Role of Odissi Movements in Trauma Healing
Odissi is a 2000-year-old dance from Eastern India. This dance is rooted in yoga, bhakti and spirituality. It connects the human spirit to the divine and was performed for centuries inside the temples by female dancers. These women were the equivalent of the priestesses in the temples using powerful Sanskrit mantras and dance movements to worship and invoke the Gods and Goddesses.
Dance movement is another somatic modality like yoga, breathwork, meditation and sound bath to open up your chakras, and create more space specially in your ribcage, and hips. These are areas in the body that are most stuck in todays modern world.There are senescent cells that form when someone undergoes trauma that holds onto the memories within their cells. It’s like they are frozen in time.
Odissi dance movements are unique in the sense that there is a significant movement of the neck, rib cage and opening of the hips. According to Dr Mima, who specializes in mind body connection,
“As a woman in modern day life, you spend very little time on these areas and in fact sitting at desks, driving cars actually keeps the hips and ribs closed. Over time this constricts proper airflow and the energy within the sacral chakra. By opening the hips and ribs in this dance you increase blood flow to your sacrum and oxygenation to your lungs and chest organs. Dancing barefoot also connects the body with earth’s energy. The earth carries an electromagnetic field and when we connect barefoot with the earth we literally ground our energy and rebalance ourselves. This relieves anxiety and stress and also helps rebalance the adrenal and endocrine glands in the body.”
Both masculine (shiva) and feminine (shakthi) energies are addressed in this dance. Once the strong masculine moves and softer feminine moves are mastered, the dancer begins to internalize the moves and their meaning. This is very similar to meditation. In dance you not only connect with yourself in flow, but you are also connecting with the divine. There is deep healing when this occurs.
Nilanjana says, “working with numerous adult students, over a period of time I realized the power of my dance, how I was not only teaching them an ancient art but also healing them with my energy, giving them the power and confidence of a Devi. Be it physical injuries or deep emotional trauma, most of their traumas came to the surface during the course of my regular teaching. There was an emotional release and sometimes continuing the practice helped many deal with traumatic life situations, empowering them to find and embody the strength of the Gods/Goddesses and even transform their outcomes to a point of reaching bliss. Of course this takes time, dedication and practice. But it’s the discipline and commitment that makes all the difference.”
It is believed that one can access the Anandmaya kosha by regularly practicing this dance and being immersed in this sadhana.