Dandiya is not just fun. It also helps you beat stress and perhaps shed a few kilos

It’s the festive season, and chances are you will gorge on sweets and savouries, which may result in your gaining a few extra kilos! Still what is a festival without its traditional food? However, here’s good news. Navaratri is the time to hit the dance floor – a fun way of keeping fit.

Navaratri has metamorphosed into a glitzy festival and a social occasion on such a scale that states start preparations months ahead of the event. Companies set aside part of their budget for the celebrations. It’s a festival when people swirl to the Dandiya Raas. Colourfully attired, they strike wooden sticks to the rhythmic beats of garba music in clockwise and anticlockwise movements. Many opt for quick weight-loss sessions to look their best for the festival. Garba classes are finding an increasing number of takers in the metros. A Mumbai-based homemaker enrolled in a class for the first time this year. “Many of my friends are learning garba, and since I plan to attend navaratri events, I decided to enrol,” says 28-year-old Aarti Saxena.

Many fitness studios launch a Dandiya Aerobics Dhamaka during navaratri. Says Rajesh Sharma, a fitness professional based in Mumbai: “Though weight training is important, dandiya is a novel alternative to aerobics and cardiovascular exercise.”

“Individuals lose interest in monotonous work-outs. Spontaneous forms of exercise are popular especially during festivities. Festivities mean increased calorie consumption, and dandiya puts people in the mood to exercise,” says Zin Swetha Jairam, Zumba Fitness Instructor in Mumbai.

Health benefits

Many don’t know that dandiya is a fun way of keeping in shape and banishing stress. According to fitness experts, it is an excellent form of exercise that is emotionally, mentally and physically satisfying. It burns as many calories as jogging or swimming. “The continuous movement helps performers lose around 500-700 calories, depending on the speed at which they are executed,” says Sharma.

“Dancing exercises the entire body, utilising the muscles from head to toe. It is much more than just a cardiovascular calorie-burning activity. Most important, it makes people happy, which is a psychological benefit to overall well-being,” says Swetha.

Dandiya is an excellent way to lose fat, especially around the belly. Professional artists do complicated movements which involve stretching and twisting of the upper body and a lot of arm and foot movements. Some also involve squatting, which helps shape your waist and tone your arms and legs. Since it is a vigorous workout, it releases endorphins or brain chemicals known as ‘runner’s high’ that melts away tension and relaxes the mind and the body. It not only improves helps improve posture and digestion but also blood circulation.

Social interaction

Long hours at work, inadequate rest and a high level of stress take a toll on the quality of life. Dandiya Raas lifts one’s spirits and reduces stress. Dancing is a social activity; it gives you an opportunity to make new friends. The performers develop concentration, team spirit and learn to coordinate their movements. “Individuals need an activity to rid them of their day-to-day frustrations. Hence, if it is a fun activity, people benefit from it even if their goal is not weight loss,” says Swetha. So if you want to dance but are apprehensive about it, why not go with a friend?