Patanjali was a sage who codified the 8 fold path of yoga and recorded it in his famous, the yoga sutras of Patanjali. Four chapters expounding a path to freedom. The next few blogs is a brief commentary on how to practice his 8 fold path of yoga in the dance of your life, on and off the dance floor. This blog covers the first step. Yamas.
Yamas are attitudes to aspire towards and cultivate. In dance they are defined as movements that create harmony in our interaction with our outer landscape.
- Non-violence (or Love)
Move in ways that do no harm to you or any other beings. It is important to be present in dance. Awareness is key! If we move with attention to the signals our body is giving us through sensations like pain, stiffness, tightness, sadness, low energy, and allow our dance to move from this attention, we access our body wisdom in moving with these states and open to the possibility of the body moving through them in a way that does not cause harm to our being. If we force movement and push the body, moving in ways that are not listening to ourselves then we are being violent.Same is true when moving with others. It requires that our awareness becomes empathic. We feel into the others we are moving with and from this listening we move in relationship that will not cause harm. It means seeing and setting aside our personal agendas in relation to others. To actually see others as they are, rather than as objects for our own personal gratification or desire, means to be move with non-violence with another. It also then means we can move above our own ego’s play in the world and actually be of service to something greater than ourselves. So practicing non-violence opens up the possibility to experience and move from true unconditional love. IT moves beyond just humans but in all our relationships with the environment and nature. Our body gives us signals all the time, if we are present we will feel the difference between moves that harm and moves that support the flow of life.
Move with what is moving inside of you. Be honest with yourself as to where you are at. It is always tempting, particularly when where we are at is uncomfortable or painful, to try to create things that are not there, or move in ways that are not authentic. You will feel the difference, as when we are in resistance to what is, or pushing away our true experience, we will feel the discord. It is easy to also project this outside, blaming the music, the other dancers, the facilitation. The invitation however is to get real. Be honest with yourself. There is a lot of times where it is tempting to imagine or pretend we are moving from places, with meaning and story, however it is much more fulfilling to move with what is truly moving inside us, allowing ourselves to open to experiences that are our actual reality and opening to these experiences brings wisdom that is more true for us now than anything we could possibly imagine. The more we move from our truth, the greater the opportunity to process pain, grief, or shadowy monsters in need of holding and seeing. When we move from truth, people will almost always respond with compassion too.
Move in ways that take nothing away from another person or being in their movement. Move in ways that affirm you are enough and that what you move is your own authentic expression! Although having said this we can learn a lot from others dances and even discover new ways of moving by seeing it moved in another and finding similar moves in ourselves. When we embody others moves within ourselves as an authentic expression, we are not stealing another’s moves, we are exploring ourself again and opening up to new possibilities in our own movement.
- Containing Energy
Explore and discover where we leak our energy out into the world through our contact and relationships with others. Our energy and vitality is a sensual force that flows within us. Most of the time we leak it out through our senses and organs of action. So here we move in ways that allow us to harness our energy and keep it contained within our being. The dance becomes a meditative process that enables us to build up our own vitality, keeping it contained within our own expression. This expression does not require any validation from the outside world. The ways in which energy is commonly lost is through our senses particularly when we are chasing specific sensations, or through our words, deeds and actions (movements) that cause us to end up losing our energy. If we are not contained then the space and outer circumstances rule our inner world. Can we find ways of moving that keeps our energy contained and moving through our system, enhancing our experience of life, rather than in ways that may be ‘desirable’ but leave us drained, wasted or spent?
You do not need to move like Michael Jackson when you dance, or that girl, or that guy. A big enemy in a conscious dance is the mind and it’s judgements of others and yourself. It’s better to move with what we have, rather than in comparison what others have. To admire and appreciate others gifts and allow that to inspire our own movements and gifts to express in our dance.
The Yamas provide plenty of opportunity to discover and learn more about our being and where we are really at in this particular moment. When you begin to move with these practices be gentle, playful and curious in your exploration. Do not be hard on yourself or beat yourself up when you discover aspects that are out of alignment or integrity. See them and make the adjustments to your dance so that you become a more integrated and full expression of your own truth.