In making an effort to do at least one hour's exercise five days a week to reduce weight, the thought of jogging for all that time was just not appealing to me. I was looking for a balance of different forms of physical activity, and an exercise class with good music, particularly one with bhangra music, which is so popular now.
Fortunately for me, a student at Sheffield University and president of its bollywood society had become aware of a growing interest in Indian dance. She and the society now offers dance lessons for those who want to take part in a high-energy work-out, and this extends beyond students.
Bhangra is descended from the ancient ritual folk dance of Vaisakhi, the Sikh festival of the wheat harvest. Set to the pounding bass of the dhol drum, the high-energy physical display was originally the dance of farming men who would sing Boliyaan (lyrics) and dance, reflecting the joyousness of the occasion.
In the UK today the word bhangra is associated with a style of dance pop music, and has become popular in some night clubs. And, besides the young, there is a growing interest in Indian culture from a wider section of the population.
There are now bhangra dance classes all over the UK, and they are growing in numbers, teaching all age groups. The classes tend to be for beginners and, for those who want to be a bollywood movie star, it is an advantage to be able to dance bhangra. I thought about a career change, but think it better to stick to being a GP and attend classes once a week.
Music improves the psychological and emotional wellbeing, while adding dance to the beat will enhance the physical wellbeing. Improvement in posture is an added advantage. And I think I have become more slim and trim.
A simple internet search for 'bhangra class' will help you find if there is a class local to you. I know of classes in Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester and London.
This type of exercise is something different to advise your overweight patients, or even you or your colleagues to do.
Just grab some loose-fitting clothes, and dance your way to fitness with this captivating folk dance.
- Dr Anita Sharma is a GP in Oldham, Greater Manchester
- For Sheffield bhangra classes, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For London bhangra classes go to www.threebee.co.uk.