Experience Indian dance and yoga through Bollyoga!

The gentle discipline of yoga and the joyful exuberance of Bollywood dance come together in a series of upcoming classes at Shenkman Arts Centre.

Are you looking for an activity that’s a little bit different, full of vigour and zest? Do you have a child aged six to nine years who is enthusiastic about movement and dancing? Shenkman Arts Centre has just the program for you. Get ready for Bollyoga!

Instructor Puja Uppal has combined the joyful exuberance of Bollywood dancing with the gentle stretching discipline of yoga for an invigorating experience.

Uppal spent four years at the Aurovalley Ashram in India. The Ashram, located near the foothills of the Himalayas, was quite literally in the middle of nowhere. It turns out it was exactly the place for Uppal to change her life.

“I honestly had never intended to stay that long,” says Uppal, “but once I got there, I found it easier to let go and just see where life would lead me.”

Part of her awakening involved yoga. “The west views yoga quite differently,” says Uppal. “Here, it’s more physical. But at the Ashram, the yoga focus was on your own spiritual journey. Yoga means to unite one’s self with the one consciousness, so it is a very individualistic experience.”

At the Ashram with Uppal were several younger girls. They wanted to learn Bollywood dancing, so Uppal started teaching them. “It sort of just happened,” she says. “I really like dancing and was dancing for myself, so teaching these girls some classical Indian dancing along with some Bollywood moves was easy.

“Then I started adding some yoga moves and some yoga philosophy. They loved it.”

Uppal says Bollyoga incorporates the philosophy of yoga with the animated moves of Bollywood dancing. “They’re both about letting go, flexing, and feeling good,” says Uppal. “And there are no right or wrong moves.”

She says much of Bollywood dancing is about acting, which is incorporated. “If you’ve ever watched a Bollywood movie when they dance, everyone is smiling and exerting a lot of energy. And all that smiling literally makes you feel good.”

Uppal is instructing two courses on Bollyoga at Shenkman Arts Centre: Bollyoga for Children (ages 6-9) and Bollyoga for Parent and Tot start April 8. In both classes, Uppal offers Bollywood beats with basic yoga postures and lots of smiles. For more information or to register for a class, call 613-580-ARTS (2787) or visit www.shenkmanarts.ca.