Natraj 2The Dance of the Chakras: Chakra Beats

I have never trained in any form of classical dance. When I was younger I used to dream of studying Kathak, which is an Indian classical dance, and remember quietening a voice in my mind because I knew my family weren’t really able to afford classes, particularly as there weren’t any in close enough proximity to where I lived. Later on I remember wishing that I had learnt. As far back as I can remember there has been something in me that was drawn towards dance, something in me that encouraged me to move towards having more of it in my life.

Everyone Can Dance

Now I not only dream of dancing, but enjoy various forms. I am comfortable calling myself a dancer even though I have never had any official training – I think everyone has a dancer in them. I can sense the dancer in me and learn more about myself from dancing and movement than from most other activities that I undertake.  I was recently reading a book by Daniel J. Levitin called ‘This is Your Brain on Music’. Early on in the book he pointed out that it is only relatively recently that playing music became a specialised act where an audience pays an artist or artists to perform. The same is true for dancing. Not that long ago playing instruments (drums, clapping etc.), dancing, and singing were an integral part of culture and ceremony. Even though there were occasions where practiced professionals may have performed, there was somehow more room for those who did not necessarily have the same skill.

My parents are Gujarati, from the North West of India. We have a few weeks in the year called Navratri were people dance. Everybody dances: people who ‘can’t dance’, ‘professional dancers’, older people, younger people, children, men and women. Everyone dances. You can see some people who are able to let go. How they look or how well they are dancing are not issues that seem to be on their mind You could say it’s almost trance like. Of course, there are many who don’t connect in the same way, but so what, they’re dancing! I haven’t attended one of these events for a few years now due to my being in places where I’m probably the only Gujarati person for miles. But I am glad that I had the opportunity to partake in the past, because I remember being able to let go more during those two weeks than over the other fifty weeks in the year. Sometimes these seemingly small experiences have more influence than you can appreciate at the time.

You may remember a time when you were able to let go whilst dancing in a club, in a dance class, or in your room. This sometimes happens, and when it does, it feels good – sometimes ecstatic. I enjoy finding ways to awaken that kind of letting go in everyday life. For me dancing allows an opportunity to move as I please, and the more we are able to do this whilst dancing, the more we are able to do the same outside out of dancing.

Dancing And Self Development

My practice of finding that sense of freedom develops alongside my meditative practice.  For me, the combination of meditation, yoga and dance are so complimentary – each providing a source of energy to each other. In my experience the learning is furthered with some intellectual awareness work outside of such practices.

Whilst completing a Yoga Teachers Training in India, I became very interested in and found myself benefiting from Chakra Theory. I have written about the usefulness of using the Chakras in another article where I share some of the benefits that come from viewing oneself from the various perspectives that Chakra Theory offers.  Whilst dance enables a ‘switching off’ of mind and a feeling of letting go and being, Chakra Theory is a useful tool that has the capacity to enable an understanding of the patterns and habits of our mind on a more intellectual level. Sitting meditations are similarly effective, though in my experience the divisions within Chakra Theory offer something further.

During my experience of meditation, yoga, dance, and chakras I have come to develop a type of dance that incorporates these four aspects of self-study. I have called it ‘Chakra Beats’. For those who may be interested in joining one of my workshops or retreats, I would like to offer a brief explanation of what this type of dance form offers.

What Is ‘Chakra Beats’?

The music has been specifically chosen for each chakra, reflecting the kind of energy that the chakra is thought to represent. Starting with Mooladhara Chakra, you begin by connecting to the present. Your movements are encouraged to be in response to however you are feeling at the time. This may be shy, energetic, showy, open, closed – however you are. At the same time you are invited to connect to the instinctual, the wild, the free, even if only in the mind.

From here, you are introduced to Swadhisthana Chakra, which represents you in relation to others. It’s your dance in connection to and in reflection of your being in response to those around you – this may be other dancers, or other people in your life. When others are introduced, feelings of negativity towards self or other may arise due to a complexity of reasons. Equally, positive feeling may also arise. You are gently guided to simply observe these without judgement and to find a way to express them through your movements.

From here you come to the Manipura chakra, dancing to music that is passionate, energising, and motivating. This is the fire in your dance, it’s the place of transformation. Inner desires and wishes may demonstrate themselves here, and again you dance in response to them. From Manipura you gradually approach your Heart Chakra – Anahata.

During the Anahata phase of the dance you try to connect to love for yourself and for others. It is here that you try to touch what is true to you, and with an open heart absent of judgement, observe it and offer love and compassion towards what may come up. This stage is the heart of the dance, and one of the most important stages during the session. It is the place where patience, forgiveness, and of course love is given the spotlight. This stage of the dance embodies support for feelings and thoughts that may have risen during the earlier stages of the dance.

The next stage of the dance is at Vishuddhi Chakra, the throat chakra. This stage of your dance is about expression, about courage to dance your dance. Parallel’s may be drawn from here to enable you to learn to live the life you choose. Vishuddhi offers a space to express, to voice feelings and thoughts in a new form – from a compassionate, open, strong place.

From here you step into a sitting meditation at Ajna Chakra, observing and absorbing the thoughts and patterns without judgement, digesting the dance thus far, settling the mind. Finally you move towards the Sahasrara stage. Here you take Savasana or Corpse pose and work to focus only on the breath, letting any thoughts flow through you.

At the end of the session there is a space for people to share should they wish to as this can be a very powerful practice. Dancers are encouraged to ask for support from the facilitator after group sharing should they feel the need to.