How Do Yoga Benefit the Dancers? – (Part One)

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There are several aspects of Yoga that can be benefitted, especially when it comes to the case of dancers, the pros are many that you may be amazed!

The important inner attributes a dancer (Antah Pranah) should possess are numerous that a person who has acquired it can easily understand and practice the beauty of the traditional Indian dance forms. The inner qualities can be further developed and maintained through Yoga as it can be adapted as a way of life. Abhinaya Darpana of Nandikeswara states that:

“Javah Stiratvam Rekha

Brahmari Drishti Ashramaha

Medha Shraddha Vacho Geetam”

Each of the terms in it has deeper meanings which provides a brief insight into the significant qualities that a dancer must possess, which are namely:

Javah –swiftness or speed
Stiratvam –composure or steadiness

Rekha -symmetry
Brahmari –versatility and circular movements

Drishti –glances of the eyes
Ashramaha –ease and tirelessness
Medha -intelligence
Shraddha –confidence and interest
Vacho –clear speech
Geetam-capacity of song

Now, when we talk about the actual benefits a dancer gain through the practice of Yoga, there are many. It’ll be an easy read if the benefits are pointed out, right? Let’s see!

Strength, Balance & Concentration: These are the physical qualities a dancer must possess and it can be attained gradually through the constant practice of Yoga.The standing poses such as Padahastasana, Padangushtasana, Trikonasana, Natarajasana, Virasana and its variations, Garudasana, Padottanasana are especially beneficial to the thighs and legs as it focuses mainly on them to gain strength. There are several poses that concentrates on legs, hands etc in order to provide balance and strength to the related body parts such as the one-legged poses like the Natarajasana, Garudasana, Vrikshasana, Vatayanasana, Eka Padasana and Ardha Chandrasana which help to develop a remarkable sense of balance as well as improve single minded concentration. Then there’s also hand balancing poses such as Mayurasana, Titibasana, Vrichikasana, Dolasana and Hamsasana that aids in the development of strength in the shoulders, arms and wrists which may prove to be helpful when the dancers are holding the arms up in numerous Nritta sequences, namely in the Alarippu, Varnam and Tillana.

Stamina & Endurance: Prolonged stamina and indomitable endurance level is something most of the ardent dancers wish for and would need immensely in the long run. This can be achieved with the help of strict Yoga discipline that can be practiced as a part of our lifestyle. Yoga allows the dancers to undergo vigorous dance routines without a break in between and the alternate trying out between dance and Yoga can contribute to the well-being of the body and mind. Yoga balances the catabolic breakdown of the body through its the anabolic activities, which in turn retards the ageing process and also give the dancer the invaluable gift of a longer professional life. Isn’t that a true benefit?

Flexibility: This is something that every dancer must possess despite of many other qualities in order to perform with grace that justifies the art form’s true beauty. The body of a well-trained dancer should be supple  like a well-tuned instrument that allows them to perform any movement effortlessly and gracefully. Various routines of Jattis and other practices of the Shetali Karana Vyayama, spinal twists such as Ardha Matsyendrasana and Vakrasana, back bending Asanas like Laghu Vajrasana, Rajakapotasana, Chakrasana and Dhanurasana and forward bending Asanas such as Padahasthasana, Paschimottanasana, and Halasana ensure flexibility of the body.

All the benefits of Yoga for the dancers is too many to be enlisted in a single stretch. So why don’t we break it up? Read on to the next part to know more about various other attributes a dancer can acquire through Yoga practice!

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