A giant hall filled with people dancing to live drumming - free flowing and un-cued, this atmosphere created a profound shift in my life. In 2012, I attended a retreat at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. One of the most inspiring lessons I took away was the healing power of dance.
Their “Noon Dance” program was exhilarating. At first I felt nervous and hesitant, but those nerves were quickly replaced with wonder and excitement. This place was safe and people freely moved, without judgement, as they pleased.
I was hooked! When I returned to my program at the retreat center, the lead facilitator asked forty participants, “What will you remember from your time here?” I was surprised how many included dance in their response. “I want to dance more,” one said. Another shared, “I feel like I can better navigate my emotions while dancing.” I said, “I want to share that kind of dance with others.”
Prana Dance is Born
There are many names for this sort of free flowing movement. Yoga dance, Shakti Dance, and Dance Your Yoga are just a few. For me, Prana Dance resonates with me as a beautiful description of this artistic movement. At the heart of this movement is prana, the Sanskrit word for “life force” or “vital principle." I believe the expression of our true self through dance is an essential part of our natural being and vital to our growth and wellness. This is my forth year of holding classes and workshops for Prana Dance. While the class has evolved over the years, it always maintains the core understanding that each participant is welcome to move their body in ways that feel present, connected, honest and unscripted.
The class structure begins with a guided warm-up to lubricate the joints and gently open the body/mind. Then, we explore the six elements in nature.
We end class with a fun upbeat song and students are welcome to dance whatever exuberant style they are drawn towards. Our cool-down supports the body in a few delicious, assisted stretches before shavasana.
"The Most Joyful Way to Burn Calories"
My hope for participants is that they feel free to show up as their authentic selves, and truly let go of their inhibitions. There is no right or wrong way to move. From a gentle sway to leaping, and maybe to twerking - it’s all welcome. The playlist is super fun. I choose music with motivating, positive lyrics, and often songs with non-English lyrics so that dancers are free to find their own interpretations. One of my students exclaimed, “This is the most joyful ways to burn calories!”
I completely understand feeling intimidated or unsure about trying a class like Prana Dance. I too felt intimidated and unsure years ago. With that said, I have had so much positive feedback from participants, that I am confident in saying this class is 100 percent worth trying out, regardless of the uncertainty. Prana Dance safety opens space to participants to step outside of his or her comfort zone. It frees us from the confines of social norms and celebrates all that makes you, YOU!
There was a time in my life when I believed the only way I could be that carefree and daring is when I was intoxicated. I am so glad I was able to let go of that belief and allow my true self to shine. I’m really looking forward to sharing this unique experience with others. I hope you can feel this kind of confidence and connection as well. Join me as we dance our way into joy!
This blog post was written by yoga instructor Kristin Hicks. Join Kristin in Ebb n' Flow Yoga's Open House on Saturday, November 3 for a 60-min Prana Dance experience!