Dance and Depression – Bina’s story

Five years ago I experienced my first panic attack. My dad passed away. I was going through menopause. And my daughter, now grown up, was moving out of home. And that’s when my health started declining. I got a frozen shoulder and started to experience depression.

I went to doctors, chiropractors, tried everything, but nothing worked. I then read up about the power of healing yourself. About how we keep grief in our bodies in odd ways and how it can lock your body.

When Studio J opened in 2016, I contacted Jaya to discuss about returning to dance at my age – I was 54 then. I used to be a Bharatanatyam dancer, but stopped practising after marriage about 30 years ago. Jaya is also a physiotherapist and she strongly believed that movement would be very beneficial, especially for my shoulder. She suggested Mohiniyattam classes and I’ve been attending since then.

To be honest, I sometimes feel a panic attack creeping up on my way to class. But once I enter the studio, everything shifts. That hour and a half is an exhilarating experience. Both mentally and physically. Even with my shoulder, the focus is on learning and moving the body, whereas, in the chiropractic session, the focus remains fixed on the pain.

I realized how even the simplest of movements make a big difference. My eyes literally hurt after we practice the eye movements. Same goes for the mudras (hand gestures). Because we don’t use these muscles in our every-day life, it is even more important to practise it at this age.

Starting dance again after a long break is never easy. You know you will be dancing with younger kids, who will be more flexible etc. I try not to be too self-critical and just enjoy the class.

I discussed all these issues openly with Raina. She is a very gentle and nurturing teacher. And everyone in the class is so lovely. Which is why I keep coming back, even though I live quite far, and travel every Monday to class in peak hour traffic!

Joshinder Chaggar
4 March 2019