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Starting A Small Business: Tips For Women Business Owners

Starting a small business means working independently and being your own boss. Your hard work will take you and your business to new heights and there is no limit to your growth and success. Small businesses are opening up with a great pace these days with equal rates of success and failure.

Starting your own businessBut starting up a business and making it successful is anything but easy. With your own business, comes tremendous responsibility. Though having your own small business is a very attractive option, you need to do some essential research work beforehand.

Among several important tips for starting a small business, the key one is to plan your endeavors in advance. You need to take the right business startup steps, plan them carefully and then turn your creative ideas into a flourishing business.

Here are some effective tips for starting a small business. This advice will go a long way in creating a strong foundation for your business.

If this is your first time of owning a business, you need to have a lot of confidence in your idea, and a lot of belief in your team and skills.

Success will not come right away, so you need to be patient in case you encounter any losses. You should be your own crisis manager and be able to handle whatever situation comes in your business.

No one else but only you will have the say in your business. You have to be your own motivational guru. Keep clear in your mind why you have chosen to start your business.

Why you are different from others. How you can fulfill your dreams and achieve your goals? At the same time, you should focus on other important tips for starting a small business.

Do proper market research for your business in order to understand your target audience. Market research is key to a successful business, whether a new or an established one. It will help you understand the viability of your business idea in the market and your rivals in the trades.

Write out your business plan – will your product or service sell well in the market, will you be able to raise finance for your business etc. Keep referring to this document regularly to be sure that you are on the right track. It will be a guide for you which will not allow you to deviate.

Be wise while pricing your goods and services. You have to compete with your rivals with this price, so you cannot afford to be at the low end or even at the high end. Make a balance to keep your profits rolling each month and year. You need to incorporate all costs in your price, such as labour, raw materials, rent, travel, phone calls, and any other thing with significant spending.

Lastly among other important tips for starting a small business is that you need to advertise and market your business. Without good advertising, everything is futile. How will people know you and your business?

Having a website is an effective and affordable medium to advertise oneself. You can also go for billboard and pamphlet advertising. As your business grows, you can hire marketing professionals for the job.


Master Of Ceremonies Tips: How To Spice Up Your Emcee Script

An Emcee friend posted a question on our Facebook page, asking where she could find tips to find materials for emcee scripts.

While there are a lot of very useful coaching materials for speakers online, it takes a little effort to come up with ideas to spice up your Emcee script and be the master entertainer you are.

Here are some of our tips to spice up your emcee script. And be sure to keep a notebook handy when inspiration strikes.

  • Everyday Life

Believe it or not, but daily life is one of the best places to pick up ideas for a speech. The skills you require for this are keen powers of observation and the ability to put a funny or profound spin on events, depending on who your audience is.

Many great comedians and emcees use daily life events with their family and friends and turn it into their funniest material. Not only can your audience relate to how you went to sleep pissed off at your wife and your Chihuahua did the actual job for you (thanks Jeff Dunham), but the source of your material is all free.

Of course, if you plan to make your family the butt of your jokes just make sure you check with them first.

  • Current Events

Reading the newspapers, tabloids or watching television can give you some great ideas for scripts. Comedians like Jay Leno use them as fodder for an entire section on their show. And throwing in a snippet of news with a funny spin helps keep your script fresh and newsy.

  • YouTube Videos

YouTube is a source of great entertainment, amusement and fun for millions of people. You can use it to check out the trending videos there to see what people are watching, watch videos of emcees and comedians in action online, or just browse through the vast variety of material to find amazing ideas to help you connect with your audience.

  • Funny Quote Sites

The internet is a vast and rich source of sites offering quotes, jokes and all sorts of materials for free. Just type “funny quotes” or “funny jokes” into Google and you’ll get a wealth of information in for all occasions and audiences.  Here are some of our favourite sources for funnies you can use in your emcee script.

  • Email Forwards

Remember those unsolicited email forwards that your friends keep spamming you with? Some of them are funny and some are just plain irritating, but all of them are a good way to keep your finger on the pulse of what people are thinking about.

The next time you get a funny email from your friends, don’t delete it. Copy and paste the funny part into a document on your desktop and use that as a swipe file the next time you need ideas for your script.


Careers For Women: Your Career Options In Print Journalism

People only know that there are editors and writers in newspapers but when you check the workforce inside a news organization, there are different kinds of editors and writers as well as a host of other workers that team up to bring fresh news to your doorstep every morning. Here are some of your career options in print journalism.

Girl reading book1. Editor in Chief

This is the top honcho when it comes to the editorial work. All of the stories that come out in the paper will pass by his desk and get approved. This is why when a newspaper is being sued for libel cases, the name of the editor in chief is always part of the defendants in the case. This is because in the ideal sense, all articles should have been read and approved by the editor in chief.

