Kripalu, Yoga Dance, and What I Learned About Buddhism
Last weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to go to the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health with my wonderful aunt. It was an experience I am truly grateful for and will always cherish. It was a weekend full of love, beauty, kindness, compassion, mindfulness, meditation, delicious food, wonderful company, of course yoga, and some dance. It was everything I had imagined and so much more. One of the lessons I got from this experience was how the movement of dance brings such joy when forming a connection with others. A concept I knew but perhaps never truly appreciated. I expected the yoga part to be wonderful-which it was-but I did not expect to do “Yoga Dance” and “Dance Mediation”- both of which were the highlights of my trip. Often, I found myself thinking of Sangha Space, and the beautiful community of people that are a part of it. Sangha Space’s philosophy is “connecting people through movement” and I was able to form beautiful connections with strangers at Kripalu.
The “Yoga Dance” was pure fun! Once you get over “just letting go” of judgments and of self-criticism, it was extremely liberating and blissful. It was an hour long dance event with the wonderful Kripalu Drummers. At times, we danced alone, but for the most we danced with partners and in small and large group dances, all of which were awkward for a second but enjoyable as we created authentic connections. I felt so much energy from the 100 or so people in the room; it is really difficult to put into words. After our yoga dance, I felt a connection to that community that I just wanted to hug everyone-I did hug the wonderful instructorJ. I was able to be in the moment and let go of the ego, to be fully present with no thoughts just feelings-it was beautiful!
Part of our journey at Kripalu was learning about Buddhism and practicing meditation and mindfulness, both fascinating and challenging. Our speaker, Noah Levine, made the classes fun, informative and calming. He is a wonderful speaker and I admire his journey. One of the meditation exercises we did was a “Dance Meditation”. The idea was to just dance to his IPOD for 30 minutes without talking and by using up all the space in the room. I love to dance, so for me, this was a fun dance party. Though perhaps for others it may have been uncomfortable, and there were a few people that just observed, especially in the beginning. Noah had reggae (which I love), some punk rock, some rap, and some oldies; each song brought a memory for me and so much joy. For most of the time, I was in my own “bubble” and not focusing on anyone else. I had such a blast dancing by myself. Though, I did notice, as time went on, our dancing community was growing, smiling, and enjoying this unique dance experience. There was a bond forming with us. I loved watching people just have fun and be present in the moment. At the end, Noah asked us to lay on the floor and “meditate” to the most beautiful rendition of Bob Marley’s “One Love” that I have ever heard. Laying on the wooden floor, speakers vibrating, with the beautiful voices singing “One Love. One Heart” over and over with the sound of ocean waves crashing in the background, and to be in constant movement for a half an hour and then just stop was indescribable. Before that dance experience, I thought meditation was a practice that is done quietly and alone, I was wrong. During that dance, although there was no verbal communication, our connection was formed, our sangha solidified, and it was magical.
Sunday night, as I was trying to meditate before bed, I was thinking about the “Dancing Mediation” and the Sangha Space yoga community. Yoga is usually done as a silent activity, done alone-for the most part-on a mat, yet there is a deep connection each time we practice in a class. Our goals are similar yet different, we are all the same yet unique, and how, like the dance meditation, we are in our own silent bubble forming a connection through movement. I am so grateful for the ability to be able to move, a concept often taken for granted. I am aware of how strong connections can be made without ever speaking. And I am grateful for the relationships that I had made at Sangha Space and the strong sense of community that exists there. This community of movement brings us together in a magnificent space, nourishes our sangha, and provides us with a connection of joy, peace and kindness to not only each other but ourselves.
“The highest form of spiritual practice is self-observation without self-criticism.”– Swami Kripalu