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  Life   Art  28 Nov 2017  Euphonic Yoga: Raga, taal, Kathak and yoga, all in one

Euphonic Yoga: Raga, taal, Kathak and yoga, all in one

Published : Nov 28, 2017, 6:30 am IST
Updated : Nov 28, 2017, 6:30 am IST

The benefits combining elements of yoga with dance have been explored since the birth of modern dance a century ago & the potential remains unlimited.

Shruti Chatur Lal Sharma and Suman Kanawa at the Third International Yoga Day in Taiwan
 Shruti Chatur Lal Sharma and Suman Kanawa at the Third International Yoga Day in Taiwan

Combining dance with yoga is an evergreen subject. There are so many inherent inter-connections to support building flexibility, control and strength in various physical systems of moving muscular and skeletal systems. And, of course, whether you are doing a sun salutation or turns across a stage, the nervous system and hormones are also stimulated.

I’m sure everyone knows by now that dance, sports, yoga, and physical exercise produce the endorphins that make us feel happy and reduce stress. The joy of moving is not simply conceptual, it’s scientifically measurable. The benefits combining elements of yoga with dance have been explored since the birth of modern dance a century ago and the potential remains unlimited. It’s quite fascinating to see the multitude of creative efforts to share the traditions of yoga and dance as well as their combinations to improve the quality of life.

One such effort was started two years ago when Shruti Chatur Lal Sharma and Suman Kanawat thought of combining Indian classical music and yoga. Drawing on their training and passion for yoga, Indian classical music, Kathak and the rhythmic structures of Hindustani music, the concept gelled into workshop training and performance models under an appropriate title, “Euphonic Yoga”.

Shruti is granddaughter of the legendary tabla maestro, Pt Chatur Lal, called “The great genius and an unforgettable figure in our music” by President K.R. Narayanan. Not only a great musician, the famous violinist, Lord Yehudi Menuhin stated “Pandit Chatur Lal was one of those few supreme pioneer musicians who won for India the great and growing following it now commands in the West. He stole the hearts of his audiences with his art and his enchanting personality”.

With a three-generation musical lineage, it is not surprising that Shruti’s project was launched under the blessings of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan,  Ms Subhalakshmi Khan and Ms Sukanya Ravi Shankar. Her main collaborator, Suman Kanawat, is also continuing a family tradition steeped in yoga under Sushila Kanawat and professional training at the Morarji Desai Institute of Yoga Sciences.

The Kathak element has been developed by Garima Arya, a disciple of Pt Birju Maharaj, Saswati Sen and Pt Deepak Maharaj along with Rajnandini who has an M.Phil in music from Delhi University along with her Kathak training under Maharaj-ji. Hari Om brings his passion for yoga and meditation to the mix.

The “Euphonic Yoga’ team have already shared their unique amalgamation locally at Tihar Jail, Sharda University, Shiv Nadar Foundation and even Marks & Spencer’s; abroad for the opening of an International Indian Food Festival in Kaohsiung, at the Indian Embassy in Brussels and at the 3rd International Yoga Day in Taiwan.

A key component is awareness of activating the seven chakras for health and well being along with the link between these and the seven musical swaras. They bring out the correlations between dance mudras and yoga and those used in classical Indian dance forms starting from the concept of connecting the five elements, or pancha mahabhutas, to the five fingers.

According to this philosophy, the different combinations of touching one finger to others create particular energy circuits. This would, therefore, improve circulation of blood and other health benefits. The dance Trishula Hasta with three fingers raised and thumb touching little finger is claimed to balance body water content, prevent pain from inflammation or muscle weakness as Varun Mudra in yoga.

I personally haven’t tried this one, though I daily use the Hamsasya Hasta of thumb connecting to tip of first finger which is the Gyan Mudra in yoga. According to Shruti and Suman’s study of yoga, this increases memory, concentration and prevents insomnia.

The chakkars of Kathak are certainly a fun way to strengthen your core of power and stability, represented in “Euphonic Yoga” connecting this to the Muladhar energy center. We all know that weight-bearing exercise, and certainly Kathak stamping, is good for bone density and may definitely be more appealing than a morning walk or run through Delhi’s outdoor pollution.

Experiments and creative collaborations never take away from the traditions that have stood the test of time. They add to seeing new facets and the strongest saplings survive.  This one has blessings from Pandit Birju Maharaj, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pandit Vishwamohan Bhatt, Drums Sivamani & Runa Sivamani, George Brooks, Pt. Ronu Majumdar, Sandip Soparrkar and Amarendra Khatua. I am happy to add mine.

Tags: yoga, kathak, euphonic yoga