GTPulse: Like Yoga And Meditation? Try Chakra Dance At This Traverse City Yoga Studio
The idea of practicing self care has been growing stronger with each passing year. With the societal shift in focus on mental health issues and burnout, now more than ever people are looking to enhance their lives by taking time for themselves to practice activities that are healthy in body, mind and spirit. Setting aside time in a hectic schedule can be a challenge for anyone and is something that I find myself struggling with, but about once a month I am able to go to some kind of yoga or meditation class. Yoga and meditation have proven health benefits for the mind and body, so my interest was piqued when a meditation class I went to mentioned something called chakra dance. I’ve heard of chakras, I like to dance and the woman who mentioned the class said it was something that she found healing and unique.
Jessica Merwin-Scott owns New Moon Yoga in Traverse City with her husband Ken Scott. She has been teaching chakra dance for two years and teaches yoga at the studio as well. Prior to the class, I had heard of chakras in different yoga and meditation classes, but didn’t really know what they were. Jessica described chakras as seven different points in the soul that each have their own effect on our feelings of groundness, well being and even are said to help the physical body in different ways. Chakras are aligned from the bottom of our pelvises to the crown of the head. Practicing ways to open up different chakras through meditation or yoga isn’t new, the practice dates back to 500 BC India.
Jessica is teaching a series on chakra dance and I attended on Saturday night. She has been focusing on a different chakra each week and Saturday’s class was focused on opening the heart chakra. The studio was dimly lit, smelled like mint and had a round printed cloth laid out on the floor with a color wheel of embroidered pillows circling it. In the center of the floor cushions was a vase of dark pink roses, which I presumed were to be representative of love and the heart.
All of the participants sat on a cushion and Jessica led a guided meditation before starting the class. Jessica further dims the lights before starting chakra dancing. The dances are performed with eyes closed or downcast to fully involve yourself in connecting to the music. The music is a powerful factor in chakra dance because it’s the different vibrations and tones in each song that resonates with a specific chakra.
All seven chakras are danced through briefly before focusing on the heart. There is some guidance from Jessica. Beginning the heart dance she had us make large arm movements and roll the shoulders back and around, but ultimately the chakra dancing is left up for interpretation to the participant, which is why Jessica encourages closed eyes so that the participant can be immersed in their own body movement rather than being aware of how others are moving.
“It’s your journey, and it’s up to you how deeply you want be in it” Jessica said.
It’s liberating to be able to dance how I do when I’m in my living room or getting ready in my bathroom, in a room full of strangers and admittedly I felt a tad self conscious at first. But as I focused on the music and my own body movements, I didn’t care anymore. Also, I got teary eyed at the opening of the heart chakra, as I always seem to do at these kind of classes.
During the dancing Jessica had us visualize different things and when the dancing was over, the participants draw a mandala of any images or words that stuck out to them. For different reasons I had visions of ice, rose petals and mountains. Another participant had a vision of her childhood frustration of never being able to draw a perfect heart, and letting go of that idea of perfection while she was dancing.
The class ends with a final short, guided meditation before Jessica has us each take a rose from the center of the circle. I have taken an Interplay class with Jessica at New Moon Yoga before and she has a kind, warm, open heart that cultivates a very soothing and non-judgemental environment. She is a wonderful instructor for those who are new or experienced to yoga and meditation practices. Whether you have a regular understanding and relationship with your chakras, or you’re inexperienced with them, consider trying a chakra dance class as your next self care journey.