Fox’s 5Rhythms: Dance as Medicine

By Steven Libowitz   |   February 14, 2019

Kiaora Fox came to 5Rhythms in installments. While she had studied body mechanics and the movement of energy since childhood and was raised with a wide array of healing arts and mindfulness tools in the Gurdjieff mystic lineage, Lakota Sioux traditions, and Huna philosophy, among others, she only came across 5Rhythms at age 18 when a family friend gave her videos by the dynamic movement practice’s founder, Gabrielle Roth.

“I didn’t quite understand what I was getting into partly because I was in my living room dancing by myself,” Fox said.

A couple of years later, now living in Maui, Fox met an older women and 5Rhythms devotee “who was so obviously in her skin that witnessing that just pulled me in.” But the practice still didn’t fully stick. That came a decade later, a little over six years ago, at the end of a five-hour meditation following a friend’s suicide.

“Out of the darkness came the 5Rhythms, whooshing across the screen of my empty mind,” Fox recalled. That was right after Roth had passed away, but it turned out that Lucia Horan, one of Roth’s personally-trained teachers, was coming to Santa Barbara for her first local workshop.

“I knew I was meant to teach dance, but not in a choreographed way, which actually teaches shame and creates an inner dialogue of not doing it right, or not looking good enough,” explained Fox, who had already been teaching yoga and Pilates for more than a decade. “I wanted to help people connect to their spirit in their body. Halfway through that first workshop, she danced the 5Rhythms, and I started crying. I just knew I wanted to dive in. I’d been teaching yoga for fifteen years, and I felt like I finally found the right shoe.”

The 5Rhythms – Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness – correspond to emotions, states of being and stages in the life cycle, with music and intentions to match each energy, but no specific steps or choreography. The practice also sparked the growth of the ecstatic dance movement, which often offers its musical journey to match the rhythms of the practice.

It took four years for Fox to complete her training – “The schooling process takes so long because it’s about embodying the work, not talking about it,” she explained. She has been leading workshops, dancing, and employing 5Rhythms, and DJ’ing at Santa Barbara’s most popular ecstatic dance community known as Dance Tribe via the practice ever since.

“It helps you see areas that you are not habitually comfortable with,” Fox said. “It’s a fun way to meet your edge… Going into 5Rhythms and learning how to embody things physically that don’t come to me naturally has been very valuable. Creating a new movement pattern creates a new pattern in my brain, and that helps me to see how I can grow.”

Fox – whose first name comes from the indigenous Māori language for “hello” but also, and most appropriately, means wishing the essence of life upon others – is launching a new 5Rhythms series this Saturday, February 16, from 1:30-6:30 pm at Yoga Soup, with a focus on exploring Connections through the dance. Upcoming themes include “The Rhythm of Our Breath” on March 23 and “Aum State: A Reset Meditation and 5Rhythms Workshop” on March 30. She’ll also lead the new weekly Movement Lab Collaborative at Yoga Soup on March 6, April 10, and May 8.

Still, it’s not a certainty that the 5Rhythms “shoe” fits everyone, although anyone with a body can do it, but Fox’s belief is that all can benefit from a practice that both induces endorphins from exercise and a spiritual and emotional uplift. “It’s a study of how energy moves in a movement meditation practice so that we can embody those energies,” she said. “It lets you enjoy dancing through life instead of struggling with the energy that might confront you in the moment… This is a conscious way to meet playing with the body without getting it wrong, and have some upshifts. Meditating with the body’s movement invites the integration between body, mind, and spirit to happen quickly.”

5Rhythms: Connections costs $70 in advance, or $85 day-of. Visit, or

A Chance for Chanting

Self Enquiry Life Fellowship’s spiritual founder HH Swami Vidyadhishananda, a Himalayan monk from the combined heritage of rishi sages and nath yogis, leads a two-day workshop in Sanskrit Sound Partitions and Mantra Chanting this weekend. Participants will learn chanting by directly listening and orating the Sanskrit sound partitions, to see how mantra chanting falls into place upon understanding the basics of syllables. All 16 vowels, 33 consonants, and three composite sounds will be taught. Practitioners will experience how the recitation of juxtaposed sound syllables produces an actual physical vibration, which awakens a spiritual energy and thus brings about a distinct state of awareness. This workshop is suitable for beginners as well as those already fluent with mantra chanting. A recording link for self-guided practice will be provided along with a pronunciation guide on how to relate with the sound partitions of Sanskrit language.

