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Dance of Shiva / Movements of legs
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Movements of legs

Shiva Nata — Dance of Shiva Movements of arms
Movements of legs Associating movements of the spine with the breath
Elements of the Dance of Shiva in Yoga Training Complexes Subsequent levels of the practice

From an anatomical point of view, the legs and the arms have a similar construction and can perform the same movements. Dividing leg movements into quarters it is possible to use the same system of shifts as are applied for the movements of the arms, by simply substituting the arm symbols in the above diagrams with the symbols of legs. But, in reality, moving both legs simultaneously in the standing position is impossible, or in the sitting and lying position there are restrictions in the range of movement, such as the floor, which substantially decreases the number of theoretically possible movements. Operation of the legs upwards is not possible in full scope, since it is restricted by the time period spent in a reversed position (on the shoulders, for example) and is connected with the overloading of the cardiovascular system. Therefore, the movement model devised for the arms is not natural or «practical» for the legs.

So, the technique of movements with legs is based on their natural inclinations. In the standing position, it is necessary to only move one leg at a time and to move one or two legs in a jump or on the floor. Parts of the movements in the standing position are differentiated and combined using a system of step sequences, which follow the fragment trajectories of these movements. (There is one school in Kyiv that uses variants of movements with two legs simultaneously while on the floor).

The sequence of practicing all of the above movements is similar. In the beginning, one learns the movements on the easier side, and then on the more difficult one. And all movements follow the rhythm of powerful breath: inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

At the first level of practice it is possible to perform horizontal, longitudinal and transversal movements with one leg, the second leg serving as a support. Compared to the simultaneous movements of both arms, practicing movements with one leg looks much simpler, but movements with legs require much greater physical effort. But, in practice, performing leg movements that are technically «pure» requires similar effort. And, in terms of effect on the psychic-energy structure, these leg movements are not less effective.

Theoretically, one leg may perform two main spiral pendulum-like movements: longitudinal and transversal, forming four loops with crossing trajectories (Fig. 1). Forward and backward movements with a leg are only restricted by the «Limit of the Marginal Circle» of mobility. Transversal movements outwards are also not restricted, but when moving inwards, the free leg clashes with the supporting leg. Therefore, the impossible transversal loop towards the support leg is reversed towards the possible loop. As the result, the transversal spiral is performed in the following fashion: initially the leg moves to the side and close to floor level, and makes a small loop. Thereafter, it moves to the same side, but high above the floor level and makes a big (reversed) loop or to the reversed direction (Fig. 2).

Trajectory of the right leg, top view

Therefore, transversal spiral movements go to the side and upward in the vertical plane (Fig. 3). Whereas longitudinal spiral movements go forward-upward and backward-upward in the vertical plane (Fig. 4).

Trajectory of the right leg, rear view Trajectory of the right leg, right-side view

Trajectories of longitudinal and transversal movements may be divided into two sections, and each assigned a relevant digital code. Looking at the longitudinal spiral on top (Fig. 5) its trajectory is divided into four quarters: internal front arch — 1, external front arch — 2, internal back arch – 3, and external back arch — 4. Similarly, looking at the transversal spiral (Fig. 6) it is possible to see: small front arch — 5, small back arch — 6, big front arch — 7, and big back arch — 8.

Trajectory of the right leg, top view

When practicing all subsequent movements with the legs, the back of the hands should be fixed on the waist. The practice of leg movements begins with mastering the circular movements in the front (Photos 73 — 75 and Fig. 7), back (Photos 76 — 78 and Fig. 8), on the side in a small loop (Photos 79 — 81 and Fig. 9), and on the side in a big loop (Photo 82 and Fig. 10).

Photos 73-75
Photos 76-78
Photos 79-81

Trajectory of the right leg, top view


  Trajectory of the right leg, top view

These movements, accordingly, are comprised of front, side and back subspace movements. They are performed several times in succession without stopping, one side after another. These movements should not be excessively broad, but one should try to do them smoothly and radially. The toes should move low above the floor level with the foot rotating as if continuing a whip-like movement of the leg. The support leg is always slightly bent. It is necessary to have the feeling that the foot is gripping the floor and to instantly react to any deviations in the gravity center and compensate for them.

