Akal Badi Ya Bhains?! (Hint: It’s not always Akal!)

child buffalo

In my previous ‘Brain Breaks’ post, I’ve talked about how much of a detrimental impact sitting for long periods can have – especially when learning. And we’ve also seen what a phenomenal contribution movement and the body has to the learning process. With a few simple activities, we saw how Brain Breaks can be an interesting and conclusively helpful method to re-introduce activity and movement in classrooms thereby helping students learn better, faster and also make teaching more effective and less tedious.

Actually, some might say that the term ‘Brain Break’ is a misnomer. Brain Break activities actually require using the brain a great deal! It’s just that they require intelligence of a different kind – Kinesthetic Intelligence!

Kinesthetic Intelligence is the body’s innate intelligence which it uses in order to move about in space efficiently and safely. Ever tripped on your own foot while walking? Ever walked into a door while entering a room? Ever got confused about how to climb stairs? No? Well you have to thank your body’s kinesthetic intelligence for that! Every moment, your brain is making vital decisions and controlling your movements so that you can move about in different environments safely. The more you move, and the more differently you move – the better your kinesthetic intelligence becomes. Athletes typically have very high kinesthetic intelligence – but anyone can easily train and hone it. As you can see – Bhains (Brawn) is just as important as Akal (Brains)!

You’d be surprised at how many mental processes have to synchronise perfectly in order to do this!

With kids, developing kinesthetic intelligence is very important because their bodies, like their minds are ‘kaccha’ – that is – raw. Developing kinesthetic intelligence helps them make sense of the world around them – and that’s exactly what Brain Breaks do!

What brain breaks do for students

  1. Break monotony: Ever sat through a 3-hour seminar? Remember how bored and how tired you felt after it? This can happen, even if the seminar was on your favourite topic. The problem is, the human body (and brain) are not meant to be sitting for long periods. Your students could be going through the exact same thing in class. Not an ideal scenario to learn at all!
  2. Help Refocus: Distraction is good! Ample studies have shown that taking breaks even if it’s just a few minutes – helps the brain refocus.
  3. Promote Blood Circulation: Remember the brain uses 80% of the body’s glucose and there’s a whole artery exclusively devoted to supplying it with blood. Sitting for long period makes circulation sluggish – if it’s not flowing elsewhere, it’s not going to the brain either.
  4. Increase Attention: Excitement = Attention. Being in a state of excitement puts the body and brain on alert mode. Nothing causes more excitement to children than a physical challenge!
  5. Develop Kinesthetic Intelligence. As mentioned above – Brain Breaks are vital to developing the body’s natural intelligence
Far from being a distraction, brain breaks actually increase the desire to learn

What Brain Breaks Do For You

As a teacher, the primary benefit you get from managing brain breaks in your class is the renewed enthusiasm and attention of your students. Contrary to popular opinion, children are not averse to learning. They are, in fact, extremely eager to learn. However, since children primarily learn through movement, they need to be taught in the same manner. Hence, these activities are immensely enjoyable for them. This creates a positive emotional response in them, which facilitates both – their grasping & learning as well as their connection with you. As every teacher knows, students learn best when they are better connected with you.

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At Rhythmus Happyfeet, the Dance Academy I co-founded, this connection is our biggest asset & strength!

In the previous post, we focused on solo brain breaks – which we hope you tried with your class. If you’re teaching a slightly older class (5 years and up) and you’ve known them for a while, it’s definitely good to try some dual or partner-work brain breaks! These help students bond and connect with each other, and also help them develop social skills. It’s particularly beneficial for shy kids – giving them an opportunity to interact!

Mirror Drill / Echo

This activity requires each partner do be a ‘Leader’ and a ‘Follower’ in turn. Have partners face one another and hold up their right hand in front of their chest, palm facing the partner (A good time to explain ‘palm of the hand’ and ‘back of the hand’). The leader starts to move his hand (any way he likes but at a slow speed) and the follower has to mirror the movement. When you call out ‘Switch’, the leader switches his hand and the partner has to follow. After one session, leader and follower trade places. Ensure each session goes on for at least five minutes and hands are switched every minute.

Not all kids may be able to quickly think of and execute hand movements on-the-spot. This may cause some dullness or disinterest in this activity. To avoid this, in preparation of this activity, you can have the class do a variety of hand movements – up and down, in and out, flapping, flying, circling, waving. Ask children to come up with their own unique movements. This way, during the activity they have something to fall back on.

