Dance of Shiva Level 0: Basic Spirals (from 1)

For those of you who took my class today at Myoga, here are videos for the four basic movements we did today.
Remember that for positions 1, 2, 3 and 4 the palm is held upright (facing up)
For positions a, b, c and d the palm faces outwards.

Forwards from
1 to 2, to 3, to 4 and back to 1
Backwards from
1 to 4 to 3 to 2 and back to 1 again
Change Forwards from
1 to b to 3 to d to 1
Change Backwards from
1 to d to 3 to b to 1

Horizons

Practicing the Dance of Shiva we learn to know both where we are and where we want to go. We do this by knowing what position our arms are in and also knowing what position we are moving them to. We also know the movement we are going to use to get there. By knowing where we are and where we are going to we can practice being present.
Knowing where we are heading in the next moment in time we can go there.
Riding a motorcycle I learned how to be present by “Looking to the Horizon”. The horizon isn’t so much the horizon of the earth but the horizon of the “Now”.
On a bike, especially when I am going fast, the horizon is the furthest point of the road ahead that I can see.
As more of the road ahead becomes apparent, my Horizon changes, sometimes a little closer, sometimes further away, but always ahead of me, leading me on.
Riding I find that there is a point just above that part of the road that seems to work well as my horizon. And I don’t just look to the horizon, I sense all of the road between myself and it. This is my now.
For the longest time I used to be scared when riding a bike fast, especially while going around corners. I then found that if I positioned myself so that I cold see around the corner as far as possible and look at that point just above the surface of the road, as far ahead as I can see, then I feel comfortable going faster. I position myself for the best view of the way ahead. I give myself the biggest now possible. I can go smoothly from one corner to the next.
If I am riding in traffic, I can look for the gaps to flow through and I can give “unconscious drivers” the space they need so that I can keep myself and them safe from harm.
And rather than letting myself get tangled up in thoughts of who is a good driver or more particularly who is less than good, I can focus on the path that I am trying to follow.
A similiar thing happens when I practice asian calligraphy. When I’ve learned the brush strokes of the character I am painting, I can flow from one to the next meanwhile staying aware of both what I have painted and the room I have left to paint within so that the piece I am painting as a whole has a beautiful flow.
The better I know a whole series of characters that I am painting the easier it is to flow from one to the next. And when i get really good I’ll be able to simply compose on the fly, deciding what characters to paint as I paint them, their meaning guiding me from one brush stroke to the next from one character to the next.
Alas, to get to that point I have to practice. I have to learn the brush strokes.
But if apply the same mindset to learning brush strokes as I do to painting characters I can learn to flow while learning and the feeling can be just as pleasant, just as present as while actually composing on the fly.
The key is to focus on learning small bits at a time, focusing on “sensible ideas,” smaller units that have meaning in and off themselves. Learning characters, those sensible units can be brush strokes or they can be smaller component characters that together in combination make up the bigger characters.
Riding a bike on a set course it might be practicing one corner over and over again. Doing yoga it can be doing the same pose over and over again.
Learning or practicing a small idea, a sensible idea, if we do our practice with rhythm, doing and then resting and then doing again the rhythm of doing and resting, of simple repetition can be soothing, and although it is the same idea we are doing over and over again, if we practice sensing that idea, looking ahead towards it, we can learn to flow that much faster. Then when we add that small idea to the other small ideas we’ve learned we can learn to flow from one to the other with much greater ease. Doing becomes like learning and learning like doing. In both cases we flow.
How does this apply to the dance of shiva, (or anything else for that matter when we are doing a preset sequence of moves?) By learning the moves so that they are a part of ourselves we don’t have to think about what comes next, instead we just know. As a result instead of thinking about the movement we are doing now we can let ourselves do it (because we know it) meanwhile we can “think” ahead to the move that is coming up next. It’s as if the horizon that we are looking towards is within ourselves.

A Simple Solution to Low Back Pain (part 1)

As a yoga teacher it’s a little bit embarasing to be suffering from Low Back Pain. Shouldn’t my yoga practice be helping me? Better yet, shouldn’t my understanding of the body, both as a yoga teacher and as an engineer help me figure out a way of dealing with it or at least point me in the direction of a solution?
Well I guess all I had to do was ask if there was a way it could be dealt with.
Ask and the universe will respond.
For awhile I thought my pain was a result of me being lazy in using my abs to support my lower back.
The trouble with that line of thought was that when I did try to use my abs to straighten out my back I didn’t get any relief from the pain. I thought that maybe my spinal erectors where weak but then I realized that the real pain came from in front of my spine not from behind it. For awhile I thought I wasn’t grounding through my feet in a way that allowed the back of my legs to actively pull down on the back of my pelvis. That too brought little relief.
I thought that by stretching my psoas I would get the relief that I needed but that again wasn’t the answer to the problem.
I wanted an elegant solution, a simple one. I wasn’t sure if there was one but I thought it would be nice it there was.
I’ve worked with guns, computers, motorbikes, most often fixing them or figuring out what the problem was when things went wrong. I’ve also worked a little bit in design. In most cases, when things go wrong there is one thing that is key to it all. I needed to find… wanted to find the simple key to the problem of my lower back pain.
The answer came via a book called Chi Running which I picked up a few days after deciding that I was looking for an elegant solution to back pain. (At the same time I was also a bit skeptical to their being an elegant solution.) As I said, ask and the universe will provide. I wasn’t really that interested in Chi running (I thought I could figure it out myself!) None the less I picked the book up, if for no other reason than I needed a break from all the Chinese I’ve been seeing. (I live in Taiwan).
The answer was simple.
Reading the section on posture for running I got the answer I was looking for. I simply needed to stand with my hip joints above my ankles so that my legs where aligned with the force of gravity. With my legs aligned with gravity my psoas could relax and give me no more back pain. Well actually, it comes and goes on occasion but more and more I am finding that my back is pain free.
The irony is that I already knew the answer…. sort of. I teach handstands quite frequently in my yoga classes. The main thing I teach people to do is to use their hands to help feel where there center of gravity is. Then they can position it where they need it to be… over their hands. But in addition to this, because a lot of the people I teach may be new to handstand, I teach them to align their arms with gravity, to stack their shoulders over their wrists. This way their arm bones take the brunt of their body weight which means the muscles of their arms don’t have to (work so hard.)
This was the exact same thing I needed to do with my legs. Align them (and my center of gravity) with gravity. The funny thing was that it had never even occurred to me to do so.

