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Saturday, October 06, 2012

Filling Our "Energy Well" Using Oriental Dance

Filling Our "Energy Well" Using Circular, Rolling, and Snake Movements with the Chifti Telli Rhythm in Esoteric Belly Dance

Julia Cameron, in her book The Vein of Gold, talks about "filling the well." She writes, "As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing." (p. 21)
 

 

 

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Water: The Energy of the Season of Cups

As we move into Autumn, the Season of Cups, we shift both our dance and our life-focus. Summer was the Season of Rods, and dealt with fire energy. If we had progressed in our energy cultivation path well over the previous year, we had plenty of "energy to burn" by summer time - and that's exactly what we did!
 

Now, though, with the heat of the summer waning, we are ready for something different. Our bodies - and our psyches - seek replenishment.
 

Energetic Anatomy

Because we are doing esoteric belly dance, or Oriental dance (belly dance) with an energy component, the idea of replenishment has very specific and practical meaning for us. We focus on drawing energy into our "energy reserve centers," and to building and strengthening this energy.
 

As a first step, we look at one aspect of our energy anatomy - the various energy channels that come up our spine.
 

In many of our energy exercises, we draw energy up our spine. Very often, we bring energy straight up our spinal column.
 

However, in this lesson, we pay attention to the fact that the energy currents up our spine are more complex.
 

There are really three channels, or nadis (a Sanskrit term), as recognized in the yogic tradition. These are:

  • Pingala: The nadi carrying the "active" aspect or prana (this is our vital life-force, or ch'i)
  • Ida: The nadi carrying the "passive" aspect or apana
  • Sushumna: The nadi carrying the Kundalini energy

These energy channels have been recognized in our own Western medical tradition - in a very subliminal manner - for thousands of years. Specifically, the cadeceus - our emblem for the healing arts - is a stylized depiction of these energy channels.
 

The tantric tradition of kundalini yoga has been to awaken the energy flow through these nadis, culminating in a fully awakened and energy-vitalized state.
 

Relating Energetic Anatomy to Western Esoteric Tradition

In our studies, we use this time of year to "fill our well" energetically. In fact, we opened this quarter by giving attention to energy dancing with a water feeling.
 

Now that we've introduced our theme, we move from the overall feeling of water energy (the Ace of Cups) to the lesson in the Two of Cups. Margaret Wells, who has developed interpretations for the various Tarot cards, describes the Two of Cups as bringing forth "a moment of shared feeling."
 

Look closely at the imagery in this card, designed especially by Melvis, in a project organized by Margaret. See how the two cups are blending together? And they're both receiving droplets of water.
 

This is what we're doing. We're bringing "droplets of energy" to both our prana (Pingala) and apana (Ida) origination and storage points at the base of our spine. This is the starting point for our exercise.
 

Practicum: Second Week of Autumn

Pingala/Ida Nadi Tracing

We will return in this week's class to the Cabbalistic Cross exercise that we began last week, using the music Anahat (by Kairo by Night).
 

We are going to use the opening phrases of this music (about a minute or so, before the "melodic line" kicks in) to trace the Pingala and Ida circulation lines up our spines. This acts as a reminder to ourselves that these two nadis play a role. Even though many of our other energy exercises will bring the energy straight up our spines, we acknowledge the different "currents" or nadis as we begin our practice.
 

Please note: The Cabbalistic Cross is not an "energy-building" or "energy circulation" exercise. Rather, it is the first step in aligning ourselves with certain "realms of consciousness" (Sephiroth in the Kabbalistic tradition), and is a preliminary to an "energy boundary" exercise, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. We are inserting the Pingala/Ida here - because it works - and we'll insert it into other exercises/etudes as well. Keep in mind the distinction; energy-building or cultivation vs. energy circulation vs. protection/boundary-creation.
 

Other exercises for the Second Week of Autumn

  • Diaphragm stretches: We'll begin paying more attention to each of our three diaphragms, allowing them to release, so we can bring in more air. This is an important precursor to learning undulations, both upper and lower body.
  • Circular Movements: Hip circles and rib cage circles help us to "feel out" the fullness of the energy basin that rests in our pelvic girdle.
  • Snake Arms: We'll introduce some exercises that will help you move your arms and hands gracefully. These are necessary precursors to candle dancing, which is an optional study for Winter Solstice.

As always, we'll do veil work - both in place, and moving across the floor.
 

Music/Rhythms

We will listen to and move with various chifti telli pieces, which are the focal rhythms for this quarter.
 

Principles

  • Lotus Flower: This is a Static Principle, and is the second one that we learn in our sequence. It is the natural corollary to the Anchoring Principle that we studied last week.
  • Expansion/Contraction: This is a Dynamic Principle that we'll study in greater depth over time. We use the Expansion/Contraction method, combined with breathing (even a little pranayama) to fill our energy cauldron (the "basin" in our hip girdle, where we build and store intrinsic energy, or ch'i). This is a natural accompaniment to - and adds to the energetic value of - movements such as hip circles.

Using Unveiling: The Inner Journey as a Study Guide for Autumn Dance Classes

Textbook References

The following chapters in Unveiling are relevant to this week's study:

  • Chapter 25, "Sex Secrets of Belly Dancers": All you need to know (and more) about our various diaphragms. Also a write-up on why we do those horrible abdominal exercises during our warm-ups. (Strengthens our internal and external obliques.)
  • Chapter 22, "Looking Like a Dancer (Even If You're Not)": Includes a very brief description of the Anchoring Principle, which I learned from martial arts master Peter Ralston, along with a brief mention of the Lotus Flower Principle (which I simply call "reaching up" in the text).

Related Personal Pathworking Steps:

At the beginning of this post, I referenced author Julia Cameron, who talks about using images to feed our artistic souls. I build on her ideas in my recent book, Unveiling: The Inner Journey. (Look at the Personal Pathworking at the end of Chapter 3, "Bedtime Stories for Grown-Up Girls.")
 

 

 

Paper

 

Kindle

 

 


 

Studying with Alay'nya

It is still possible to join us in the Alay'nya Studio in McLean, VA. Beginners meet on Sundays from 11:30 to 1PM. Learn about the Beginner's Dance Package, and email me for an invitation to join us for a complimentary introductory class: alaynya (at) alaynya (dot) com.
 

Related Posts for Using Water Energy in Dance

4 comments:

Mezmer lissa said...

Thanks for a great class today Alay'nya! Here is the link I mentioned with a picture reference for the mudras:

http://www.eclecticenergies.com/chakras/open.php

Have a great week!

Rachna Kumar said...

Hello All!
Hope you're having a lovely week. As promised, here are the links to the Ayurvedic body types or "Doshas" (Vata, Pitta, Kapha). Each dosha has specific characteristics and manifestations in the body. The free quizzes will allow you to assess which body type you are and what you can do to help balance yourself. I decided to reference two links because I thought it would be interesting to see if the results of each matched up. Hope you find this educational and fun. See you in our awesome class Sunday!

http://whisperingworlds.com/ayurveda/dosha_test.php

http://doshaquiz.chopra.com/

Sincerely,
Rachna

Alay'nya said...

Thank you, Rachna - I've been looking into Ayurvedic diet, etc. once again ever since you brought this up in class - much appreciated!

Alay'nya said...

Thank you, Melissa! I appreciate your sharing a good link on mudras, useful to all of us. Good to have you in class with us, see you soon! - A.