2. Managing Editor and Associate Editor

These are the assistants to the editor in chief. They are not the ones who bring them coffee and should not be confused with the job description of a secretary. Often, managing editors are the second in command, along with associate editors.

They are basically tasked to handle the writers and the contributors for the section. In smaller news organizations like in schools, they are also the ones who manage the day to day operations like the schedule and the budget.

3. Section Heads

In a newspaper, there are different sections. One for instance deals with lifestyle and the other one with news or with sports. To make the job easier for the top officers, there are people who are tasked to handle each of the sections. They are called section heads. They are the ones in charge of assigning work and coming up with different stories.

For those sections that have smaller sub sections in them, there are journalists who are tasked to head those chunks and they are called sub-section heads. They are tasked to take care of their own sections along with preparing the materials and closing the page.

4. Writers

These people are the lifeblood of the newspapers as they are the ones who gather and deliver the news to you. These are the people who go to where the action is and see what they can write about it. Often, writers are assigned to different beats. For instance, one may be assigned to report about health while another writes about sports.

5. Correspondents and contributors

These are people who also write for the paper but are not directly under the company’s employ. They can write and submit stories to different newspapers and they are paid per story and not per month like with the in house writers.

Contributors are often what we call freelance writers. And because they are not employed by the company, they do not get the regular benefits but they don’t also have to report to work.

6. Editorial assistants

These people are the ones who take care of the day to day operation of one section. They also write when needed but their function is to help smoothen the operations for the writers and the editors.

7. Copyreaders

These are people who check on the article to see if there are typos and in some cases wrong grammar that were missed out during the editing stage. These people basically check the whole article and correct any errors in them. Often, what they do is surface checking and nothing deeper like rewriting the whole article.


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Women In Business: How Women Leaders Are Changing The World

A statement, which we often hear in the homes of working women, especially in India, “Oh! She’s working nowadays.  Helps her pass the time otherwise what will she do the whole day? So we let her work!”

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Biocon

This statement speaks volumes about the mind-set of people from all over the world. Despite the increasing number of women in business, their climb to success is often impeded by the social environment.

The growth of women in business has seen a drastic change in recent years. Women have entered the business world with confidence, which has made the world sit up and take notice. Not only that, the rise of women entrepreneurs has also played a very important role in the development of the economy.

There is not a single area in the present economic world where women in business have not left their mark. The type of women women businesses have also seen a drastic change over the last few years. Here is a brief about how this development came about:

  • History of Women Leaders

Women have been a part of the business world for thousands of years. There is no definite time period, which we can pinpoint to define the entry of women in business. Since ages, there have been women rulers who have wielded their power and influence.

Women leaders have excelled in the world of arts, literature, politics, governance, science, research, construction etc. If we started naming every one of them then the list will run in hundreds of pages, however to name a few of them:

• Queen Elizabeth (politics)
• Rani Laxmi Bai (warrior)
• Elizabeth Arden (perfume and cosmetics)
• Olive Ann Beech (aerospace)
• Eliza Lucas Pinckney (first lady agriculturist)

  • The Transition – Women Become An Inspiration

It was in the Middle Ages that the transition took place and the business world was forced to sit up and take notice of the strength and the intuitiveness of women in business.

It was during this period that the phenomenon of glass ceiling was brought to light. The glass ceiling was the name given to the trend, which limited the rise of women to middle level positions only.

More emphasis was then paid to equal opportunities and higher education, which enabled business women in India to break the glass ceiling and become an inspiration to the coming generations. One of the biggest success stories of this time was the Lizzat Papad Udhyod (a self-initiative women co-operative), a name that Indian women all are familiar with.

  • Business Women In Recent Times

Once the proverbial glass ceiling was broken, there has been no stopping the business women of the world. The 20th century has seen a large change in the business perspective.

Women in business have set their own rules and made great inroads in every field of business because of excellent leadership and decision making abilities. They have shown a remarkable ability to strike the balance between work and family, which, as many business women claim, is the reason behind their success.

Some of the famous women in the current business world include –

• Ruth Handler (creator of Barbie dolls)
• Dr Kiran Mazumdar (biotech queen)
• Ekta Kapoor (Tele queen)
• Anita Roddick (The Body Shop Cosmetics)
• Neelam Dhawan (IT sector)



Women talking

Ladies: How To Divorce-Proof Your Business

We are women — intuitive, giving, and full of faith. We are also CEOs of our lives and businesses, and I’d like you to wear that hat as you read this article.

