This is a post of gratitude to my dance teacher who encouraged me. I am an avid admirer and lover of Bharatnatyam and Odissi dance forms and hope to learn at least of them as much as my body can allow. A few years ago, I took up learning Bharatnatyam during Covid and I was attending online classes from a school.

I liked the initial teacher, however, after a couple of classes a junior teacher took over. Prior to learning Bharatnatyam, I was physically active by doing Asanas and Strength training. My body had recovered from a serious back injury just six months ago, and I was very cautious of taking of pushing myself again into a different injury.

During my class, the teacher spoke about correct posture and this being an online class, it was hard for her to know if a student held the right posture. I understood her point, however, the next things she said had a totally different impact on me, she said one of her fellow practitioners had hip replacement surgery due to incorrect posture.

This pushed me into the zone of my past injury, where I could have another possible injury. It is not the teacher’s fault as she was doing her job of talking about the correct posture, but it pushed me out of the zone to even learn Bharatnatyam fearing a possible injury. 

Despite my fears, I decided to find another teacher, and I am grateful I found one. I told her about my physical training as well as my past injury and that I was very sensitive towards them. She was very patient, kind and disciplined, and encouraging in the right places. I still learn from her, and I think she has a very balanced approach to correcting students and is very attentive to details. One year, in her class, I completed Adavus (basic steps), and my teacher started teaching me Alaripu. 

Alaripu is quite complex, and though lasting only for four minutes, I was struggling with my knees to maintain my posture. I started having knee pain and thought that was the end of my dance learning. I told my teacher that I can’t continue the classes anymore due to pain. At first, even though I didn’t want to quit, however, my preconceived fears plus covid made me very anxious and I stopped the classes. 

One day, my teacher contacted me asking if I could still perform another dance piece I learned, as she thought I was really good and not too old to bother about knee problems. She told me about my strengths, and after listening to her, I decided to visit a physiotherapist to understand the underlying issue. The therapy helped me and gave me guidance for future such problems as well. 

I still am learning Bharatnatyam, and along the way have gathered the much-needed tools to practice safely.

In the hindsight, I feel that a little encouragement goes a long way. The day my teacher called me and told me about my strengths as a student, I felt it was like Jambavan reminding Prabhu Hanuman of his powers. I feel this is so powerful, that I feel I have learned a lot along the way, as my teacher keeps encouraging me despite hurdles and obstacles. Nothing fancy, just simple reminders to keep my fears and anxiety away.

I am deeply grateful.