Bollywood dance instructor and yoga practitioner Shruti Anand shares her derivation of ancient wisdom for happiness of mind, body and soul.
By Shruta Ananda, Photo by Keira Hand
While on a treadmill one day, I remember thinking to myself, “What makes you healthier may not be a happy experience, but you still have to do it for your body, right?” What I didn’t know back then was that getting healthier relies on a multidimensional rhythm of energies, from your brain, to your heart, to your bodily constitution. Fitness simply doesn’t happen if your mortal frame is disconnected from your spirit.
And how could one be committed to something that doesn’t make them feel happy? It is easy to blame the lack of commitment on a demanding job—signing up to crouch in front of a computer for insane hours. That was me in 2008, right before I started to encounter an excruciating version of back pain that numbs your limbs and pretty much renders you feeling utterly and completely powerless. Recovering from this state of destitution transformed my very approach to everyday health.
A regular fitness routine should strike a balance for mental and physical restoration and recovery, along with enhancement and challenge. The infusion of dance and yoga can provide exactly that for you.
Find your groove.
You don’t have to be a professional dancer to experience dance, just like you don’t have to be a flexible gymnast to experience yoga.
Dance and yoga simply call for the movement of your body by opening your heart and freeing your soul. This ancient combination enables burning calories and strengthening muscles along with improving flexibility while connecting with your inner self. Athletes cultivate better hand-eye coordination. Children develop focus and motor skills. Adults gain body positivity.
For me it started with Bollywood dance, a style based on folk dances to celebrate festivals and special occasions. Bollywood dance is for everybody. It is much like yoga, which originates from the same subcontinent as Bollywood dance. Yoga ignites the same connection of your mind, body and soul with a simple sequence of postures anyone can do.
To explore a dance and yoga routine that makes sense for your mental and physical well-being, start with something familiar: a social dance like Zumba or ballroom, a technical dance style you’ve always wanted to try like hip hop, or a dance to a song you enjoy with a family member. Move at your own pace and find the right style. For yoga, research Hatha or Vinyasa and see what connects with you better, or take an online class from the comfort of your home before a session at the studio.
Find your tribe.
The energy vibrations you may feel from an “aum” chant are real. So are the euphoric moments from a group clapping or stomping together. Dance and yoga can invoke a tribal link in us—the flow of breaths in unison to a gong or the movement of bodies in synchronization to beats.
While a cheering audience and a supportive class have an important place in a dance and yoga experience, the human connection that experience can create at an elemental level is far more powerful.
Consciously open up for such an exchange of energy with your fellow dancers and yogis. You will form some very special bonds and find yourself surrounded by positive human beings who will only contribute to enhancing your wellness journey.
Find your own happy place.
Do it for yourself. Learning choreography is not always about the next TikTok challenge. Perfecting a yoga pose is not always about the next cool Instagram post. Focus on creating a judgment-free space for your dance and yoga. Get inspired, develop your skill and improve your art.
If you find yourself thriving by staying exactly where you are with your practice, stay your course. Feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and adjust your method. Craving a higher level of engagement, get involved in retreats and conventions. If you are motivated by competition, train harder, go out there and show off. If you love sharing, elevate your commitment to teach.
But keep your positive spirit through your journey. Preserve the purity of your intention in your practice. Strive to keep the integrity of your unique purpose and passion.
The right balance of dance and yoga in your life will uplift your day by stimulating your senses along with building a healthier lifestyle.