With her east-meets-west style of combining yoga and dance, Hemalayaa brings a little bit of Bollywood to Hollywood in a way that's entirely unique and filled with positive energy. She talks to us about the differences between yoga in America and India, the relationship between yoga and dance, and her influences.
MBG: How did you first come to yoga?
H: I learned a little about yoga in my home while growing up. My father did yoga postures and meditation. I learned a little meditation practice when I was younger. When I was in my early twenties I started doing yoga on my own for a few years in my own living room, then started going to studios, since they were starting to pop up.
How is yoga in India different from yoga here in America?
My experience is that yoga is a little less physical exercise in India than here. In India the Hatha yoga practice is there, yes, and I found much more meditation and spiritual unity with the yoga asana. There is more Raja Yoga practice in India. Raja Yoga is called the 'royal road' because it incorporates exercise and breathing practice with meditation and study, creating a well-rounded person.
What does yoga mean to you?
To me, yoga means a lifestyle dedicated to serving the best that I can while I'm here. And, knowing that I'm here in this form/body for a short time, and I want to do my best to do the least amount of harm, and most amount of "good" I can do here. It means serving for the greater good of all -- not just me, but thinking, acting and being with all as a whole.
Yoga and dance -- what's the relationship between the two?
Yoga I find is a very linear practice -- especially how it is done here in the West. Dance is a fluid, circular, spontaneous, feminine practice. The two together bring the masculine and feminine into harmony. I find that the relationship between yoga and dance is a harmonious one that inspires transformation. The practice of yoga and dance together easily and playfully brings us into our higher, most beneficial selves.