Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”― Rumi
I am currently participating in a Yoga Apprenticeship at Circle Yoga Shala in beautiful Northwest Arkansas. I’ve already had a wonderful week studying Yoga Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, The Astavakra Gita, & The Yoga Sutras. I’ve meet wonderful people, indulged in delicious Ayurvedic homegrown meals, and enjoyed mindful work in the gardens. But in the middle of my stay, there happened to be a special weekend workshop happening called Lovin the Body, the 5Rhythms Method. It seemed to be something like the Trance Dance I had done with Shvia Rhea, which I enjoyed, and since the name reflected something I am learning and currently passionate about teaching, I decided to go. I am so very thankful I did. What an amazing experience!
Let me begin with a quote by the creator of the method, Gabrielle Roth. Mine is the art of inspiring people to turn themselves inside out, transform their suffering into art, their art into awareness and their awareness into action. And that is what happened, and so much more.
We arrived, most of us strangers to one another. No introductions were made as we entered the yoga studio, laid down on the floor and begin to stretch and move to the music that was playing. I attempted to let go of expectations and inhibitions and turned my focus on how my body needed to move. Taking cues from the group around me, I slowly made my way to standing, my mantra being just keep moving. Our teacher, Mati, guided us to take energy from our feet, to let them take you around the room in new a different ways, experimenting and playing, and FLOWING. This is the feminine energy, the first of the 5Rhythms, (little did I know).
I noticed that although I wasn’t extremely tired, I yawned all through the dance. I noted this and then continued on. I enjoyed moving and felt as though I was finally coming to place in my life where I could leave judgements behind, love my body, and just dance. We worked with partners, learning intimacy while gazing into their eyes and telling them what we love about our bodies. We moved some more. I went to sleep thinking, I liked that, but I can’t believe I’m going to be dancing for six hours tomorrow–not sure I have the energy to or the desire.
Day 2. The warm up is delicious, (I am now completely spoiled from yoga), as I love listening to what my body needs and giving it exactly that. This is the exact opposite of the dance/performance world, and the world of many other fitness forms. The warm up blends at the perfect pace into more flowing, that feels freer than the previous practice. We move through the room, alone, and then in pairs, we focus on moving body parts one at a time and connecting them to our feet. Our partners show us where we are holding tension in our bodies and we are encouraged to open more and more and release. This exercise changed everything for me because I was breathless. I realized the (obvious) reason I had yawned the previous night and all morning long is because I wasn’t breathing deeply! I didn’t yawn again for the rest of the weekend.
We did more sharing with partners through mindful conversation. Then it was finally time to explore the second rhythm: STACCATO. Now it was time to sharpen our movements and bring in the male energy. Lots of Root Chakra, angular lines, linear movements, expressing organization, being the leader of the pack, leading from the hips, with a big, open heart. The drums in the music helped this come alive and I loved it. We moved in pairs, letting ourselves be affected by the energy of others. We moved in a circle, we took turns going across the floor. I continued to let go of all judgements of myself and of everyone else. I loved my body and began to transcend it. This surprised me but as we transitioned into the third rhythm, CHAOS, I moved in any and all directions until I felt I was no longer even a part of my body. I was just spirit, just movement, and just the same as everyone else around me. Tears came to my eyes as I took in all those dancing joyfully around me and I thought, this is bliss. And then I thought, I wonder if we can live in this state? Or is this the ecstatic, blissful, peaceful state that awaits us when we finish this human experience? What do you think?
Day 3. Mati explains we will move in a wave and we will ride it out together. We will sweat our prayers. I warm up and prepare my body to move in every way. I flow with my sisters. We embrace the masculine and move through the staccato rhythm. I understand chaos like I never had and I have no inhibitions. We make a circle and we dance alone in the center. I am unafraid. The outer circle is praying for you to be able to let go. Everyone does and I feel tears of joy for these amazing spirits and the freedom they are expressing. Again, I feel no separateness from them. I am taught again that we are all one. As the one Russian woman who was there said, there are no borders.
The LYRICAL rhythm comes next and it is a luscious movement to fall safely into after chaos. We end up sitting in a circle as a few at time dance in the center, moving into STILLNESS, which is the final rhythm. And in the end there was a perfect stillness in my body, but the energy inside was flowing freer than ever before. I had literally danced everything to life–joy, sorrow, and inquiries– loved my body, left my body, united with a room full of strangers who are all a part of me, and let go of all fear. That may that greatest gift I’ve ever received. I wish that freedom, that love, for all of you. So remember, Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ― Rumi.
May you find a way to break down the barriers…