Bhangra

Dennis Perman_Message of the Week

Dear Doctor:

Anyone who wants to experience true wellness realizes that staying fit is an essential component. Fitness is more than just being in shape – it is a statement of dedication to our standards that rewards us out of all proportion to our investment. John  F. Kennedy said, “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”

Even knowing this, it has been a lifetime struggle for me to find a fitness routine that accomplishes this noble end. I have walked, run, swam, lifted, played sports, and in the final analysis, I have to admit it – I loathe exercise. I like nothing about it except the way I look and feel, having exercised. I don’t enjoy it, I don’t look forward to it, I drag my feet when I need to do it, and it isn’t fun for me.

So, I have a universal machine, a treadmill, and some free weights, purchased in a flurry of health consciousness twenty years ago, all of which I use spasmodically and mostly from guilt, not to mention gimmicks like aero-trainers and shake-weights, and that doesn’t include the stationary bike, exercise bench, rotation chair and other junk that has been relegated to the dustbin of my disappointment, deposited by the dump with disdain.

Thus, I have resigned myself to frequent but not consistent morning meditations that include t’ai chi, a yoga exercise called the “breath of joy,” and seven qi gong postures I learned from Michael Gelb that exemplify Leonardo DaVinci’s seven creative genius principles. I kind of like doing it, it wakes me up and I feel good afterwards, but it doesn’t get my heart rate up, and surely doesn’t knock pounds off.

But I may have discovered the missing link to getting myself fit. I accidentally stumbled across a teacher named Gurdeep Pandher of Yukon, Canada, who has gathered significant worldwide acclaim for his YouTube videos on Bhangra dancing – I know, it sounds weird, but stay with me on this one.

The point of Bhangra dancing is happiness – it is performed with a huge smile and every movement is steeped in unbridled joy. The dance steps are uncomplicated, I mean, I couldn’t figure out the floss and I can certainly do this. You shift your weight to your right side and lift your left knee and kick, while hopping on your right foot. Do that twice and then switch sides, and you’re Bhangra dancing.

Then, when you get that down, you can lift your arms and shrug your shoulders in time with the leg kicks. It’s jubilant, a celebration of life encapsulated in a simple dance that has been popular in the Punjab region of India for over a hundred years.

And you know what? It’s a heckuva workout, more than you’d expect, really gets your circulation going and your wind pumping. Plus, cavorting with a giant grin on your mug makes it even that much more pleasurable.

But don’t take my word for it – google Gurdeep Pandher, or go right to YouTube and search for him or for Bhangra dancing – you’ll find it easily, and let’s see if it appeals to you as much as it does to me. The pulsating drums, the infectious rhythms, and most of all, the exhilaration will get into your cells and make you a happier person, at a time when we could all use some of that.

Will this next affair with physical activity end up on the scrap heap with all my other exercise adventures? Perhaps, but this one has promise, because instead of dreading it, I actually like it and, dare I say it, look forward to it. Check it out and see what you think. You may find yourself coming for the fun of it, but staying for the health of it.

Dennis Perman DC, for The Masters Circle Global

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