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You can move too

Workshop Two non-conformists show you how a mind-body workout can be unstructured and fun

Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

Fluid movements Vaneeta and Swapna give a different spin to fitness

Friends Vaneeta Bhattacharya and Swapna Gangadharan discovered they had much in common when they met after a gap of eight years. Vaneeta was trained in Tai Chi and Swapna had taught yoga in New York before she moved to India. Yet, they didn’t l ike the idea of restricting people to a structured workout. Swapna had traded a lucrative corporate career to teach yoga and Vaneeta had quit the retail sector to devote more time for body-centric work. “I liked Swapna’s approach of demystifying yoga to make it user friendly and fun. We thought we could work together,” says Vaneeta.

Their workshop, titled ‘I can move too’, invites men and women of all age groups. And you needn’t be trained in any fitness form. “It’s better to have untrained people since we don’t need to make them unlearn,” Swapna points out. The workshop was born out of long conversations over innumerable cups of tulsi tea and their belief that bodies are beautiful and fun to live in.

On a sun-kissed afternoon at Vidyaranya High School, they demonstrate a few deceptively simple routines for us. A non-descript pen becomes a prop to perform fluid movements that combine techniques of dance and fitness forms. They plan to use ‘movement props’ — scarves, balloons, stretch bands, pencils and more — to trick the body into performing movements effortlessly. “As we grow up, we are inhibited to make certain movements for fear of being judged. The props make you less conscious,” says Swapna.

“The workshop will use techniques of yoga, creative movement, dance theatre, tai chi, mime and feldenkrais methods. Each one will take home a different experience. There is no right or wrong movement,” they assure. Warm-up routines, body puzzles, movement energisers and cool down routines will help release stress.

The workshop will be held at Vidyaranya High School on February 21 and 22, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For details, contact Swapna at 9849315377 or Vaneeta at 9347056907. Email:,

The people

Swapna has been a yoga teacher for the past four years, teaching in New York, New Jersey and recently India. She has worked with cancer patients during post surgery recovery and those undergoing chemotherapy. She trained at Sivananda Yoga Ashram, Kerala and is a Budakon (Japanese Martial Art) Instructor.

Vaneeta trained with Sifu George Thomas in the Fu Sheng Yang style of Tai Chi and worked with dance therapist Tripura Kashyap and drama therapist Mahnoor Yaar Khan. She is associated with Vidyaranya High School; her work with children involves sensory integration through creative movement, theatre techniques and pottery.


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