Shake It Up!

Ask your students to partner up and create a handshake that involves 8 counts. Each count must involve a different action. For instance, clapping, hi-fiving, tapping on the shoulder, spinning in place and so on. Actions can be as simple or as complicated as the partners want. To make things a bit more challenging, you can give students a time-limit. To give them an example, show them your own 8-count handshake. For inspiration, take a look at this video of how a teacher uses fun handshakes to motivate students to learn.

A unique handshake is almost a must in every friendship. You probably had a secret handshake or signal or even a code name for your group in school. They are not just cute or childish but also require quite some creativity. This type of Brain Break is easiest to execute since it does not require any preparation, only supervision. Most of the work is to be done by students in pairs and this gives them ample time to get as creative as they like.

Around the age of 5, children start developing their social personalities. They start interacting with their peers, make friends, form groups. This is also where they start navigating social situations and learning the rules of social conduct – a skill that proves extremely vital for thriving in the adult world. Partner brain breaks encourage interaction, communication and co-operation among students. While it may look like a simple activity, what partner brain breaks really teach is how to work with ANYONE to get a job done.

Do you think you’ll try these with your class? Let us know in the comments!


RHF’s Dancing Dreams 2017 feat. ‘The Nutcracker’

As most of you already know, RHF is one of the few ballet institutes in Mumbai offering training in Classical Ballet for children aged 5 & up. We’re also the ONLY institute in the city to be affiliated to an International Ballet Company, Ballet Manila from the Philippines. Our association with them has given our students opportunities they would not get elsewhere. For two years in a row, deserving ballet students from RHF have been receiving scholarships to undergo two months of intensive training at Ballet Manila from highly trained and experienced teachers. And this year, this association has taken even more fruitful turn.

Since August, RHF has been privileged to host Czarina Villegas, a senior company dancer & teacher from Ballet Manila for a period of six months. Under her guidance and expertise our students have been receiving advanced training in technique, posture, flexibility, body conditioning & musicality. All of this effort will now culminate in a ballet recital of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet – ‘The Nutcracker’ staged by our students as part of our annual dance recital ‘Dancing Dreams’ on Saturday, 9th Dec at IES Auditorium in Bandra.

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Czarina Villegas

While the annual recital has been a time of great excitement and immense learning for our students, what makes this year’s Dancing Dreams even more special is the presence of not just one but THREE senior company artists from Ballet Manila: Czarina Villegas, Joan Emery Sia & Elpidio Magat.

Each of these artists has extensive years of training & performance behind them and a number of accolades & awards in their name. They’ve performed all over the world, and for them to perform on stage with RHF students is truly a humbling experience for us – and something few other dance institutes in Mumbai can boast of.

Speaking of boasting, another extremely proud moment for us this year is the acceptance of our Co-Founder, Deepika Ravindran as a company member of Ballet Manila. Earlier in June this year, Deepika signed a year-long contract with Ballet Manila and is currently training, performing & residing in their campus. While her presence here is terribly missed, we are so proud of her for achieving this rare feat. Deepika now stands amongst the very, very few Indian dancers who’ve made it to an international dance company – and she’s probably also the only India-trained ballet dancer to do this.

Deepika Ravindran

While Indian dance forms receive widespread acclaim and appreciation not just in India but all over the world, we are still a few paces behind when it comes to understanding and acceptance of Ballet. This beautiful dance form, which is indeed the foundation of almost all western dance styles deserves much more exposure in India and we at RHF are fully committed to this purpose. It is our dream to see in the near future an Indian Ballet Company that can rival any of those in the western countries.

Dancing Dreams goes on stage this Saturday, and we would love for you to come, watch and cheer us.


Rhythmus HappyFeet offers classes in ballet (among others) 3 to 5 times a week. The classes are intensive and the curriculum is offered in the Vaganova method.

The classes run at Khar West, Juhu, Powai and Kandivali.

RHF aims to provide quality ballet education in the Vaganova Method and the opportunity to excel in the field of dance. We also offer professional coaching & guidance to aspiring dance professionals.