The workshop takes place 4 to 9:30 pm on Saturday, and 10 am to 2:30 pm on Sunday, February 16-17, at Hansavedas Meditation Centre, 1807 East Cabrillo Boulevard, Suite D. For further information please visit or, or call (909) 543-6003.

More Sound, and So On

David Kennet’s Valentine’s Resonance Immersion, slated for 4 pm on Sunday, February 17, at the Salt Cave, is a sound voyage that employs voice, drum, flute, and Tibetan and crystal singing bowls to help people reconnect with the heart center and melt away perceived limits and obstacles. During the ceremony, everyone will receive a customized personal sound healing and also learn practical science-based ways to use sound as medicine in your own life, empowering you to awaken your innate healing dynamism. Admission is $40. Call (805) 963-7258 or visit

A sound bath with international vocal artist Aviva Chernick is part of “Shabbat Yoga: Welcoming the Beloved” from 7 to 10 pm on Friday, February 15, at Yoga Soup. The community celebration, supported by Rabbi Alyson Solomon and wellness healer Ninaya, includes Shabbat blessings and challah in the $36 fee. Visit

The next Meditation with Sound experience featuring crystal and Tibetan singing bowls and gongs from Music of the Spheres’ Izumi Asura Serra takes place 6 to 7 pm on Sunday, February 17, at Santa Barbara Dance Arts, 531 East Cota Street. Admission is $20 at the door. Visit 

Take a (Healthy Herb) Hike!

Ojai herbologist and native plant guide Lanny Kaufer will make his annual visit to his favorite Santa Barbara front-country trail on San Antonio Creek out of Tucker’s Grove County Park for a three-hour Herb Walk at 9:30 am on Monday, February 18. With all the recent rain, water has returned to the creek along with Miner’s Lettuce and other native and non-native edible greens. On the family-friendly walk, Kaufer will identify, demonstrate, and discuss the many uses of wild plants by foragers, herbalists, and naturalists seeking out plants for food, first aid, home remedies, survival, crafts, ceremony, and more. Kaufer will also discuss humankind’s role in the ecological balance, Chumash plant uses, and other topics generated by the participants. The cost is $25 for adults, $20 for full-time students and seniors 62-plus, free for kids ages 5-12. Register at or call (805) 646-6281.

Mahakankala on Managing Perfectionism and Depression

“Overcoming Perfectionism, Self-Criticism, & Discouragement,” which takes place on Friday, February 15, at Mahakankala Buddhist Center (508 Brinkerhoff Avenue), features a lecture by the visiting American Buddhist monk Gen Kelsang Rigpa. The Western US National Spiritual Director of the NKT-IKBU and the Resident Teacher at KMC-Hollywood, Gen Rigpa will address the human tendency to set up an all or nothing approach to success, with the only choices being perfection or failure. That mindset can lead to excessive self-criticism and discouragement, blocking our capacity for learning and authentic spiritual growth. Gen Rigpa will talk about how Buddhist psychology can help people to gain insight into this process and learn practical methods to accept who and where we are at present, and make progress towards becoming the person we wish to be. Admission to the 7 to 9 pm event is $20.

Gen Kelsang Rigpa also leads a three-hour workshop called “Shifting Away from Depression: A Buddhist Perspective” from 10 am to 1 pm at Mahakankala Buddhist Center North in Lompoc on Saturday, February 16, when he will talk about how, in the Buddhist perspective, the experience of depression comes about due to uncontrolled and painful states of mind known as delusions. Gen Rigpa will focus on Buddha’s illuminating teachings regarding these painful minds and how to overcome them and share how practicing methods he will offer, people can learn to experience a deep and satisfying emotional freedom. Admission is $20. Call (805) 563-6000 or visit


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