  • What happens to the psoas when the legs aren’t vertical?
  • Why does verticalizing the legs help the psoas to relax?
  • What is the psoas and why is it important?
  • How can we tell if our legs are vertical and how can we keep them there?
  • Before I talk about all of that I’d like to talk about the type of back pain that I suffered and when I suffered from it. In general I was getting it a lot while standing around and also while walking. I found it especially bad when carrying the baby, and also sometimes while carrying a back pack. I got relief when I sat down.
    I also got relief doing standing meditations where I stood with my knees slightly bent, my weight centered through the soles of my feet (so that my toes could relax) and my awareness moving around within my body.
    After reading the relevant section in Chi Running I realized that I habitually stand with my pelvis slightly forwards of my feet. This means that from my feet to my hips my legs slope forwards.
    To balance this my upper body leans slightly back. The result of this position is that the weight of my upper body pushes my pelvis forwards. So that my body stays upright my psoas activates to pull my pelvis back and my legs and lower back forwards.
    The psoas joins the inner upper thigh bone to the front of the lumbar spine. To join the two it passes forwards and up from the thigh to the front of the pelvis. It passes the lip of the front of the pelvis and from there reaches back and up to the front of the lumbar spine.
    Looking at the body from the side the psoas is shaped like the head of an arrow pointing to the front of the body, with the tip of the arrow at the front of the pelvis and the two “wings” at the lower back and top of the thigh respectively.
    If the pelvis is pushed forwards relative to the feet and upper body then the psoas is stretched. To prevent itself from being stretched too far the psoas tightens. Because the legs are in contact with the ground, they remain stationary and so this tension in the psoas causes it to pull the lower back forwards causing the lumbar curve to accentuate. Enter lower back pain (or one possible cause of this.)
    Now we could try to counter this by activating the abdominals, using them to pull up on the front of the pelvis. However, the elegant solution is simply to position the legs so that they are vertical, at the same time aligning the center of the upper body (and whatever we may be carrying) over our legs.
    With our pelvis balanced on the top of our legs, and our upper body balanced on top of our pelvis, our psoas can relax and we may just be able to wave goodbye to one cause of lower back pain.
    To make our legs vertical we stack our hip joints over our ankle joints. To learn to feel our ankle joint (or sense it) we can rock back and forwards while standing, at the same time noticing the change of sensations in the region of our ankles. We can zero our attention on the spot where there is a lack of motion or feeling. We can calibrate where we imagine we sense our ankle to be by touching the inner or outer ankle bones.
    Next we can learn to feel where our hip joint is by alternately pushing our pelvis forwards and backwards, rocking it similiarly to when we where learning to feel our ankles only this time our awareness is centered on the junction between our thighs and our pelvis. For me my thighs feel heavy, dense, while the inside of my pelvis feels almost empty in comparison. Feeling the inward slanting “top” of my thighs I can then try to zero my awarenss on my hip joints. To calibrate I can tough the “head” of my thighbone. (actually this is the malleosus, not the head, but I mean the sticky out bit that we can feel just below the crest of the pelvis.)
    Now that we have an idea of how to sense where our ankle and hips are we can now practice sensing where they are with respect to each other.
    Again rocking back and forwards on our feet with our feet about hip width and parallel, we can stop when we think that our hips are over our ankles. We can then use a mirror to check. We can then repeat till we get better and better at being able to feel when our hips and ankles are aligned with gravity.
    From there we can work at verticallizing our upper body.
    Be aware that if we make our legs and spine vertical then most of our weight will be centered on our heels. We will be balanced on our heels. This is similar to the situation I am hopefully getting my students towards when they do headstand. All of their weight centered on the crown of their head. It actually feels scary when we first find this position in headstand and the same can be true when standing on our heels. However if we relax and trust, it can actually feel quite freeing. And if we don’t like it, we can always lean your upper body forwards a little, just enough so that some of our weight shifts towards the front of our feet. Meanwhile we can continue to keep our legs vertical so that our psoas can stay relaxed.

    ideas-units of understanding, meaning and change

    Zero Parallax is about being conscious. Part of being conscious is being able to sense relationships and understand the changes that happens within those relationships. The basic element of a relationship is an idea. In this context an idea is a unit of meaning and a unit of change. If an idea isn’t in a relationship then it is simply the potential for change.
    Ideas can be the things that we think about. They can also be the things that are around us, the real, or ideas made real. Looking around us we can see what is around us in terms of ideas. We can ask the question of anything that we see: “what is the change that this idea creates?” We can think of the things that we do as expressing an idea or making an idea real. We can then ask “what is the change that I am trying to create”.

    The 64 basic movements of The Dance of Shiva


    Forwards, Backwards, Change Forwards, Change Backwards,
    Transquarters, Changes, Change Transquarters, Zero moves

    Forwards and Backwards moves

    Forwards Backwards
    dance of shiva position 1 dance of shiva position 2 dance of shiva position 3 dance of shiva position 4 dance of shiva position 1 dance of shiva position 4 dance of shiva position 3 dance of shiva position 2
    dance of shiva position a dance of shiva position b dance of shiva position c dance of shiva position d dance of shiva position a dance of shiva position d dance of shiva position c dance of shiva position b

    These moves (Forwards and Backwards) are the original Dance of Shiva moves. While here you can learn them section by section you can also practice them smoothly, i.e. without stopping or even pausing, simply working at making smooth spirals with the arms while keeping the palms facing upwards or outwards depending on the type of spiral you are doing.