As you likely know, more than half of all marriages end in divorce. As much as we don’t want to think about that possibility when we are entering or living in wedded bliss, it’s extremely important to consider the implications for yourself and your business.

Because several of my clients whom I mentor have had to handle this situation, I thought it would be a good idea to review your options as a business owner to protect yourself and everything you’ve worked so hard for.

Here are a few tips we gathered from Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Jeffrey Landers, and it includes advice for BOTH married and single women. So get reading and remember ladies, this isn’t personal… it’s business!

If You Are Hitched…

Once you get married, property divisions can get very blurred, especially if you pour your assets into joint agreements with your hubby. So, if you re-title your separately owned condo by adding your husband as a co-owner, or if you deposit your inheritance into a joint account then that property will likely now be considered “marital property”.

Other examples of marital property include: 401Ks, IRAs, stock options, bonuses, commissions, brokerage accounts, bank accounts, professional practices and licenses, limited partnerships, tax refunds and a lot more.

Something else to know is this: In many states, if your spouse helps you out in your business — whether he joins you for client dinners, gives you ideas and advice, even watches the kids so you can work — and his efforts help your business grow, that increase in growth can be considered marital property. So, it’s very important that you understand what marital property you share with your spouse, and what you own separately.

Options for Married Women:

1. Get a buy-sell agreement in place.

Every business with two or more owners should get one drafted immediately. This contract will determine the terms and conditions when a transfer of ownership in the business takes place in the event of divorce, death, disability and other “triggering” events.

2. Sign a post-nuptial agreement.

A post-nuptial agreement is a contract between spouses. It’s like a prenup, but it’s for AFTER you are married. Postnups contain the same elements as a prenup, but they are often challenged and invalidated a lot more frequently than prenups, because once you are married to someone, you theoretically have less bargaining power.

Think about it this way, when you are engaged or single, you can walk away from the contract if you don’t like the terms of a prenup. Neither party has any legal family law rights on the other. But, when you’re married, under the law, you now have very well defined legal rights as a “couple” and not as an individual, so it’s likely each of you will have to compromise on distribution of property.

If You’re Single or Engaged…

Whether you still log in daily to, or are regularly dropping hints to your man about that princess-cut diamond ring you saw at Tiffany’s, you’re actually in the BEST position to safeguard your assets. Your property is still completely yours. And, if you’re engaged and are absolutely against prenups, well, you don’t have to go that route if you really don’t want to. Here’s how…

The Single Girl’s Best Friend: A domestic (or foreign) asset protection trust.

With this trust, you transfer the ownership of your separate property, your car, your condo, your shoe collection, and your business, into a trust. This actually means that the trust, and not you, will now legally own your separate property, but it also means that your business, and any appreciation on your business, remains OUTSIDE of your marriage.

This option works for C corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, but NOT for S corporations. Talk to a trust attorney to find out what you need to do to get this set up.

By now, “prenup” is as much a part of our vocabulary as the word “honeymoon”, so remember that this option is always available to you once you get engaged. Just make sure you visit this topic way before you get married. You want to be thinking with your business hat on and give yourself time to prepare for anything.

Of course this article is just a starting point. Talk with your attorney about your personal options when it comes to better understanding and protecting your property. And to learn more about our featured expert Jeff Landers, visit his site

© 2010 Ali International, LLC

Self-made entrepreneur and Inc. 500-ranked CEO, Ali Brown, teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE weekly articles and advice at

Fleximoms’ 2nd Chance: India’s First Back to Work Program for Women

Fleximoms, India’s only Workflex Readiness specialist has begun the rollouts of 2nd Chance – India’s first Back to Work Program for Women. The program is meant for women who have taken a break from work and want to return or explore different ways to manage their work and life more effectively.

Fleximoms 2nd Chance is a 2-day workshop that handholds women restarting careers after a break. It enables women to make personal and professional choices that are relevant to their life. The program is designed to assess life situations, identify strengths and map next steps as well as access Fleximoms experts, tools and techniques to help achieve their goals.

Work at home career options

The program is designed keeping in mind diverse roles women play. 2nd Chance keeps in mind that career comebacks typically involve choices like – entrepreneurial opportunities, flexible jobs, full time jobs, career changes, acquiring new skill sets, converting a hobby into a profession, becoming a business owner using franchising option or simply picking up a role most suited to one’s aspirations in mainstream corporate world.

2nd Chance is an Indian woman professional’s bridge towards making the optimum choices for herself and people around her. The program helps in navigating one’s way to finding a match between professional and personal aspirations. It is particularly useful for women who find themselves at a loss and need objective insights into balancing one’s personal world and the world of work.

