Sacred Dance: Moving Your Body for Spiritual Connection


Sacred dance is an ancient activity that has been practiced for centuries for the purpose of spiritual connection and healing. It is a form of movement that can be used to express emotions, to strengthen and develop physical, mental and emotional states, and to access and communicate with a higher power. Sacred dance has been used as a medium for healing, self-expression and spiritual growth across multiple cultures and religions, from Native American and Hindu practices, to modern day ecstatic dance.

Traditional Practices

One of the earliest forms of sacred dance was known as the “Dance or Prayer” or “Sacred Circle Dance” practiced by the Native Americans. It was performed with wisdom, creative power and reverence during certain ceremonies and events. This dance was intended to bring the group into harmony and to express love for each other and for all of life. The Sioux religious dance, Cante Sapa, was an important part of their culture, marked by drumming, chanting and singing.

In Hinduism, sacred dance consists of movements, postures and gestures known as Mudras, which embody spiritual energy. Some of these are performed while standing, while others are conducted while seated. Bharatanatyam is considered to be the oldest form of classical dance in India, and is linked to tales, mythology and scriptures.

In Africa, sacred dance is both spiritual and social. Dance is used in traditional ceremonies to communicate messages to the ancestors, to honor important occasions and to express emotions.

Modern Day Sacred Dance

Ecstatic dance is a modern form of sacred dance that has gained popularity in recent years. It is a free form of movement that is aimed at cultivating personal exploration and connection to the spirit. Ecstatic dance is an expression of movement and energy, allowing participants to move freely and without judgment. It is an opportunity to connect with the body, spirit and community, and to discover one’s inner power and creativity.

Free dance is another type of sacred dance that is gaining popularity. It is a type of dance that has no direction or intention, and allows people to move their bodies in whatever way feels natural. Free dance is about allowing the body to express what it needs to and allowing the mind to find peace. It is a way of letting go of inhibitions and allowing our true self to emerge.

Techniques For Connecting To Spirituality Through Dance

Sacred dance is an opportunity to connect with the spirit and open pathways to deeper understanding and awareness. Here are some tips on how to make the most of the experience:

1. Get in the right mindset: Before beginning your dance, take the time to connect with your intention and connect with your breath. Allow yourself to focus on the inner world rather than the external.

2. Connect with music: Music plays an important role in sacred dance. Connect with the energy of the music and trust your body to be guided by it.

3. Find your rhythm: Feel the rhythm of the music and let it influence your body. Allow yourself to move in whatever way feels most natural.

4. Honor your emotions: You may experience a spectrum of feelings throughout your sacred dance journey. Allow yourself to feel them without judgment and be willing to explore the emotions that emerge.

5. Connect with nature: Step outside and move your body in response to the beauty of the natural world. Open yourself to being moved and inspired by the sounds, sights and smells of the environment around you.


Sacred dance is an ancient practice that has been used for centuries for spiritual connection and healing. It is a form of movement that can be used to express emotion and to access and communicate with a higher power. Sacred dance is still practiced today, in various forms for different cultures, religions and communities. By connecting to the music and allowing our bodies to move freely and without inhibition, we can experience a deeper sense of self and develop spiritual awareness.
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What other spiritual or religious practices involve physical movement?

-Yoga: A spiritual and physical practice originating from India that combines breath work, postures and meditation for increased mental, physical and spiritual health.

-Tai Chi: A Chinese martial art and spiritual practice that combines slow sustained movements with breathing exercises and focused intention.

-Qigong: An ancient healing and spiritual practice from China involving physical postures, movements, and breathing techniques to enhance the flow of energy in the body.

-Pilgrimage: A journey made for spiritual reasons with a specific focus, often involving visiting holy sites that may require physical trekking or walking.

-Dance: A spiritual practice found in many cultures around the world involving physical movements like swaying, leaping, clapping and stomping to express emotion or invoke spiritual energy.

What are the different types of physical movement exercises used in spiritual practice?

1. Pranayama: This is an ancient form of breathing exercise originating from India and part of yoga. It involves a range of deep, rhythmic breaths, often combined with visualization.

2. Kriya Yoga: This is a form of yoga known for its powerful purifying effects, as well as its ability to promote spiritual and emotional wellbeing. This form of yoga typically includes a series of poses combined with breathing and meditation.

3. Tai Chi: This ancient form of Chinese martial art focuses on slow, graceful movements and mental concentration, making it a great physical exercise and meditation.

4. Qi Gong: This is an ancient Chinese practice that involves gentle and slow physical exercises, combined with breath work and visualization.

5. Mantra Meditation: This is an ancient practice that involves repeating sacred mantras (words or phrases) while focusing and following the movement of your breath.

6. Yoga: This is an ancient form of physical, mental and spiritual practice, involving postures and relaxation techniques.

7. Pilates: This is a system of physical exercises designed to improve posture, overall appearance and flexibility.

8. BodyMind Movement: This is a newer, holistic form of physical movement combining elements of traditional physical therapy and modern mind-body practices.