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Kathak is performed while wearing the weight of more than a hundred bells tied around the kathakar's ankles

Kathak is one of the most renowned classical dance forms of India. Kathak originated as a dance form of the travelling bards in ancient northern India. The word Kathak is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit word "Katha" meaning story and the one who performs the art form aka the travelling bards of ancient India were known as "kathakar" meaning storyteller. Wandering Kathakars used to communicate numerous stories from the great epics and ancient mythology, especially Ramayana and Mahabharata through their dance, songs and music.

Kathak is characterized by its extensive footwork, elegant hand gestures, facial expressions, body movements, spins and flexibility. Kathak is performed while wearing the weight of more than a hundred bells tied around the kathakar's ankles. Kathak has both Hindu and Muslim associations. So the traditional costume worn to perform kathak has both variations. The Hindu costume for female dancers has two variations; one is based on a Sari but is worn in a style different from the customary style that goes over the left shoulder. The second variation of a Hindu Kathak dancer uses a long, full (just above the ankle-length), light-weight skirt usually with an embroidered border that helps highlight the motion of dance. The Muslim costume for female dancers also uses a skirt, but it also includes close fitting churidar pyjamas and sometimes a long coat covering hands and the upper body. Lastly, the head has a cover scarf.

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A Yakshagana artist prepping for his performance

Native to Karnataka, Yakshagana is known as a performance celebrating the music of the celestial beings. It is more of a folklore tradition along the Konkan coast, that overlaps a performance of dance and drama.

Yakshagana was traditionally an all-male enterprise. Men would dress up in elaborate costumes, heavy headgear, and perform all night, telling stories inspired by Hindu epics. Instances from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are relayed through the musical. The performers use specific instruments, like the harmonium, metal clappers, and drums. As the heavy titillating music plays, the actors move in motions expressing the situation.

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Euphonic yoga is an amalgamation of Yoga, Indian Classical Music and Indian classical dance together.

International Yoga Day is celebrated across the globe on Monday, June 21. To get you inspired, IANSlife speaks to eight exemplary visual artists, classical dancers and musicians who share insights on how their yogic lifestyle helps them with life and art.

Dance is yoga: Kathak Guru Padmashri Shovana Narayan

My dance is my yoga. Since I do my Kathak dance practice every single day, in spirit, mentally, and physically, I am living and going through all the eight stages of Yoga namely Yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharna, dhyana and samadhi. Kathak dance involves a lot of physical activity involving virtually the entire gamut of asanas. Pranayama is best seen in Kathak in the practice of 'pageant (rhythmic utterances by the dancer herself) immediately after performing a strenuous energetic rhythmic pattern where a lot of energy has been expended. One has to recite the next rhythmic pattern without any trace of panting. Finally, when I start hearing within myself the music of dance and am completely oblivious of my surroundings, I am well on my way to reaching the seventh and eighth stages.

Brushstrokes become meditative: Visual artist Chetna

I have been a workout enthusiast for almost two decades now and have managed to explore various aspects of exercise ranging from yoga to pilates to weight training. When it became an obsession, I took exercising to the next level by becoming a certified trainer. Although power yoga is my go-to form of exercise, Surya Namaskars and pranayama have never failed in helping me achieve a positive mindset for each morning. Many times, I have found myself holding my breath while painting in fine lines. The repetitive strokes and gestures in my artworks proved to be a form of meditation and I soon realised that these two together make a major contribution to my well being. (She is showcasing at Anupa Mehta Arts.)

Yoga improves flexibility, balance: Bharatanatyam Dancer Priya Venkataraman

I have been practicing Sivananda yoga for over twenty years now. I start my day with at least eleven rounds of Surya Namaskar and Pranayama practice. Yoga keeps the body healthy and calms the mind. The use of breath and linking breath to movement has helped my dance practice immensely. In addition, yoga has improved my flexibility and balance over the years. My students learn basic asanas as part of their dance training.

Merging yoga and classical performances: Shruti ChaturLal Sharma

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Our lessons happen through video tutorials, personal coaching, group classes, skill development, advice, mentoring, workshops, and concerts. Pixabay

Passion is something that is performed not only with our body but with our spirit, with our highest possible state of being. When we dance we feel that our spirits have been lifted. We enjoy every moment and the reason behind this is because dance is not only about your body moving rather about the spirit feeling free and lifted.

In these tough times, if we can devote our time to anything that we do with passion, not only dance, it can be music for someone, painting for another but any activity that helps you release your negative emotions, it can fill you with a lot of joy that will come from your own spirit and your high life condition.

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