Upcoming 2nd Chance Schedule

25 – 26 March 2011
Twin Tree Hotel, A-19, Naraina Vihar, New Delhi – 110028

30 – 31 March 2011
Mosaic Hotels, C-1, Sector-18, Noida – 201301

08 – 09 April 2011
Habitat World at India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi – 110003

19 – 20 April 2011
Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44, Gurgaon – 122001

Fleximoms is India’s first and only Workflex readiness specialist committed to driving and enabling ‘Workflex readiness’. Fleximoms enables women to make most suitable work-life choices and connects them to the world of work with services like – Individual Career Advisory and Coaching; Back to Work and Business Skills programs and workshops.

Fleximoms provides a range of off-the shelf and customized Workflex readiness solutions to employers, which include the FlexConnect, PowerFlex and FlexPro products. Workflex is a practice that facilitates work life choices, in order to balance personal and professional roles while delivering improved productivity and effectiveness.

Fleximoms Workflex Readiness services create an enabling ecosystem for all stakeholders; and allow customers to successfully adopt Workflex as a value driver.

Sairee Chahal/Chitra Iyer
307/44 Deenar Bhawan, Nehru Place, New Delhi 110019
t:+91 11 46566958 / m: +91 98101 05861/ +91 98204 55132/
e: /
Twitter: @Fleximoms

Top 5 Successful Women Entrepreneurs In India

Women in India have come a long way from being just ‘homemakers’. The world now sees them with a different eye and a new respect. Women entrepreneurship in India has come a long way from women working only part time.

Successful women entrepreneurs in India have made their presence felt in every field be it the world of politics, music, fashion, movies and entertainment or business. Hindu scriptures defines women as the embodiment of ‘Shakti’ and she lives up to image every time, whether it is problem solving at home or running a successful business.

Here we have listed 5 of the most successful women entrepreneurs in India who continue to inspire us with their versatile abilities, persuasiveness, problem solving abilities, willingness to take chances and risks and the ability to motivate people around them.

  • Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

Also known as the ‘Biotech Queen’ of India, Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is listed in the Forbes magazine as 50 most powerful women in International Business.

Starting with a capital of just Rs.10,000 with her garage as her office, she created her first product in the year 1978. Her company Biocon has since then touched new height in the field of biotechnology.

An active social activist she is a true role model for aspiring entrepreneurs in India.



  • Indira Nooyi

Indira Nooyi
Indira Nooyi


No list of successful women entrepreneurs in India is complete without the mention of Indira Nooyi, the CFO and president of PepsiCo.

Her ability to make quick decision and tenacity to follow up has enabled her to make PepsiCo one of the biggest brands in the market today.

Indira Nooyi is listed as the fourth most powerful women in the world by Forbes Magazine.


  • Ekta Kapoor

Ekta Kapoor
Ekta Kapoor

We all have a love hate relationship with the famous “saas-bahu” serials on the Television but we cannot at any level ignore them. This bubbly and extremely professional creative director of Balaji Television has won the hearts of millions of Indian women.

She is one of the most dynamic and successful women entrepreneurs in the Indian television industry. Also known as the ‘Queen of the Indian Television Industry’ she started her career in with the sit-com Hum Panch.

According to her the reason of her success is to be closely involved with all the aspects of the serial including picking up the artists herself.


  • Neelam Dhawan

Neelam Dhawan
Neelam Dhawan

When we are discussing the successful women entrepreneurs in India we cannot leave the leading name in the IT sector out of it.

Neelam Dhawan, Managing director of Microsoft India, has carved a special niche for herself in the IT industry. She looks after the company’s sales and marketing division of the country in India.




  • Shahnaz Hussain

Shahnaz Hussain
Shahnaz Hussain


She is a part of this list of one of the top women entrepreneurs in India because she started form nothing and has made her company, Shahnaz Hussain Herbals a $100 million enterprise.

She broke the traditional advertising myths and the popularity of her company is solely due to mouth-to-mouth publicity only. Shahnaz was awarded the Padma Shri by the Govt. of India in 2006.



Photo source shankbone & nannu

Women For Social Change: Ela Bhatt

Ela Bhatt is a leader of the International Labour Cooperative Women’s Microfinance movement. This is an excerpt from her talk on ‘women for social change’.

Ela BhattEla Bhatt during the struggle for Indian Independence carried forward the leadership of Gandhiji beyond political independence to economic self-reliance. Ela was greatly influenced by the writings of Gandhiji and Tolstoy to address social inequalities and injustices prevailing in India.

Ela had a brilliant academic career graduating in law with a gold medal. After completing her formal education Ela joined the textile labour’s association in Ahmedabad.

It was then that she noticed that self-employed women workers worked for ridiculously long hours every day under the most hazardous working conditions with measly wages with absolutely no economic and social security to bank on. She brought this to the notice of politicians and beauracrats.

