This week I went 5 Rhythms dancing in Palma at a studio called Earth Yoga, www.earthyoga.es. For all of you who don’t have any idea what kind of dancing that is here is a brief explanation. 5 Rhythms dancing was created back in the 60’s by an American woman from New York named Gabrielle Roth. It’s roots originated in a movement class she taught at the Esalen Institute. Gabrielle has been described as an urban shaman and her 5 Rhythms dancing utilizes shamanic and mystical beliefs. It also draws from transpersonal psychology. 5 Rhythms is practiced to move the body in order to release the heart and free the mind. The shamanic belief is that if you do this you can connect more closely to your soul and thereby unlock unlimited potentials in your life. I’ve also heard it described very simply as dancing through your emotions.
So on Thursday night, I made an attempt to do all this freeing up and connecting with the higher self or my soul. I can tell you that you sweat a lot when you do that! I arrived at the studio, my first time there, and was pleased that it looked very inviting and felt very serene, peaceful. The studio has wood floors, the walls are white with nice sayings written on them near the ceiling. There are long flowing white curtains separating the dance floor from another room. There is a small altar with the usual things you find in these places, some religious statues, some stones, a candle, and a Buddha of course. I sort of got lost in reading some of the sayings on the wall which said something like, “beyond right and wrong there is a field, I'll meet you there" and “I honor the God I have inside,” when suddenly the music started.
There were maybe 10-12 people in the room, scattered throughout the dance floor. As the music started everyone began to move very gently at first, with no particular rhythm or special movements, just movements that freed up whatever kinks they happened to have in their bodies, at that moment. Some moved their arms, others their necks while others did sort of stretches on the floor and others started to slide across the dance floor with pseudo-dance like movements. The instructor, a lovely woman from England named Jessica, plays a tape and sort of talks you through different parts of it.
The 5 Rhythms are: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness. Jessica encourages everyone to just move without paying any attention to what you might look like. A few years ago I took a three day workshop with Gabrielle in New York. When you are in one of these multiple-day workshops with Gabrielle she talks you through the purpose of each of the rhythms as you’re dancing. She gives you examples of what they mean in your everyday life. Like any art form, in the end everyone takes away whatever they connect with the most.
For me, Flowing is when you gently flow with life, going into the spaces that are open instead of those that are closed or occupied. Staccato is when you move through life stating who you are with purpose and conviction. Chaos is when you completely let go, free the mind, and in the process you can literally shake out of your body any emotions that don’t serve you, sort of like demons that you want to get rid of. Lyrical is when you try to connect with other people around you, you share yourself so to speak and you realize that often others are going through exactly the same things as you are. Stillness is when you just be, just stand there moving ever so slowly and just be. The shamanic belief is that you can connect closer to your soul through each of these states.
Jessica’s class takes you through each one of these rhythms, one at a time, over the course of about 2 hours. Yes, it is non-stop dancing for 2 hours, so whether or not you lose your mind, find your soul or open your heart, it's at least good exercise. I’m not exactly sure how closer I am to my soul but I felt really good after finishing the class and the notion of unlocking unlimited potentials in my life is certainly appealing! So if you ever have the chance to try a 5 Rhythms dance class and you’re not afraid to sweat a little, venture out there and do some gliding across the dance floor.