Dance and yoga are closely interrelated, says Roxanne Kamayani Gupta.

Yoga forms the basis for many an Indian school of thought. It is integral to anything that involves mind and body activity and our classical dance forms are no exception. Though dance is an aesthetic expression of an imaginative mind in a codified language of body movements, its inherent element of yoga paves the way for spiritual progress of its practitioners.

Classical dance, in a way, can be said to be a form of yoga. With a thrust on this, an erudite lecture-demonstration by American scholar Roxanne Kamayani Gupta on ‘Relation between Indian classical dance and Yoga’ was held at Kuchipudi Kala Kendram, Visakhapatnam. A retired professor of Religious Studies, she has been an active Kuchipudi dancer for over four decades. She is also an expert in Hatha and Kriya yoga traditions. In an optimal coalescence of these two streams of consciousness and practice, she delivered a lecture-demonstration of high order on the theme.

“Students of dance should practice yoga; it will help them in their dance and life. Both dance and yoga help in developing the body, mind, and spirit,” she stated. Based on her research and observations, she explained, “Dance is yoga since it involves physical development, breathing and concentration of mind and totality of spirit. It is more than Hatha yoga. In Hatha yoga, you hold one pose for a long time and breathe but in dance you have to do so many poses in succession, rapidly and with more control over your breath. A yogi does not have to bother about his external appearance when he does yoga but a dancer should look peaceful and happy, no matter how difficult the movement. Yoga can be a dance. If you practice dance, already you are advanced on the yoga path; they are so close.”

Substantiating her observations, she demonstrated Surya Namaskars and elucidated the relation between postures of yoga and that of dance.

“Maybe dance students won’t practice dance their entire life. But they can always do yoga. And if you do yoga, you can start to dance again after a break more easily,” averred Roxanne.

Renowned dancer and founder of the Kendram Bala Kondala Rao and TSR Prasad also spoke on the subject. The kendram hosted this workshop to introduce the idea of practicing yoga to the students of dance.