Shake that thang

I went belly dancing for the first time yesterday. It was a class full of about 40 women, from teenagers (my own daughter was one) to women in their sixties, and from all different social backgrounds. Initially, I was inhibited and shy, doing only tiny circular movements, all controlled and propah. But luckily, our coach Mandira Srivastava instructed us to close our eyes. This was a great move, because it helps you focus on your own body movements and feelings without worrying what others think of you or how silly you must look! It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, or how fit or unfit. The point is to shake that booty, and then let go and allow the sensation to lead you.

Our coach had designed a workshop that merged an Arabian art with ancient knowledge systems such as Reiki and colour therapy. She explained that belly dancing activates the Hara chakra (also called the Sacral or Swadhishthan chakra) according to the ancient Indian chakra system of healing, also used in yoga. This is the centre of sexual energy, creativity, intuition and passion. Its negative attributes are lust, greed and material attachments, while the positive aspects are security and peace.

Well, so I did all the movements and meditation along with all the other women, of activating my Hara chakra and igniting my passion centre. It was a delicious feeling – not so much sexual but sensual! The whole belly glows with an orange energy (yes, you can almost sense its orange-ness). You feel vibrant, alive and joyful, from a place that is deeper than just your mind. It’s as if the essence of your womanhood has come awake.

I remember a colleague who once tried out belly dancing with the same teacher for a story in our magazine, and she came back saying she couldn’t feel any chakra or anything. But that was in complete contrast to my own experience! I can’t imagine anyone NOT feeling the glow and energy. Its one of those things you can’t see, touch or define. You just have to feel it.

And anyway 90 per cent of the most beautiful experiences in life can’t be defined in words.

Traditionally, Krishna-devotees lay out chappan bhog (literally, 56 forms of food; figuratively, a feast of offerings) for Him on festivals and other auspicious occasions. Like one of those undefinable ecstasies in life, belly dancing is a gift to women, one of the items laid out by Krishna in his chappan bhog for us.

Shimmying to the erotic rhythm, letting go, my arms making graceful waves in the air, my eyes closed and my heart in complete surrender, I could almost sense Him smile.


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