The Magic of Rhythm

When you go to Frida Kahlo's home in Mexico City, this pillow on this chair rests in her bedroom. It says, "Despierta Corazon Domido" which translates to, "Wake Up Sleepy Heart."

One of my favorite novels is The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. It’s a story of the renowned scholar Rumi who confesses his emptiness inside and shares a dream he has of a soul mate to open him up. A wandering Sufi mystic named Shams arrives and through their friendship, Rumi's heart opens and he begins to sing and dance with ecstasy. 

However, the community within which he is a leader questions his behavior with Shams and holds onto the more conservative interpretations of religion which suggest Rumi is a heretic and not a holy man. During a debate in the book, Shams says, "This argument has been going on for a long time as it is at the heart of of every Abhrahamic religion. It is the conflict between the scholar and the mystic, between the mind and the heart."

All of us can relate to the debate inside ourselves between the head and the heart between logical rationalizations to take or not take action and the calling in our soul that makes no linear sense but cannot be ignored. While the organization of the world is to create systems of predictability, life often has a simple goal: to break your heart open. To live in the heart is such a tender place to be - so vulnerable that few can linger long, but so rewarding none can stay away.  

While many emotions and feelings may come through your heart consciousness in a day, physically in the body, most people conform to the status quo of rigidity. You may feel many many things but keep your body stoic and still. In Qoya, we are creating movement with meaning and an opportunity to explore what freedom feels like as we wake up the heart.  


Literally - we move as if dancing our heartbeat and physically stretch and open the front and back of our hearts while waking up the middle spine, which can sometimes feel tight from a sedentary lifestyle.

Figuratively - we travel the longest distance any of us will ever travel, six inches from the head to the heart. Imagine as you move to the rhythm of the music you can tune into the rhythm of your own heart and perceive from there.

Hear the music through your heart.
See through the eyes of your heart.
Experience the sensations of your body through your heart.
Notice the difference in the quality of perception when you perceive from the heart.

To dance your heartbeat:

  • Inhale to open and stretch the front of your heart as you arch your spine to the front of the room.
  • Exhale to open and stretch the back of your heart as you round your spine to the back of the room.
  • Continue this movement slowly for several repetitions.
  • Then move to the rhythm of the music, emulating the rhythm of your heartbeat where you movement is an exaggerated heartbeat.
  • You can also increase the speed if appropriate.
  • Isolate your rib cage by moving your chest front, side, back, side keeping the hips mostly still. Start slowly, then go double time and practice leading with the heart.
  • Circle your chest to the front, side, back, side a few times around and then switching directions.
  • Finally, let your heart lead you around the room and move the body any way it wants to move.



The ego loves to make things complicated, creating levels of hierarchy and comparison. However, the heart is simple. Its message is love. At the heart of all religious and spiritual teachings, the message is love, and in the dance of eternity, love always wins. 

When do you feel most connected to your heart?

What does it feel like when you listen to your heart? What is the physical sensation?  

Do you believe that it is possible to be successful in this world and stay true to your heart?