Why Dance Is My New Meditation
What is meditation? Many people think it means sitting silently trying to get rid of thoughts. Meditation is about being in the present moment which brings the mind to stillness, but it can require far less effort than most people think.
A moment of connection, bliss, presence, stillness – this is all achieved through a state of awareness.
I used to go to ecstatic dance sessions which involved movement of the body in a free way – no particular steps. This was meditation for me.
I realized recently that even structured dance (such as salsa, bachata, kizomba, bellydance, etc), once the body relaxes and feels the music, it is meditation. The music itself comes from a higher source through the person who wrote it, and the dancing is an expression of the song’s energy and our own true being.
It’s one thing dancing alone, like I used to do in ecstatic dance, which often took me into a trance like state. Dancing with a partner also becomes a meditation. Once you feel your partner’s energy and connect, it becomes a dance of two souls. The woman follows the man’s moves and if they are both present in the moment, the connection as the leader and follower will remain throughout the dance. This, in and of itself, is a form of meditation.
I’ve gone as far as go into a trance like state, and many times dance with my eyes closed, to enhance my sense of feeling through touch, sound, and instinctual connection to the partner I’m with.
If dance is not your thing, I encourage you to find a form of meditation that resonates with you. It could be martial arts, exercise in any form, an instrument, any creative project, being in nature, with animals, chanting meditations (much like we do in Kundalini Yoga) or silent meditation. It is through being in the present moment, in bliss, that we connect to divine source. Then we realize our true essence – the essence of pure consciousness.
therapeutic yoga with cats
Cats are very unique animals that offer humans not only companionship but healing energy. As healers, they help their human companion reduce risk of heart attacks, overall cardiovascular disease, and depression. Cats are particularly special because of the purring noise they make - this alone is soothing and therapeutic for the nervous system.
The presence of a cat during a yoga class can be an interesting experience. In certain classes in Toronto I allow my cats to join us (provided that no one has allergies or fears). They teach us and heal us at the same time.
The young cuban cat (Pippa) is playful and sometimes hyperactive, but give her some time, during most yoga classes she tends to calm down. She loves to sit and stare at our crazy poses, or she is looking for comfort on a blanket nearby - she just wants to be part of the class on her own yoga mat. When savasana comes around, she's ready, seeking out the best student to cuddle with. Sometimes it is based on the coziest blanket she can find, but more importantly - who needs the most healing today. She cuddles right in the spot between the knees and thighs, or closer to the feet. She chooses a person she knows will welcome her.
My male older cat (Nico) also has a wonderful sense of who may need healing during the class. While the class is on he scopes the entire room, and sometimes circles 3-4 times. He is gathering information - who is here, what are they feeling, and most importantly, who wants to give me the most attention??
Towards the middle/end Nico finds himself sleeping in his beanbag bed, awaiting savasana. When he feels like it, many times he will get up, and walk over to the suitable student, finding that nice warm spot to settle in. Again emitting healing energy and warmth, he is there to comfort and soothe while basking in the love the student has for his energy.
There is a third cat (Chimpy) but she listens to the class from afar. More anti-social in nature, she prefers to come around whenever she feels like it. However, she is quite aware and also enjoys hearing us chant and laugh. She even will rest in areas of the house where the most healing energy has been created - in the yoga space or in the clinic room.
All the cats are so aware of the healing energy we are building in the class, they love being part of it and adding more to it. It is always a treat for them to have attention from loving human beings, because all they want to do is share their love and healing energy in return.
When a yoga class is happening, cats remind us of how to be in tune with our true feelings, our inner child, the deep love we have in our hearts. The calming effects of the class are enhanced 10 times just through presence of these loving creatures. Who needs a therapist? All you need is a cat yoga class!
Elvira is a Licensed Naturopathic Doctor and Certified Yoga Instructor. She combines her knowledge of the naturopathic modalities with mind-body therapy, yoga, ayurveda, exercise, and energy healing.