WHIRLING PRACTICE NOTES AND TIPS:
A flat surface with no carpets, cracks, or grooves that may trip you is important for whirling. You will need a big enough space to avoid running into objects or walls as you may drift. If you don’t have room in your home you can rent practice space I recommend Suzie’s Studio or attending Scheherazade’s Dance Temple events.
It is advised that you wear flat dance shoes (such as ballet slippers) or sticky socks that provide the right amount of grip. I find regular socks too slippery, but you could try pulling them off the heel so you can grip a little.
Before you begin, close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Scan your body and note any sensations. Feel your feet firmly planted on the ground with your knees slightly bent. Check your posture, lifting up and rolling your shoulders back. You are the axis mundi, the connection point between heaven and earth. Feel the solar energy pour down into you, blessing each chakra, and the earth energy rising up and spilling out around you, creating a orb of light. It is important that you maintain a firm connection with the earth while lifting. Take as much time here as you wish.
When you are ready, cross your arms at the chest, putting a hand on the opposite shoulder or wrap one around the torso. This is a resourcing posture that will calm your nervous system, and how we begin and end. Set your intention for the practice and bow forward, reinforcing your connection with the earth. You may think of this posture, too, as a surrendering to and honoring of the great Mystery.
DIRECTION OF ROTATION:
Traditionally we whirl to the left (internal, feminine, unwinding the external energy), however if you feel moved to turn right follow your instincts. (The notes that follow will assume you are turning left.)
OPENING THE HEART:
Pivot around your left foot, stepping out with the right, rotating halfway (180 degrees) and step out with your right foot. Arms reach out with each step, returning to the heart as you turn, and reaching out again. Make sure your left grounding foot is flat and weight evenly distributed. You are not lifting to the ball. While you may be rotating on the ball of your foot your heel is brushing the floor.
LET IT WHIRL:
Once you feel comfortable with this gesture begin rotating around the left, stepping with your right, but don’t concern yourself with where your right foot lands. (Traditionally Mevlevi sufis do a complete rotation with each step, but experiment and find what works for you.)
First sweep your hands down your sides, then drawn them up the sides and over your head. Lock your shoulders in place with your arms up in a V shape. The right hand is palm up, drawing in cosmic energy, and the left plan is facing the earth, giving energy. This is the traditional posture, but there is no need to stay here if it is uncomfortable. You can let you arms relax and extend out. You can bring them down and cycle them back up through center as a way to rest them. Play with different arm positions and see what works for you, noticing how the arm posture affects the momentum of the turn.
HEAD POSTURE: Traditionally the head is tilted towards the heart (top of head angled up to right, chin angled down to left). If your neck gets tired, try gently moving the head to different angles, noticing how this affects the turn.
Whirling is a non-spotting turning technique. This means that your gaze is not fixed on anything. Rather, your eyes are soft and your head is moving at the same speed as the rest of the body (as opposed to ballerinas who turn their head quickly and fix their eyes on a spot in order to prevent dizziness). If this is difficult and makes you feel too nauseous or dizzy, try gazing at your hand. If that works for you, next try gazing belong your hand but keeping it in your visual field. The idea is that you are not grasping to anything of this world but keeping your attention focused within.
You may find this practice challenging. Be patient with yourself. We are enculturated to resist feeling out of control, and the surrender that is necessary for whirling can be uncomfortable at first. Instead of trying to ground with your eyes, bring your attention to your body, specifically the contact of your foot with the floor and the column of energy extending up through your body and our your crown.
Exercise is a great side benefit of whirling. You will find while turning that your abdominals will pull in to support you. You may feel your heartbeat and hear your breathing in a deeper way. You may break a sweat!
HOW TO STOP:
To stop, begin slowing the momentum of the rotation. This is when dizziness is often the most apparent. Take your time slowing down. There is no hurry.
Put on any music that opens your heart and quiets your mind. I recommend including an opening track for meditation in stillness, followed by an inspiring or contemplative track for whirling (5 minutes recommended at first, increasing to 7, 10, 12, 15, etc), and having another quiet heart-opening meditation track at the end to transition back into stillness. Here is the playlist from “Whirling the Web of Creation” workshop held April 22, 2018.
This is a professional performance demo video of me whirling. I am not necessarily doing the traditional postures, but you can use it for inspiration, particularly for arm gestures you may want to experiment with. Note the head rotation is not recommended until you are well-practiced.
Have questions or need help with anything? Contact me if you would like to book a private coaching session. You can also post questions below. Wishing you a joyful, cleansing, and nourishing whirling experience! Love, Hannah