    Forwards from 1 to 2

    Dance of Shiva position 1
    Dance of Shiva position 1to2
    Dance of Shiva position 2

    In position 1 the palm is held upright with the fingers pointing out to the side. The hand is slightly higher than the top of the head and the wrist is positioned over the elbow while the elbow itself is bent. Another relationship you can look at is that betweent the elbow and the shoulder. They are at the same height in this position.
    In position 2 the palm again is upright but now the fingers point inwards. The hand is at a height midway between that of the belly button and the bottom of the sternum. The hand does not cross the body’s center line. The elbow is bent and points out to the side and so that it is easier to have the palm facing upwards, the upper arm rolls inwards at the shoulder joint.
    Practicing connecting these two positions the Forwards movement can be done with an exhale while the backwards movement better suits an exhale. Then try switching so that you get used to doing either move with an inhale or an exhale.
    the movement first with an exhale. Then when you are comfortable with this practice doing it with an inhale.
    As you connect the two positions, concentrate on keeping the palm facing upwards. Try to keep the shoulderblade positioned outwards and forwards so that your back feels open.
    Return to movement 12

    from 2 to 1 Backwards

    Dance of Shiva position 2
    Dance of Shiva position 1to2
    Dance of Shiva position 1

    This movement is simply the reverse movement of the Forwards move from 1 to 2. If you practice the Forwards from 1 to 2 and the Backwards from 2 to 1 together then exhale Forwards and inhale Backwards. The Forwards move can feel like you are pulling your hand into positon 2 while the Backwards move can feel like you are pushing your hand back to positon 1.
    Return to movement 21

    Forwards from 2 to 3

    Dance of Shiva position 2
    Dance of Shiva position 2to3
    Dance of Shiva position 3

    Position 3 is with the palm upwards but the fingers pointing out to the side (as in position 1). You may have to play with the height of the elbow to find a position where it is easy to keep the palm facing upwards and the fingers pointing out to the side. An additionaly challenge is keeping the fingers straight and together. To help maximize the ease of this pose, roll the upper arm forwards as much as possible. At the same time pull the shoulder blade forwards to make rolling the arm as easy as possible. It’s a little bit like a behind the back “low five.”
    This movement also goes well with an exhale. If practicing the forwards move from 1 to 2 and then straight from there from 2 to 3 use the same exhale for both moves.
    Also practice this movement with an inhale.
    As stated, to help keep the palm facing upwards focus on rolling the upper arm inwards (outside of the arm moves forwards, inside of the arm moves backwards.) Be aware of your neck as you do this and try to keep it long by pulling your head up, away from your ribcage.
    Return to movement 23

    from 3 to 2 Backwards

    Dance of Shiva position 3
    Dance of Shiva position 2to3
    Dance of Shiva position 2

    This movement is the reverse of the Forwards move from 2 to 3. Practicing these moves back to back you may feel as if you are simply turning you hand one way and then the other by internally rotating your forearm (to positon 3) and externally rotating it (to position 2). For this pair of movements if you practice them together exhale Forwards to 3 and inhale Backwards to 2.
    Return to movement 32

    Forwards from 3 to 4

    Dance of Shiva position 3
    Dance of Shiva position 3to4
    Dance of Shiva position 4

    In position 4, the hand is at the same height as it is in position 1 but the fingers point inwards. The hand again does not cross the body’s center line. The elbow is bent and try to keep the shoulder down, moving it away from the ear. At the same time keep the neck feeling long by pulling the head upwards.
    Connecting 3 to 4 is perhaps the most difficult of all moves to do while keeping the palm facing upwards.
    For the first part of the move focus on rolling the upper arm inwards. Just before the fingers are pointing straight ahead begin to rotate the upper arm backwards.
    You can also focus on keeping the forearm rolling inwards so that the thumb side of the hand keeps pressing upwards.
    Because the arm is lifting in this movement the natural breath to do it with would be the inhale. However, because of the diffictulty of this movement it may be easier to practice with an exhale.
    Focus on “letting go” if you do practice with an exhale.

    Return to movement 34

    from 4 to 3 Backwards

    Dance of Shiva position 4
    Dance of Shiva position 3to4
    Dance of Shiva position 3

    This movement is the reverse of the Forwards movement from 3 to 4. If practicing these moves together, inhale Forwards from 3 to 4 and exhale backwards from 4 to 3. For the hardest part of this movement, focus on moving the shoulder blade forwards and up to give your upper arm the greatest amount of room to roll forwards. The forearm is kept internally rotated for both moves.

    Return to movement 43

    Forwards from 4 to 1

    Dance of Shiva position 4
    Dance of Shiva position 4to1
    Dance of Shiva position 1

    After the previous movement (from 3 to 4) this movement is relatively easy. Practice with an inhale initially and continue to roll the upper arm back. You might also think of this as “the shoulder” rolling back. I use the words “upper arm rolling back” because the upper arm is rotating “backwards” at the shoulder joint.

    Return to movement 41

    from 1 to 4 Backwards

    Dance of Shiva position 4
    Dance of Shiva position 4to1
    Dance of Shiva position 1

    This movement is the reverse of the Forwards move from 1 to 4. Practicing these movements together, inhale to 1 and exhale to 4. Keep the shoulder blade moving outards for both moves and keep the palm facing upwards. Moving Forwards to position 1 the elbow moves forwards slightly while in the opposite direction iTransquarter moves backwards.

    Return to movement 14

    Forwards from a to b

    Dance of Shiva position a
    Dance of Shiva position atob
    Dance of Shiva position b

    In “a” position the arm reaches straight forwards and in slightly towards your bodies centerline. The elbow can be slightly bent. In “b” position the elbow points forwards and reaches forwards. To assist make this position of the elbow easier, reach forwards with the shoulder blade. With the elbow forwards, the forearm and fingers point back towards the bottom of the sternum while the palm faces outwards. The wrist can be bent to allow the palm to face truly face outwards.

