I couldn’t help but notice her smile when I met her. She was sat in a coffee shop drinking a chai tea and looking through a magazine. The red lipstick stain she left on the mug made me look again towards her glowing face. Her name was Aoife and I came to meet her for a connection, a chai and a chat about her livelihood.
“So what are you doing in Barcelona?” I asked her after a little hug and hello.
“For a long time I’ve had a soul calling to this city. It was a repetitive deep longing I had in my heart. Even though I lived, worked and trained in aspects of my profession before now in India, I always knew I would heal, learn and develop my work by being in Barcelona. Yet I have a gypsy soul so I tailor my work to move between several locations for workshops and retreats.” Aoife told me, with an infectious air.
“So tell me, what happened in India? Where did you go? What did you do? How did you train?” I garbled, too excited to hold back the stream of questions.
Aoife went on to tell me that she’d had an upbringing and education in both Ireland and Australia before she spent some years traveling and living in India. She obtained a BA in Drama and Performance from DIT, and from there went on to perform in theatre, film, drama, kids theatre and cabaret. She also worked in contemporary dance and graduated as a Hatha Yoga teacher with Yoga Point. She’s lived an ashram life in India, volunteering on therapy and advanced yoga training courses and was taught from an archaic Himalayan Tantrica lineage along with yoga for trauma with the Mandala Project in Cork.
“Wow, what an interesting livelihood you have to live with.” I said, inspired by her story. I didn’t know where to start with such a strong talent, so I fell into the beginning.
“So tell me about the dance. What does that look like?” I asked quite simply.
“I move very freely between performing and healing arts as an artistic director, performer and teacher through my company Shakti Performing Arts. I’ve also created a wonderful dance yoga project called Dansana with a close friend, Lotte. We explore different themes like sound therapy, sound yoga, goddess energy in yoga and art in yoga. In the end, dance is an art form and provides you with a profound internal experience.” Aoife inspired me.
I intuitively felt drawn by this message and suspected that the future would, or at least ought to be driven in this direction. It was for that, that I felt a desire to know more and Aoife kept going.
“I give a lot of classes to actors and people with a performance background. The creative energy that works through the soul is strong and sometimes the artist doesn’t realise the subtle effect it may have on the nervous system. I like to help actors work on grounding in a more neutral space, offering tools to open their body as a channel of inspiration to the divine and at the same time calming their body and nervous system when they’re getting in an out of character. I regard it as an act of self care because their body is the instrument of artistic and divine expression.” Aoife told me.
“This work sounds very interesting and ultimately very important. There’s a lot of artistic people that seemingly channel and I wonder whether many people know about it.”I added.
“Yes. Artists are channeling the divine whether they know about it or not and it can be a very brutal role because they are using tantric energy to be a performer. Meaning we activate and weave the life force energy through the senses, imagination and character to inspire artistic expression and coming back to the neutral self can be very difficult depending on the content and style of the show. I think it’s why drug and alcohol usage can be misused as a grounding tool from all the high energies that are passing through the soul.” Aoife said.
Her words left a chill down the back of my spine. It made complete sense that we would merely be vessels of life form playing itself out through us. I fell silent for a while wondering why I hadn’t looked more closely at my own channel and what I was allowing to pass through my soul.
“This is really amazing work you’re doing Aoife.” I told her full of gratitude. “To bring advanced spiritual practices into performing arts is very admirable.” I said. “Aside from working with performers, how else do you work with dance?” I asked.
“Between Shakti Performing Arts and Dansana all sorts of workshops are held. Dansana is a fusion of contemporary dance with yoga’s deep roots. It blends Zuke, Tango, Tribal and Oriental dance with Hatha Yoga Asanas. It helps you energise, empower and find your own flow. It supports you to channel your own feminine creative energy, going beyond your thoughts in mantra, song and sound, entering your heart space and generating bliss through the practice.” She said.
“I want to come.” I jumped in quickly, with a dash of light hearted humour. “In fact, where are your events and what do they look like?” I added.
“Of course, come along. The next workshop is 28 September in Dublin, and there’ll be another in November in Barcelona. But I’m also hosting workshops under the Shakti Performing Arts project too. There’s a Sun Bliss Yoga Retreat in the Algarve in October and we have a Goddess Yoga retreat in August. It would be an honour if you came to join us.” She offered.
I was ultimately taken by the Goddess Yoga retreat so asked Aoife to delve into the details.
“Goddess Yoga is a sacred and supportive space to learn and explore four archetypes of the female cycle through asanas, meditations, sharing and shakti dance. You will be guided to your ecstatic bliss body, the power of stillness and the freedom of flow and connection with other women to empower and recharge you. It’s an amalgamation of a four week course which allows you to go deeper into the process of embodiment of your divine feminine connection with the guidance of Virgin maiden, temptress Laxmi, mother Tara and Kali crone. Right now the workshop is for women only but in the future we will invite the divine masculine to learn and support Goddess Yoga.” Aoife informed me.
The invitation was enough to make me put down my pen. “These retreats sound glorious. Will they be held in special locations?” I asked, personally gasping for more organic views in my life.
“Yes, I’m very committed to hosting retreats in eco centres that promote an environmental awareness that’s in harmony with nature. I think a lot of humans have what is called nature deficiency disorder and that a lot of issues could be connected to not being earthed and not spending enough time in nature. At the retreat we’ll soak up the warmth of the sunny Algarve and through the nature connection exercises we’ll explore secret cliff coves, the famous Praia da Marinha beach and eat from the organic garden.” She expressed herself full of heart.
I felt her conviction. She was an exceptionally spiritual lady who seemed to have a beautiful mission for the world. “So what’s your dream?” I went straight to the source.
“My heart cries out for more community. There are so many incredible people and amazing souls on this earth. I would love for us to join forces and celebrate it all together. To celebrate each other with heart and soul rather than ego is incredibly graceful.” She said again from the depths of her heart.
I felt honoured to meet this goddess. She taught me a lot about what it meant to be spiritual and connected. And she taught me a lot about some of the principles of grounding on an earth with the spiritual features of it.
I was hugely grateful to Aoife for sharing her wisdoms and time and I let her off to finish her chai and head into the world with her love. Even if from time to time I miss her vibrant energy and interesting chats, I wish her all the very best with her endeavours to help heal, ground and nurture people in our world.
If you’d like to connect to her yourself, you can find her here…..
Anneka and Teresa