by Beth Heller, MS RYT
The first time I experienced Shiva Nata, or the Dance of Shiva (DOS), was in 2002 when Andrey Lappa, a visiting yoga master from the Ukraine, introduced this practice to the Chicago yoga scene. At the time I thought it was very interesting and exotic, but with Andrey leaving town there was not much opportunity to study the system so I never continued with practice.
Flash forward to 2011. Out of the blue, our friend Neil Keleher sent a message from Taiwan where he practices and teaches DOS to ask whether Tami and I had considered sharing the Dance of Shiva with our students at Pulling Down the Moon. Neil had studied Shiva Nata extensively with Andre in Chicago back in the day, and had continued to work with it in his personal practice these many years. Neil was finding that this practice repeatedly helped his students move past stuck points into more positive life situations that aligned with their heart’s purpose. In essence, Neil suggested, the Dance of Shiva was helping to “birth” his students’ intentions. Needless to say I was intrigued.
Symbolically this practice is spot on for fertility. In the Hindu pantheon Shiva is one third of the Trimurti, the primary aspects of the divine represented by Brahama (the creator), Vishnu (the sustainer) and Shiva (the Destroyer). In this tradition, Shiva governs the shedding of old patterns, structures and beliefs to make room for new life-affirming directions. Much of the deep work we do at the Moon comes through re-evaluating the habits and beliefs our students have brought with them to the point in time in which they are experiencing crisis (infertility). The techniques we use at Pulling Down the Moon – yoga, Traditional Chinese Medicine, therapeutic massage and nutrition – work to make us aware of patterns of harmony and disharmony in our lives; to consciously choose what we want to keep and what we want to discard. On a visual level the symbolic connection of Shiva to fertility is even more obvious. Shiva is often represented as a lingham and his partner Shakti is represented as a yoni. They are often depicted together as a divine representation of procreative energy.
So what is the Dance of Shiva? Basically it is a set of movement patterns that you learn that becomes a form of moving meditation. It looks like the love-child of yoga and martial arts and DOS practitioners claim that the practice stimulates insight, creates a sense of mental calm and helps the practitioner enter a state of flow where she is present in each moment as it arises. Epiphanies that arise from practice break down outmoded structures and lead the way to change, calm and flow help us move in life-affirming directions.
I asked Neil how he felt the DOS could help with fertility and here is his response:
“If a woman is struggling with conscious or unconscious negative thought patterns about her fertility,” says Neil, “Doing the Dance of Shiva may help her become more aware of these thought patterns and move beyond them. ” This is because the practitioners of DOS believe the initial memorization and practice of the movements creates new neural pathways.
Furthermore, the Dance of Shiva is very grounding and returns a woman to her body. The practice may also have a profound physical benefit as well.
“The concentration required to do the DOS requires you to focus on feeling your body and this focus forces you to be truly present and in your body,” Neil continues. ”Another benefit for fertility is that the DOS helps you practice knowing what you want to do (intention) and helps you arrange things so you can do it.”
Over the past few weeks I have begun a DOS practice in earnest and, surprisingly, have found these spiraling movements to be meditative and interesting. I have even experienced a few powerful epiphanies. Placebo effect? Perhaps. But I think not. The DOS is mathematical, which I am NOT, so I find that my brain is both challenged and energized by new neural connections. The movements haunt me during the day and I find myself imagining and visualizing these spirals as I wait in line at the grocery store or drive my car. In my experience this means this practice is penetrating on an energetic level and having an effect on my physical and energetic body.
Regarding fertility, my hunch is that this IS a very powerful practice for helping us reach our goal of creating family so stay tuned over the coming weeks for more updates, video and further commentary.
If you need more now, visit Neil’s website and blog at http://thedanceofshiva.com.