One by one, we dancers filter in. half are experienced, and half are new but willing to give it a try. First we focus on our feet, flowing into empty spaces around the dance floor, feeling the varnished wood underneath us.
Then we shift our focus to other body parts—knees, hips, spine, head, hands—all the while stepping, weaving, flowing with the rhythms in tune with our own awareness, connecting to our own bodies. Occasionally we partner up, breaking the barrier of self to connect with another dancer, letting their movements flow into or around our own.
“I used to be really shy, but this environment really allowed me to feel safe, to explore myself,” confessed Bhajan (the spiritual name she goes by), who started practicing 5 Rhythms six years ago when she lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.
We are participating in a 5 Rhythms class on May 22nd led by Amber Ryan, who has been participating for 13 years and teaching it internationally for 5 years.
Amber was always a dancer, she related, but one night after dress rehearsal, the night before the opening of a show, she broke her foot while walking to her car. “It was devastating personally but it became a gift,” she recalled.
While she was healing, one of her teachers gave her the book Maps to Ecstasy by Gabrielle Roth, who developed 5 Rhythms in the 1960s. “Her story so resonated with me, just in the first paragraph of that book,” Amber explained.
It seemed to her that the book gave a language to what she had already been doing, and she knew that Roth would end up being her teacher. She met Roth one year later, studied with her and became her assistant, traveling the globe with her.
Amber describes 5 Rhthyms as a spiritual and healing practice. “It can be as simple as getting out of your head and into your feet, out of your thinking self and into your inspired, instinctual self,” she commented.
As she talks about 5 Rhthyms, and later as she leads the class and joins the dance flow around the floor, Amber’s tan face radiates a certain golden glow of happiness that she transmits to the other dancers.
She invites people to step through the threshold, to connect with themselves and with the group without worrying if they look silly or if they’re doing it wrong. “There’s no way to do this wrong,” she assured.
We flow and move through the five rhythms: flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness. Rain patters down around the open-air classroom area at the Healing Center at Harmony Hotel in Guiones, adding to the sound of the ever-changing rhythms.
Scents also change—mint, wet earth, thatch, incense… all of the senses are in tune as we inhale and exhale, shaking out whatever stress or havoc is in our minds.
“I try to come at least every week or every other week. I haven’t been in a while so I had a lot of chaos I had to shake out. I’m kind of in a daze now,” related Edmonde Aguacil, who lives in Guiones and started participating in 5 Rhythms in April of 2012.
For a while, I dance with my shadow cast by candlelight on the back wall, listening to a lyrical song and feeling that somehow it was perfectly chosen for me.
I’ve heard the song before, but tonight the lyrics speak to me differently, reaching deep inside. I turn and flow into another space of the floor, looking around at the other dancers, now bathed in sweat.
We each have our own style, our own story, our own inner voice. But as I pair with another dancer, a perfect stranger, a sort of energy flows between us and we both smile and pick up the energy.
Horace Usry attended his first 5 Rhythms class two weeks before this evening because a friend told him it was really good, and tonight he is back for the second time. “I thought it was a good release and I thought it was a good energy workshop,” he concluded. “I love it.”
5 Rhythms Sessions
During low season, Amber is holding classes on Wednesday nights (no class on June 5) from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Healing Center for $12 per person ($6 for nationals) as well as Sunday Sweat Your Prayers gatherings at Yoga Spa every two weeks. Cost for Sweat Your Prayers is $15 for the dance session, $10 for an optional dinner afterward and $5 for a shuttle from Robin’s Ice Cream. Classes will be held until August 4 and then will begin again in November. For more information, contact Amber at 5RhythmsCostaRica@gmail.com or 8501-6265.