Dance: A physical exercise
Dance is an expression of various human emotions like feelings of joy, sorrow, separation, ecstasy, etc. through various poses and movements. It is one of best gift as given by Lord Shiva about 7000 years ago. Now-a-days dance has become part of treatment for various diseases and in particular as a remedy for some mental ailments. Dance is considered to be a good exercise to remain physically fit and mentally active. Some of the modern dances are not based on Mudras and associated sentiments, hence, benefits from them occur only at physical level. Many of the traditional Indian dances are based on ‘Ta’ (Head portion of feet) and ‘Dhin’ (Toe-tip) movements along with appropriate Mudras and emotions. These dances not only benefit the human body at physical level but have an added advantage of benefitting the mind, body and soul at psycho-spiritual levels. The Tandava dance invented and propagated by Lord Shiva has more ‘Ta’ movements than ‘Dhin’ and considered to be the only exercise for brain. But Tandava dance is specified for only males as in females, it may induce production of male hormones.
Kaoshikii: A physico-psycho-spiritual dance
Kaoshikii which could be called as a physico-psycho-spiritual dance was invented by Shrii Shrii Anandamurtii ji on 6th September, 1978. This dance could be performed by both males and females. However, it is particularly beneficial for women as a treatment of many diseases. This year marks the 40th Anniversary of its inception and Society for Microvita Research and Integrated Medicine (SMRIM), Udaipur plans for its extensive celebration.
The name Kaoshikii comes from the Sanskrit word ‘kos`a’, meaning “layer of mind” and this dance helps in developing subtler layers of mind through establishing link between microcosm and macrocosm. It has 18 steps with 16 ‘Dhin’ and two ‘Ta’. Traditionally, it is performed wearing a green color top representing primary producer of ecosystem i.e. plants and maroon color Sari denoting earth. As a complete exercise for whole body, it is considered as a medicine in itself.
Steps of Kaoshikii
Kaoshikii dance has four phases i.e. in right, left, forward and backward directions where there is simultaneous movement of both arms and limbs (Figure 1). It starts with ‘Ready pose’ where one stands with palms together and arms beside ears, pointing up vertically. After this, right-movement phase starts which has three stages to the right and two back to the center and same is repeated in left direction. After coming back to the center position, two steps are done and after that forward-movement phase starts where there are two stages down, and one back up to the center-vertical position. Then the backward-movement phase starts where two stages are in back, and one to the center-vertical position again. Last two steps are two ‘Ta’s; first with right foot on the ground and last with left foot on the ground. This complete cycle could be repeated as long as found comfortable to the body. It should be learnt only under guidance of experts to avoid any harmful situation arising from performing its steps in a wrong manner.
Different mudras performed during Kaoshikii have particular sentiment associated with them. The two hands when upraised and folded together represent, “Now l am establishing a link with Parama Purusa (Supreme Consciousness).” Both hands bending to the right indicate, “I know the right way to request HIM”. The bending of the body should be at a 45° angular projection. The leftward movement represents “I know how to fulfill HIS demands.” The movement of bending in front suggests complete surrender. The backward movement represents “I am ready to face all obstacles that may come.” The last two steps represent, “O Lord, I repeat your rhythm.” Doing Kaoshikii keeping all these sentiments in mind strengthen the soul at spiritual level.
Benefits of Kaoshikii
Regular performance of this dance for 3-5 minutes twice daily checks the early ageing and hence, it could be called as an Anti-ageing Dance. The major 22 benefits of Kaoshikii dance as explained by Shrii Shrii Anandamurtii ji are as follows: It exercises all the glands and limbs of human body from head to foot, increases longevity, helps in easy delivery, flexibility of spine increases, removes arthritis and gout of the spine, neck, waist and other joints, cures menstrual irregularities, regulates various glandular secretions, gives control over the limbs, adds charm and shine to the face and skin, removes wrinkles, lethargy and fear complexes, cures hysteria, insomnia, nervous disability, piles, acidity, gastric and bladder troubles. It is also good for many liver diseases. The mind becomes strong, sharp and concentrated and it helps in self-expression and developing one’s potentiality. Feelings of hopelessness are removed and it increases one’s capacity to work until 75-80 years of age. Overall it prepares the mind to practice psycho-spiritual meditation and increases the ability to face various obstacles coming across during journey of life. It is more than a physical exercise and a better medicine for various diseases of the body having an important role in mental expansion.
There are several evidences where it has been shown that various types of dances improve cognitive skills, such as visual recognition and decision-making as well as help in reducing stress, increasing levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin and developing new neural connections, particularly in regions involved in executive functions, long-term memory and spatial recognition. Beneficial effects of some dances have also been demonstrated in Parkinson’s disease. There is no doubt that Kaoshikii dance also improves mental faculty and physical stamina and a systematic scientific study is needed to substantiate the practical experiences felt by its regular performers.
In a nutshell, Kaoshikii is a boon especially for females who do not find much time to keep them physically and mentally fit. Hardly 5 minutes daily practice of this dance can make them physically slim and young, mentally alert and spiritually strong to face various struggles of life. Collectively, it is a dance for mind, body and soul in a true sense.