Studio Abhyas was found in the year 2000 by Navtej Johar – dancer, choreographer, yoga exponent, scholar and urban activist based in New Delhi. It was in 2004 the Studio was transformed into a Trust. The focus of all activities at Abhyas revolves around the body—be it the somatic practice that includes dance and yoga, Vedic chanting, urban activism or research.
Trained in Bharatanatyam from Kalakshetra, and in yoga at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, Chennai, Johar envisioned Abhyas to be a space devoted to the dissemination of these traditional forms. However, over the years, the focus at Abhyas has gradually moved from conventional training to questioning methods of pedagogy of Indian embodied practices as they have been remodelled over the last century and a half. This has led to research and experimentations and led to the devising of two new methods of embodied practice, namely Abhyas Somatics, that draws upon the sukha and rasa components of Yoga and Indian dance respectively, as well as the BARPS method that is designed to practice and understand asana from the inside of the body. More lately, Abhyas has become a space of intellectual engagement with classical Indian texts in the fields of Samkhya, Yoga, linguistics, poetics, performance-aesthetics and Tantra. It runs a study-group, offers workshops and seminars, as well as runs a lecture series.
The Yoga Sutras advocate that both our sanity and serenity are integrally tied to the quality of our ‘seeing’ and engagement with the world and its objects. It is with this basic philosophy that the Abhyas Trust ventured into urban activism. It now runs an award-winning program, “The Power of Seeing” with school children that is designed to sensitise children and make them proactive vis-à-vis their environments.