When such circular movements are performed easily and correctly in both directions, it is possible to progress to the next stage of the first level. At this level, the integration of front and back subspaces takes place, performing longitudinal spiral movements with one leg (Fig. 11), and side subspaces during transversal spiral movements with one leg (Fig. 12). These are performed in the rhythm of the breath, several times without stopping, one side after the other. The movements should be smooth and radial.

Trajectory of the right leg, top view


Trajectory of the right leg, top view

After that, it is necessary to start differentiating longitudinal and transversal movements into quarters by using relevant steps forward, backward and to the sides (Fig. 13 a-c). These steps are made in pairs by the same leg, starting from the initial position of standing, feet together and leg slightly bent, and returning to this position at the end. In the beginning, it is necessary to practice clockwise steps, and then counter-clockwise. For example, the clockwise step forward goes forward following the internal arch and backward following the external arch (Fig. 13a), or the clockwise step sideways goes to the side following the front arch and back in following the back arch (Fig. 13c), etc. In total, there are four clockwise steps and four counter clockwise steps.

The difference between the side step following the small arch and on using the big arch is not the width of the step alone, but the height at which the leg is raised. Thus, if using a small-arch step, the leg remains bent and the foot moves high above the floor following the front arch (5) and back arch (6) (Fig. 14). In the big-arch step the leg is completely straight and raises high above the floor moving outside (7) (Fig. 15a) and on the reverse trajectory it moves inside (8) (Fig. 15b). (A similar step to the side (outward) is often used in Sumo wrestling to take the main position).

Trajectory of the right leg, top view

When these steps have been learned, it is possible to begin to practice longitudinal or transversal steps with two legs one by one. In longitudinal movements, there are four options of such steps and four more in transversal. Such movements should begin from the initial standing position, feet together and legs slightly bent.

Trajectory of the right leg, top view

Longitudinal movements

Option one

Step forward with the right leg following the internal arch (1) then bring the left leg forward following the external arch (4), (Fig. 16a). This is followed by backward steps following the same trajectories, but in reverse sequence.


Option two

Step forward with the right leg following the external arch (2) then bring the left leg forward following the internal arch (3), (Fig. 16b). This is followed by backward steps following the same trajectories, but in reverse sequence.


Option three

Step forward with the right leg following the internal arch (1) then bring the left leg forward following the internal arch (3), (Fig. 16c). This is followed by backward steps following the same trajectories, but in the reversed sequence.


Option four

Step forward with the right leg following the external arch (2), then bring the left leg forward following external arch (4), (Fig. 16d). This is followed by backward steps following the same trajectories, but in reverse sequence.

Trajectory of legs, top view

Transversal movements

Option one

Step to the side with the right leg following the front arch of the small loop (5) then step to the same side with the left leg following the back of the small loop arch (6), (Fig. 17a). This is followed by steps to the opposite side, following the same trajectories, but in reverse sequence.


Option two

Step to the side with the right leg following the front low arch of the small loop (5) then step to the same side with the left leg following the high arch of the big loop, moving inside (8), (Fig. 17b). This is followed by steps to the opposite side, following the same trajectories, but in the reverse sequence. The high outward step becomes nothing but a second arch of the big high loop (7) (see above).


Option three

Step to the side with the right leg following the back arch of the small loop (6) then step to the same side with the left leg following the front arch of the small loop (5), etc. (Fig. 17c). This is followed by steps to the opposite side following the same trajectories, but in the reverse sequence.


Option four

Step to the side with the right leg following the back low arch of the small loop (6) then step to the same side with the left leg following the high arch of the big loop, moving inside (8), (Fig. 17d). This should be followed by steps to the opposite side following the same trajectories, but in reverse sequence. The high outward step of the left leg becomes nothing but a second arch of the big high loop (7) (see above).

When practicing the steps that follow the low loop, the foot must move low just above the floor almost touching it. In the initial position (feet together) inhale and make two steps during each exhalation. Thereafter, in the initial position, make another inhalation and take another two steps, etc. When changing between the steps, slightly slow down the exhalation. All inhalations should be through the nose and all exhalations should be through the mouth.

Such steps are practiced in series by two, four, six or eight steps in succession, depending on the length of the training.

Trajectory of legs, top view

(At the advanced levels of practice these steps are performed in a more natural fashion. The trajectories of the leg movements are slightly shifted. The second leg slightly oversteps before the first leg. As a result, the first leg always starts to move from behind the second leg.)



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