Yoga and Indian Classical Dance are inseparable. Nritya Yoga is a combination of dance and yoga, both of which have common roots that go back thousands of years.
What is the importance of Nritya Yoga?
Yoga has become an increasingly popular form of exercise worldwide. By combining yoga with the mudras and hitting toes and heels on the ground the benefits of acupressure will be received as well. Concentration is really important while you dance to music. Therefore, Nritya Yoga gives the benefits of meditation, as well.
What are the components of Nritya Yoga?
Nritya Yoga constitutes Hasta Mudras (hand gestures), Shiro Bhedas (head movements), Drishti Bhedas (eye movements), Greeva Bhedas (neck movements), and Adavus (basic steps with feet)
Nritya Yoga starts with prayers to Lord Shiva, who is said to be the king of dance. The dancing form of Lord Shiva is known as Nataraja, and this offering to Lord Shiva is called as Dhyana Shloka which says:
“Whose bodily movement is the entire Universe
Whose speech is the language (of the Universe)
Whose ornaments are the moon and the stars
Him, we version the pure (serene) Lord Shiva!”
Photo by Arya Krishna
Mudras start electromagnetic currents within the body which balance various constituting elements and restore health. Mudras have been classified in to Asamyukta Hastas (done using single hand) and Samyukta Hastas (done using both hands).
Benefits of Hasta Mudras (Hand Gestures)
It can be practiced at all times while sitting, lying, standing, walking or even talking. For good results, they should be practiced for 24 minutes continuously, but can be practiced for 4-5 minutes also at one time. If a mudra cannot be made in both hands, you may do it with one hand only.
Mudras have the power to increase concentration and memory. They've also been considered a cure for insomnia (sleeplessness), and may help in psychological conditions like anger, stress, and depression. It even controls the high cholesterol levels.
Adavus form the ABCs of pure dancing (Nritta) in Bharatanatyam. It is a combination of position of legs, postures of standing, walking, movement, and hand gestures.
Benefits of Adavus (Footwork)
• It helps to develop flexibility and overcome the initial muscle cramps and sore feet at the beginning stages
• Attain proper posture
• Develop stamina
• Become swift and agile, and attain control over the body
Photo by Arya Krishna
Shirobhedas are the movements of head. These are nine in number.
Sama: Equal or not moving, beginning of any Nritya
Udvahitha: When head is raised up
Aadhomukha: When you look down
Aalolita: Circular movements of head
Dhuta: Move your head side-to-side
Kampita: Moving head up and down (it’s a kind of nod)
Paravrittam: Forcefully turning face to one side
Ukshitam: Tilted upwards any side
Parivahitha: Kind of satisfaction or wavy movement of head
Grivabhedas are the movements of neck. These are four in number.
Sundari: Movement of neck side-to-side with minimum body movements
Tiraschina: V-shaped movement of neck
Parivartita: Semi circle or moon-shaped movement of neck
Prakampita: Movement of neck forward and backward
Benefits of Shirobhedas and Grivabhedas
Side-to-side head rotations and neck movements may help decrease tightness in the sides and back of your neck. They will also help increase mobility, and act as physical exercise for increasing brain activities.
Photo by Arya Krishna
Drishti bhedas are movements of eyes. These are eight in number.
Samam: Evenness of the eyes
Allokita: Circular movement of the eye
Saachi: Glancing from corner of the eye
Pralokitha: Glancing to both the sides
Nimilitha: Looking right in to the heart
Ullokitha: Eyes raised upwards
Anuvritta: Up and down movement of the eye
Avalokita: Eyes glance down to earth
Benefits of Eye Exercises
Not only can these exercises reduce tiredness and stress around the eyes, they can also strengthen eye muscles and improve sight, while reducing the risks of many eye diseases in later life.
Eyestrain mainly occurs due to hours in front of a computer. The symptoms include tired eyes, headache, blurred vision, stress, difficulty focusing on distance, differences in color perception etc. These symptoms can be removed completely by following these simple exercises for 10 to 15 minutes daily.
Combination of basic yoga, Mudras and Adavus along with bhavas will help you to conquer Nritya Yoga.
The benefits are many, as already mentioned:
• Improved body balance
• Eye movements act as eye exercises
• Improving memory and concentration
• Improved blood circulation and helps to get closer to a healthier heart
• Increases aerobic fitness and controls weight
“Where the hand goes, eyes should move. Where the eyes move, mind should follow. And where the mind goes there will be the expressions and where expressions are there it can recreate emotions.” (Natya Shastra – Indian Treatise of Performing Arts)
Let this therapeutic dance form bring physical and spiritual wellness with happiness all around.
All information and resources provided are based on the opinions and experiences of the author, unless otherwise noted. Information is intended to encourage readers to do their own research and come to their own conclusions, and should never substitute or replace the recommendations of a qualified healthcare provider. Always consult your physician before making changes to your diet, exercise, or general wellness plan, even when using holistic methods.