Shakti Dance is the practice inspired by the wisdom of yoga, combining the awareness of the body, the mind and the spirit. It uses the yoga postures (asana), different dance styles and free movement expression. On the exegetical level shakti dance helps to develop the intuition, to release the blocks and by music and movement, to experience the mystical states. It helps to maintain the balance on many levels, of the heart, of the body and the mind.
It has its roots in the Kundalini Yoga taught by Yogo Bhajan. It was created by Sarah Avtar Oliver, the dancer, the healer and the yogi with 20 years of experience.
My SHAKTI DANCE WORKSHOPS are enriched by my music, by singing and/or playing the instruments (the guitar, the dulcimer, and the drums). I combine it also with my interest in shamanism and the personal development taking you on the very special spiritual journey.
“I was taken by surprise when attending Magdalena’s Shakti Dance session. It was calming, yet energising, gentle, but vigorous too, soulful as well as playful. I can recommend these sessions strongly to everyone who is looking for a gentle way to get in touch with their inner teacher, creator and guide. Thank you for the music Magdalena!” Annari (Bristol, UK)
“I really enjoy SKAKTI DANCE with Magdalena. It is so uplifting, the body feels so good after it. Magdalena is also a great singer and music player which add to the enjoyment: I always look forward to the next workshops. Thank you.” Caroline (Weymouth, UK)
“A beautiful shared experience: the workshop flowed very well and had a good focus of opening the heart. Very healing and uplifting, thank you!” Kerrie (Bournmouth, UK)
Shakti Dance is taught in 8 phases, and through those phases the development awakens different areas of our being. Physical, mental, emotional levels are all participating in the journey within Shakti Dance, and awareness of the meridians, nadis, chakras, elements and bandhas is fundamental within the practice of Shakti Dance. As the macrocosm is created out of elements which can be explained and comprehended through Yogic understanding, so can our movement and application of movement, mind, mantra, breath, intention and will power, and through different themes of understanding, the science of Yoga becomes embodied in a flowing and creative experience of Life Force and Gratitude.
It is not necessary to have a background in Yoga to practice Shakti Dance, but Yogis often find it complementary to their practice, and the streams continue to nourish each other in the evolving creative flow which is Shakti Dance. Shakti Dance also provides an insight into Yoga at a physical level and also at a theoretical level.
A Shakti Dance workshop is usually about 120 mins, and consists of different phases that combine to cleanse and awaken the pranic body, so that the practitioner can access and enjoy the Spirit of Shakti. Following the principles of Patanjali’s yoga sutras, there are usually 8 phases in a session, mirroring the 8 limbs of yoga, or ashtang element which yoga is founded on:
1. Tuning in
A class starts with an opening mantra called the Adi Mantra accompanied by a sequence of hand movements.
This opens up the space and connects us to ‘Guru’ (Higher Consciousness) to receive the teachings.
2. Shakti Stretching
Rhythmic and flowing floor stretches are coordinated with the breath to open and relax the body, releasing tiredness. This phase is very grounding and brings the practitioner ‘into their body’, warming up the muscles, increasing flexibility, relaxing and opening the energy channels in the body and increasing the follow of prana in the nadis (energy channels).
3. Shakti Standing Exercises
The class moves into energising standing exercises that open the chakras, charge the pranic body and balance the 5 elements and flows of energy in the body. The energy that was released and stimulated in the stretching is now increased and distributed around the body with rhythmic standing movements and dance steps to different types of music styles and tempos, mostly yogic mantras.
These standing exercises adhere to principles of harmonious movement (e.g. the rebound force, surrendering to gravity, opening lines of stretch) and work with the body’s natural geometry.
4. Free-Flow Dance
On reaching the free dance stage, the practitioner is literally led by the flow of energy that has been created and is able to dance without the ego-mind being in control: “It’s a very relaxed feeling when you come into the flow. There is no fear that something has to be in one way or another way, or that it could go wrong. It’s just whatever comes.” (Sara Avtar Olivier, Aug 09). In this stage, the innate creativity of each individual is given free reign and when the dancer completely surrenders to this the dance becomes an expression of the soul and a natural healing process occurs.
The rhythmic pulsation of body, mind and spirit is allowed to integrate while releasing tensions. We spend a few minutes lying on our backs in Shavasana (corpse pose), allowing time to consolidate the energies accummulated.
6. Celestial Communication and Mantric Choreography
A celestial communication or mantric choreography is a moving meditation. This may be sitting or standing and will usually be done to a Kundalini Yoga mantra in Gurmukhi (but also sometimes to Sanskrit mantras). The repeated movement becomes a focus that stills the mind and creates harmonising waves within the aura. These meditations can be very profound, are enjoyable to learn, and create a powerful group matrix when performed in a mandala.
A moment is taken to return to the stillness within (Shakti merges back into Shiva), to enjoy the fulfillment of emptiness following the satisfaction of self-expression. This is the opportunity to bathe in the regenerative space of Source within.
We use a simple and specific mantra at the end of a session with mudra movements, so that inner and outer worlds are brought into balance, and a protective auric shield is created around each participant.