Athma Laya's method is simple: dance and destress. Vipasha Sinha gives it a try
Dance is not just an art form, but also a way to express, heal and meditate. Bhartanatyam dancer Mala Bharath, who has been dancing from the age of five, says she feels the happiest when she dances. She started Athma Laya in 1998, for women over 18 years to destress through dancing. A student of renowned dancer Kalaimamani Dr. Saraswathi, Mala Bharath says, “I was lucky enough to pursue my dancing career all my life. I have come across many who either weren’t able to continue dance or never got a chance to learn. Athma Laya is for these women. Here they can come, dance, meditate and destress at the same time.”
Both homemakers and working women attend the classes. “How we train them is different from how teachers train students. With students, the focus is on perfection. Here, we choose a simple song that can be learnt in four classes. The idea is to let the women dance for themselves and not for anyone else.”
Seven specialist dancers, including Mala, train these women in centres at T. Nagar, Adyar, Mylapore, R.A. Puram, Anna Nagar, Valsaravakkam, Mahalingapuram and Velachery.
Mala says meditation is a vital part of training in her programme.
“The classes are organised weekly, where apart from dancing, my students also meditate. This helps them reduce stress. While dance improves flexibility, meditation helps in relaxation of mind and soul," says Mala, who regularly conducts workshops for working women to help them deal with the daily pressures of life.