In 1972 Ela founded the grassroot development initiative, SEWA, which aimed at the simultaneous social and economic empowerment of grassroot women.

Ela went on to become the Chairperson of the Indian School of Microfinance for Women. In 1987 she headed the National Commission for Self Employed Women. She was then nominated by the President to be a member of the planning commission of India.

Today Ela Bhatt is an acknowledged leader of the International Labour Cooperative Women’s Microfinance movement. In 1984 she got the Right Livelihood award which is the alternate to the Nobel Prize. She has also been the recipient of the Global Leadership for Lifetime Award by the Women’s Global Summit held in Mexico in 2005 and the Legion of Honour from France.

Harvard, Yale and other eminent universities have honoured her with honorary doctorates. She has been included in the select group The Elders by Nelson Mandela to contribute her wisdom, independence, leadership and integrity to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems.

Highlights of Ela Bhatt’s speech:

(Some excerpts from Ela Bhatt’s speech)

The rag picker’s dream:

Ela has worked extensively with women rag pickers. She has observed, “A woman who has no money will send herself out as a rag picker. A rag picker the lowest income among the urban poor. She will pick the kind of trash that can be turned into cash at the end of the day and feed the family. She may have earnings today but if it rains she has nothing tomorrow.”

“The prices of the raw materials of rag pickers fluctuate from area to area depending on the dealer and the scrap imported from foreign countries. In the 1970s they made less than Rs200 a month. The rag pickers said that since rag picking was their profession they had to accept it but they couldn’t accept such low prices in the waste. In order to get a better price the women decided to side step the middle man and the dealer. They bought shares and launched a new cooperative.”

The need for simultaneous economic and social empowerment of women:

Ela strongly believes, “A social change without economic change has limited meaning. An economic change without social change has limited meaning. Rather it should be a method which addresses both the economic and social factors which cause and perpetuates poverty.”

“For long-term self sufficiency, poor women need capital formation with access to savings and credit. Asset ownership is the best weapon to fight the powerlessness of poverty. The poor also need social security like shelter, health care and child care.”

Does money empower women?

Ela’s observations are, “Once women see money collecting in their bank account a sea change occurs over them. They have a sense of security and a sense of less worry. They develop more self-confidence. Even their husbands’ attitude softens when they have financial security. They are no longer viewed as burdens or an expense.”

Ela took the example of tailor, Khana, whose abusive husband’s attitude changed for the better when she became financially independent. She narrates, “Khana, a Sindhi tailor in Dariapur was homebound. In the afternoon while her husband was sleeping she would go out of the house to sell her products for a small profit. Her husband ordered her to stay at home where she belonged.”

“But, on the same day, Khana was back at the shop making her rounds. When she returned home she found her husband waiting with a stick in his hand furious. He hit her until the neighbours intervened. Khana was still back at the shop. A few days later a cooperative offered Khana a job at Rs 500. A few days later Khana’s husband arrived at her workplace with a hot tiffin lunch from his side.”

“Like Khana women going out to work faced similar reactions from their husbands and family in varying degrees. But gaining economic security helped them to settle their domestic problems with some confidence.”

Coping with unexpected capital erosion:

Ela has observed that capital erosion can happen at an instant for poor women. She says, “A bout of ill health, riots, curfews, earthquakes, floods, famines and HIVs can wipe out life time savings in an instant. Seva (the grassroot development initiative founded by Ela) began to realize that insurance is an essential component.”

“We encouraged long term financial planning and asset building programmes among women. We encouraged women to go for insurance coverage for sickness and accidents. The government can support such efforts by contributing equity. This needs a major policy shift at the national level.”

“Public money available from government plans and projects have remained long distant from women. Though recently more public policies and programmes have been focused on women to come out of poverty. But this is still not enough.”

Summing up:

Ela Bhatt summed up her speech by emphasizing the inseparable nature of social and economic empowerment for women which is crucial to give rise to a peaceful, constructive and non-violent society.



Fitness For New Moms: Getting Back Into Shape With Yoga

With the kind of routine that involves caring for a newborn, you need to select a form of exercise that’s easy on your body and mind.

You need a routine that can be broken up into parts so that you can do it whenever you can spare some time. Under these circumstances, there’s really nothing better than yogic stretches, notes Priti Salian.

You have finally been ‘delivered’ after those nine long, weary and sickly months of waiting for the Big Day. Good for you!

Now you long to see yourself back in your good old shape… right? Well, the matter is not over yet. Caring for a newborn is far from easy on those streamlined lines you long to recapture.

With the kind of routine, this involves, you need to select a form of exercise that’s easy on your body and mind.

