Tuesday November 20, 2018

Sangeet Natak Akademi gears up for yoga day

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New Delhi: As the Modi government is not leaving any stone unturned in commemorating the International Day of Yoga on June 21, its cultural wings are also going into overdrive to showcase the country’s heritage to the world.Sangeet_Natak_Akademi

Spearheading the events, Sangeet Natak Akademi, a nodal agency of the culture ministry, has planned a week-long ‘Yog Parv’ festival during June 21-27. The festival encompasses over 300 select works of art, dance and music performances, workshops and other presentations by more than 150 artists from across India and overseas.

Elaborating on the plan, Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Secretary, Helen Acharya said that planning Yoga Parv was not an arduous task.

“Last year, the Akademi was asked to prepare a dossier for UNESCO on the intangible cultural heritage of India. We had collected a lot of material in the process. This year, when the ministry asked us to anchor a festival on yoga, it came handy for us. We only had to put together the material we had,” Achrya told IANS.

Divided into three sections, the festival will unfold at three venues.

Yoga Chakra, an exhibition at the Lalit Kala Akademi, will be a multimedia art show featuring over 300 works by 150 artists from across India. The second, Yoga and Performing Arts at the Meghdoot Theatre, will present dance performances, music concerts, theatre shows, lecture demonstrations, discourses and consultations with yoga experts. The third is the Organic and Wellness Stall at the Rabindra Bhawan lawns, with cafes and interactive sessions and an open platform for dialogue and consultancy.

The experts and organisations that will make presentations include Mandakini Trivedi, Masako Ono, Ranjana Gauhar and the Isha Foundation.

The Akademi has roped in other cultural bodies like Lalit Kala Akademi, Sahitya Akademi, Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, and the National Museum for the event.

“We have many antiquities selected and sourced from museums around the country as well as fresh commissions created by some contemporary artists. We are getting 50 works from National Museum and a lot of contemporary painting and sculptures from Lalit Kala Akademi. This is the first time we are putting up contemporary and ancient works together,” Sushma Bahl, the curator of the event’s cultural projects, told IANS.

Bahl added that they had also collaborated with many lesser known artists in the country.

“We wrote to many contemporary artists asking for work. The result was amazing. Some of them made new works, which were interactive. Our criteria was whether their works responded to the theme of yoga,” Bahl added.

While prominent names like S.H. Raza, F.N. Souza, G.H. Santhosh, Anupam Sud, Tyeb Mehta, and Seema Kohli make the list in the visual arts, artists like Geeta Chandran grace the performing arts list.

Besides a star-studded artists list, audiences will be treated to many traditional and folk performances from different parts of the country.

Noted classical dancer and choreographer Sonal Mansingh, who will deliver a speech on yoga and dance in the inaugural session, said that she is honoured to be a part of the event.

“I feel happy and proud to be the part of the event. Yoga is one of the great gifts to the world. Dance includes every form of yoga. That is why Lord Shiva has been given the title Natraja by great rishis thousands of years ago,” Mansingh told IANS.

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New Study Shows Link Between Meditation And Greater Focus

Supplementation, a healthy diet, and daily exercise are key, with recent studies showing that aerobic exercise also increases brain size.

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Pranayamic breathing is just one way to improve brain health.

Pranayamic breathing – an important part of yoga and meditation – has a unique ability to strengthen our focus and a new study by Trinity College Dublin has unlocked its secret. The researchers note that pranayamic breathing affects the levels of a natural chemical in the brain called noradrenaline. The latter is released when we are challenged, curious, focused, or emotionally excited. When present at the right levels, noradrenaline helps the brain grow new connections and helps us concentrate better on important tasks.

The old masters were on the right track

The researchers noted: “Practitioners of yoga have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind. We looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims.” The researchers did so by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity in a small area in the brainstem called the locus coeruleus, where noradrenaline is made. Noradrenaline is affected by stress; when we are worried or anxious we produce too much, and cannot concentrate. When we feel lazy, on the other hand, we produce too little and once again, focus is lost. One way to boost levels is through yoga; another method which can complement the latter is the consumption of medical grade focus supplements, which contain compounds such as octopamine (which has a similar effect to noradrenaline).

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Conversely, those with lower mindfulness ratings had greater activation of this part of the brain and also felt more pain. Pixabay

Pranayamic breathing aces the right balance

In the above study, researchers noted that brain activity in the part of the brain where noradrenaline is produced raises slightly when we inhale and drops slightly as we exhale. Thus, balance is achieved and we can focus on what we have set out to do. Pranayama not only boosts concentration but also produces “changes in arousal, attention, and emotional control that can be of great benefit to the meditator.”

What is Pranayamic breathing?

Pranayamic breathing involves controlling and extending breath, with a view to manipulating your vital energy, battling stress, and improving your mood. It is often used in meditation and yoga and interestingly, many yoga experts rank pranayama as even more important than asanas (the postures performed in a yoga session). In yogic tradition, breath is said to carry a person’s life force. Interestingly, scientific studies back this assertion to the extent that pranayamic breathing is able to boost brain function and change the actual structure of the brain. In recent studies, pranayamic breathing has been found to lower or stabilize blood pressure, lower stress, and reduce anxiety and depression.

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In order to comprehend better the Indian seers constructed the special “BOAT” – named Yoga/Meditation.

Implications of the study for aging

The researchers are excited that their findings could signal a way to prevent brain aging. They stated that if brains typically lose mass as we age, practices such as pranayamic breathing greatly reduce the rate of brain shrinkage, thus potentially helping keep dementia and related diseases at bay. Because keeping noradrenaline levels at an optimal level can help the brain grow new connections, meditation is an ideal activity to pursue.

Pranayamic breathing is just one way to improve brain health. Supplementation, a healthy diet, and daily exercise are key, with recent studies showing that aerobic exercise also increases brain size. To make the most of the effect of breathing on focus, consider joining a yoga class or learning the essence of pranayamic breathing online or through an app like Prana Breath or Universal Breathing.