    Starting in position “a”, rotate the forearm inwards so that the palm and the point of the elbow both face outwards. To move Forwards to position “b” bend the elbow and allow the forearm to swing down and then back so that the fingers end up pointing towards the chest. Your upper arm will roll inwards slightly as you do this. Reach the upper arm forwards as far as possible so that the forearm has room to point inwards.In “b” position point the elbow forwards. In both positon “a” and “b” and the move between them try to keep shoulder blade moving outwards and forwards (away from the spine.) Initially practice this movement and the following one with an exhale (and then inhale from “c” to “d” and back to “a.”)

    Return to movement ab

    from b to a Backwards

    Dance of Shiva position b
    Dance of Shiva position atob
    Dance of Shiva position a

    This movement is the exact opposite of the Forwards movement. From “b” position allow the forearm to drop and then swing it forwards and up so that it ends up back at position a. Keep the palm facing outwards at all times. You can imagine chopping forwards and slightly up with the outside edge of the palm.

    Return to movement ba

    Forwards from b to c


    Dance of Shiva position b
    Dance of Shiva position btoc
    Dance of Shiva position c

    Position “c” is like position “a” except that the forearm is rotated externally while in “a” it is rotated internally. In position “b”, so that the fingers point back towards the chest, swing the shoulder blade forwards (away from the spine) and point the elbow as far forwards as possible. To transition to position “c” lift the arm up in front of the face, as if to wipe your nose. Keep the palm facing outwards.
    Continue the movement of the arm forward so that the fingers and forearm point straight ahead.
    Keep the elbow slightly bent and keep the shoulder blade pressing outwards and forwards (away from the spine) so that you can move your elbow in towards you center line as you move to “c”. This will ideally give you more room to externally rotate your forearm so that you palm faces out.

    Return to movement bc

    from c to b Backwards


    Dance of Shiva position c
    Dance of Shiva position btoc
    Dance of Shiva position b

    Moving the arm backwards from “c” to “b” you might brushing the side of your nose with your finger tips. Or imagine covering a yawn except your hand somehow ends up on the wrong side of your mouth. Keep you shoulder forwards as you move from “c” to “b” and keep you palm facing outwards.

    Return to movement cb

    Forwards from c to d


    Dance of Shiva position c
    Dance of Shiva position ctod
    Dance of Shiva position d

    In “d” position the arm reaches back behind the body with the hand at about the height of the bototm of the sternum. The palm faces outwards.
    From “c” to “d” is relatively simple. Allow the arm to drop and then continue the momentum of the arm so that it swings back behind you. Point the fingers back at about the height of your sternum. Although it sounds counter intuitive I would suggest trying to keep the shoulder blade moving outwards in this position also. In my experience it feels like it gives the shoulder more room to move. Try both options, shoulder blade pressing out to the side and shoulder blade pulling in towards the spine, and see which one feesl the best to you? Which one allows you to move you arm back the most? When I move my shoulder blade outwards, the shoulderblade doesn’t move alot, just enought to keep some tension on the muscles that perform that action. Then it is that much easier to keep the shoulder blades moving outwards when the arm move forwards to “a” (or back to “c”).

    Return to movement cd

    from d to c Backwards


    Dance of Shiva position d
    Dance of Shiva position ctod
    Dance of Shiva position c

    From “d” to “c” you can imagine the continuation of a swimming backstroke but instead of using your hand to pull you through the water you are positioning your hand to slice through the water, continuing to use the outside/pinky edge of your hand to lead the slice. Keep your palm facing outwards.

    Return to movement dc

    Forwards from d to a


    Dance of Shiva position d
    Dance of Shiva position dtoa
    Dance of Shiva position a

    From “d” to “a” lift the shoulder as you move your arm up and over your head and then down and to the front. However, so that your neck doesn’t sprain, keep your neck long at the same time by pulling your head back and up and pulling your chin slightly iin so that your head stays level from front to back and the back of your neck feels long. As your arm passes the high point in its arc begin to slide your shoulder blade outwards. At the same time allow the shoulder to drop. In position “a” the elbow can be slightly bent.

    Return to movement da

    from a to d Backwards


    Dance of Shiva position a
    Dance of Shiva position dtoa
    Dance of Shiva position d

    From a to d Backwards, you can imagine chopping up and back (and then down) with the outside edge of the palm. It might also be helpful to imagine that you are doing a swimming backstroke. If you lead with the outer edge of the palm the palm will naturally be facing outwards. At the same time reach outwards with the shoulder blade, away from the spine. Stop when you arm is directly behind you with your thumb uppermost and your pinky finger down and the palm facing outwards.

    Return to movement ad


    Forwards, Backwards,
    Change Forwards, Change Backwards,
    Transquarters,
    Changes,
    Change Transquarters,
    Zero moves

    Change Forwards and Change Backwards moves

    Change Forwards Change Backwards
    dance of shiva position 1 dance of shiva position b dance of shiva position 3 dance of shiva position d dance of shiva position 1 dance of shiva position d dance of shiva position 3 dance of shiva position b
    dance of shiva position a dance of shiva position 2 dance of shiva position c dance of shiva position 4 dance of shiva position a dance of shiva position 4 dance of shiva position c dance of shiva position 2

    These moves are slightly more complex that the Simple Forwards and Backwards moves in that every move you are changing planes. the nice thing about these moves is that they can still be done sequentially, and they also have a nice flow in their own right. The challenge can be in keeping the movements fluid and connected as you change from one plane to the other. Because there is no hard set general rule, like “keep the palm facing up or out” at all times, these movements can offer a little bit more freedom in their interpretation. My own preference is to do the movements in such a way that both my shoulders and my wrists always have room to move. At a beginning level that can mean making both the front and back sides of the shoulders feel open while for the wrists it can mean positioning the forearms so that it is easy to reach through my fingers and make them feel long. Below I include some guidelines for doing the movement. Although these are guidelines, at a beginning level work towards these guidelines so that you can work at opening your body. Then once you feel comfortable or have gotten familiar with these guidelines, then try varying away from them to see if you can find movements that suit your body better. But, before you do that learn the movements well enough without variation so that you have a reference for any experiments.

