For over 2,000 moms across India, the day begins with a notification on their mobile phones. An email with a sunny subject line such as “You are so awesome. Can’t believe we are already into Day 18 today” greets them. While the diligent ones who have been following dentist-turned-yoga expert Dr Mani Pavitra Yarlagadda’s guidelines to the T are bound to be happy, the errant moms, who have missed their #21DayChallenge goals, will end up feeling guilty.
The next 20 minutes, there is a continuous chatter on the Million Moms Community, a closed group on Facebook, and moms are busy sharing their stories. In between sending off kids to school, packing their lunch boxes, getting PowerPoint presentations ready for work, they discuss how their previous day has been. In quick SMS lingo, the posts come fast enough. “Did about 40 minutes of walking. About to have a mango. And will read the declarations once I am done eating my fruit. Now coming to the most important aspect of today’s task—being mindful of our thoughts,” says a mom, Padmaja. Soon enough, another mom chips in,“Beautiful morning, walking, had green tea, few exercises, had fruits, happy challenging time.” Mom 2 puts up appropriate emoticons, perhaps an indication that she is enjoying both her workout and the challenge.
Dr Mani says her joy knows no bounds when her phone goes berserk giving notifications for the posts that moms are posting on the Million Moms network. In less than three months of starting the project, nearly 4,000 moms have joined it.
The Hyderabad-based dentist, who is more passionate about moms than molars, says that it is a support group for moms of all ages and attitudes. “Though I am busy with my dental clinic, I found immense happiness when I got associated with a natural birthing project in Hyderabad in 2017. I remember how I struggled to get the right answers for my queries when I was an expectant mom. That’s when I felt that we all need someone to hand-hold us during these nine months and even much beyond. Having someone who shares the same concerns and one you can talk to, any time, is really good. Although in India we have moms and moms-in-law guiding us, it is better when your peers guide you. That is what made me start this project,”says the 35-year-old.
She believes that often it is just a small nudge that does the trick and helps mothers stay on the fitness track. As mothers get busy with children, fitness is their first casualty. “I believe that after the first six months of childbirth, almost all moms are ready to get on the healthy track. They need to eat healthy, exercise, stay active and of course take care of what they need to. My project takes up that role and gives them actionable advice across 21 days and tracks down their progress through Facebook lives and chat sessions. Here we encourage, but seldom get tough. It’s love all the way,” she quips.
The Facebook page has over 4,000 women members, but only half of them subscribe to her daily tip email. The purpose is to empower women towards physical fitness, and help them develop mental resilience and emotional stability, she explains. Dr Mani says, “The Telangana government recently collaborated with her to take her project to the interior districts of the state through their own networks. Nutrition is an aspect that rural moms need to focus on.”
As Dr Mani puts her phone on silent mode to enter her yoga studio at her Kondapur residence, she knows the beeps will fill her heart with happiness when she turns it on. “I have 96,000 moms to reach out to. I got to go,” she signs off.
Tips to Follow
■ Form healthy habits from Day One of turning a mom
■ Wake up with a stretch
■ Start small, with a walk outside or do
yoga at home
■ Be consistent
■ Add one asana or exercise per day and take it up to 21 days
■ Share your experiences online with other moms
■ Take tips and suggestions from other moms like you
■ Stay tuned to live chats and videos where we
answer fitness and health issues
■ Stay positive and patient
■ Enjoy the fitness journey