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Friday, September 24, 2021

Zia Nath: The master of whirling on the art of sacred dance and spirituality

In her performances, you would see a lot of whirling done with utmost grace and subtlety. She addresses whirling as an active movement meditation and says that it’s not possible to whirl without the meditative element.

Written by Anjali Jha | New Delhi |
Updated: February 22, 2019 12:52:30 pm
Zia Nath, Realms of Dance, Odissi dance Zia Nath studied Gurdjieff sacred dances for several years and was introduced to Sufi whirling.

Back in 1993, when Zia Nath saw a performance of Sufi and Gurdjieff sacred dance in Pune at the Osho International Meditation Resort (OIMR) she was spellbound. Over the years, she mastered the art, and today, finds grace not just in dance forms, but also in every aspect of life – a habit she developed after practising sacred dance for several years.

“I started my journey in Sacred Dances as an exploration and practice of my spiritual path. I studied Gurdjieff Sacred Dances intensively for several years and was introduced to Sufi Whirling. After practising for about eight years, I started teaching the work in Mumbai and at OIMR, Pune. Soon I got inquiries to give performances, and also felt the need to learn different forms of sacred dances so I studied Odissi too, which is a temple dance”, Nath, who performs on live or recorded poetry, told

Zia Nath, Realms of Dance, Odissi dance Zia Nath also felt the urge to learn different forms of sacred dances, so she studied Odissi.

Nath’s performances, which include a lot of whirling, stand out for their grace. After years of practice, she can whirl for nearly 15 minutes at a stretch – an act that leaves her audience spellbound. She describes whirling as an active movement meditation, saying it’s not possible to whirl without the meditative element. “As we get into the practice of whirling, the stable turning motion of the body starts to create an organised force around itself. All organised forces of motion have a centre – like that of a tornado or a cyclone where the centre is always still. This stillness sustains the motion and the momentum which keeps the whirling going. As our body whirls on the outside, a still centre starts to form on the inside. This polarity of forces creates a new dimension – it brings us into meditation”, she said.

Nath also started a sacred whirling community along with Pinky Daga, CEO of Thriive Art & Soul to create a community of whirlers that meet regularly to share this beautiful spiritual practice of dance. They gather to share poetry, music, whirling, meditation and dance.

Zia Nath, Realms of Dance, Odissi dance It’s not possible to whirl without the meditative element, says Zia Nath.

Nath balances many acts – being a single parent of a teenager and also a Craniosacral Therapist and Nutritionist. But being a sacred dancer comes naturally to her. ” George Gurdjieff said, ‘from stillness, the dance arises’. Sacred dances can be a bridge to our higher consciousness. As the body frees up in movement, the energy within also starts to flow and circulate freely – this opens deeper dimensions of awareness within. Grace comes through. Surrender happens. Devotion opens the heart. This is sacred movement or sacred dance. You see this quality among people who have integrated meditation into their daily life, as opposed to sitting in meditation for one hour”, she says.

An essential factor to curate this form of dance requires a disciplined life and a deep understanding of the body-mind dynamics. Understanding the design of the body – the relationship between its form and function facilitates good mobility and health. But there is a deeper inquiry that we are involved with – what moves us, what breathes us, what sustains us, she says.

“As a dancer, I understand the dynamics of the body as well as its relation to emotions and mentality. There are two ways of addressing the body – from the outer with movement, form and function or from the inner – through energy work, psychology, emotionally, meditation, etc. Either way, we reach wholeness, the meeting of inner and outer. Being sincere and dedicated to practice in this work is imperative. It helps to keep the body healthy, and maintain daily fitness”, she said.

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