October 6, 2012

Yoga Journal Estes: Shiva Rea—Yoga Trance Dance. ~ Jennifer Spesia

All of me is on fire! My voice, my body my hands!

When I registered for classes for the Yoga Journal Conference, I decided to try a wide variety of classes: a little pranayama here, some asana there, and then a few classes I probably personally would never sign up for, just because I can. One such class for me this time was Shiva Rea’s Sahaja Yoga Trance Dance Class. While I appreciate the millenia old practice of yoga trance dancing, found at the heart of the Bhakti movement in India, it’s also very difficult for me to let go and just be totally uninhibited. Not surprisingly, I’m not the only one.

If you haven’t done a yogic trance dance class before, it’s a trip. Seriously. It is one of those things people outside the yoga community witness and think, wow, that is some straight up freaky hippy-dippy shit. Not being uninhibited is one thing, but feeling silly and looking silly in a room full of other people is another, and that’s where the boundaries of my comfort zone usually lie.

Trance dance cultivates natural movement, intuition, and creativity and the idea is to embody or harness our innate inner dancer. Shiva pointed out we are all born knowing how to dance. You know when you see those videos of 2 year old kids who can barely stand on their own two feet, but you play music and they shake their groove things all over the playground? That skill, that inner fire, she explained, is something we are all born with but often lose touch with over time. This practice connects us to the now and to our sacredness within.

Shiva’s yoga trance dance class involved spontaneous movement, emanating from our inner primal vibrations. We writhed on the floor, rolling around, connecting to our “inner fires of transformation”. Then we danced, engaging in spontaneous movement to the point of total exhaustion—with passion for being alive and intimate connectedness to our inner sacredness—absolutely collapsing to the ground afterward.

Despite the challenge of getting out of my own way, I loved the yoga trance dance class because it was beautiful, because it pushed me out of my comfort zone, and because I am grateful for the opportunity to, as Shiva said, “dance in freedom for those not free”.


Jennifer Spesia is completing her PhD in Psychology in 2013 and currently works with individuals, couples, families, and groups in her psychotherapy practice in the beautiful state of Colorado. Jennifer is a long-time student of Eastern spiritual traditions, a meditator, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa), a yoga-teacher-in-training, a human companion to three amazing dogs, a world traveler, a philosopher, a seeker, and an eternal student.



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