The ongoing global health crisis may take some time to subside. It has already started making a negative impact on the world economy. The pandemic, along with the financial crunch, has taken a heavy toll on mental health of individuals.
Experts in mental health world over have been advising people on how to cope with the social distancing phenomenon and how to stay positive mentally. The most common piece of advice has so far been to spend your time at home doing activities with family.
Yoga and classical Indian dance are among those activities that help reduce stress and take away negative thoughts. Yoga nurtures meditation and self-love while classical dance brings in purity for soul and mental calmness, as some experts assert.
Thirty-one-year-old Rahul Gupta is an eminent classical dancer with expertise in Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, and folk dances like Bihu. Later in his career, he took up teaching and choreography, and has spent time spreading the culture of classical dance in different countries of the world. He has been teaching classical dance to students in Qatar for quite some time.
For Rahul, his wife Nandini and their nine-year-old son Bharat, life is as wonderful and enjoyable as it ever was before the coronavirus outbreak. “For last one week, we all have been practicing dance to stay fit and fine while staying at home.
“We are practicing yoga early morning from 6am to 7am, and in the evening from 7pm to 9pm we practice Bharatanatyam to keep ourselves fit both mentally and physically during the crucial time. We have to take the support of art, dance and music. This makes us stress free and it is a very good exercise to keep our body fit during our fight against the virus.
The dance family has not only been keeping themselves in good stead by practicing classical dance and yoga, they have also been motivating others by making videos of their work and uploading on social media platforms. “We are doing yoga and Bharatanatyam and posting videos on Facebook to motivate the young generation and other people to stay at home, do dance, yoga and other activities for being fit and keep themselves secure from the fast spreading disease.
Dwelling on the spiritual aspects of Bharatanatyam, he says it is a form of sadhana (meditation). Besides giving the practitioner peace and tranquility, this dance form, like many other Indian classical forms, replaces restlessness with calm and composure, and inculcates the true spirit of humility and restraint. The energy, which the classical dance-yoga activity generates, is unmatched.
“In Bharatanatyam, the movements are very clear. There are different facial expressions in this form. It is more tuned to acting. The dancer has to act to show different emotions and feelings.”
Explaining the usefulness of yoga, he said: “Yoga is an integral part of Indian classical dance forms. Every dance practice session or performance starts with pranayam, surya namaskar and other stretching yoga routines to warm up the body and make it supple and flexible, an absolute necessity for a satisfying outcome of any classical dance routine.”
Rahul believes classical dance keeps an individual on track through thick and thin in life. He asserts that his journey as a classical dance instructor in India and in Qatar has been replete with instances of rich, spoilt and arrogant children transforming into simple and humble human beings after their tryst with classical dance. He has also seen wives traumatised by separation from husbands, or domestic violence, finding a new purpose in life by immersing themselves into classical dance. “If one learns and practices classical dance, he or she will never stray in life. He or she will remain a polite and gentle person completely following the good practices and principles of life.”
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