The Roots of Shakti Dance®
Shakti Dance® draws its principles and system from the overarching path of Sanatana Dharma - the path of Eternal Truth. Over the last thirty years, the core of Sara Avtar’s daily practice has been Kundalini Yoga, Theravadha Vipassana, Sat Nam Rasayan and Universal Sufisim. These practices have naturally found confluence in Shakti Dance® - prompting, informing and sustaining its flowering.
In August 2001, during an interview, Yogi Bhajan, Master of Kundalini Yoga, encouraged Sara Avtar to develop and teach the discipline of Shakti Dance®, telling her to “... Create the whole dance, systemize it and spread the Teachings."
"I remember, I was there with you [at the interview in 2001], Yogi Bhajan started to cry having the vision of you teaching Shakti Dance to thousands of people and healing them..." (Nam Nidhan Kaur, Chile) - Facebook exchange with Sara Avtar, 9th October 2012)
Shakti Dance® shares with Kundalini Yoga the intention of refining and harmonizing human qualities that the radiance of aware being may shine through with brilliance to realize the fullness of potential.
Shakti Dance seeks to facilitate coherency of spiritual ideals and transparency of conduct in all areas of daily life. In lieu of this, Sara Avtar shares: "While acknowledging the validity of Kundalini Yoga as a sophisticated body of yogic teachings, I and the Shakti Dance teaching collective in no way condone the abusive or corrupt actions linked with Yogi Bhajan. We acknowledge the pain and heartache of those subjected to any direct or indirect abuse at his hand, and wholeheartedly recognise those abandoned hearts who paid the price for the profuse dissemination of Kundalini Yoga. I personally regret not having known of this shadow earlier, to raise my voice and join with others to intervene on their behalf."
As a physical practice, the dynamic form and mechanics of Shakti Dance® exercises are recognizably similar to those of Kundalini Yoga. However, for example, the Shakti Flowing Asana Exercises tend to be slower, more fluid, organic, relaxing and mindful - heightening sensory awareness throughout the dynamic flow of the postures. This mindful approach reflects Sara Avtar's Vipassana practice, in the Buddhist Theravada tradition, under the guidance of Bhante Sujiva (2001-2017).
Postural alignment is developed by engaging inner locks, or specific muscular regions (bandhas), and activating the five elements (tattwas – earth, water, fire, air, space). The organic free-flowing dance, characteristic of Shakti Dance®, is developed through the balanced interplay of the 5 Elements, resulting in relaxed authentic expression.
The subtle flow of movement in all the phases of Shakti Dance® is the systemised embodiment of what Sara Avtar refers to as the 'Universal Principles of Movement' - a unique aspect of Sara Avtar's synthesis. Here, she pools together the 5 Yogic Elements with the Vipassana technique of elemental awareness in 'slow walking meditation'. This is also cross-referenced with 'moving principles', inspired by Donna Farhi', deepened by Sara Avtar's flowing Qigong practice inspired by Master Gao Yun, and rooted in the principles of Tai-Chi she studied with her father. Sara Avtar's awakened kundalini experience in her early twenties and her insights as a life-long spontaneous dancer gave rise to an inner organic wisdom revealing natural flow, which was further refined through decades of yogic practice. Her study of Oriental, Indian, African and Modern Dance styles also all find confluence in the authentic aware flowing movement she facilitates through the practice of Shakti Dance®.
On an energetic level, Shakti Dance® offers unique sequences of exercises and movement according to their energetic qualities, in context with the theme of the session. Here, yogic energy systems e.g. the three gunas, five vayus, eight chakras, nadis, meridians and ten bodies, are activated and rebalanced. The exercise sequences mostly arise in response to the momentary need of the group and theme, and do not represent ‘kriyas’ as taught by Yogi Bhajan.
This intuitive approach reflects Sara Avtar's meditative healing experience as a Sat Nam Rasayan healer, under the guidance of Guru Dev Singh (1993-2008). The intuitive approach is then further evolved through the consolidated practice of Shakti Dance and its resultant activation of awakened Prana-Shakti, prompting natural inner guidance. Sara Avtar refers to this creative inner guidance as "Swara Rasa" - the 'Resonant Flow of Radiant Being'.
Common to other Sanatana Dharma traditions, Shakti Dance® draws its yogic foundation and philosophical frames of reference from Patanjali, Samkhya, Vedanta and the right-handed path of Tantra, while embracing a Bhakti approach of the Sikh Tradition. Shakti Dance® includes both Sanskrit and Gurmukhi mantric sound-current and music.
Note: Given that the forms of exercise and their sequences are not ‘as taught by Yogi Bhajan’, the practice of Shakti Dance® is not ‘Kundalini Yoga'. However, the synthesis of yogic teachings that Shakti Dance® embodies are from the same common Source, unfolding and blossoming from the same over-arching family tree of Sanatana Dharma.
Last Dance for Yogi Bhajan, Espanola 2001
Yogi Bhajan & Avtar Kaur, - Sara Avtar Paris 1995
Avtar Kaur Speaks in Yogi Bhajan’s Presence, Espanola 2001:
Sara Avtar Kaur's Early Dance Lesson with Yogi Bhajan, Hamburg 1992:
Letter from Yogi Bhajan to Sara Avtar (Avtar Kaur)
Sent a year after having given his blessing to Shakti Dance®, on receipt of a
Mantric Choreography video, created to the mantra 'Eka Mai':