For a connection with the cosmos, forget your crown chakra and start moving your feet!
Getting your groove on, no matter your age, shape or ability, is an easy way to lift your mood and experience the life force in your body (it can also tone your thighs, but that’s just a side point!). Dancing is especially beneficial if you’re an over-thinker or worrier, as it directs your focus away from your head and into your heart, grounding you to your body and the earth. It wasn’t just the Greeks who thought they could invoke their gods and goddesses through song and dance. In Hinduism there are lots of celestial deities who dance to express the supreme truths via the magic of movement. The ancient Egyptians regarded everything they did in life as one eternal dance, and they even performed a ritual dance at funerals. You don’t need to follow a routine to enjoy the soul-stirring benefits of dance, but if you’re interested in a fast-track to your divinity, take up one of these art forms – just remember the most important thing is to have fun!
SHAMANIC TRANCE DANCE
Best for… Entering the spirit world
Want a direct link to the cosmos? This magical dance is for you. It applies ancient and innovative techniques that safely move you into a trance-like state of consciousness, where you can receive spiritual healing and visions from the spirits. Zelia, a shamanic trance dance teacher, says, “It is a powerful inner journey. With focused intention, breath work, intuitive movement and rhythmic sounds, shamanic dance can help you let go of your ego and enter the ‘dream time’, which is a place of inner knowing, where all ideas, creativity and answers exist. You can experience a connection to The Great Spirit through the sacred space that is created for the ritual. This allows you a direct link to the spirit source.”
Best for… Harmonising with nature
This whirling dance is a moving meditation where you spin in an anti-clockwise direction. It’s a seven-century old devotional exercise associated with Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam. So, what can it do for you? It’s thought that by spiralling your body, you are mimicking nature and will begin to tune into the world at a deeper level. Everything rotates – from the electrons in an atom, the planets around the sun, to the water down your plug hole. By turning round and round, you are honouring the sacred circles of life. The dance involves moving anti-clockwise, towards the heart, and lifting your right hand to receive wisdom from above, while pointing your left hand towards the ground, allowing you to be a channel from heaven to earth. Try this at home with caution! Make sure you have plenty of room and only do it for a few minutes at a time. Using your right foot, pivot around your left one; keep your eyes open, unfocused and level. When you stop, stare at a fixed spot on the floor until you feel yourself stabilise.
Best for… Releasing pent-up emotions
It’s time to get out of your head and into your body with this lively dance form. Nia was created in the 1980s and bridges the gap between mind and body movement, while giving your spirit a life, too. Teacher Michele Kaye explains, “It’s holistic healing on the dance floor, and combines martial arts with dance. It taps into the needs of your body, mind, spirit and emotions without feeling like hard work. It’s exhilarating, not guilt-driven, expressive instead of one-dimensional, and healing rather than exhausting. “You are encouraged to ‘move your body’s way,’ which means there is plenty of room for self-expression, allowing you to connect with your unique spirit. The martial arts blocks and kicks are opportunities to let go of any pent-up tension and stress, too. Jazz dance moves are also incorporated to encourage you to have fun. “Nia is for anyone who wants to use movement to sense joy, vitality and have a good workout at the same time. It teaches you how to listen to your body’s inherent wisdom, cultivating inner power to live a life of purpose and meaning.”
Best for… Building confidence
If you’re drawn to the pizazz of Bollywood films, Indian Dance might be the right class to get you strutting your stuff. There is also a deeply spiritual side to this art form. Indian dance teacher Vena Ramphal explains why it’s not all glitzy outfits and dramatic facial expressions: “Not everyone understands the true benefits of dance, but art in India is treated as sacred, so moving in this way is an expression of divinity in the body. It dissolves any split between body and spirit. For me, Indian Dance is like a combination of yoga, meditation and playfulness. It is the easiest way for me to get into ‘the zone’! “It’s known for its gorgeous costumes, intricate footwork, precise mudras (hand gestures), and its breathtaking abhinaya, where the dancer tells a story or expresses a theme or emotion. Learning to articulate feelings through movement benefits your emotional well-being by making you self-aware. When you lack this skill, you don’t realise how you come across. By practising, you begin to see that you have a choice about how you express yourself, both on the dance floor and off of it, too.”