    Change Forwards from 1 to b

    Dance of Shiva position 1
    Dance of Shiva position 1tob
    Dance of Shiva position b

    Changing Forwards from 1 to “b” is relatively simple. Move the forearm up and inwards and then lower it in front of the body until it ends up at position “b”. You don’t have to twist the forearm at all, keep the palm facing the general direction of movement. It’s like swatting just in front of your face.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement 1b

    from b to 1 Change Backwards


    Dance of Shiva position b
    Dance of Shiva position 1tob
    Dance of Shiva position 1

    This movement can be like swatting someone away from you by flicking the hand up and out to the side. Both this movement and the change Forwards movement stay in the vertical side to side plane.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement b1

    Change Forwards from b to 3


    Dance of Shiva position b
    Dance of Shiva position bto3
    Dance of Shiva position 3

    Like the Change Forwads move from 1 to “b”, the movement from “b” to 3 stays in the same plane. The forearm simply swings out to the side and the palm goes from facing slightly down and out to facing up with the fingers pointing out to the side. It’s almost like you are brushing something off of the front of your thigh.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement b3

    from 3 to b Change Backwards


    Dance of Shiva position 3
    Dance of Shiva position bto3
    Dance of Shiva position b

    Doing the movement from 3 back to “b” you can simply flick the forearm inwards allowing the hand to follow. While in the Change Forwards move the palm of the hand “leads” facing the general direction of movement, in this case it is the back of the hand that leads. You might imagine moving the hand from 3 inwards to cover up your nipple but instead of covering your nipple you keep the pinky side of your hand forwards.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement 3b

    Change Forwards from 3 to d


    Dance of Shiva position 3
    Dance of Shiva position 3tod
    Dance of Shiva position d

    From 3 to “d” the hand movement describes 3/4’s of a circle. It starts of moving a little bit forwards and up, so that the palm faces back, and then it continues up and back so that then the palm faces down. Then it continues back and down (and towards the back of the body) so that the palm ends up facing outwards with the elbow pointing in the opposite direction to the palm

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement 3d

    from d to 3 Change Backwards


    Dance of Shiva position d
    Dance of Shiva position 3tod
    Dance of Shiva position 3

    From “d” to 3 the movement starts of similar to the move from “d” to “a” except that the hand starts to face downwards as the arm moves forwards. The arm then describes a semicircle and the hand moves forwards and down (so that the palm faces back) and then down and back so that the hand ends up in position 3.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement d3

    Change Forwards from d to 1


    Dance of Shiva position d
    Dance of Shiva position dto1
    Dance of Shiva position 1

    From “d” to 1 is quite simple. Move the arm in an a slight curve first forwards and then up, turning the palm upwards as you do so.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement d1

    from 1 to d Change Backwards


    Dance of Shiva position 1
    Dance of Shiva position dto1
    Dance of Shiva position d

    From 1 to “d” is also quite simple. Move the hand down and then back, turning the palm outwards at the same time so that it faces outwards by the time the arm has reached position “d.”

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement 1d

    Change Forwards from a to 2


    Dance of Shiva position a
    Dance of Shiva position ato2
    Dance of Shiva position 2

    Doing a chain of Change Forwards movements starting from a feels nice and looks cool. Unlike starting from 1, the hand constantly pulls forwards and back so it is a bit easier to give a solid intent to the moves. For the first such more from “a” to 2, pull the hand smoothly back to position 2 rolling the forearm externally as you do so. Try to avoid any tendency to lift the shoulder as you do so. Instead keep the shoulder and focus on bending the elbow to pull the hand back infront of the belly. Also notice your upper arm rolling inwards at the same time as the elbow bends. It is these two actions together which pull the hand back from position “a” to position 2.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement a2

    from 2 to a Change Backwards


    Dance of Shiva position 2
    Dance of Shiva position ato2
    Dance of Shiva position a

    Moving from 2 back to “a” you can start to point the fingers forwards as early as possible so that it feels like you are pushing your finger tips forwards into positon “a” (stabbing forwards!). You can also lead with a slightly limp wrist, as if pushing the back of the hand forwards and then almost flick the fingers into position “a” at the end of the movement. In either case, Changing Forwards or Changing Backwards, stay aware of your whole arm (shoulder, upper arm, forearrm, hand) as you do the move.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement 2a

    Change Forwards from 2 to c


    Dance of Shiva position 2
    Dance of Shiva position 2toc
    Dance of Shiva position c

    Changing Forwards from 2 to “c” is similar to Changing Backwards from 2 to “a” and like in the first option for that movement, you can lead with the finger tips. This can feel very similiar to a martial arts move as if striking upwards while corkscrewing the arm at the same time. Try to align the movement so that is feels as if the elbow pushes the finger tips forwards.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement 2c

    from c to 2 Change Backwards


    Dance of Shiva position c
    Dance of Shiva position 2toc
    Dance of Shiva position 2

    This move is very similiar to the Change Forwards move from “a” to 2 although the execution can feel different. Pull your elbow back and then out to the side and have the hand follow the same general path. It’s as if the elbow and the hand are a train heading towards the belly and then they smoothly follow the curve of the tracks so that they veer of to the side. Again, make sure that your shoulder stays down as you do this move.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement c2

    Change Forwards from c to 4


    Dance of Shiva position c
    Dance of Shiva position cto4
    Dance of Shiva position 4

    Changing Forwards from c to 4 feels almost like the movement of doing a British army style salute, where they salute with the palm facing outwards. The curve that the arm follows for this move can feel quite nice if you make it big and rounded. So from “c” the hand moves to the side, and then up (palm facing front), and then to positon 4 over the head with the palm facing upwards and the fingers pointing towards the opposite side of the body.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement c4

    from 4 to c Change Backwards


    Dance of Shiva position 4
    Dance of Shiva position cto4
    Dance of Shiva position c

