Dancing the Wu Tao Way
The healing power of dance.
By Michelle Locke
Everyone is getting on the dance band wagon right now. Millions of people across the globe are becoming aware of dance as a medium for the individual expression, of beauty, passion, and joy, the qualities of the soul. Just look at the increase of shows like 'So You Think You Can Dance' and 'Dancing with the Stars' to see how popular dance is becoming. It's no wonder people everywhere are signing up for dance classes in all styles.
Welcome Wu Tao. Wu Tao Dance is one of the newcomers on the dance block. Suitable for everyone, Wu Tao is essentially about healing. Through the medium of dance, and using the inspiration of beautiful music, Wu Tao enables everyone to tap into their soul and express themselves while balancing out life energy and increasing physical fitness.
Wu Tao (translation: "The Dancing Way") is a therapeutic dance workout that aims to restore balance. Based on the principles of Chinese Medicine, it works by harmonising the flow of vital energy called Qi or Chi, throughout the body. The Chi flows through channels called meridians and Wu Tao helps to rebalance, unblock and restore the chi flow in these meridians.
Wu Tao - The Dancing Way® was developed in 2001 by former ballerina Michelle Locke. A career in classical ballet was brought to a halt when Michelle suffered a serious back injury that forced her to stop dancing. Devastated by the loss of her career, but motivated to heal herself, Michelle discovered Shiatsu, went on to study it and in 1993, set up the first Shiatsu school in WA. Her passionate love of dance and her on-going interests in eastern healing methods, led her to create Wu Tao.
Wu Tao is dance that balances the Chi. It is unique in its style, as well as being beautiful to do. There are no harsh or jarring movements, just flowing, expressive dance that energises and tones the body while calming the spirit.
Fundamental to the practice of Wu Tao, is its foundations in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the philosophy of Taoism. The 'Tao' simply means the 'way' or 'path', which in essence, refers to living life in harmony with the natural flow of Life. Ancient Taoist sages lived their lives observing life in the natural world and attuning themselves to it. Hence, being able to 'flow like water', be 'flexible like a tree', turn inwards and build energy in the season of winter, or harness the energy and move obstacles from the path in spring.
Many people these days are looking for ways to become less stressed, more peaceful and more joyful. It is obvious that being in this zone is good for you! Recent scientific studies (see Molecules of Emotion by Candice Pert) show the benefits of thinking thoughts that increase positive feeling states.
It has been proven that one of the biggest killers of human beings is stress and its related conditions. Hence, the increase in therapies and methods that reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation and psychotherapy have become very popular.
One of the unique benefits that Wu Tao has is that you are able to embody positive states of awareness, as opposed to just thinking about them. You literally dance them into being.
Imagine this. You have a problem with your boss. It's driving you crazy. You have been thinking of how to resolve it for days, going over and over it in your head. It takes a few days for you to think up a solution, and by the end of that time you are stressed and fatigued.
Now imagine this: You have a problem with your boss. It's driving you crazy. You have been thinking of how to resolve it for days, going over and over it in your head. You go to your Wu Tao class. You take the situation with you into the dance. In the first dance you embody letting go. As you dance you let go of your thoughts, feelings, expectations and struggle. No thinking is involved; you just embody release as you dance.
In the next dance, you become trust. You give yourself over to the energy that is greater than yourself, (also called God or Source Energy); trusting that in your surrender, the way will open up. In this dance you simply rest, surrender and trust the process. Next dance is about self expression and clearing energy blockages. In this one you consciously dance out all and any feelings that you have about the situation. If you are angry, you dance it. If you are frustrated or anxious you dance this too.
The next dance relates to the Fire element and is about celebration and transformation. The final earth dance embodies gratitude. This is where it all comes together. Here you give thanks for the gifts and opportunities this situation and person has brought you.
Working from the premise that Life supports you, you stop pushing and resisting. Instead you give thanks for everything that Life is bringing you, opening yourself fully to the energy. This brings about a total realignment with Life and everything is brought into balance.
By the time you leave class, you feel peaceful, balanced and energized. The situation you came in with is no longer a problem and you have accessed the inner resources to deal with it effectively and easily. You are free of anxiety and tension and able to move forward knowing the situation has been resolved. The energy is always available to show the way.
In Wu Tao, the dances help you to harness the power of life force energy. As you dance you begin to know yourself as one with this energy. It becomes easier to listen and follow your inner guidance. There is a sense of flow and ease that is palpable. The mind is given 'time out' and bliss naturally arises as the body becomes fully engaged in the dance.
In a regular class the dances are done in sequence. The class starts with some gentle stretches and warm-up, followed by the dances and finishing with meditation and deep relaxation. When you leave the class, ready to rejoin the world, you are centred, peaceful and energized. Many people sleep better after a class and the effects are enduring and sustaining.
Wu Tao offers classes and workshops to many different groups of people including children, the elderly, and the corporate sector. It is most beneficial to join a beginner's class or workshop first, but many people jump straight in to a regular class and pick the dances up over a few weeks.
Also available are classes and workshops in Wu Tao for Two™, a version of the dances that are done with a partner. The Wu Tao for Two™ dances are unique beautiful, and great fun to do! They also help us to bring harmony, love and balance into our relationships with others by increasing energy flow and connection.
