by Ruth Pearce

Many people are surprised to learn that I am an introvert—one who has managed to learn to “fake it ‘til I make it.” Before the Certificate in Positive Psychology (CiPP), the thought of being in a room of people, getting my groove on, would have made me melt into a puddle of butter!

Enter Megha Nancy Buttenheim and her Let Your Yoga Dance for Positive Psychology®, which is a fundamental part of the CiPP curriculum.

At the start of class, Megha told us, pointing around the room, “You are all dancers!”

Yeah, right, I thought, you haven’t seen me yet.

But, 15 minutes in, I had lost all inhibition and was moving and grooving, pulling Lion’s Breath faces and dancing my Warrior along with everyone else. I felt light, at ease, and completely unconcerned with other peoples’ opinions or my own self-judgments.

The result has been profound and long-lasting. Since then, I have been seen dancing in the strangest places—cemeteries, museum grounds, on my lawn in full view of the golf club across the fairway. When I dance, time stops, I am in the flow, I lose all sense of myself. I am entirely absorbed, reveling in my sense of well-being.

Others I’ve spoken to have described a similar experience. Many people who hover on the sidelines at first, too reserved and nervous to join in, get pulled in and get hooked. Instead of focusing on ourselves and our habitual self-consciousness, we lose ourselves in the communal experience. We can sweat with abandon, because we are all family members in that moment.

Recently, I had the privilege of assisting Megha in her Let Your Yoga Dance for Special Populations program at Kripalu, for a group of people with Parkinson’s.

Maybe you’re wondering how something that combines dance and yoga could work for anyone dealing with a progressive disease. Let Your Yoga Dance for Special Populations does not focus on the dis, it focuses on the ease—ease of mind, ease of movement, and ease of expression. The movements flow with your body, not against it. Megha gracefully integrates yoga movements with dance and inspiring music. Everyone is drawn into flow, mentally and physically, as we access compassion for others and for ourselves, whatever shape we’re in.

We danced the twist together, we waltzed together. The Jets took on the Sharks as we danced our Warriors across the room. We moved our Mountains and danced our Goddesses to Josh Groban crooning “You Raise Me Up.” We were raised up! We opened our chakras and moved our souls.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said, “The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” That’s Let Your Yoga Dance for Special Populations in a nutshell.

RuthPRuth Pearce is the founder of the newly formed ALLE LLC (A Lever Long Enough). Her company specializes in team and workplace positivity and in building resilience and happiness in young people, particularly teenagers. Most recently, Ruth spent a year first revitalizing and then leading a team of more than 100 technologists in the United States and India on an Enterprise Data Warehouse program. Previously, she spent 20 years as a program manager on large IT programs, primarily in the financial services industry. She is currently working with the Wholebeing Institute on the 2016 Embodied Positive Psychology (EP2) Summit at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. Ruth lives in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts with her husband, Gareth, and their dog, Milo.