Doctor’s prescription  

An Odissi dancer and a student of Tai Chi, Dr Swati Pai practices all this along with medicine  

Published: 08th March 2022 06:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th March 2022 06:46 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: It was Doctor’s Day on July 1, 2020, and Dr Swati Pai was just about to celebrate her work anniversary. But the timing was so unfortunate that she was infected with Covid-19 on the same day and was hospitalised. What followed was 14 days of quarantine but Pai ensured she kept herself pre-occupied. Not with music or shows, but by practising Tai Chi, a Chinese martial art form.

Dr Swati Pai during a performance

Pai, who is consultant – hematopathologist, Manipal Hospital, Old Airport Road, is a woman of multiple interests. Although medicine came early into her life, her passion for Odissi and playing the sitar are boundless. In fact, she also pursued MD in pathology, to find time to pursue her interest in Odissi. “When I was working in Mumbai, I was held up with intense medical work and did not find time to pursue dance.

It was when I moved to Bengaluru in 1999 that opportunities started opening up for me. From learning Odissi to playing the sitar and learning German and Tai Chi, the city fulfilled most of my interests,” says Pai, who is training for Odissi under her guru Sharmila Mukerjee.

The 54-year-old was very keen on taking her passion into competitive stages. But it came with its own compromises and challenges, considering the nature of her work. However, when she is caught up with a dilemma of choosing between art and medical emergencies, she ensures the latter is first attended to. “I was sure of pursuing pathology because it gave me time to work on my interests. Sometimes, my dance teachers have actually rejected me from performing in programmes because I did not turn up for rehearsals. The auditing work of the hospital falls on weekends which collides with my Odissi training classes. Such times, I usually get engaged in medical work,” says Pai, who practices sitar and Tai Chi early in the morning.

Pai describes Tai Chi as ‘meditation in motion’. She took up the martial art to work on balancing her roles as a doctor, dancer and an instrument player. Pai trains for Tai Chi under Sifu George Thomas at the Tai Chi Academy of India. She refrained from practising the self-defence aspect of the martial art and instead focused on completing the ‘85-form Yang style’. “I took up Tai Chi to control my mind, meditate and enhance my breathing. It is giving me the right balance to supplement my day-to-day work as a doctor, dancer and also as a mother,” says Pai. Interestingly, Pai also uses the art forms as a medium to seek spirituality.

“I am not a religious person. I believe in seeking divinity and spirituality through my dance, music and also by practising medicine. The different art forms have taught me to be disciplined, composed and graceful. I might retire from medicine, but not from my art forms,” says Pai. Some of her notable dance performances include Uday Shankar Dance Festival in Jaipur, a solo performance in Puri, Odisha , Sri Brahmotsava festival, local dance festivals in Bengaluru during Durga Puja, Ganesh Chathurti and Maha Shivartri.


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