You need a routine that can be broken up into parts so that you can do it whenever you can spare some time. Under these circumstances, there’s really nothing better than yogic stretches.

A word of caution, though – doctors recommend that before launching any kind of exercise regimen, a new mother needs to wait at least six weeks if the delivery was normal and more (at least three months) if it was surgical.

Before you begin, you should ensure that residual bleeding has stopped and your doctor has given his consent. These are some of the problems faced after pregnancy that yoga can help with:

1. Poor posture

You have carried your baby for nine months or more in your abdomen. This has taken a heavy toll on your posture.

Breastfeeding and carrying your baby, sometimes on your hands and at times on your waist only adds to the problem. Yogasanas help straighten your back, shoulders and neck and give you back your natural poise.

2. Lack of energy

All your attention is on your baby and her requirements. With the number of waking hours involved, it is very difficult for you to get proper sleep and you tend to feel drained most of the time.

Concentrating your energies by focusing on your breathing during yoga can help freshen and invigorate you.

3. Depression and low morale

Neglecting yourself and taking care of your baby day in and day out takes its toll on morale. Not being able to go out, dress up well or meet your friends can bring on postpartum depression. Looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing the flab doesn’t help, either. Yogic poses build self-confidence and the deep breathing calms and relaxes you.

4. Loss of bladder control

Many mothers experience reduced control over their bladder and also reduced sexual pleasure. Yoga helps strengthen pelvic floor muscles and does away with such problems.

5. Weak abdominal muscles

Your abdominal muscles sag due to pregnancy. Yoga helps to strengthen and tone them.

6. Post pregnancy backaches

Backaches and stiffness are commonly experienced problems after pregnancy. Nursing your baby in all positions and rocking him worsen your problem. Certain yogasanas help in stretching your spine and providing relief from backaches.

7. Digestive disorders

Postpartum digestive disorders are well known to new mothers. Several yogasanas perfect your digestive system if you practice them for just ten minutes a day.

8. Lack of time

While you are busy taking care of your baby’s needs all day, it is difficult to set aside time for your basic requirements, leave alone for exercise. But yoga can be helpful even if you practice a couple of poses in your spare moments. You can always pick up again, later in the day, when you have the time.

Yogasanas that can be practised post-partum:

Straighten up Tadasana is absolutely essential for your posture and so is vrikshasana or the tree pose which tones your leg muscles and gives you poise.

Empower your bowelsVajrasana, uttithapadasana pawanmuktasana and markatasana can be really helpful in keeping your digestive system stable.

Sculpt your tummyUttithapadasana or the alternate lifting of legs while lying on your back with your hands by your hips and palms facing down is said to be the best asana for tightening your abdominal muscles. You can lift your legs at an angle of 30 to 40 degrees or 70 to 80 degrees for concentrating on different parts of your abdomen.

Strengthen your pelvis Bhadrasana is good for the muscles of the uro-genital region, facilitating a fresh flow of blood to them. It also makes the knee, hip and ankle joints more elastic.

Relieve your backache – Yoga poses like bhujangasana, paschimottanasana and shalabhasana stretch the spine and relieve back problems.

Soothe your nerves
Anuloma Viloma pranayama (breathing technique with alternate nostrils) is extremely beneficial for the nerves as it clears them of any obstructions. It is said to open up both the sides of your brain, helping in balanced thinking.

Unwind Shavasana is strongly recommended for relaxation. Bhramari pranayam eases out any kind of mental agitation and tension. It also has beneficial effects on your ear, nose, eyes and mouth and imparts a glow to your face. The chanting of Om is said to purify your environment and give you peace of mind.

You must keep in mind that yogasanas must always be done two hours after a heavy meal. Also, you should be gentle with your body and never stretch yourself beyond your limits. You should intersperse the practice of all asanas with shavasana so that your body does not get tired.


Sushmita Sen: Motherhood Beyond Biological Boundaries

In-your-face. Outspoken. Endearingly different. That’s Sushmita Sen, the Cinderella who turned Miss Universe® and subsequently Fairy Godmother to Renee. Sushmita speaks about her inherited parenting values, the process of acceptance as a single mother in the public domain – and the incredible joy of it all.

Sushmita Sen and ReneeAn Interview with Sushmita Sen (Courtesy Parent & Child Magazine)

Your father is an Indian Air Force officer and your mother was a fashion artist and jewelry designer. Did this somehow influence your own outlook and choices in life?

My parents were an exceptional blend of spiritual and practical. As such, they complemented each other perfectly. Their approach to parenting was – make your own choices, and follow through on them.

This meant that there was, from an early age, an onus of great responsibility on my brother and me. I won’t say it was easy in the beginning… but yes, this approach helped both of us to believe in our own instincts, and to be accountable for our decisions in life.