To know more about Rhythmus HappyFeet;

Email : thehappyfeetacademy@gmail.com

FB & Instagram: Rhythmus HappyFeet

Ph: Khar & Juhu – 7718043635

Powai – 9930020780


RHF’s Dancing Dreams 2017 feat. ‘The Nutcracker’

Performing Arts in Schools – The WHYs & The HOWs


At the start of the 2017 academic year, the ICSE council made Performing Arts one of three compulsory new subjects in schools that follow the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education’s syllabus. Having actively campaigned the past many years for introduction and integration of performing arts in mainstream school syllabi, I was (not surprisingly) elated at this prospect. Through my years of research in the field of performing arts & early childhood education and through my experience of teaching students and training teachers in the Agile Kids Program, I have seen first-hand and am convinced beyond a shred of doubt that exposure and participation in the performing arts has a significant impact in the growth & development of a child, especially in the formative years and has a continuing influence right through adolescence and even adulthood.

Therefore, the ICSE board’s decision to bring such a vital subject front-and-centre in their curriculum is not just a welcome move, but also a giant leap in the right direction. More importantly, it paves the way for a paradigm shift in the way our schools have been imparting education and also in the way our children have been benefiting from formal education. Moreover, by making performing arts compulsory between classes I to VIII, the Board is also targeting the right age-group (5-13) that can benefit most from the performing arts. Incidentally, this is also the age-group that is otherwise likely to drop performing arts altogether in pursuit of more mainstream subjects.

However, as the months have gone by, it is becoming painfully clear to me that while the Board’s decision is in the best interests of its students, it has created some unique challenges for  its schools. What with a vast and constantly-evolving syllabus, increasing cut-throat competition, understaffed and over-worked teachers and over-scheduled classes, schools are having a tough time implementing this change, and understandably so. A school’s time-table and daily workings are a delicately balanced tight-rope act that can go completely haywire even with small changes. (Just ask any Principal/Co-ordinator about the headache of having to cancel classes and send students home early due to a weather advisory). A sweeping change like having three new compulsory subjects can really challenge a school’s ability to do the best by its students

The board also doesn’t specify how or in what manner should schools go about implementing this change. From what I have seen, this can create two problems

  1. Schools that DO NOT HAVE a current subject or class allotted for performing arts are left trying to figure out the nitty-gritties from scratch, costing the school time, effort & resources.
  2. Schools that already HAVE a performing arts activity running typically tend not to change or improve upon their existing system, in order not to cause any disruption of the existing workings.

In both cases, the actual benefits of this decision do not really accrue to students. Integrating performing arts in schools can have far-reaching benefits to students’ physical, mental and emotional capacities AS WELL AS to their approach and interest in OTHER Subjects – provided it is done in the right manner – in a holistic, well-thought out and planned manner. In both the above instances that doesn’t happen. The integration remains very superficial, not enough to create lasting and tangible benefits.

The way I see, the entire aim of this new syllabus change is not to make the students more skilled or adept at more subjects – but to help them develop their latent talents, and more importantly – to help them harness ALL their intelligence. In 1983, Howard Gardner, an American development psychologist proposed the theory of multiple intelligence, specifically NINE different types or domains of intelligence.

Types of Intelligences

Gardner’s path-breaking research was published in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. His theory is now widely used as a model for understanding human cognitive abilities and has found varied applications in fields such as HR, Counselling and even Artificial Intelligence!

Conventionally, our schools have focused on developing only certain types of intelligence and consequently only certain types of students have excelled at school. Not only does this create great imbalance (not to mention insecurity, jealousy and under-confidence) among students but repeated emphasis on only certain skills (sitting and learning, memorizing, verbalizing/analyzing) is potentially also harmful for their health. A more holistic approach to education is very vital if we are to create and develop real talent in our schools.

In this scenario performing arts provides the perfect solution to encouraging the use of all domains of intelligence. Each of the performing arts – Music, Dance, Drama – employs skills & talents that would otherwise stay dormant. And guess what – these areas of intelligence are also then used in learning the other, more mainstream subjects.

So, how can schools do this? As it turns out Performance arts integration is not that difficult. To begin with, it can be done in just 4 Simple Steps. Ready? 5, 6, 7, 8..!

