Ed­i­tor Meghan Rab­bitt gives ec­static dance a shot, and her yoga thanks her.

When ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor Meghan Rab­bitt found her­self at an ec­static dance class in Bali, she dropped all of her in­hi­bi­tions—and it changed her yoga prac­tice.

Yoga Journal - - JANUARY 2018 -

I’m ner­vously stand­ing to­ward the back of the main stu­dio at the Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali, wait­ing for class to start. I have no idea what to ex­pect, but I’ve been told it could very well be “the most ec­static ex­pe­ri­ence of my life”—which is why I stood in line for three hours to se­cure a ticket.

I scan the room and qui­etly size up my fel­low ec­static dancers. The tan, long-haired guy in front of me is shirt­less and wear­ing cropped Thai fish­ing pants; there’s a girl in a sports bra and short shorts who’s also wear­ing el­bow and knee pads; there’s a 50-ish-year-old woman in a long, flowy dress right next to a 20-noth­ing with feath­ers in her hair and a glit­tery bra top that shows a lot of side boob. It’s my first les­son in what ec­static dance is all about: any­thing goes.

The mu­sic starts and we move slowly at first, breath­ing deeply and warm­ing up our necks, arms, shoul­ders, backs, and legs. In ec­static dance, there’s typ­i­cally some guid­ance from the in­struc­tor at the start of class, but then no talk­ing—and def­i­nitely no di­rec­tives on how to dance. There are no cues, and no in­struc­tor ask­ing you to fol­low a chore­og­ra­phy. Just loud, beau­ti­ful mu­sic that’s a mix be­tween what you’d hear at a trendy vinyasa flow class and a new-age hip­pie rave. The danc­ing def­i­nitely looks like the lat­ter, de­spite be­ing a drug- and al­co­hol­free event.

At first, I feel like an out­sider, even though I’m wear­ing my best harem-pants jump­suit to at least try to fit in on the fash­ion front. It’s just that ev­ery­one around me looks so com­fort­able— like they’ve done this a mil­lion times and know that ec­stasy awaits. As I start to dance, I won­der, What will ev­ery­one think when they catch a glimpse of my moves? Then, some­thing awe­some hap­pens. Maybe it’s the mu­sic, which feels al­most trance­like at times. Or the fact that when I glance around the room, lots of dancers have their eyes closed, which prompts me to close my own eyes and start mov­ing my body how­ever I damn well please. Within min­utes of class start­ing, I start danc­ing like no­body is watch­ing (be­cause, as it turns out, they aren’t!) and it feels good.

My hips start gy­rat­ing as if I’d been a Latin dance pro in a past life, and my arms take on lives of their own, swirling around my head and down my body. I jump. I shake. I drop to my knees and lie on my stom­ach (in­stantly un­der­stand­ing the el­bow and knee pads) and stretch my en­tire body out on the floor be­fore rolling onto my back and then un­du­lat­ing up to stand. I take up more and more space and move to more ar­eas of the room as the class goes on, and as I do that, my thoughts take up less space in my brain. I be­come fully present in the mo­ment, sim­ply mov­ing as freely as I like, in com­mu­nity with a hun­dred other peo­ple do­ing the same.

When class is over, I walk out feel­ing like I rode an epic wave of col­lec­tive vi­bra­tion. I feel em­bod­ied.

But the next day is when things get even more in­ter­est­ing. I roll out my yoga mat for a morn­ing yoga prac­tice and as I start do­ing Sun Salu­ta­tions, I no­tice I’m less fid­gety than I’ve been in about a year.

I’ve got 400 hours of yoga teacher train­ing un­der my belt. Plus, I’ve learned so much from the ex­perts and anatomists I work with at Yoga

Jour­nal. So, I find my­self think­ing— a lot—while hold­ing yoga poses: Are my up­per arm bones ex­ter­nally ro­tat­ing as the in­ner arch of my hands press down dur­ing Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down­ward-Fac­ing Dog)? Am I en­gag­ing—not grip­ping—my glutes in Setu Bandha Sar­van­gasana (Bridge Pose)? Wor­thy ef­forts, to be sure, but I’ve found my­self wish­ing I could trust that my body knows what to do so I can sim­ply flow.

The morn­ing after ec­static dance, that’s ex­actly what hap­pens. I move through those Sun Salu­ta­tions—and the rest of my prac­tice—with ease. I def­i­nitely keep all of my knowl­edge about good align­ment in mind, but I’m also not as keenly fo­cused on it as usual. I am out of my head and fully present in my body.

And it feels down­right ec­static.

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