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Yogini Natasha Noel’s journey from childhood abuse to self-love

“You are your biggest mystery. Go, find yourself. And, you will realise, that you’re magnificent,” says Noel, who shares her story with us

When I asked the 24-year-old yoga instructor if she feels any pressure to remain upbeat at all times, she takes a moment to think. After all, being a wellness coach for eighty-four thousand followers (or supporters; as Noel puts it) on Instagram and hundreds in real life is no mean task. “I do. I’ve been trying to battle depression, which has crept back into my life. But now I know how to deal with it better.”

Knowing about Noel’s depression only reiterates the fact that hardship is a part and parcel of life, and that a mental health issue such as depression oft repeats itself in one’s lifetime, maybe a number of times. We only learn to deal with the challenges better. 
In Noel’s case, introspection helps her. “Prod deeper into your subconscious to find the root cause of your uneasiness.” She talks to herself constantly, trying to rationalise her thoughts and face her fears. To begin with, why not look at your reflection in the mirror every morning and say, “I love you?” But the yogini adds, “the catch here is that you have to train your mind into believing that you are worthy of love.” And that, my friend, is a challenge.
It took Noel most of her childhood and early 20s to get comfortable with her body. She saw her mother burn herself at three. She saw abusers violate her body at seven. She blamed herself for her mother’s death. She cut herself to numb the inner pain of shame. She was caught in a rabbit hole of feeling worthless and inconsequential, which are a few common symptoms of depression. What helped her? Dance. The yogini found solace in the rhythmic movements of contemporary dance that brought balance to her life. But an untreated knee injury stalled the practice, eventually leading her to pursue yoga instead. 

She started watching Youtube videos, and enrolled in The Yoga Institute, Santa Cruz East (a 3-month course), Ashtanga Vinyasa, Mysore (1 month) and Mystic Rose Meditation, Goa (21 days), and started teaching dance yoga. From taking private sessions to workshops, she started posting videos on social media to reach out to as many people as possible. Her message to her supporters has always been that of loving and putting yourself first. In her words, “You are your biggest mystery. Go, find yourself. And, you will realise, that you’re magnificent.”
Today she is one of the most popular yoga practitioners in the city. Famed not just for her inspiring poses but also her uplifting messages;  she currently teaches at The Yoga Institute in Santa Cruz (East) and Future School of Performing Arts (Kalina). 

You can get in touch with her here: dancing.yogini001@gmail.com.

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Natasha Agrawal’s initiative, Three Left Feet uses Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) to heal teenagers, among others, with trauma
Nishtha JunejaTeentalkindia Content Writer

The truth about our childhood is stored up in our body, 
and although we can repress it, we can never alter it. 
Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings manipulated, 
our perceptions confused, and our body tricked with medication. 
But someday the body will present its bill.

-          Letty J Mills and Judith C Daniluk, Journal of Counseling and Development

When Natasha Agrawal was sexually violated as a child, she was told to shrug off the incident like any other and carry on, normally. But for her “Normal” meant not respecting her body. “Normal” was feeling disconnected with her body, and thinking of it as something that had nothing to do with her – and was only meant for the use of others. The only time she felt connected to her own body was when she danced. “Dance, time and again, was the only joy I felt in the body,” recalls Natasha. But even that she felt was “more to show” than to “feel one with self”, until she discovered Dance Movement Therapy (DMT).  She learnt to move and dance for joy, which had nothing to do with her body as a sexual object.

“A whole new world opened up. Emotionally I felt lighter. This new language let me breathe in peace again,” reminisces the 34-year-old. It is a known fact that the mind and body are intertwined, and move in tandem. DMT uses this basic principle to “move” the mind towards a better, happier space. It could be any participant dancing on their own tune, not following any routine, which is imperative in a dance class. One another, more important aspect that differentiates DMT from a dance class is the intent. “The person is in the centre, and not the form,” adds Natasha.

Using her background in dance and movement, Natasha opened Three Left Feet, a space that aims to use dance as a therapeutic bridge to healing and relaxation. Her sessions would start with a warm up intended to give the participants the feeling of “I can”, moving to more therapeutic activities depending on the objective. If the objective is paired movement, then making groups of two and creating a river using a duppata helps connecting with others. On the other hand, if she is working with a group of children who have been abused in the past, and the focus of the session is to deal with trauma, an activity to say “no” would help. 

Here is how it is done:
•         Imagine your fingers can spout colours in all directions. Using the power of your fingers, create a colourful bubble around you.
•         This is your shield, your aura.
•         As you move around the area and meet different people, you have the power to allow them into your space or not.
•         If you feel that you do not want to talk to someone, hold out your hand, meaning no.
•         It is important to remember that the bubble is your safe space and you have control over it

“I learnt the power of no. I embodied my body, owned it and loved it again,” she says. She now holds sessions for senior citizens, differently abled and rehabilitated children of sex workers and off course, teenagers. In her journey of DMT, she has helped many. One of them is Keisha, who works at All India Radio, "When I first met Natasha at her residence for a DMT session, I instantly felt comfortable with her warm aura." She further recalls that the sessions helped her become aware about her feelings and thoughts, which is important to create a bond with the self. Keisha was so impressed with Natasha's approach that she enrolled at the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), which offers a one year diploma in DMT.

You can get in touch with her on: threeleftfeet.natasha@gmail.com

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