    This is like dropping a salute once it has been given. The arm moves out to the side then down and forwards (and under) and then coming up with the palm facing outwards as if trying to chop upwards at someones family jewels with the pinky side of the hand. Of course in this case you follow through so that your hand ends slightly higher than the belly button.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement 4c

    Change Forwards from 4 to a


    Dance of Shiva position 4
    Dance of Shiva position 4 to a
    Dance of Shiva position a

    From 4 to “a” the hand simply stabs forwars and down. The palm can turn outwards almost of its own accord.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement 4a

    from a to 4 Change Backwards


    Dance of Shiva position a
    Dance of Shiva position 4 to a
    Dance of Shiva position 4

    From “a” to 4 is like a salute again but you miss the salute so that your hand ends up over the top of your head with your palm facing upwards. Keep the shoulder down as you do this move. You can make the movement feel as if you are pulling your arm back via the elbow. The elbow, incidentally, ends up pointing out to the side.

    General Points for CF and CB moves

    Return to movement a4


    Forwards, Backwards,
    Change Forwards, Change Backwards,
    Transquarters,
    Changes,
    Change Transquarters,
    Zero moves

    Transquarter moves

    dance of shiva position 1 dance of shiva position 2 dance of shiva position 3 dance of shiva position 4 dance of shiva position a dance of shiva position b dance of shiva position c dance of shiva position d

    In the Forwards and Backwards moves the hand stays in the same plane while moving between positions in the same plane. From 1 to 2 the hand stays horizontal. From “b” to “c” the hand stays vertical (facing outwards).
    Tranquarter moves connect positions that are in the same plane but in order to do so it “leaves” that plane. It’s actually a shortcut method for joining positions in the same plane which aren’t next to each other. Position 1 and 2 are adjacted to each other. However, 1 and 3 are non-adjactent. The Transquarter movement connects all non adjacent pairs of positons. It connects 1 to 3, 2 to 4 and vice versa, 3 to 1 and 4 to 2. In the vertical plane it connects a to c, b to d and c to a and d to b.
    While previously to move back and forwards between the same two (non-adjacent) positions we had to do a Forwards and then a Backwards, to move back and forwards between non-adjacent points we simply use a Transquarter over and over again.
    The general rule for Transquarters is that the fingers continue to point in the same direction. For example, moving from 1 to 3 the fingers continue to point to the outside for the whole duration of the movement.

    Transquarter from 1 to 3

    Dance of Shiva position 1
    Dance of Shiva position 1 to 3
    Dance of Shiva position 3

    From 1 to 3 (and for its complement from 3 to 1) the fingers stay pointing outwards as you do the move. You can focus on rolling the thumb side of the hand forwards, down and back so that the hand ends in position 3. This movement is more natural with an exhale however, practice it while doing an exhale and then also while doing an inhale.

    General Points for Transquarter moves

    Return to movement 13

    from 3 to 1 Transquarter
    Dance of Shiva position 3
    Dance of Shiva position 1 to 3
    Dance of Shiva position 1

    For this movement you can focus on rolling the thumb side of the hand forwards, up and then back as if describing a semi-circle. Keep the fingers pointing outwards. If you practice this with its complement, you can first practice exhaling from 1 to 3 and inhaling from 3 to 1. You can also exhale from 1 to 3, inhale and then exhale from 3 to 1 so that each move is accompanied by an exhale. You can then do the same thing but accompanying each move with an inhale.

    General Points for Transquarter moves

    Return to movement 31

    Transquarter from 2 to 4
    Dance of Shiva position 2
    Dance of Shiva position 2 to 4
    Dance of Shiva position 2

    For this move (and its complement from 4 to 2) you can focus on rolling the upper arm forwards. (for its complement the upper arm rolls backwards at the shoulder.) You can do the same thing with the Transquarters that connect 1 and 3. Keep the shoulder down as you do this move and keep the fingers pointing inwards.

    General Points for Transquarter moves

    Return to movement 24

    from 4 to 2 Transquarter
    Dance of Shiva position 4
    Dance of Shiva position 2 to 4
    Dance of Shiva position 2

    As with its complement from 2 to 4, keep the shoulder down as you do this movement and focus on rolling the upper arm externally as you move the hand to position 4. If focusing on the hand you can focus on rolling the pinky side of the hand forwards, down and back as you move from 4 to 2. This movement suits an exhale while its complement suits an inhale. However, practice both moves with inhales and exhales.

    General Points for Transquarter moves

    Return to movement 42

    Transquarter from a to c
    Dance of Shiva position a
    Dance of Shiva position a to c
    Dance of Shiva position c

    This movement is one of the smallest movements of them all (next to the change from “b” to 2 and from 2 to “b”). Simply roll the forearm externally to go from a to c and internally to go back from c to a. This movement, like Transquarters in general, suits an exhale but practice it with an inhale also.

    General Points for Transquarter moves

    Return to movement ac

    from c to a Transquarter
    Dance of Shiva position c
    Dance of Shiva position a to c
    Dance of Shiva position a

    For this movement the forearm rolls internally. Stay aware of your shoudler as you do this move and make sure that it doesn’t lift up. Try to keep the movement in the forearm (for the most part.) Also notice, when moving back and forwards between “a” and “c” how the upper arm and elbow moves. For myself I notice that my elbow moves outwards slightly as I move from “c” to “a” and iTransquarter moves inwards slightly when I do the opposite.
    General Points for Transquarter moves

    Return to movement ca

    Transquarter from b to d
    Dance of Shiva position b
    Dance of Shiva position b to d
    Dance of Shiva position d

    If the Transquarter movements between “a” and “c” are among the smallest movements then this movement from “b” to “d” (and back again) is perhaps the biggest. If I was standing hip deep in water, this action would be very much like drawing a half circle with my finger tips over the surface of the water. While the hand perhaps should be a little higher than this, “dragging the finger tips through water” feels like the most natural (i.e. effortless) way to do this move.
    General Points for Transquarter moves

