I’m nervously standing towards the again of the primary studio at The Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali, ready for the ecstatic dance class to start out. I do not know what to anticipate, however have been advised it might very properly be “the most ecstatic experience of my life.” I’m bought—and stand in line a whopping three hours earlier than the 7:30 Friday night time begin time to safe a ticket for this occasion, which is likely one of the hottest courses right here every week.
‘What Ecstatic Dance Is All About’
I scan the room and quietly measurement up my fellow ecstatic dancers. The tan, long-haired man in entrance of me is shirtless and sporting cropped Thai fishing pants; there’s a woman within the entrance row in a Bikram Yoga-style sports activities bra and cropped shorts who’s additionally sporting elbow and knee pads; there’s a 50-ish-year-old lady in an extended, flowy gown proper subsequent to a 20-nothing with feathers in her hair and a glittery bra prime that exhibits rather a lot of aspect boob. It’s my first lesson in what ecstatic dance is all about: something goes.
The music begins and we transfer slowly at first, respiration deeply and warming up our necks, arms, shoulders, backs, and legs. There’s some steerage from the trainer at first, however then not plenty of speaking—and undoubtedly no directives on find out how to dance. There are not any cues, and no teacher asking you to comply with his choreography. Just music—loud, lovely music—that begins off sluggish after which builds to a quicker tempo. It’s a mixture between what you’d hear at a classy vinyasa stream class and a new-age hippy rave.
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‘I Feel Like an Outsider’
At first, I really feel like an outsider, even if I’m sporting my greatest harem pants jumpsuit to at the very least attempt to slot in on the style entrance. It’s simply that everybody round me seems so snug and excited—like they’ve carried out this one million occasions earlier than and know that ecstasy awaits. As I begin to dance, I’m wondering, What will everybody assume once they catch a glimpse of my strikes? How can my dancing probably examine to the woman with the glittery bra prime who appears like she was born to ecstatic dance?
Then, one thing superior occurs. Maybe it’s the music, which feels virtually trance-like at occasions. Or maybe it’s the truth that once I look across the room, a lot of dancers have their eyes closed, which prompts me to shut my very own eyes and begin shifting my physique nevertheless I rattling properly please. Within minutes of sophistication beginning, I begin dancing like no one is watching (as a result of, because it seems, they aren’t!) and it feels good.
‘I Am Present in This Moment’
My hips begin gyrating like I used to be a Latin dance professional in my final life, and my arms tackle lives of their very own, swirling round my head and down my physique. I leap. I shake. I kick my proper leg as excessive as I can, after which my left. I drop to my knees and lie on my abdomen (now I perceive the elbow and knee pads!), and stretch my complete physique out on the ground earlier than rolling onto my again, undulating as much as sit, after which leaping up into the air. I take up increasingly area and transfer to extra areas of the room as the category goes on—and as I do this, my ideas take up much less and fewer area in my mind. I’m current on this second, merely shifting as freely as I like, in group with 100 different individuals doing the identical.
When class is over, I stroll down the spiral staircase on the Yoga Barn feeling like I rode an epic wave of collective vibration. My physique feels superb: labored, stretched-out, expressive, and free.
But the subsequent day is when issues obtained much more fascinating. I rolled out my yoga mat for a morning follow and as I began doing Sun Salutations, I observed I felt much less fidgety than I’ve been in a few yr. I’ve received 400 hours of yoga instructor training beneath my belt, and now have the privilege of working with a few of the world’s most famous yoga academics and anatomists on content material for Yoga Journal. Along with all the elevated information I’ve picked up from my trainings and these specialists, I’ve additionally discovered myself considering—quite a bit—whereas holding yoga poses. Is my entrance thigh externally rotating because the internal arch of my entrance foot presses down into my mat throughout Warrior II? Am I partaking—however not gripping—my glutes in Bridge Pose? What changes can I make to boost my arms greater whereas additionally softening my ribs in Upward Salute? These are worthy efforts, to make certain, however typically I simply want I might belief that my physique is aware of what to take action I can simply stream.
The morning after ecstatic dance, that’s precisely what occurred. I moved via these Sun Salutations—and the remainder of my follow—with ease. I didn’t throw out all of my information about good alignment, however I additionally wasn’t as keenly targeted on it as normal. I used to be out of my head and absolutely in my physique.
And it felt downright ecstatic.
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