  1. Make movement and activity a part of regular class: In my workshops with teachers I often stress the importance of ‘Brain Break’ activities to stimulate all the intelligences in students. These are simple 5-minute-or-less activities that are very easy to co-ordinate. Brain Breaks can include music, dance, play and pretend and can be customized to suit any ages in the K-12 spectrum. (Read my post on Brain Breaks to know more.)
  2. Appoint a PA co-ordinator: Most schools employ a music or a dance and dramatic teacher. However, the current scenario demands a PA co-ordinator who can bring together all three disciplines in a way that aligns with your school’s other classes, teachers & subjects. A PA co-ordinator needs to be someone with experience and possibly a degree in the performing arts – but more importantly, someone who has experience teaching these to children.
  3. Create a Music Class/Dance Studio: Having an actual place for these classes to be conducted in goes a long way in reinforcing to your students, teachers and parents as well as yourself that you are committed to developing the performing arts strength in your school. Moreover – once you have a place, it is bound to get used!
  4. Encourage PA training among Teachers: The arts are enjoyed by everyone. There’s not a person who does not enjoy listening to music or dancing. So why should teachers shy away from it? In all my Kinesthetic Training workshops for Teachers, I routinely make teachers dance, sing and act and they absolutely love it! Moreover, they feel empowered and enabled to pass it on to their students – no matter what subjects they are teaching.
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Every teacher on the floor say “Aye”!

Performing Arts is one of those few subjects whose benefits can be felt throughout all aspects of one’s life – and also make their way into other subjects. While it’s not necessary that every student who learns music and dance will become a world-renowned artist, the intelligence stimulated while learning them will certainly have positively life-changing effects. As schools, we take as much (maybe more) pride in the achievements and success of our students as their parents. Come Alumni night or reunions, and we are aglow with pride to see what our students have become. The truth is, if we want more of our children to become the next C.V Raman, Arundhati Roy, Mira Nair, Sachin Tendulkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Subbalakshmi or Saina Nehwal – we need to cohesively and sincerely make an attempt to change the way they learn in our schools, and introducing them to subjects that will rouse their intelligence is just a step in the right direction.

Agree with me? Then leave a comment! How have you managed to integrate performing arts in your school? I’d love to know – leave me a comment below!

Performing Arts in Schools – The WHYs & The HOWs

Should Kids Be Smoking?! Then Why Are They Sitting So Much?



In one of her hugely popular books, Rujuta Diwekar, India’s most famous nutritionist & dietitian made a bold and (at the time) controversial statement: Sitting was as bad for the body as Smoking. While it sounded preposterous, there is now solid medical evidence that shows how sitting for long hours, particularly in chairs, leads to obesity, heart disease, hypertension and increased risk of stroke/heart attack – the same problems that smoking causes. (Read this article to understand the damaging effects of sitting better). Sitting is actually as harmful as smoking!

Should we be worried then, that our children spend way too much time sitting in classrooms? We would certainly never want them to smoke, so why are we encouraging another habit that is just as bad?

Movement isn’t just Necessary, it is Natural.

Think of a new born child – if the child doesn’t move about as and when it should, parents are greatly alarmed. Ironically though, once a child starts crawling, walking, running and jumping, we are constantly trying to get them to stop! Not only is this undesirable, it’s also extremely unfavourable to the child’s development and growth.

Movement requires and is also the result of intelligence. The body is the primary source of all human intelligence. Hunger, Sleep, Pain, Pleasure – all the senses that are vital to our survival come first from the body. Movement is the body’s way to acquire intelligence and also to express it. When we dissociate movement from learning, we overlook a huge chunk of what makes up human intelligence, and we also create great impediments in the learning process.

It took a lot of intelligence for this little one to stand! Don’t force him to sit again!

Simply put, learning needs the involvement of both – body & mind. However, for a very long time, our education has over-stressed one, while completely ignoring the other. The teaching methods of today are woefully skewed to favour only mental intelligence and faculties – with little attention given to physical intelligence. Any activities that schools might include are often too structured (for instance, the P.T. period) or too competitive (sports/games) making them unsuitable for young children. Movement just for the sake of it is almost entirely absent from classrooms.

Why Brain Breaks?

Within 20 minutes of sitting, blood pools in our seat and in our feet. However, within a 1 minute of moving, there is about 15% more blood in your brain. It is needless to say what happens when the brain is oxygenated. (Hint: More attention, more alertness, more sharpness)

Here, the concept of “Brain Breaks” offers teachers and students a unique way to bring movement, energy and excitement back in the classroom, without disrupting order or creating chaos. Brain Breaks – as the term implies – are activities that call for using more of body’s intelligence than the mind’s. More importantly, these activities are customised to suit the stimulation needs of children perfectly!