Many describe you as a maverick that often refuses to pay even rudimentary lip service to popular opinion.

I have faced a lot of rejection for what I believe myself to be – and for what I believe is right for me. But I have also discovered that acceptance always follows rejection. The problem is simply that many of us lack the resilience to wait for that acceptance… we give up halfway.

I guess there’s a people-pleaser hidden in every one of us, and sometimes we’re weak enough to let him reign our lives. I firmly believe that life is too short to sacrifice our dreams on the altar of popular opinion, and I live mine accordingly.

By adopting Renee, you have put a serious dent in the taboo usually attached to single motherhood in India.

Adopting Renee was a personal decision, based on a long-cherished dream of motherhood. Raising social consciousness on the subject of single parenthood was never my intention. If it had been, it would have seriously diluted my focus… and believe me, I needed a LOT of focus to see the process through.

You are in the public eye. Your personal life is subject to public scrutiny. Was adopting Renee was a gamble in this respect, or were you certain of a favorable reaction?

I am frankly amazed at how supportive everyone has been – but as I said, pandering to popular opinion was not part of the landscape. I always meant to fulfill my dream of motherhood, but I also knew that it would be unfair to expect others to share my dream.

It was very clear to me that the context would define the level of acceptance. In all honesty, I can’t say whether being in the public eye was an advantage of a drawback in the whole process… all I know is that everyone has been extremely compassionate and helpful.

Did you encounter any serious opposition?

Not from my parents – and that is where it would have hurt the most. Their concerns were for my ability to handle being a mother to a child with significant infantile health problems – not the social acceptability angle. There were also problems on the legal side.

If you assume that the fact that I’m a public figure made the adoption processes easier – the contrary was true. The adoption authorities were understandably worried about whether this was just some kind of publicity stunt, and they made things incredibly tough for me. I put in my application when I was eighteen – it was approved when I was twenty-four!

Do you feel their caution was justified?

Absolutely. They cannot be too careful – after all, there is a human life at stake. There may be a bureaucratic component to the whole thing, but the process basically serves to check out the woman’s strength.

I do not grudge the fact that it was drawn out in my case. In fact, I like to believe that the persistence I showed despite the added stumbling blocks served to underline by sincerity. I do know that adopting single fathers have it even tougher – again, understandably.

How does it feel to be a single mother? Do you imagine it would have been different if your motherhood had happened in the usual context of marriage?

The last is a hypothetical question, since I’ve never been a biological mother. But love does not have to be biological… in fact, it CANNOT be. Every child is a unique individual, and I fell that true love embraces that fact.

Being Renee’s mother is the most amazing and fulfilling experience of my life. I know how clichéd that sounds, but it’s true. I have evolved as a person, and Renee has evolved in tandem with me.

Have you ever felt that Renee might miss the presence of a father?

A child cannot miss what she has never known. We should all wake up to this liberating fact … it would rid us of so much of the guilt baggage some of us drag through parenthood. But yes, a child also needs exposure to the other gender. It is a fact that each of us carries both male and female components within us, and we need an opportunity to relate to the other side.

It is the beauty of men and women that they exist in each other! Thankfully, Renee receives so much of male attention that I never had to bother about any ‘deficit’ on that score. It seems that almost every man around her is either a surrogate father or brother.

Come on, now – never so much as a HINT of an indication?

Well… Renee came home one day and stated that they were celebrating Father’s Day at school the following day. I’ll admit I had a bad moment then, fully expecting a “so where’s MY daddy?” question next.

Instead, Renee asked me matter-of-factly “So are you coming?” I went, all right – in a male-as-you-like-it business suit and tie. The PTA loved it, and I know that the admiration we got had nothing to do with a Miss Universe crown.

You are visibly confident in your role as a single mother, but you apparently monitor Renee’s exposure to the media carefully.

(Laughs) Yes, I did to some extent, but I’ve chilled out more on that front now. I realized that I must not shield Renee from reality… and my public life IS a reality.

I guess I just wanted her to mature enough to be able to develop her own take on it. And she has! She takes to the media like a fish to water. No artifice, no misgivings. And I think that’s so healthy! I wish I had her confidence when I was her age…

You are counted among Bollywood’s ‘thinking’ actresses. Does choosing to be a single mother call for above-average intelligence in the Indian context?

(Laughs self-consciously) I don’t know about THAT, but it certainly calls for an above-average ability to weigh the odds and make an informed decision.

There is an unspoken opinion that parenting skills are catalyzed only in marriage and subsequent child-begetting.

