5 Mind-Body workouts that are about to Break out
5 Rhythms: Dance as ecstatic trance
BY CARMEN CASADO — Many profess that this mind-body routine is a path to the very center of aliveness and pure bliss. An outsider looking in will likely say it's absurd.
I'm often asked, what exactly is 5Rhythms?
Right, it's a dance.
It's actually a trademarked-name for a style of free movement with a "spiritual" and meditative undercurrent. The 5Rhythms consists of, well, five rhythms: dance-tracks with a narrative of dynamics, much like the "tunnels" and "peaks" at trance and rave events.
The 5Rhythms was developed by Gabriel Roth in the 1960s, and incorporates eastern and indigenous philosophies. This mind-body mode is now practiced from Phoenix to Salinas, CA, with its main centers of gravity in New York City, L.A. and San Francisco, California.
Wherever people do it, here is how I did it.
I was staying with my brother in Palo Alto, and went to the local meet-up for 5Rhythms.
The dancers, or the "tribe," slowly move about in flowing-earthy-urban or workout wear. They are usually barefoot, or sporting dance shoes, and span the adult-age spectrum.
The music starts gently with the first of the five rhythms "flow." Dancers amble to the music however they feel compelled. Some linger on the periphery, in a down-dog or a seated meditation.
The second rhythm, "staccato," heats up the room. Dancers match their motions to the DJ's cadence, speeding up their movements, bouncing around, swooping and twirling, with arms about in graceful gesture.
As the room energizes, the dancers enter the zone of dance. Minds let go of daily obsessions and preoccupation, and the beauty of human motion unfurls in sound-surround.
The sound-surround accelerates to the quickest beat of the wave, "chaos." In this wild catharsis, we jump, scream, hoot and yelp in a state of sweaty trance.
The collective energy is a thrilling and enthralling celebration.
The music descends again, and we the dancers echo the calm.
The "lyrical" rhythm gently leads to the final "stillness," which beckons many dancers to the ground, swaying in slow motion or frozen in beautiful pose.
To the dancers the practice is more than a workout. It's a method for moving past the thinking-mind, and connecting with the soul. And to the collective dancers it's a support group, a safe space.
PHYSICAL BENEFITS: Movements as gentle or as strenuous as the dancer likes. All muscles, including the heart, get a workout.
SPIRITUAL BENEFITS: Empowering because there are no rules, and anything goes. Total freedom results in a satisfyingly-exhausting mind-body purge.
Carmen Casado is an immigration lawyer based in San Francisco, California, and a contributor to Soul's Code. She balances her law practice with a Zen Buddhist practice, vinyasa yoga, ecstatic dance and contact improv.