“Rumi fell into ecstasy and felt as his own soul began to whirl. He who had never danced before, who had never practiced the Sama, began whirling round and round in the goldsmith’s shop. For the first time he recognised his own soul, which, like the soul of Shamz his master, rose up majestically from his body, lifting him toward the heavens.”-Idris Lahore, “Rumi and the Soul of the Goddess Samadeva” (from Dervish Yoga for Health and Longevity)
Inspired by the science of movements taught for centuries in secluded Dervish brotherhoods, and also yoga, tai chi, and more recent methods like eurythmy and stretching, Dervish Yoga or Samadeva Gestural Euphony is a new art of movement that stimulates and harmonizes all our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual resources, allowing us to be more at peace, more creative, and more joyful in our daily lives. Consisting of slow, meditative movements that mobilize and strengthen our powers of attention and dynamic, dance-like movements that fill us with a new energy, Dervish Yoga brings deep harmony to every level of our being. It relaxes and invigorates our body, harmonizes our psyche, sharpens our mind, and we learn through our body to listen to ourselves, to our profound inner being.
Effects of practicing Dervish Yoga
Dervish Yoga has beneficial effects on our muscles, eliminating our unnecessary tensions and giving us the energy we need for our active lives, and also on our physical and psychological equilibrium, the quality of our sleep, our concentration and memory, and all the organs of our body. Practicing Dervish Yoga, we’re relaxed physically and psychologically, and this makes it a superb anti-stress method, helping us stay healthy and fit with just a little practice every day.
We’re healthy when all our organs are functioning harmoniously and when we’re in a state of psychological equilibrium, with a clear mind, ready to adapt to whatever situation life presents us. Like all systems in the universe, we have a self-regulating force, or vital energy, that maintains the equilibrium between our different constituent parts, between the organs of our body, our mind, and our emotions. This self-regulating force keeps us healthy, but troubles start to appear when it’s not circulating correctly. Traditional Eastern forms of medicine like acupuncture, Ayurvedic, Tibetan, and Yunani medicine aim to rebalance this energetic circulation, and certain movement techniques like Dervish Yoga also have this effect of rebalancing our body’s energy flow.
The Seven Major Arkanas are the cornerstone of Dervish Yoga; this specific series of movements (with evocative titles like “The Cascading Fountain,” “Reeds in the Wind,” and “Sparks of Fire”) has a profound action on all our organic systems and our energetic circulation.
Every emotion has two sides, physical and psychological, what we feel and how it manifests. This means it’s possible to rebalance our emotional life by having an action on our body. Above and beyond what we usually perceive, our movements and gestures are the expression of our emotions and our deeper inner movements, and the same is true in the other direction; our movements have an influence on our emotions and our inner life. Practicing euphonic movements like Dervish Yoga has a harmonizing action on our emotions and also a positive action on our unconscious.
The most important thing when we practice Dervish Yoga is our attention – our attention to our movements, our positions, our breathing, our emotions, and our thoughts. Practicing Dervish Yoga is a privileged moment for returning to ourselves and for being present to other people; with time and practice, it helps us bring into our lives an art of moving, feeling, and even thinking that is in total harmony with the reality of the present moment.
Recent discoveries in neurobiology shed scientific light upon this ancient knowledge. The effects of attention, asymmetrical movements, and music, and the connection between our movements and our emotions have been studied; new connections in our brain are created, permitting more appropriate movements, more harmonious emotions, and an improved capacity of concentration and memory. The science of psychoneuroimmunology has revealed the molecular connections between our psyche, nervous system, and all the systems of our body, substantiating what the most ancient medical traditions tell us.
Who can practice Dervish Yoga?
Anyone interested in or enthusiastic about different forms of body expression, and also anyone who feels alienated from their body and wants to come back into relationship with it. Dervish Yoga is practiced in very diverse settings: yoga centers, fitness studios, schools, businesses, hospitals, centers for the physically and mentally handicapped, and retirement homes, to name a few. Dervish Yoga stimulates our forces of healing and so is also for anyone who wants to regain or maintain their health, as a complement to medical treatments (that it does not substitute).
The model session
Dervish Yoga or Samadeva Gestural Euphony can be discovered during weekend workshops and classes, and also during weekly model sessions lasting between an hour and an hour-and-a-half. The model session, the heart of Dervish Yoga, always begins with a moment of meditation to clear the day’s problems, followed by stretching exercises to prepare our muscles. The dynamic section includes different forms of traditional dance that coordinate our head, arms, and legs, while the central part of the model session is the Arkanas and Meditative Movements, slow movements that mobilize our capacities of attention. The session concludes with a meditation, a relaxation, and a short verbal exchange.
Order Dervish Yoga for Health and Longevity by Idris Lahore, Ennea Tess Griffith and Emma Thyloch