Blog: Anuja Rajendra

Dancer and choreographer Anuja Rajendra, the creator and CEO of Bollyfit (Bollywood-themed fitness dance classes) puts a positive spin on downsizing in a region known for both employment woes and beefy waistlines. This week, Anuja shows how we can bhangra our way to a state of cultural understanding, good health, and good spirits.

Post 2 - Beyond Turfs and Towers: The "Ego Free Zone"

Q:  What is the "Ego Free Zone"?

The world is comprised of groups, cliques, and individual achievement.  Groups and cliques constantly vie for attention and individuals strive for achievement against others. These actions are all ego-driven and are based on the premise that something or someone is better than the other.  

Through the layers of every such drama twinkles a space built upon trust, comfort, support, and mutual success.  Enter the "Ego Free Zone". In the Ego Free Zone (EFZ), the burden of one-upping another is lifted off shoulders, the scrutiny of physical form rendered irrelevant, and unity is completely uplifted by common ground.  The EFZ is an environment where human beings feel safe, energetic, equal and light (both from the outer form layers lifted off them and from the illumination from deep within self). The EFZ unleashes energy within and around, creating kinetic results for individuals, organizations and communities.   
I learned about the concept of being without ego from Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth, and came up with the term "Ego Free Zone" after a student, who also reads Tolle, described Bollyfit classes as being "without ego".

Q:  How does BollyFit create an EFZ?

While Bollywood movies glamorize the unattainable, the aesthetic, and the young in a highly ego-centric representation, the magnificent music and artistry in these movies weaves a thread of pure peace, love, and joy that does exist within each of us.  BollyFit harnesses this idealism, the best of Bollywood, into the fabric of the EFZ.  The rest is neither natural nor relevant.

BollyFit's EFZ unravels knots and students sweat gracefully and laugh and learn together loudly.  Choreography synthesizes music and dance styles while, in the sweat of the dancers, simmers a marvelous Michigan Magic – all ages and backgrounds connect and unleash energy beyond the confines of color or age of skin, transcending political, religious, and economic assertions.  Strangers sweat similarly.  

No one has more clout because she has more dance training, grew up in India, or is as thin as a rail. Culture and dance are important but what we're doing really is peeling back the layers of the outer form, realizing the dancer within, and connecting her with the dancers in the room and the dance of the universe. Individuals genuinely care about each other, develop trusted friendships, and become a respectful team that dissolves drama and dances delightfully.

Q:  How can BollyFit's EFZ be applied to Michigan?

BollyFit is fitness through dance – Indian dance with Bollywood music. Given the cultural slant, one might expect long-term BollyFit students to be only young, Indo-centric people.  Or for diverse people to come in and out of class chatting casually and then go their own way without much in common.  One might also expect that outspoken opinions (from choreography to costumes) undermine teamwork.  However, these experiences seem to be more the exception rather than the rule.  I believe that this is because we have removed particular interests and stereotypes from the equation and relate to one another at the core of our being.  Whether it's festivals we perform at or friendships we foster, this this thread weaves seemingly disparate interests together, dissipates knots, and a purposeful collective energy unfolds.

I personally believe that Michigan can learn something from this phenomenon and enter the EFZ.  Michigan has been hard hit by the recession and its "matka" has broken. Now is the perfect time to reassess where we are and where we want to be as we move forward as a state. Let's change our focus from individual 'End Zones' to a collective EFZ.

We are a richly diverse state in culture, religion, and ethnicity. We may all be different on the outside. And yes, we all have different life experiences and backgrounds.   Whether it's the UAW or the automotive companies, the Republicans or Democrats or the cities or the suburbs, each of these groups might seem inherently different on the surface, but at the core, we are all connected as people and have a unified purpose to better our state.

When we see the world in this light, and know we all have the same light within, it helps us to listen to, and integrate, each other's ideas in an open way, without ego, and produce powerful and unexpected results.  Connecting at this level evokes passion and unites people coming together through self-organization.    How about if we all just take a deep breath, break the matka of the egos, and dance in the Greatness of our Lakes?