Shake Your Soul – The Healing Power of Play in Movement

By Kathryn Gardner RYT, LMT

Yoga DanceShake Your Soul® – the Yoga of Dance – is a movement practice that relaxes your nervous system, energizes your body, and awakens your soul through a powerful, fluid dance repertoire set to world music.

When I first walked into a yoga dance class at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, I was curious and nervous. A friend had told me I had to try it; she said I’d have a blast and feel worked over and enlivened by the class. The instructor told us not to worry about “getting the moves right” but to focus on the bubbling up of our creative spirit. He talked about feeling the music in the body and moving spontaneously in response to the moves he would offer.

Slowly my nervousness dissolved as the music and repertoire moved from flowing and sweet, through playful and bouncy, to sensual and soulful. My whole body smiled – I was playing like a little girl again. Worries about how I looked, what others might think, that this was a silly activity with no tangible goal – began slipping away.

Lately, the research about the benefits of play has been getting some press. We’re discovering that not only is play necessary for children as they grow and develop, but that adults need unstructured, non-goal-oriented fun as well. Engaging in regular playful activities has been linked to stress relief, increased brain functioning, improved relationships and a deeper sense of joy in life.

Dan Leven, the creator of Shake Your Soul and founder of LIFE Movement, believes that connecting playfully to music and movement brings us closer to our creative spirit, opening up space in all aspects of our daily lives. “Whether you’re teaching a class, writing a business plan, talking with a friend, working with a client, writing an e-mail, being with your children—whatever the activity is, it can be infused with the spirit of creativity.” That spirit of creativity comes from letting go of the thinking, judging mind. It springs from those spaces between our thoughts when we are connecting directly with the present moment.

Shake Your Soul brings the present moment alive. Each class follows a dance repertoire based on the fluids within our bodies that awaken our natural dancer. Dynamic and organic class sequences feel great to the body and free the spirit. As an instructor, my goal is to create a sweaty, sacred space where you are supported to connect with your creative energy, moving between my movements and the impulse of your soul.

As I learned in my training with Leven, Shake Your Soul supports people back into the fullness of body connection. “As we lead people toward their embodied joy, their spirits are welcomed back into the cells of their muscles, organs, and body.”

Looking back at that first class at Kripalu, it’s easy to see how I fell in love with this practice, and I’m grateful to my friend for encouraging me. Those soulful songs gave way to Indian and African rhythms, and the class drew to a close with soft sounds of the flute. Hands on heart, eyes soft, I felt a deep peace. We were connected as a community of dancers, and I was home again – grounded in my body, and joyful in my bones.

Kathryn Gardner, LMT, RYT-200Kathryn Gardner, RYT, LMT is a certified Yoga Dance teacher and loves teaching yoga and meditation and providing massage at Posabilities. Learn more about her in the About Us section, and click here to check the schedule for class times.

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