As I’ve already said, the desire and ability to love a child is not biologically derived. I believe I’m a child of God (sometimes I even think I’m his favorite child). Whoever believes the same has to accept that God loves us beyond measure, despite the fact that he’s not our biological father.

He has given us the ability to love beyond physical boundaries. Whether we use that ability or allow it to atrophy within our own human preconceptions is up to each of us individually.

Would you encourage other Indian women to adopt children if marriage is, for any reason, not a feasible option?

If you want a child badly enough and having one biologically is not feasible – yes. Be ready for a struggle, though. There are 27 different criteria to be fulfilled to adopt a child, and your personal life will come under scrutiny as it never has before. But it’s worth it… believe me, it is.

Do you see India moving towards a universally progressive outlook to concepts such as single parenthood, or will there always be traditionalist detractors?

We’re not there yet, but we MUST. We have to have something more substantial to show in terms of progress than a booming economy. Moreover, this economic boom supports the demands of single parenthood.

Still, the Indian mindset is evolving beyond the traditional, and many see single parenthood as a viable and compassionate option. As for traditionalists – every country will always have those. What’s the big deal about Indian ones?

You had the choice to adopt a child and chose a girl. This is indeed very noble. What was your decision based on?

Noble??? The only criteria I had when I set out to adopt were that the child be happy, healthy, between six to eight months of age, and female. I never attached any particular significance to the ‘female’ part, except that I wanted a girl.

I guess you’re referring to the fact that the majority of children in Indian orphanages are girls… that is a sad and telling fact, but it wasn’t one of my motives.

How do you balance parenting with your professional and social life? Have you ever found yourself overcompensating?

(Thoughtfully) I guess I may have overcompensated for the physical distance often created by my profession in the past. But I raised Renee to be very individualistic, and as a result she’s not easy to hurt. Renee never cries when I have to go traveling – instead, she simply accepts it and plans her own schedule accordingly.

And even though she has learned to enjoy her own company, she rarely is. There are so many loving people around her. I know that, when all is said and done, she has only me – but I take comfort from that rather than feel guilty about it.

With hectic city living, many mothers find their kids and husbands quality time difficult. Can you give our readers a few tips on spending quality time with kids despite pressing schedules?

I can’t advise other parents on this, because every scenario is unique. What I do is tell Renee about the pockets of time we have available for togetherness – and allow her to decide how she wants to spend them. And guess what? Sometimes she would rather spend time with friends or alone! That’s such a trip for me!

Then again, an hour together before bedtime is non-negotiable when I’m in town. That’s our ‘honesty hour’, where we tell each other everything that’s on our minds – no holds barred. We just let it all hang out, and nothing is judged as good, bad or ugly. The quality of such moments does a lot more than mere volume of time could.

As a parent, what advice would you give fathers so that they can bond with their kids as effectively as mothers do?

There is no comparison between the two kinds of bonding. A father bonds with his child in a very different way than a mother. A daughter bonds with her masculine side with her father, and a son picks up his male values from him. Both these roles carry a lot of responsibility with them, but they happen best when they happen naturally.

The only way to bond with one’s child is to spend relaxed and happy time together, and to be there when you’re needed. According to me, some of the best examples of father-child bonding are seen in rural India. Have you ever watched the simple splendor of a farmer teaching his child how to work the land?

Did the name Renee have a special meaning to you earlier?

It was the yardstick I used to make my final choice. I was so gun-ho on it that my mother named her jewelry store after it! I first believed that Renee means ‘Goddess of Love’… can you imagine a more befitting criterion?

Anyway, I checked how the girls I met responded to the name. Some started at me blankly, others yawned (laughs). Then finally, there was this rather sickly girl who reacted with a wide-open mouthed smile when she heard the name – and I told the authorities “That’s her!”

So what does Renee really mean then?

It derives from the word ‘renaissance’, which means ‘rebirth’. That’s so appropriate it still makes me cry…

Does Renee have any hobby preferences? How do you offer the necessary encouragement?

She shares my love for music, and attends special classes to groom her in it. What more could I ask for? I do everything I can to support her there, without going overboard and allowing it to become an obsession.

What would be your first reaction if Renee were to win the Ms. World title in the future?

(Laughs aloud) What do you think? “Go for Miss Universe!” of course!!

Do you have a message to Indian adopting mothers and fathers in particular?

I guess so. It’s simply this – follow your heart, and believe that acceptance always follows rejection. You’re doing the right thing. Don’t deny yourself or a child the unique joy of loving and being loved for love’s sake alone.

What in your opinion are the fundamental doctrines Indian parents must inculcate in the kids in early childhood?

Independence, honesty, trust in those who love them and a curious mind. Needless to say, we can’t pass on what we don’t have ourselves, right?

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