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Dance to your health

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MORE THAN EXERCISE Surya Narayana at one of the dance therapy sessions
MORE THAN EXERCISE Surya Narayana at one of the dance therapy sessions

Sathya Narayana uses dance movements and mudras for therapeutic purposes

Exercise can become monotonous. A little bit of imagination, however, can make it interesting. A man fighting a midriff bulge can imagine himself to be a soldier fighting an enemy. By executing the movements of a martial art (say, kalaripayatu) to fell his imaginary enemy, he can induce joy into exercising. Such fun ways to fitness is part of what is popularly called dance therapy. "This therapeutic system is based on the belief that the mind and the body are integrated," says A.V. Sathya Narayana, director, Shristi Institute of Dance therapy, Bangalore, who was in the city recently. Sathya encourages his clients to play characters from epics or imitate animals and birds, using gestures and movements he has chosen from Bharatanatyam, Kathak, folk dances, yoga and martial arts. "The tatkar (footwork) of Kathak activate nerves from head to toe, yogasanas such as swastika pada (standing on crossed legs), aramandi (half-sitting pose) and nrithika pada (one leg is half-bent and the other stretched) firm up the waist, leg, hip and trunk and the suggi kunitha (the folk harvest dance of Karnataka) works on the lung and spine". Dance therapy, as the name implies, is more than exercise. "It responds to diseases. By acting out a snake that goes about in search of food, one can cure himself of spondylitis. Dancing like a peacock and Kathak footwork will lead to heightened blood flow to the soles of the feet and activation of the liver and pancreas and a soothing effect on the spine. These dance movements are meant for diabetics, because they will assist in mobilising insulin and lower the need for external insulin. I encourage a pregnant woman to take a time machine and go back to the days when people had to drew water from a well, churn milk in a pot and grind and pound a whole lot of things to put food on the table. She can imagine herself dressed in a period costume and play-act these activities with graceful movements of her limbs," says Sathya."Dance therapy addresses sexual dysfunctions as well. I ask a couple to imagine themselves to be Radha and Krishna or Shiva and Parvathi or Rathi and Manmatha. The couple are asked to sit face to face, holding hands, for a few moments. All this while they are making eye contact. Soft music is played in the background and they dance." For more details about Sathya's dance therapy, log in to dancetherapyindia.com.PRINCE FREDERICK

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