Wu Tao classes are now held in most states throughout Australia, as well as in New Zealand and London, UK. Those people passionate about Wu Tao and wanting to share this healing modality are able to take it a step further and become teachers. The teacher training program which is now offered in most states of Australia as well as New Zealand is intensive, transformational and practical. Wu Tao now has over 80 trained teachers, including 10 teachers in New Zealand. For more information visit www.wutaodance.com
For people who are looking for a different experience where healing and balance are important, Wu Tao could be just the thing. Differing from other healing forms such as yoga, tai chi or pilates with its use of music and dance, it offers the discerning participant a very enjoyable, powerful and energising experience for body, heart and soul.
Heading: A slice of Fijian paradise
Subheading: Smiles of enlightenment?
by Robin Jackson
Joyous cries of "Bula!" "Bula!" (hello, welcome), resound across the waters amidst a flurry of hearty laughter, hand clapping and the sweet notes of the Fijian welcome song. Another boat load of visitors have arrived and the Walu Beach Resort staff are on the jetty with wide open arms and hearts, welcoming the newest arrivals and beaming their famous "Colgate" smiles.
Tomorrow, amidst the same flutter of smiles and laughter, "bula bulas" and vigorous back slaps it will be me boarding the large aluminium dinghy bound for Denarau the main port on the west side of Fiji, and away from this coconut palmed island paradise known as Mololo. Only, in place of the traditional Fijian welcome song will be the Western serenade -"leaving on a jet plane."
My 9 days here at Walu Beach Resort have been a heart-warming adventure into experiencing Fijian life - completed by the beauty of the Fijian people.
In an environment of sparkling Pacific waters, I've eaten fresh fish and coconut straight from the sea and tree respectively; danced like I've never danced before to 80's disco music, enjoyed the beauty of the Fijian people, sipping mocktails, whilst basking in breathtaking sunsets, oh and ....did I mention the Fijian people!
Really though, this group of island dwellers, positively radiates a deep inner beauty that is completely endearing. Generous, sweet, warm, open, sincere, and totally service orientated; they want everyone to have a fabulous time and will go to great lengths to ensure this. They are naturally welcoming and hospitable - giving fully from their hearts, making the western concept of service and hospitality appear somehow shallow or contrived.
In my role as Retreat Convenor for the Bernie Prior Foundation, I was asked to negotiate the final details and contract for our upcoming Retreat with Fijian Jo; the resort's manager. This was an extended affair over 4 days involving much laughter, joking about, hand-shakes and many nods of the head with promises of "no problem - please, we can do that for you." Any concept I had about a systematic, linear approach to time lines, documents and lists being read and responded to, soon melted into the deep pool of that placeless place where all lists emerge from. An understanding arose in me, that the linear way of doing business was just not their way, as did the realisation, that actually I was fine with that!
Sunset on the terrace was spent in relaxed banter and "gooood conversation", (to quote a line from a famous movie), with various staff and Jo's family members, and I soon gleaned a good deal about the ordinary lives of these simple and honest folk. They are completely happy to talk about everyone else's lives, in intimate detail, until you ask them about their own and then it is a shrug, a laugh and a comeback question for you.
The funny thing is, that the Fijian people are so fascinated with our life in the Western world and ask many, many questions about ones' family, life and work, and yet there is no sense of them being discontented, dissatisfied or hankering after something "other". "The grass is always greener" syndrome has not crossed to the Fijian shores yet; let's hope it never does!
When folk asked me what the Retreat and Bernie was all about, I found myself initially at a loss for words - how did one describe something as profound as what we experience in consciousness, whilst practising The Form, to one who was seemingly living the intention of The Form's practice and integration, albeit unconsciously. The best description I settled for was that The Form was maybe like experiencing tenfold the effect from "Kava" (the culturally accepted plant based, mildly narcotic drink), but without the associated hangover the following day!
"Sounds good Robeen, when you come back, you show me" came the reply. I could imagine, a bunch of us sharing The Form with all the Walu Beach staff - and finding them days later, glued to their seats, motionless and in deep Samadhi!
And yet, I also sense that all is not "a bed of roses" within the area of their relationships, with maybe much for them to learn about love and respect between the sexes - nothing new there I guess!
The entire trip to Walu Beach Resort has left me enchanted. I feel in my heart it is just the beginning of our connection with this magical place and its people, with much to be learned from both parties, through mutual exchange. We are talking with Jo about some of his key staff coming to do training with us at our Restaurant in New Zealand before the retreat starts - this would be a huge step for these guys who have never been further afield than the mainland on Viti Levu - the main Fiji Island! Of course they would have to bring their Kava - "can we get Kava through customs?" was the first question from the lads -" Maybe" says I, "but maybe we will just teach you The Form and then you won't need to bring any Kava" - oh no, shades of early missionaries! Is that how the Methodists and Baptists got such a stronghold here in Fiji?
How arrogant and presumptuous we westerners sometimes are. These beautiful Fijian people with their shining smiles, warm open hearts and complete surrender to their life and its flow, could easily teach we methodists and non-methodists alike, a thing or three.
©Eco Living Magazine.