Brain Break activities are not only suitable for all age-groups physical and mental capacity but at the same time, challenging enough to require effort. The best part – there are many such brain breaks that can be done solo, making them super easy to manage and conduct!

If you are new to brain breaks and keen on introducing some simple and easily manageable ones in your class, take a look at these-

Fidgety Fingers

Fist your hands and stretch them out in front of you. Point using the index finger of one hand and stick out the thumb of the other hand. Now switch… and switch again. Now try it faster…. and faster!

This seems easy, but actually, requires a lot of concentration! Moreover, fisting and un-fisting the palms is a fantastic way to relieve fingers that have been clutching pencils or crayons for a long time. This activity is also a great way to introduce kids to the names of all the digits of their hand and/or the concept of left and right.

Blink and Snap

Try to blink your right eye while snapping the fingers of the left hand. Do this 15 times in a row. Now switch!


Try to blink your right eye while hopping on your left leg. Do this 15 times in a row. Now switch!

By the age of 5, most children can tell their right hand or right foot from the left. However, ask them to blink the right (or left) eye and you’ve got them floundering. It’s easy to understand sides (left and right) using hands and feet, but this activity gives them an in-depth ‘feel’ of this concept and how it applies to their whole body.

Easy Energizer

While standing up, bring your left knee up and touch it with your right hand. Now bring the right knee up and touch it with your left hand.


While standing, fold the right leg backwards. Now touch it with your left hand, behind your back. Switch hands and feet.

While doing this, kids cross their mid-line, going from the right side to the left side of their bodies, as well as crossing the right and left hemispheres of their brain. As adults, this might seem fairly uncomplicated, but in children, the corpus callosum (the band of nerves that joins the right and left hemispheres of the brain) is still developing, and this helps strengthen the synaptic connections between them. It also challenges their ability to balance and proprioception, giving them a total mental workout!

Notice how only one child gets it right?

Because these brain break activities are done solo, they do not require much coordination and organization to be conducted in your class. They can be done in one place, without having your class move around much. They are also extremely simple to explain or demonstrate – making them the perfect choice if your class or you are new to brain breaks.

Have you tried out Brain Breaks previously? If yes – did your class enjoy it? If not – how keen are you about starting? Let us know in the comments!

Stay tuned for our next post on more ways to enjoy Brain Breaks with your students!

Should Kids Be Smoking?! Then Why Are They Sitting So Much?

I Dream of a School


I dream of a school that encourages healthy competition and brings out the best in children but also which lays stronger emphasis on collaboration with a feeling of ‘we first’ rather than ‘me first’. One where a subject like community service would be compulsory from the early years and would create awareness of the need to work toward a greater good rather than one’s self sufficiency alone.

 I dream of a school where children who display genius in language, science and math get a path to reach their maximum potential but also where standardization is no longer the law. A school where those who are clearly not on the same path are given equally promising alternatives, that are actually useful in daily living, that resonate with their aptitudes, preventing loss of self-esteem & confidence, giving every child a fighting chance at realizing their abilities.

 I dream of a school that ensures that while the intellect is enhanced with the best auditory and visual tools, methods like the full body integrated learning technique, which is the most natural way to learn, are also used to develop the same. As Sir Ken Robinson puts it, the body should not just be seen as a medium to carry that huge brain everywhere.

 I dream of a school with the best facilities and highly equipped classrooms but also one which will bring children closer to nature, where they are allowed time to just get in touch with the earth and are happy to be all immersed in it with the freedom to be messy.

 I dream of a school where children are groomed to be innovative, to find new ideas for the future that would enable making and selling things to provide better living for us all but also one which teaches sustainable environment with equal emphasis. Promoting minimalistic living to reduce manufacturing and in the process providing a future to this planet is an urgent need. A school where ‘Growing your own food’ is an important subject taught throughout the school years would bring an understanding of what it means to actually nurture what we have as well as reduce over consumption and wastage.

 I dream of a school which lays tremendous importance on the quality of its early childhood education and care. One that introduces left brain skills with the best possible teaching tools but which understands that ‘earlier is not better’ and sees kindergarten as a place to work on the right brain which has its biggest growth spurt up until age 7 – a place to sing, dance, play, explore, get creative, interact and indulge in practical learning with a carefully planned transition from home to school.

 I dream of a school where children are taught to be one with society but also to strongly love who they are, and understand the value and the privilege of being unique rather than feel the pressure to fit in. A space where each child can bring their individual abilities to class and be celebrated for it so that being ‘the odd one out’ becomes ‘the special one in’.

