AFTER the indulgences of the festive season, you might be seeking healthy discipline to become fitter and happier in your daily life. If you’re seeking an experience that caters for your emotional and physical well being, the area around the Alpujarran market town of Órgiva offers many progressive classes.

There’s something for everyone, although some disciplines aren’t for the faint-hearted or require an existing level of fitness.

The Olive Press looks at a few of the available options.

Ecstatic dance

The Alpujarra has a growing community of ecstatic dancers. This is a healthy event where people come together and celebrate a journey into sound, lasting about two hours.

The music may have a tribal or shamanic feel, or world music vibes. The dancers abandon themselves to the rhythm, move as if nobody is watching, and enter a feeling of trance or ecstasy. It’s seen as a form of meditation, to counteract stress. Sometimes, people may dance with their eyes closed.

Ecstatic Dance Dj Tor
Ecstatic dance DJ Tor. Photo: Ecstatic Dance Alpujarra

Says Alex of Ecstatic Dance Alpujarra: “The goal is to connect to the music from the inside out. The DJ or band plays a wide variety of music that takes people on a wave-like journey. Starting gently with music that creates a meditative state, it goes into deeper brainwaves we use in our daily lives and builds from there. Ecstatic dance frequently has a guided introduction to create the right atmosphere and finishes with a live or recorded sound healing.”

Common rules at these events are no alcohol or drugs, no talking, and dancing barefoot. The participants drink cocoa beforehand for an energy boost.

Ecstatic Dance Alpujarra meets every second Thursday in Órgiva. One of the main DJs in the area is Alex Sevilla. Similar events take place in other towns and cities.

Pros: Enjoy throwing some shapes without a hangover the next day.
Cons: Possibly feeling self-conscious at first.

Biodanza

Biodanza was created in the 1960s by the Chilean anthropologist and psychologist, Rolando Toro Araneda. It exists in 54 countries worldwide, including Spain, and students can gain certificates. It is based on a group mentality and has a holistic philosophy behind it.

Says Nataraj Garcia, dance session leader from Órgiva: “Biodanza takes you on a journey through a landscape of movement, feeling, and music to achieve a heightened state of emotional well being.”

“At its simplest level, it’s about connecting with others, feeling states of joy in your body, free of stress, worry and anxiety, happy to be alive. Through the group dynamic and energy created in the class, we learn to expand our sense of humanity, integrate and bond on a level of friendship and affection. It can also be seen as meditation in movement.”

He adds: “Everyone can do Biodanza. We dance in ones, twos, and threes but in an easy way. You don’t need to know how to dance. There are no steps to learn. Many dance methods focus on the individual, but Biodanza focuses on the group. Gradually, there’s a whole new dimension to be explored. Feelings of isolation and loneliness dissolve. You are connected, accepted, and loved.”

Chris White of Órgiva, a participant, says: “l’ve been doing Biodanza for years. There’s eye contact, hugging and other contact with hands. Done in a group, this is healing, emotionally connecting, and feels good.”

Pros: It’s a recognised discipline.
Cons: Group hugs are not for everyone.

Acroyoga

A combination of yoga and acrobatics, Acroyoga looks complex but can apparently be done by most people.

Mira, who runs sessions at Las Torcas, Tablones, Órgiva, has contributed to a book about the discipline. She says: “Acroyoga teaches you to achieve a delicate communication with a partner you trust with your life.  It teaches you to respect another person’s needs, feelings, and fears.”


The participants work in groups of three or four. Each group includes a flyer (in the air), a base person (on the ground) and a spotter (keeping everyone safe). They all learn the three roles. Although the flyer might look the most glamorous of the set, everyone is equally important. They work together to keep the flyer safe.

Says Mira: “Acroyoga isn’t just sports: “It’s a life lesson in communication, connection, and balance. Though another person’s body, through my own body – strong and yet vulnerable at the same time.”

Pros: It is impressive.
Cons: Not for those who don’t like close contact or teamwork. Not for the elderly!

Aerial skills

Siobhan Padmore has taught aerial skills for 25 years: these classes are popular in Órgiva, Durcal, and Granada. She says: “In aerial circus, we use our strength and flexibility to perform acrobatic tricks in the air. The three main skills are silks, hoop, and static trapeze.”

“The silks are two long lengths of material to suspend yourself. They are challenging, as you need upper body strength. You can literally fall from a great height and catch yourself in a carefully conceived knot. It’s beautiful to watch.”


“The hoop is pretty and easier to start learning. The acrobat needs good flexibility. The hoop usually spins and can be hoisted up and down.”

She adds: “The trapeze is sometimes learnt first. People can spin around the bar, hang from their knees, toes, heels or by their necks. The ropes are also used. Artists can climb above the bar and create gymnastic shapes.”

“For any of these disciplines, it is useful to have previous dance or gymnastic training, good balance and a head for heights!”

Pros: Beautiful to watch.
Cons: It’s only suitable for people who are already fit and flexible.

Low pressure fitness

If the other options sound too much, why not try the more sedate Low-Pressure Fitness.

Trainer, Sophie Paulding Kopecky of 4D Academy, Órgiva, explains: “This discipline is ideal for anyone with back, shoulder or neck pain, prolapses, hernias, urinary incontinence, poor posture, etc. It has been used by singers, athletes and people wanting to reduce their waistline.”

“After warming up the layer of connective tissue under your skin (the fascia), the participants hold activation poses while doing breathwork that opens their joint spaces, increases lung function and oxygen capacity, strengthens core and pelvic floor, and balances the nervous system. This leaves people feeling stretched and activated for the day.”

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