School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion
 

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Issue: May 2009
Pranamotion: The Dance of Yoga, the Yoga of Dance

by Keef Miles

I spent my twenties lost at sea, intoxicated with drugs and alcohol, occasionally debilitated with depression and feeling, for the most part, spiritually bereft and confused by life as a human on this planet in these times. If it wasn’t for the discovery of dance/yoga, I am really not sure if I would still be alive. Grace and the cosmic choregrapher had a more extraordinary Dharma lined up for me however. Journeys to
India, Thailand, Brazil and the USA opened my mind and heart to the exquisite beauty of a life lived fully, whole-heartedly and mindfully.


In the early days of my yoga and dance explorations, I found my self consistantly amazed by the fact that so few dancers practice yoga and so few yogis dance. The compatability to me seemed so obvious.

When I Dance….

When I dance my body feels……… oh boy, does it feel!

And reel and whirl

Every taste, touch, colour, shade and sound imaginable

Agonisingly beautiful!

Orgasmic-ecstatic elastic elongation…… spinal fluidity!

Flying dreams, primal screams

Reality exploding, expanding, merging……. YOGA

I feel the force moving within me, without me, all around me…

 

When I dance my heart feels……… oh boy, does it feel!

Reeling and whirling

Breaking and breaking and breaking, millions and billions and trillions of times

Shattering into infinite, limitless, timeless tiny pieces of bliss

Each alive and vital, vibrating wildly-gently

Chaotic peace

Paradox after paradox after paradox…

I laugh my socks off in delicious Isness

Making love with ME

Merging with the Absolute

 

When I dance my mind IS……… oh boy, is it!?

All of the above, but still not THERE

Mostly in my body….. beating, pulsing

Focused intently, single-pointedly

Following the movements and moments of my writhing body

With GOD in mind, my mind is peace: clear, tranquil….. mostly

Sometimes it laughs and plays mischievously

It fears, hates, loves, attracts and averts, is attracted and averted, is found and lost insane

Utterly purified, sanctified, mystified

It Dances and Yogas my body-heart-soul

HOLY  WHOLE

The poem above touches on the beauty, power and healing possibilities provided by combining the freedom and discipline of Movement Medicine and Anusara Yoga. For the last five years I have been dancing intensively: including Ritual, Inititiation and The Phoenix Retreat. This year I will be embarking on the first Apprenticeship adventure and I am truly honoured to be offering yoga on Susanah’s Journey of Empowerment year group. Simultanously, I am apprenticing with John Friend, the founder of Anusara Yoga. I have been teaching for five years.  Words elude me to express the depth of gratitude I feel for these practices and their wise and generous teachers. I can honestly say that Yoga and Dance have saved my life!!!

No longer lost at sea, I now swim joyfuly, mostly, in a pulating ocean of consciousness.

The structure and discipline of traditional hatha yoga often lacks the spontaneity and freedom of dance, yet it provides a wonderful foundation that enables us to nourish and nurture the body-heart- mind with love and awareness; empowering us through soulful embodiment, groundedness and energy flow. The dance, meanwhile, offers us the opportunity  to surf the waves of life energy (Prana/Shakti) in all its manifestations and to express and explore the freedom of movement that goes beyond the apparent limitations of the  physical aspects yoga. Practiced co-creatively, yoga-dance enables us to navigate both the dark and light aspects of our being. Not much shouting, screaming, laughing, sobbing, primal howling or ecstatic revelation in your average hatha yoga class. Or at least if there is, it tends to be very quiet and private. Which is fine. But the chance to sweat your prayers on a dance floor frequently takes the yoga practitioner into more wild and unexplored landscapes and articulations of the soul than is generally available from the limited launch pad of the yoga mat. To me the marriage is obvious. Yoga IS a dance and dance is YOGA.  What a relief to hear Susannah say to me last year that not only does she feel that yoga may be useful for practioners of Movement Medicine, but actually it is essential!! The Yoga-Dance revolution has begun.

In reality this YOGA-DANCE revolution is more of a rediscovery, a remembering of ancient wisdom and sacred practice. This truth is perhaps best exemplified by the Tantric image of Shiva Nataraj: the lord of the dance and the ultimate yogi.

Sumbhamoy Das describes the beauty and power of Lord Shiva’s dance as follows:

“This cosmic dance of Shiva is called 'Anandatandava,' meaning the Dance of Bliss, and symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, as well as the daily rhythm of birth and death. The dance is a pictorial allegory of the five principle manifestations of eternal energy — creation, destruction, preservation, salvation (grace), and illusion”

In conclusion, I love this beautiful poem by Ruth Peel:

"The source of all movement,
Shiva's dance,
Gives rhythm to the universe.
He dances in evil places,
In sacred,
He creates and preserves,
Destroys and releases.

We are part of this dance
This eternal rhythm,
And woe to us if, blinded
By illusions,
We detach ourselves
From the dancing cosmos,
This universal harmony…"

Keef runs classes, workshops and retreats around the world. Including Morocco in November ‘09.  He is also available for private yoga  and Thai massage: pranamotion@yahoo.co.uk / 07834703127 www.yogadancedumholidays.co.uk

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www. schoolofmovementmedicine.com