns your students come with to you in terms of their health and well-being? Are there any emerging trends you see?

 
A: The emerging trend which I can see is ladies wanting to reduce their belly fat and gain muscle as soon as possible. A lot of students come up to me and ask about enrolling for one month to see if their health improves or not. And then, they take a break to travel and come back again. I have to make them understand that slowly and gradually, you have to give a minimum of three months for me to train you. Another thing which I see is that they want to lose 15 kgs in a month. I tell them that two to three kgs per month is a good enough loss indeed.

Q: Have you come across a definite shift in people’s fitness expectations after COVID?

 

 

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A post shared by Sudipta Mondal (@sudipta03)

A: Yes, there is a huge shift in people’s fitness expectations. They want to get healthy and make their immune system better day by day, after COVID especially. Their fear has made them realize that there is no way that your health can suffer but you can be successful in life, because everything is in vain if your health is at stake. Post COVID, people have suddenly awakened. Though their approach is very fearful initially, I eventually turn that into trust with step-by-step guidelines to make themselves healthy and to build up their immunity. It takes days and months and years of good habits and good lifestyle practices to play a role in this.

Q: What’s the biggest misconception that you’ve seen people have about fitness?

 
A: That they can workout any time of the day, eat anything and at anytime. Or the notion that if they burn more calories than what they eat, it will make them lose weight and become fit. Fitness is a holistic way of feeling a balanced mind and body. Many people also don’t understand the importance of breathing in their exercise.

Q: How receptive have your students been to the way of life that you preach?

 
A: My students have been very receptive to me since the past three years. When I started this regime in 2018, there were less students. But now in the lockdown, many have approached me through online batches and when they followed what I told them, they have seen drastic results and increased energy levels within a month. After that, they’ve followed it for two months more and have seen a huge transformation, such as a reversal of thyroid, weight loss, reversal of insomnia, change in mindset and changes in daily lifestyle. So, I have been very lucky to get sincere students who believe in the path I preach and they are treading along with me.

 

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A post shared by Sudipta Mondal (@sudipta03)

 

Q: Do you work with celebrities too? Are their fitness and training different than your regular students considering the demands of their job?

 
A: I started training Sarah Jane Dias and have also trained Guneet Monga. Their training is not that different. It’s just that I have to sit and kind of schedule their training accordingly and I take it very slow and gradual with them because their demands of the job are obviously different.
The mindset that I make other students follow regarding food, sleep and lifestyle helps everyone, be it a celebrity or a normal person. In fact, celebs need more of these because they need to switch off from their jobs and then approach this lifestyle. Sarah has trained with me for over a year now. She has become patient with her schedule. I am very lucky that whomsoever I have trained, they have given me respect, valued and followed my teachings and seen a difference.

Q: What/Who inspires you and empowers you, keeps you going when the going gets tough?

 
A: When the going gets tough my mom empowers me. I’ve been training her online in the lockdown and she inspires me every single day. She had a major concern with lower back pain and her ankle, and was not able to move, sit and stand. But she has undertaken my training and within four months, she has seen drastic transformative changes in her sleep and her food and her movement.
Also, I feel life will always shower you with people or situations which will make you learn through the tough times. You just have to be open to receive that learning with positivity amidst the chaos.

Q: What do you hope that people take away from your Navarasa photoshoot?

 
A: I hope people, especially women, take away a lot about self confidence and the importance of expressing very emotion that a human feels. I want people and women to understand that they are beautiful the way they are. However, they cannot hide behind their flaws; they have to become better day by day as a person not just professionally, but personally as well.
Navrasa is all the nine emotions and there’s importance of the nine emotions in our lives. So let’s not be fake; we can be flawed but we can always be progressive. We can always unlearn and relearn and I think it’s an ongoing journey.
One thing I want people especially women to take away from this photoshoot is, be real,  be raw, be open to learning, be open to receive learning, to changes. And that can only happen if you really are ready for a change. I believe one can change no matter what the world believes in, so be you, and ignore what others think about you.

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