Keep reading to find out why and how she sees yoga and meditation as an addition to the Kathak dance discipline.
How have yoga and meditation influenced Kathak dance?
Daily practice of Kathak takes us through all the eight stages of yoga namely Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. In Kathak, almost all asanas are performed. Finally, we reach a stage when we begin to hear music within ourselves and become completely oblivious to our surroundings, then when we are on our way to the seventh and eighth stages, a complete Meditation comes. What are the primary styles of yoga and meditation? Kathak classical dance? What sets it apart from traditional classical dance?
There is no difference as Kathak is related to ancient classical dance forms with inexplicable movements and on the other hand, Yoga is also an ancient meditation practice. The combination of the two practices creates Kathak Yoga, a perfect union of mind and body. Every cell and nerve in the body remains engaged in this form. Doing Kathak yoga also involves many breathing patterns similar to meditation.
How does yoga help in explaining the Indian classical dance ‘Kathak’?
Parmita: I have been practicing Kathak meditation along with yoga for more than twenty five years. I start my day with at least eleven cycles of Surya Namaskar and Pranayama practice.
Pranayama is best observed in Kathak, in which a vigorously energetic rhythmic pattern is performed immediately followed by the practice of rhythmic pronunciation of ‘padant’ by the dancer, where a lot of energy is expended. The next rhythmic pattern has to be recited without any trace of panting.
How does a dancer or yogi hone his body craft to bring about healing, happiness, body-spirit harmony and oneness with the Supreme?
Yoga certainly helps in channelizing the energy by keeping the body healthy and the mind calm. Using the breath and linking the breath to movement helps to stay physically fit while the various pranayama-breathing techniques and meditation-meditation make it focused and calm, which is essential for any person in the field of art and creativity .
Yogic lifestyle provides immense energy, which brings the mind into ‘yes’ mode and this positive attitude makes a person successful in all endeavours. Personally I feel that my creativity has been honed not only in dance but also in music because of pranayama and meditation. Yoga helps in discovering the source of untapped energy and unexplored talents and above all helps the individual to be in sync with the Supreme Power.
How does Kathak yoga transform a practitioner’s mental and spiritual health if it is incorporated into daily practice?
I start my day with at least eleven cycles of Surya Namaskar and Pranayama practice. Yoga definitely keeps the body healthy and calms the mind. Using the breath and linking the breath to the movement has helped my dance practice tremendously. Plus, yoga has improved my flexibility and mental balance over the years. Regular practice helps in developing mental clarity, calmness, alertness and enthusiasm and also sharpens concentration. My students learn basic postures as part of their dance training.
Is it correct to say that Kathak encourages yoga practitioners to pursue spirituality?
Yes, dance with yoga and meditation or Kathak yoga, whatever you want to name it, is an art that gives peace or anandam to the soul created by Lord Shiva.
Kathak yoga requires a lot of practice. Once you achieve this, the journey you are embarking on will bring you into complete harmony with your inner self. When you practice this wonderful art, it acts as a form of meditation in motion. Imagine, you are wearing your ghungroo, the sound attracts you, and at the same time, you are singing the raga with the third.
The whole time you do it, you are in rhythm, and you are balanced, it acts as a unity of body and mind. An hour of Kathak yoga will help you sweat, and flush out toxins from the body, you will start to feel light-headed, and this transition moves you into a meditative state and prepares you for healing.
Please share insights from ancient history on Yoga and Meditation Kathak dance.
Historically, yoga and Indian classical dance traditions share Vedic roots in the ancient texts of Patanjali Yogasutra and Natyashastra respectively. They are related from mudra to salvation. For both the body is a temple and the dance/asana is a prayer.