    Return to movement bd

    from d to b Transquarter
    Dance of Shiva position d
    Dance of Shiva position b to d
    Dance of Shiva position b

    In this move we simply swing the arm forwards and in so that the hand moves from “d” to “b”. Drawing a semicircle on water can again be the metaphor for this movement.
    General Points for Transquarter moves

    Return to movement db


    Forwards, Backwards,
    Change Forwards, Change Backwards,
    Transquarters,
    Changes,
    Change Transquarters,
    Zero moves

    Change moves

    dance of shiva position 1 dance of shiva position 2 dance of shiva position 3 dance of shiva position 4 dance of shiva position a dance of shiva position b dance of shiva position c dance of shiva position d

    Changes, or if you like “Pure” Changes take the hand from the corresponding position in one plane to the other. From 1 we go to “a”, from 2 to “b”, from 3 to “c” and so on (and vice versa). We can look at a Change Forwards move as a Change plus a forwards move with both done at the same time. Likewise for the Change Backwards and Change Transquarter moves. In the original method of teaching the Dance of Shiva, all Change movements are called “Links”.
    A general guideline for all “Change” type movements is to connect each position as smoothly as possible. As you get more and more familiar with both the positions and the moves, you can focus on “the best line” between two points. You can feel each part of your arm and so feel all of your arm as you do the movement, giving each part room to move, and room to do the move “in the best way possible.”

    Change from 1 to a

    Dance of Shiva position 1
    Dance of Shiva position 1toa
    Dance of Shiva position a

    From position “a” to position 1 the fingers smoothly change from pointing out to the side to pointing straight ahead. At the same time the palm changes smoothly from facing upwards to facing out to the side (with the forearm internally rotated.)

    General Points for Change moves
    Return to movement 1a

    from a to 1 Change

    Dance of Shiva position 1
    Dance of Shiva position 1toa
    Dance of Shiva position a

    In this move the fingers change from pointing forwards to pointing out to the side. The palm changes from facing outwards with the forearm internally rotated, to facing upwards. The hand changes from being at the height of the sternum to being slightly above the height of the top of the head

    General Points for Change moves
    Return to movement a1

    Change from 2 to b

    Dance of Shiva position 2
    Dance of Shiva position 2tob
    Dance of Shiva position b

    In moving from 2 to be it is as if the hand is pivoting around the tip of the middle finger. The elbow drops and at the same time the pinky side of the hand scoops down and in so that they palm ends up facing upwards just in front of the belly. However, the finger tips do not cross the center line of the body. The whole hand stays on it’s side of the body.

    General Points for Change moves
    Return to movement 2b

    from b to 2 Change

    Dance of Shiva position b
    Dance of Shiva position 2tob
    Dance of Shiva position 2

    In moveing from “b” to 2 the elbow moves forwards, up and inwards. The forearm rolls inwards at the same time so that the palm ends up facing outwards as much as possible. (It may not be possible for you to turn your palm completely outwards in this position. So you just do the best that you can.)

    General Points for Change moves
    Return to movement b2

    Change from 3 to c

    Dance of Shiva position 3
    Dance of Shiva position 3toc
    Dance of Shiva position c

    Moving the hand from 3 to “c” the hand cuts in to the waist and then sweeps forwards. As the hand sweeps forwards rotate the forearm externally so that the hand ends up in position “c”. There may be a tendency to lift the shoulder as you do this move. Once you are comfortable with the move, pay attention to your shoulder as you do the move and notice if it moves up towards your ear. If it does so then try to correct it by keeping the shoulder down. It may help to pull the head up at the same time so that your neck feels long.

    General Points for Change moves
    Return to movement 3c

    from c to 3 Change

    Dance of Shiva position c
    Dance of Shiva position 3toc
    Dance of Shiva position 3

    From “c” to 3 keep your neck long and your shoulder down as you pull your wrist back towards your waist. It may be helpful to keep your forearm externally rotated as you do so. Then flick the hand out to the side so that they palm ends up facing upwards and your finger tips outwards.

    General Points for Change moves
    Return to movement c3

    Change from 4 to d

    Dance of Shiva position 4
    Dance of Shiva position 4tod
    Dance of Shiva position d

    Moving from 4 to “d” can feel as if you are chopping your hand down behind you. Try to feel your palm and make it face outwards as you do the move. You may need to check visually to make sure that it is indeed facing outwards when it reaches position 4.

    General Points for Change moves
    Return to movement 4d

    Change from d to 4

    Dance of Shiva position d
    Dance of Shiva position 4tod
    Dance of Shiva position 4

    Moving from “d” to 4 focus on feeling your hand as you position it over your head. Make sure that your fingers point inwards (towards the other side of your body) and feel the relative heights of the inside and outside edges of your hand to check that your palm is facing upwards.

    General Points for Change moves
    Return to movement d4


    Forwards, Backwards,
    Change Forwards, Change Backwards,
    Transquarters,
    Changes,
    Change Transquarters,
    Zero moves

    Change Transquarter moves

    dance of shiva position 1 dance of shiva position 2 dance of shiva position 3 dance of shiva position 4 dance of shiva position a dance of shiva position b dance of shiva position c dance of shiva position d
    Change Transquarter moves are like a combination of the Transquarter move and the Change move. As with all “Change” moves, once you’ve gotten used to the idea of which positions Change Transquarters connect, focus on connecting those positioins as smoothly as possible.

    Change Transquarter from 1 to c

    Dance of Shiva position 1
    Dance of Shiva position 1toc
    Dance of Shiva position c

    From 1 to “c” the hand moves down and inwards with the forearm rolling outwards at the same time.

    General Points for Change Transquarter moves
    Return to movement 1c

    from c to 1 Change Transquarter

    Dance of Shiva position 1
    Dance of Shiva position 1toc
    Dance of Shiva position c

    From “c” to 1 the hand moves smoothly up and out to the side with the palm turning upwards as the hand moves.

