Kaoshiiki – a yoga dance!
I believe that Kaoshikii dance is one of the most complete, all-round workouts ever invented. It is a rhythmic yogic dance, that uniquely combines a stretching of the spine in all directions while at the same time giving an aerobic workout to the heart. The cross-lateral movements of the feet, which tap a toe behind the heel of the opposite foot, this crossing over the body’s center line, are considered by authors such as Eric Jenson, who wrote “Brain Based Learning” to be connected to improved brain coordination and increased mental acuity. At the same time, the arms are gracefully bending to the sides, forwards and backwards, open up the major meridians of the body, increasing circulation and energy flow. The forward bends are calming, while the backward bends are invigorating and energizing.
The dance was invented in 1978 by the spiritual master Shriii Shrii Anandamurtii as a holistic exercise to develop all of the layers of the mind known as kosas, increasing their vitality and allowing the light of the soul to shine through more easily. Like most Indian classical dances, Kaoshiiki is based on mudras, which are movements that are imbued with deeper spiritual meanings. The science of mudra is based on the idea that certain positions of the body stimulate different types of feelings and thoughts. If we walk with our shoulders rolled forward and our head down, our body will express a certain feeling of dejection, which we may begin to experience if we continue for some time. If on the other hand we stretch both arms open towards the sky, lift our face towards the sun and smile, it would be hard to continue feeling depressed – rather such movements tend to evoke a lighter feeling of freedom and joy.
Meaning of the movements
Each of the component mudras of Kaoshiiki has a subtle spiritual meaning. The arms raised above the head with the palms touching, for example, signifies the entire mind focusing on a single Divine point. The bending to the sides, like the swaying of a tree in the wind, symbolizes the way to attract Divine Grace. The forward bending to touch the earth is a sign of letting go of our small ego, while the lifting of the heart as we arch the arms backwards, represents the ability to overcome all obstacles. The final steps of the dance connect us to the continual cosmic rhythm of the universe.
The dance thus becomes not only a physical exercise, but a spiritual one as well. There are six different positive affirmations associated with the meaning of the mudras that can be repeated during the dance and are designed to help free the mind of all superiority and inferiority complexes. The movements are also coordinated with a certain special pattern of mantra that helps to further deepen the meditative effect as well as amplify the vibrational resonance on the subtler systems of our body.
23 Benefits of Kaoshiiki:
Anandamurtii claimed that the dance has a medicinal effect and listed the following 23 benefits:
- It exercises all the glands and limbs from head to foot.
- It increases longevity.
- It facilitates easy childbirth.
- The spine will become flexible.
- Arthritis of the spine, neck, waist and other joints will be removed.
- Gout in the spine, neck, hand and waist will be healed.
- The mind becomes strong and sharp.
- Irregularities in menstruation will be cured.
- Glandular secretions will become regulated.
- Troubles in the bladder and urethra will be cured.
- It gives control over the limbs.
- It adds charm and shine to the face and skin.
- It removes wrinkles.
- It removes lethargy.
- It cures insomnia.
- It cures panic attacks.
- Fear complexes will be removed.
- Hopelessness will be cured.
- It helps in self-expression and develops one’s potentiality.
- Spinal pain, piles, hernia, hydrocele in men, nervous pain, nervous disability will be cured.
- It cures kidney and gall bladder troubles, gastric trouble, dyspepsia, acidity, dysentery, syphilis, gonorrheae, obesity, thinness and liver diseases.
- It increases the capacity to work until 75-80 years of age
Easy to practise anywhere!
While it can take some practice to master the dance at first, as it requires a significant amount of coordination, once learned, it is a form of exercise that can be easily practiced anywhere. No special equipment is needed, and it can be practised even in extremely confined spaces, or in wide open spaces outdoors in nature. Gradually increasing the practice time to up to 21 minutes is a very complete workout, and builds determination and willpower.
My own experience with Kaoshiiki
Personally, I have been practising at least 50 rounds of kaoshikii daily for many years, which me takes only about 10 minutes and leaves me with a warm glow. It is one of my main forms of regular, rigorous aerobic exercise, and is a perfect complement to the slower stretching exercises of yoga asanas that I also practise daily. It keeps me in excellent shape, and even though I do not regularly participate in other types of sports, I find I can bicycle, skate, ski or hike even with people much younger than myself with relative ease. It also helps me to control my weight, even though I love to eat well and am not a fan of dieting. When I first began this practise, I was suffering from chronic fatigue that had lingered after several bouts of mononucleosis and epstein bar syndrome as a teenager. After a few weeks of kaoshiki, I noticed a dramatic change in my vitality. A certain cloudy lethargy permanently lifted, and I felt both body and mind noticeably charged with a much more dynamic, vibrant energy. That experience got me hooked, and ever since then it is has been a regular part of my lifestyle.
Learn Kaoshiiki at Morningstar!
Kaoshiikii is one of the exercises that I teach during my yoga classes at Centrul Morningstar every Thursday.
Here is a Romanian translation of this article.
The video at the top of the article shows kaoshikii being danced all over the world!