 I dream of a school where children are patted on the back for a job well done but not labeled by the jobs they do or don’t do well – instead they are given the freedom to explore their potential without being limited by prejudice based on their current performance.

 I dream of a school where there is discipline yes! But also where a closer look is taken at what seems to be an ‘imperfection’ in a child – cause very often what we deem to be an issue with the child is actually an urgent expression of something we ourselves are not doing right for that child.

 I dream of a school that is proud to be Indian but also remembers that we are citizens of this world and all cousins in one way or another and that there is just so much to learn from each other and so much beauty and strength in diversity and yet unity. Communal Harmony is the need of the hour and acts of prejudice have become an everyday news item. 

 I dream of a school that is run as a profitable enterprise but not to the point where the profit is its end and it loses its heart and purpose – a school that changes the definition of success – one that, by its own example, teaches that it’s not how rich you get or how high up the corporate ladder you go that measures your worth but how much humanity you possess and how much of a difference you strive to make to a world that desperately needs healing. 

 I do not know how and when this school of my dreams will materialize but I’m determined to do my bit of trying to be that teacher and mother that works towards this cause. And I know for sure that someday it will find its way into existence, because every beautiful reality started with a dream!

 By-Swara Patel and Priya ColacoIMG_2688.jpg



I Dream of a School

A 5 minute magical tool for maximum brain activation! (A must read! it definitely works!)


Let’s start with explaining the much talked about Right brain and Left brain.
Say you are organizing your kitchen or office desk which is currently in a mess.

–Your left brain gives you information as to how things were when organised (existing facts with information presented in piecemeal ). The right brain will tell you how else it can be done (presenting new facts while seeing things as a whole).

–The left brain will tell you that the work has to be done in the next 20 minutes (Order, control). The right brain will tell you that the work needs more time then you have now, so may be part of it can be done tomorrow (Free, flow).

–The left brain will quickly count the number of utensils/files which will fit in a given space and would start working on it (Number and analysis).  The right brain will think of how beautifully it can be arranged (Art, aesthetics).

–The left brain will find the most convenient way to organise the space (Practical). The right brain will work out a more creative way to organise the same (imaginative).

So what we understand from above example is that it is necessary to use both hemispheres of the brain to be proficient to the maximum at any task. While the left side of the brain recalls the details, the right side of the brain remembers the gist of an experience or the big picture.  The more we access both hemispheres, the more intelligently we are able to function.

Left brain- heavy- world
Somehow we have ended up working with the left brain or logic brain most of the time as most of the organised learning in school , college and  at work makes us left brain heavy  and thus most of the time we take decisions that are left brain driven.

The magic tool
So what activates both sides of the brain simultaneously ? ‘The magic of movement!’

Yes, Movement is the magical tool.

–Movement like dancing (in which we constantly try to coordinate both sides of the body in different and challenging ways). Other  activities include running, walking, crawling , swimming- as these movements also use both right as well as left sides of the body and hence also activate the cerebrum( left brain, right brain and corpus callosum – the white matter between the right brain and left brain which integrates both sides) to the maximum and integrates them instantly. In fact as we move we also facilitate growth of new nerve cell and activate a part of brain called hippocampus which is responsible for   long term memory.

How the brain functions
Motor control of our body is an important function of the cerebrum . The sensory – motor functions on the right side of the body are controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain and those of the left side of the body are controlled by the right hemisphere. The movements suggested above, work both sides of the body evenly and involve coordinated movement of both eyes, both ears, both hands and feet as these are being used equally.  As a result both hemispheres are activated, cognitive function is heightened and ease of learning, thinking, and analyses  increases. Left brain riight brain motor pic

This tool can be used by all

–A teacher who wants to increase her students’ attention and retention

–At the office, a catalyst when required to come up with prompt creative ideas

–A parent who’s need is to multi task with ease A ‘movement break’ (just like a Kitkat break) could just save your day!

I am not a specialist in brain development or even qualified in this area of expertise. I am, however, a dance educationist who each day thrives to ensure that our dance curriculum is developmentally appropriate and progressive. I am a  dance and movement therapist with a genuine and passionate interest in making a difference in people’s  lives  through movement and dance and have been pursuing this relentlessly over the past five years.

