Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Learning Bharatnatyam and Yoga

 Okay so two weeks ago I finally found a good instructor to teach me Bharatnatyam! The dance originated in South India and is the national dance of India. My studio is just two blocks down the road from my house so I will be walking there every Monday and Friday at 6pm to 7pm. I also have begun yoga which will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays 4pm to 5pm and on Saturdays at 2pm so for now on I will definitely not be bored! My yoga class is right on the beach so I will also be taking about a short bike ride there every other day.
Anyways Bharatnatyam is fun! There is a definite workout in my thighs and my heels are beginning to become bruised from hitting my heels on the floor so much which is a big part of bharatnatyam! A distinctive feature of the dance is the use of expressive hand gestures as a way of communication. Hastas refers to the varieties of hand symbols that a dancer can use. Many of these hand gestures are well known. For example, Anjali is often used as a salutation when a person greets another person. The Tamil text Koothanool contains descriptions of over 300 hastas and mudras. 
Of course there are also other types of movements used as a way to express emotions. They are :

Head Movements (Shiro bhedas)
Neck Movements (Griva bhedas)
Eye Movements (Drishti bhedas)
So far I haven't learned any of these movements since I barely even know a few out of the hundreds of hand movements there are! Hopefully by the end of this year though I will have learned a few more. Most students begin around the age of  6 for Bharatnatyam so I am in a class with 5 other 6-8 year old girls but its actually pretty fun hanging out with the little kids and the instructor is pretty layed back because of it.

My first day of yoga was absolutely AMAZING! And I still love it:) It is so relaxing and absolutely amazing for your health. Its located very close to me, about 10-15 minutes on bike. The Yoga Center is called Sivanda Yoga Vedanta Center.  I absolutely love my yoga teacher and we have some good laughs when I try to balance myself in the Tree Pose which looks like this -------------------------------------------------->

There are five points in Yoga:

Proper Exercise: acts as a lubricating routine to the joints , muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other parts of the body by increasing circulation and flexibility. These proper exercises are called Asanas. There are 13 basic Asanas. Each Asana has numerous physical, psychic, and mental benefits.

 The first one is Sirasana ( The Headstand). This one I haven't even tried yet because of its difficulty and the fact that I would undoubtedly fall and hurt myself.

The second basic pose is called Sarvangasana (The shoulder stand). This one is actually my favorite :) It is actually pretty comfortable and very fun!

The third pose is Halasana ( the Plough) You get into this one while in the shoulder stand position.

The fourth pose is Sethubandasana ( The bridge) This one I was already familiar with.

The fifth pose is Matsyasana ( The Fish) This one makes the top of my head a bit sore after a while.

The sixth pose is Paschimothanasana (The head-knee pose) This one I was also familiar with like the bridge and I was surprised to find it was a yoga pose.

The seventh pose is Bhujangasana (The cobra) This one can be slightly uncomfortable in your lower back because you have to sort of use your back to support yourself because you are not supposed to put all of the weight on your arms.

The 8th pose is Salabhasana ( The Locust) This position is extremely hard and I have barely even attempted it yet because of how flexible you have to be to be able to put your legs so far behind you. Only masters can achieve this and most just get their legs to a diagonal behind and above them.

The ninth pose is Dhanurasana ( The bow) This exercise is feels pretty good in the abdomen and in this position you can also rock back and forth on your stomach and this is called the rocking bow.

The 10th pose is Ardha Matsyendrasana (The Half Spinal Twist) This one is hard because you have to keep your shoulders level and your butt completely flat on the ground. It looks easy but with every breath you need to turn yourself farther around and keep your hand on your ankle.
The 11th pose is Kakasana ( The Crow) I haven't had the chance to practice this pose yet but it seems pretty easy.

The 12th pose is Pada Hasthsana.  This one is pretty simple

The thirteenth pose is Trikonasana ( The triangle) This one you should feel along the entire side of your body. It's a great stretch for your thighs

Now back to the 5 basic points

2. Proper Breathing: This aids the Body in connecting to its "battery", the solar plexus, where tremendous potential energy is stored. When tapped through specific Yoga breathing techniques (Pranayama) this energy is released for physical and mental rejuvenation.

3. Proper Relaxation: This cools down the system. When the body and mind are continually overworked, their efficiency diminishes. Relaxation is a way to recharge ones body. This is called Savasana and one pose is the corpse pose. It looks like this.

4. Proper Diet: This provides the correct "fuel" for the body. Optimum utilization of food, air, water, and sunlight is essential. The Yogi diet is a vegetarian diet consisting of pure natural foods that promote health. Simple meals help to aid digestion.

5. Positive Thinking and Meditation: This puts YOU in control . The intellect is purified. You are brought under conscious control through steadiness and concentration of mind. This comes from meditating in the pose Kapalabhati. This is the pose.
In this pose I usually begin my yoga class by chanting Om three times and praying. You must breath in and out through your stomach and make sure to sit on your spine with your back straight and your shoulders and face relaxed. It's quite calming and very peaceful. The pose the women is in above is the full lotus and I actually can't do that so I usually sit in half lotus with only one of my feet up. 

Well that's pretty much all I can think of at the moment. Hope you enjoyed my little Yoga and Bharatnatyam lesson :) 


  1. This actually inspired me to try some of these lol
    But the locust and the crow...
    Just not happenin
    Good to know you're enjoying it all Jenny!
    Peace! Andrew

  2. Pretty cool summary. Funny I was talking to a USA AFS person about how they put all the non-english speaking exchanges in classes with 4-6 year olds with cartoons to help them learn.
    How can any of those positions make you relaxed and sleepy!! Ouch. Makes me want to do the Bhuthaiwanna Peemaiphant pose .

  3. Awesome post! =)
    I can imagine you doing these poses xD

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