On the last day of our exams, my sister (Surilie) and I would have a sweet treat waiting for us when we returned from school. Our mother had made it a tradition,” reminisces Yami, who’s cooking up a storm while in self-isolation. For the actress, food, especially baked goods, mean celebration. “My love for food stems from sitting on the kitchen top for hours, watching my mom cook and bake dish after dish. Awestruck, my eyes would be glued to the glass door of our old oven as I waited for the cakes and puddings to rise, which would be a signal that they were ready to be devoured,” recounts the actress, promising that if you measure out the ingredients properly, whip them up together and put the resulting mixture in the oven, you will get something delicious every time. “Also, there’s chocolate,” she adds with a laugh.
On Women’s Day, Yami had spoken about battling health issues in the last one year. While the world is is scrambling to boost immunity to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the actress has had to do it since last year, following a neck injury and a bout of dengue, which left her immunity and stamina compromised. She admits that instead of working on it gradually, she felt compelled to resort to drastic measures. “To look leaner and adhere to the socially-constructed notion that physical attractiveness in a woman is one of her most important assets, I foolishly started cutting down on food and completely stopped eating some much-needed carbs. Also, to ‘appear fit’ during a hectic shoot schedule, followed by film promotions and ad shoots, I’d wake up at 5 am, do yoga from 5:30 am to 7 am, then leave for a 12-13-hour shoot day. When I returned, I’d hit the gym for an hour, all this while being in immense pain. I barely got four hours of sleep,” she rues, admitting that what her body needed the most was time to heal. Wiser now, the actress still gets up early for yoga. “I like to create an ambience first with tealight candles and soothing music. I do a 45-minute combination of Ashtanga and Hatha yoga, along with suryanamaskars,” she reveals.

Now, with time to introspect, Yami hopes people start valuing fitness more than social media vanity. “As actors, we have a certain responsibility to look good and appear presentable at all times.
Instagram is full of picture-perfect bodies. But we are humans and women too. Our appearance depends on our menstrual cycle. Some days, we look bloated and that’s normal,” she points out, recalling the time the media said she had put on weight after she was clicked walking out of the gym. “We should take a cue from Hollywood actors like Meryl Streep. While they obviously take care of themselves, their focus is always on the character they are playing on screen. As actors, we should be more bothered about our work than our appearance,” she asserts.

For now, besides working on her fitness with home-cooked meals and yoga, Yami is also indulging other hobbies like gardening, photography, reading and sketching. She is also treating herself to homemade face-packs. “I have very sensitive skin and can never get a facial done. So, I keep experimenting with kitchen ingredients. You’ll be surprised to know just how effective regular items like coffee, oatmeal, yogurt, raw milk, urad dal, coconut oil and Vitamin E oil are for the skin,” she shares. And is she panicking about the outbreak? “Stress does horrible things to your body and mind. So, there’s no point worrying. This downtime was much needed,” she signs off.