Something  to think about
From the age of 4 ½ to 7 years a child’s right brain hemisphere  begins to develop and enlarge while the logic brain doesn’t enlarge until age 7. Let’s then reflect on our education system which at this age begins with the alphabet and number recognition followed by reading. This might not be a problem if we involve image , emotion and movement but strangely we do the exact opposite!

I am three, I was not built to sit still,
Keep my hands to myself, take turns,
Stand in line, or keep quiet,
all of the time.
I need: motion, novelty, adventure.
Let me play, dance & move around.
Trust me I am learning.

That ends my blog but for those who want more, following is a list of some more facts about the right brain and left brain.( Extract from the book Smart Moves-Carla Hannaford)

Left Brain ( Logic Brain) Right Brain ( Gestalt )
Starts with a piece first Sees whole picture first and then deals with pieces
Parts of language Language comprehension
Syntax, Semantics Image, emotion, meaning
Letters , Sentence Rhythm, Flow, Dialect
Number Image, intuition
Analysis – liners Intuition- estimates
Looks at difference Looks at similarities
Controls feelings Free with feelings
Planned- structured Spontaneous thinking
Sequential thinking Simultaneous- fluid
Language oriented Feelings/ experience oriented
Future – oriented Now oriented
Technique Flow and movement
Sports ( hand-eye ) foot placement Sports ( flow and rhythm)
Art ( media, tool use, how to) Art( image, emotion, flow)
Music ( notes, beat, tempo) Music ( passion, rhythm, image)

So take a ‘movement break’ and watch the magic happen right before your eyes!

Swara Patel
Artistic director & Co- founder
Rhythmus HappyFeet


Love Yourself. Dance.


“When the WHY is clear, the HOW is easy.” ~ Anonymous.

I was recently watching an amazing video from Simon Sinek, who talked about the importance of finding your why in life – the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do.
Like the why for…

  • Mother Teresa was to spread love among the downtrodden and bring them some respite from pain and suffering
  • Bill Gates was to make information accessible for all
  • Mahatma Gandhi was to use non-violence to win independence for India

As I watched Sinek’s video a few times, it struck a chord deep within me. I realized how finding my why – and then working on it – was the real cause of my happiness today.

Through my search and the ensuing struggle, emerged a clear direction. Dance had always been a source of joy but by taking a leap of faith I found that it could transform my life in ways I had not imagined.

As I look back at it all, the pain, the passion and the victory which has caused me to love myself so much, I cannot help but imagine a world full of people who truly and completely love themselves and achieve this through movement and dance.

To Love Yourself…Dance

Before you get puzzled as to the connection between dance and loving oneself, let me explain…

As a student of dance therapy, I have realized how psyche (mind) and soma (body) are inseparable.
Research demonstrates that movement is the young child’s preferred mode of learning, and that children learn best through active involvement. (Hannaford 1995).

Studies on brain development have proved time and again that every wiring in the first year of a child’s brain happens because of movement.  And this cycle continues till we die. As we grow, we also discover other ways of learning and somehow the most innate way of learning through movement takes a backseat.

Adding movement to the learning process helps develop all the parts of the brain (lower, mid and upper brain) and also leads to mind and body integration thus enhancing cognitive, social, emotional and aesthetic skills.

My training in dance has also helped me understand how freedom in expressing emotions is closely related to one’s emotional development. Humans are naturally designed to show every emotion felt through body movements.

For instance, if we feel the emotion of fear, we tremble, and our eyes widen or close. When we are sad, we show it through tears, and a closed posture. Happiness is expressed through high energy levels and an open body posture. All these expressions are deeply ingrained in our psyche.

So when we train a child not to cry when she really wants to, and not to show aggression when she really feels angry, what we are unknowingly doing is blocking her natural mechanism of releasing emotions through body movements. These emotions thus get stored inside her body and create muscle tensions all her life.


Now, knowing these two facts of how brain development and emotion release is closely related to human personality development, let’s see its relevance to movement and dance.

Raising a Happy Child

People function to their full potential when they complement their brain development with lots of movement and learn to express through their body. And as you read this, I’m sure you would completely agree that these two innate needs can be fulfilled through movement and dance.

As a child learns to move freely, develop a range of movements, sees them not as a way to reach somewhere or win or lose (as in other structured physical activities like sports), but for the sheer sense of expression, she starts developing a healthy mind. Her brain also starts functioning well, and she develops a positive body image, high confidence and self esteem, and in turn learns to love herself.

