By Vaishalee Ballolla
I am a lifelong yoga and dance student. For many years, I approached yoga and dance very independently. It was only until the last few years, where I really started to appreciate the deep connection that exists between these 2 beautiful classical arts.
Almost exactly 2 years ago, I was at my annual spiritual yoga retreat and was meandering in the woods and here’s what I experienced (excerpt from my journal):
“I went to the woods thinking I was going to focus on the my olfactory sense, It started out wonderfully…Then something happened…the winds changed and I heard the wind rustle through the leaves. Something took over my whole being. I started dancing – classical Bharatanatyam style. Listening, walking, dancing with the music of Mother Nature. It was pouring out from every limb of my body. It went on through the entire woods – I had no concept of time and space. All I could hear is Mother Nature’s orchestra and my body responded with emotion and feeling. Aesthetic arrest.
Dancing in the woods
Mother Nature is playing
A tune filled with love.
My eyes flutter here and there
My fingers follow my glance
My heart pours out love.
Wind, trees, vines are my props
Birds, butterflies, dragonflies are my audience
A shy smile begins to form
My hips sway in melody
The story of my dance starts to unfold
My hands clench my heart
Time and space are non-existent
Dance, Movement, Emotion, Music envelop my being
Ham, Ham, Ham (bija mantra of the throat chakra where artistic ability is rooted)”
Since that retreat, I have started to weave my experiences together with yoga and dance. I use one to compliment the other art and enhance it further. I have started to understand the spiritual aspects of dance and have started to understand the beauty and music of yoga. It’s been quite an awakening for me and overall I enjoy each art at a totally different level now.
The principles of yoga help to ground my dance practice – including the aspect of being in the present now, being aware of my breath, how my physical body feels and being aware of my thoughts in my mind. These grounding principles are key to breaking habit patterns in my dance practice. Also, I have found that letting myself go and feel the emotion in my dance is much easier when I am practicing being here now.
I am filled with joy and contentment that I have been able to connect these two very important aspects of my life.
Vaishalee Ballolla is a long-time student of Bharatanatyam, and has been learning at Kala Vandanam since its inception in 2002. She is a lifelong student of yoga spirituality and wellness, and became a certified hatha yoga teacher from the Institute of Himalayan Tradition in 2007. She is the mother of three beautiful daughters who share her love of yoga and Bharatanatyam.