One need to realize that Bharathanatyam is not just a dance or decorative performing art and Yoga is not just an exercise. They both are divine and well-disciplined manifestations that help in the union of body and mind.
Bharatanatyam is nothing but Yoga, Yoga means union- union of body and mind. Both are traditions of Indian culture. If you watch Bharathanatyam you will be mesmerized to see the poses that are exactly similar to yoga poses. Bharathanatyam and Yoga are two ways that exist to help us understand the manifestation of the Divine in the human form. The Natya (sanskrit = dance) Shastra of Saint Bharata Muni lays emphasis on not merely the physical aspects of Bharathanatyam, but also on the spiritual and esoteric nature of this art form. Both of these arts are also evolutionary sciences for the spiritual evolution of the human being to the state of the super human and finally the Divine.
Bharathanatyam is a dance that is meditative and spiritual, yet highly fun-filled and entertaining. The resemblances between both yoga and bharathanatyam are so much that if you are a yogi then you will find it easy to perform Bharathanatyam. Bharathanatyam gives same benefit for the body and mind similar to yoga. Bharatanaatyam encourages people to see a world of joy, symmetry, rhythm and beauty, as well as a world of peace and harmony.
Both Yoga and Bharathanatyam complement each other in many ways.
Guru bhakti: As we sit in Yoga classes we silently follow yoga instructor’s instruction. The yoga class environment is such that it makes most yogis to go to meditation mood with lots of devotion. Yogis follow their Guru (teacher). Even though lot of this tradition and culture has become more academic the basic value of Guru bhakti in yoga and Bharathanatyam remains the same. One cannot learn and be expert in Bharathanatyam without Guru. To understand the classical songs, expressions, proper pose one need Guru. Understanding and doing yoga poses takes several years of practice. Similarly, the Bharathanatyam learning takes many years. It involves more communications and expressions of one self.
Discipline: Discipline is an important requirement of both yoga and natya. Yoga is defined as the desire to discipline the body and mind. Yoga emphasizes that learning with dedication and determination is key to success.
Concentration: Yoga involves balancing and focusing on body and mind. Similarly, Bharathanatyam too needs lot of concentration, focus and balancing. The dancer requires a similar state of utmost concentration in order to bring about the union of Bhava, Raga and Tala in her presentation. Yogis do ,many balancing poses -tree, warrior, crane, dance poses etc. – all these need lot of concentration. It comes by practice. Bharathanatyam dancer need similar concentration to perform these poses and to go through the flow. Both will concentrate on various chakras – that are psychophysical connections of the body.
Meditation: The practice of Indian classical dances and other classical arts is said to be akin to meditation. When the dancer achieves peak of concentration in her performance, she loses herself into the state of meditation. Dancing poses becomes the meditation. The Yogic state of Dhyana and the trance like states experienced by the dancers while performing are quite similar in their universal nature.
Mudras: Both Yoga and Bharathanatyam practices involves mudras. Mudras are hand gestures related to body and mind with lots of health benefits. There is a good basis for acceptance that the Mudra does control the mind-brain processes and the functions within the nervous system by uniting various nerve terminals of the sympathetic and para-sympathetic function. Various mudras -Hastha, Anjali, Namaskara, Yoga, Gyana, Prana, Pritvi, Linga, Surya, Ganesha, Shankha Akasha Mudras and more all are mudras are part of both yoga as well as bharathanatyam.
Benefits of both: Yoga has a lot to offer in terms of strength, balance, concentration, carriage, stamina, flexibility, coordination, musculoskeletal benefits, physiological function, energy and right attitude.
Bharathanatyam dance form is elevating and fun, bringing joy and peace. It also helps in following ways-
- It improves physical and mental health
- It develops focus, coordination, balance and fine motor skills
- It helps in easily understanding concepts in math, science, music, history and English
- It makes the culture of India come alive, showcasing her diversity and values
- Use of Mudras to cleanse body and mind
- Concentration of mind
- Balancing of the body and system
- Control on excess eating.
- It improves flexibility
- Doing Bharatanatyam is like doing an aerobic workout and is a good physical exercise. It is a good fitness regime
When practiced as natya yoga, bharathanatyam embodies ashtaanga principles of yoga, as described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Yoga and Bharathanatyam are both spiritual and elevated art forms. One need to realize that Bharathanatyam is not just a dance or decorative performing art and Yoga is not just an exercise. They both are Divine and well-disciplined manifestations that help in the union of body and mind.
Images: Google images & India dance