I can personally vouch for this, given that I have been through this amazing cycle in my own life and have witnessed so many of our students experiencing this.

My why has now evolved – I dream of inculcating an understanding and increasing awareness about the connection of movement and dance in human development and promote learning through movement and dance especially to children in their growing years.

A wise man (or maybe a woman) once said that if you want to address a problem, address it at the roots. For me, the roots go down to the school. And that’s why the dance activities and lessons we incorporate in our curriculum at Rhythmus HappyFeet are all aimed at changing the way the education system has perceived learning, especially in the early formative years of a child (pre-schoolers).

Dance is, I believe, one of the best ways to raise a child who is happy, confident, and one who learns to embrace life to its fullest. And dance is the way a child learns to love and respect her body and love her truly and completely.

This is my belief, my dream, my why….

Swara Patel

Artistic director & Co- founder 

Rhythmus HappyFeet

P.S. To know more about how your child can benefit from dance and the therapy it provides, please email me at thehappyfeetacademy@gmail.com, or connect at www.facebook.com/rhythmushappyfeet1, or visit www.rhf.dance

RHFlogofinal copysmall


Your Child and Dance – Top 5 Questions on Choosing a Dance Class…Answered

swara and zara

In my interactions with a lot of parents who meet me while deciding to put their children in dance class, I have received countless questions on how they (parents) should go about choosing the right dance and class for their little ones.

Some parents are worried whether their child’s age is ripe for learning dance. Then there are others who ask about the best dance forms. And then there are some who question the relevance of dance in a child’s life.

While I will try and gradually answer all those questions on this blog, here are my answers to the five most asked questions.

Q1. What is the right age to start training in dance?
There is a school of thought that believes a baby responds to music even in the womb, with movement. After birth, the response is even more obvious and music brings a definite and more profound reaction in the child’s movement. Then, as the child’s motor skills develop, the movement becomes more defined.

However, in my experience of teaching toddlers, I have learned that a child aged 3 years is just about ready for a structured dance class. At this age, he/she is able to understand and follow instructions and will also find it easier to settle into a new class environment (with less separation anxiety).

Even at age 3, a child struggles with simple moves like jumping, hopping and changing direction. But early exposure leads to a greater ability to understand one’s body and how it moves and enhances motor skills.

Q2. Which is a better dance form- Indian or western?
Any dance form, if learned systematically and in depth, produces similar results. What is more important is the quality of teachers and training and the child’s interest. If a child learns any one dance form thoroughly, he or she will be able to adapt to other dance forms with greater ease.

Q3. How long does a child take to learn a dance form?
As the old saying goes, “Practice makes a man perfect.” This is also true in the case of dance training. Learning a dance genre has many similarities to academic and athletic training. Skills must be built incrementally – just like more time you devote to studying, the higher the level of learning.

For instance, if a child devotes only one hour per week to learning maths, it will take far longer to get the desired outcome than if the child devotes one hour every day to study the same. Children with natural aptitude for mathematics will also achieve a higher level of skill faster if they put in the work. And no child, no matter how great the natural aptitude and talent, can master long division until they have mastered addition, subtraction, and multiplication.

The same holds true for dance. You must start at the beginning, attend classes faithfully, and work to master the skills as they are introduced. Each skill builds muscle memory and the proper bodily strength to take a student to the next, more difficult dance movement. This is a constant process over a number of years.

Q4. Will my child get confused if two different dance forms are introduced simultaneously?
Confusion might be an initial issue. But in the long run, the child will have a deeper understanding of his/her body and how it moves. So it is absolutely fine to learn two dance forms simultaneously. The child will soon discover that there is no right or wrong way to move – there are just different ways to move. Having said that, focusing on one dance form for a longer period definitely brings great results.

Q5. What are the advantages of learning dance over other physical, extracurricular activities?
The focus of dance is on creativity and not on winning or losing. It involves using both sides of the brain – one half for balance, co-ordination and technique and the other half for creativity. It encourages a child to express emotions freely through his/her body and makes him/her confident. It is therefore one of the most ideal activities to introduce your child to at an early age.

I hope the above post answers some of your biggest questions about your child and his/her dance training. Please feel free to leave a comment and/or your questions, as I am sure there are still many more of them which you might have with regards to your child’s dance education.

Swara Patel
Artistic Director -Rhythmus HappyFeet

Your Child and Dance – Top 5 Questions on Choosing a Dance Class…Answered