This is the first of a three-part series on practicing authenticity in daily life. Today’s post explores authenticity through the chakra practice of Let Your Yoga Dance. Part 2 looks at authenticity through the lens of VIA character strengths. Part 3 brings inSPIRED Let Your Yoga Dance into the mix.
Let Your Yoga Dance for Authenticity
I like to use movement techniques to help me stay authentic. My favorite of all body practices is Let Your Yoga Dance. It helps me stay real and congruent. Why? Because not only do I get to dance through all the chakras (the body’s energy centers), but I also get to practice the yamas and niyamas (the yogic codes of conduct), and metta (lovingkindness meditation). These ethical elements are woven into the practice. As I evolved and grew Let Your Yoga Dance into what it is today, I made sure to include these elements in order to be constantly reminded of authentic kindness.
I feel most truly myself when I am in flow, a word coined by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. He teaches that, when people are in flow, they are completely absorbed in a creative activity. They feel strong, empowered, free, un-self-conscious. That’s what happens to me when I am letting my yoga dance: all my centers of energy are fired up. And, with that firing of the chakras, I am allowed to be my most real, genuine, authentic self.
I have worked, studied, explored, and danced with the chakras since 1986; they’re a great road map for consciousness, a way for me and others to dance our path to congruent living. I am a “chakradorer.” So much of my worldview and steps in life revolve around these seven centers.
Using the Chakras to Get Grounded
Chakra 1 is the center where we plant our feet on Mother Earth, standing our ground: Mountain Pose. I call this the Key Authenticity Pose: feet grounded, body strong, arms reaching up to the sky. (For more on power poses, check out Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk, which now has been viewed by more than 30 million people, and her book, Presence.)
If I need to screw up my courage, Chakra 3, in the solar plexus, is my go-to energy center. To build my courage, I sometimes stand in Warrior Pose and then start to dance my Warrior, preferably with some drumming in the background, or any music that fires up my brain. If I am in a challenging meeting and I am getting irritated, then I have to rely on yoga breathing, whispering positive affirming inner thoughts, like, “I can do this” or “I have what it takes” or “When in doubt, Contemplate Warriorship!”
Sometimes I resort to singing internally. If the challenge gets too tough (particularly in a meeting), I will excuse myself, pretending I have to use the bathroom. I use those few minutes to fire up Chakra 5, the throat center.
The best song I know to keep up my Authentic Truth when I’m under duress is one of Madonna’s: “Confessions on a Dance Floor.” I introduce it to all my classes, including my Parkinson’s, elders, and Special Populations classes. The chorus goes like this:
This is who I am
You can like it or not
You can love me or leave me
Cause I’m never gonna stop
When I remember to take care of myself that way, then I can return to that difficult encounter, and am more ready to then speak my truth clearly and directly, having taken care of my chakras. Let Your Yoga Dance is my consistent training ground for authenticity.
This book is a love song to the human body. It delves into the Let Your Yoga Dance practice, while bringing Positive Psychology into the mix. Two roadmaps to consciousness are explored: the Chakras and the SPIRE anagram developed by the Wholebeing Institute. Woven throughout the book are 14 Let’s Move Takeaways that can be downloaded for free right here on the webstore. While reading, you can simultaneously experience being led in yoga, breathing, meditation, and Let Your Yoga Dance by Megha on “Megha TV.”
You can purchase Expanding Joy right here on the website. Time to expand your joy!
Megha-Nancy Buttenheim, M.A., is the founder of Let Your Yoga Dance: Grace in Motion®. An international presenter and corporate trainer, Megha is a 27 year teacher-trainer at Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. She is also a faculty member at the Nosara Yoga Institute in Guanacaste, Costa Rica and Kind Yoga School in Cape Cod, MA. She brings her passion and expertise as a lifelong dancer, actress, singer, yogi, and educator in experiential learning to all her workshops and trainings.