Where yoga and dance meet

Acclaimed Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan and well-known yoga practitioner Anita Dua have turned co-authors to bring out Illuminating Indian Classical Dances through Yoga. They unveiled the book yesterday at India International Centre (IIC).

Using around 100 photographs they’ve tried to demonstrate the interconnection of these two disciplines from ancient culture. There are anecdotes by Pandit Birju Maharaj and BKS Iyengar – Narayan’s and Dua’s respective gurus.

At the launch, Dua told The Morning Standard how they decided to do a book together on the theme. “She has already written about dance and I came forward to elaborate about the philosophy of yoga. By highlighting, researching and examining the asanas and mudras that are practised in both dance and yoga, we traced the progression of Pitanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga – the focal point of this book.”

She finds many features common to the two disciplines. “Both provide sustenance to the body, mind and soul. Many of the stretches, twists, bends and inversions are standard too. Brahma Sthank in Bharatanatyam is the Padmaasana (Lotus position) of yoga and Samasuchi Mandala is another variant of Utkatasana in yoga pose). Similarly, various mudras such as dhyana mudra and jnana mudra are common to both. Both Shovana Narayan and I felt these two activities can lead to similar benefits.”

According to Narayan, dance and yoga are two sides of the same coin. “Dance includes not only yoga asanas but also pranayamas, and the  six aspects listed out by Patanjali in his Ashtanga Yoga. The only difference is that in yoga, each asana is static, whereas in dance we move effortlessly from one asana to another.”

Narayan, who has performed across the world, talks about her experience on using yoga while preparing. “For the performances, I did not feel the need to practice yoga separately because in my dance practice itself, I was performing yoga. Our two deities Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna, along with being great dancers are great yogis.”