    General Points for Change Transquarter moves
    Return to movement c1

    Change Transquarter from 2 to d

    Dance of Shiva position 2
    Dance of Shiva position 2tod
    Dance of Shiva position d

    From 2 to “d” is very similiar to the move from “b” to “d”. The elbow moves back and in and the hand traces a horizontal circle (or 3/4s of a circle) as it moves forwards, outwards and then back. Externally rotate your forearm at the same time so that your palm ends up facing outwards by the end of the move.

    General Points for Change Transquarter moves
    Return to movement 2d

    from d to 2 Change Transquarter

    Dance of Shiva position 2
    Dance of Shiva position 2tod
    Dance of Shiva position d

    From “d” to 2 swing the arm forwards and then in pulling the pinky side of the palm towards your belly as you do so. Finish the movement with your palm facing upwards.

    General Points for Change Transquarter moves
    Return to movement d2

    Change Transquarter from 3 to a

    Dance of Shiva position 3
    Dance of Shiva position 3toa
    Dance of Shiva position a

    From 3 to “a” simply swing the arm forwards and in so that the fingers point forwards in front of the body. The feeling could be that of batting a ball to the opposite side using the back of the hand.
    Depending on how bent your elbow is in position 3, you may need to straighten your elbow slightly as you swing your arm forwards.

    General Points for Change Transquarter moves
    Return to movement 3a

    from a to 3 Change Transquarter

    Dance of Shiva position a
    Dance of Shiva position 3toa
    Dance of Shiva position 3

    From “a” to 3 you can allow the arm to swing down and out to the side and then slightly up. Think about pulling the thumb side of the hand up as you do so, enough that the palm becomes level as it reaches position 3.
    Return to movement a3

    Change Transquarter from 4 to b

    Dance of Shiva position 4
    Dance of Shiva position 4tob
    Dance of Shiva position b

    From 4 to “b” is very similar to the Transquarter from 4 to 2 except that the hand doesn’t rotate quite so far. To execute this move simply drop the hand from position 4 down the front of the body and stop the arm with the hand just in front of the belly with the fingers pointing inwards and the palm outwards. You can also simply roll the upper arm forwards at the same time only slightly externally rotating the forearm.

    General Points for Change Transquarter moves

    Return to movement 4b

    from b to 4 Change Transquarter

    Dance of Shiva position 4
    Dance of Shiva position 4tob
    Dance of Shiva position b

    From “b” to 4 arc the hand forwards and up and then back so that it ends up over the head with the palm upwards and the fingers pointing towards the opposite side of the body.
    General Points for Change Transquarter moves

    Return to movement b4


    Forwards, Backwards,
    Change Forwards, Change Backwards,
    Transquarters,
    Changes,
    Change Transquarters,
    Zero moves

    Zero (non) moves

    dance of shiva position 1 dance of shiva position 2 dance of shiva position 3 dance of shiva position 4 dance of shiva position a dance of shiva position b dance of shiva position c dance of shiva position d
    Zero moves aren’t really moves or if you like, zero moves are all possible moves. At any rate they are included here to bring our total number of movements to 64. The Zero move connects each position to itself. They’ll be imporant later when we get to moves where we use both arms at the same time. The Zero moves allows us to connect double handed positions where there is only one hand that is in a different position. Since there is no movement to discuss, I’ll simply include a description of the position.

    Position 1

    Dance of Shiva position 1

    In position 1 the palm is upright with the fingers pointing out to the side and the palm at the same level (or there abouts) as the top of the head.

    Position 1

    Position 2

    Dance of Shiva position 2

    In position 2 the palm is upright with the fingers pointing inwards. The palm is just above the height of the belly button and the upper arm is rolled forwards.
    Position 2

    Position 3

    Dance of Shiva position 3

    In position 3 the palm again is upright with the fingers pointing outwards (as in position 1). The hand is slightly lower than the height of the belly button and the elbow points outwards. As in position 2, roll the upper arm forwards at the shoulder joint.
    Position 3

    Position 4

    Dance of Shiva position 4

    In position 4 the hand is above the top of the head with the fingers pointing inwards and the palm facing upwards. See if you can feel that the outer and inner edges of your hand are at the same height. To avoid hunching your neck (as if trying to get your head under your hand) press up on the base of your skull so that your neck feels long. At the same time move your shoulder away from your ear.

    Position 4

    Position a

    Dance of Shiva position a

    In position “a” the arm is forwards with the finger tips pointing forwards. So that the palm faces the outside (to the right if it is your right hand) roll the forearm inwards. The elbow can be slighlty bent or straight in this position.

    Position a

    Position b

    Dance of Shiva position b

    In positon “b” the elbow is bent at reaches forwards so that the forearm and fingers can point in and back towards the bottom of the sternum. Slide your shoulder blade outwards and forwards so that your upper arm can have room for the elbow end to be forwards.

    Position b

    Position c

    Dance of Shiva position c

    In position “c” the arm is again forwards (as in “a”) but the forearm is rotated externally so that the palm faces outwards. The fingers continue to point forwards.

    Position c

    Position d

    Dance of Shiva position d

    In position “d” as in “b” the finger tips point rearwards. In this position the hand is behind the back with the elbow straight. The arm points slightly downwards so that the hand is at about the height of the belly button or higher yet at the same height as the bottom of the breast bone (sternum.)

    Position d

    As a final overall note, as you practice these movements in different combinations you’ll begin to find that they may change slightly depending on the previous move and the following move. This may be in response to trying to make the moves flow together more smoothly. Do try to make the movements smooth but also attempt to make each position distinct. Make sure that the palm is facing upwards or outwards and also try to make sure that the fingers stay together. however, the hands do not have to be stiff. If anything they should feel slightly relaxed. This can apply to the whole arm in general as you do the move. While trying to move your arm in the specified way do try to do the movement but at the same time try to make your arm soft enough that you can feel it. Soft enough that you can make small, tiny adjustments to the positon of each part of the arm so that the each part of the arm works together both to connect each position and to “hold” each position.