Shiva Nata: the Dance of Shiva

Shiva Nata is brain training that kind of looks like martial arts, and acts like drugs-that-make-you-smart-and-hot.
It uses movement patterns to generate new neural connections and huge understandings that let you rewrite your patterns.
Sometimes we hate it for being so damn hard – but we get over that because Shiva Nata makes us graceful, coordinated and awesome. And because of the hot, buttered epiphanies.

Video! Me in a pink wig. Flip it!

This is me wearing a pink wig and laughing my head off in a video segment (12:41) from a casual Shiva Nata class I taught in early May.

The students came up with silly words and we linked them with the arm positions…

The horizontals: shindig, popover, light, Selma
The verticals: pink, power, glitter, puffball

Here we’re doing Level 2 transquarters, which I call FLIP-ITS.

A Flip-It is when you leap-frog one position. So instead of going from one to two to three to four, you jump from one directly to three. Or from two directly to four. Flip it!

Additional notes:

  1. The pace is intentional. I don’t expect you to be able to do Dance of Shiva Flip-its this quickly if you’ve just made up brand new words. It’s part of the challenge.
  2. I seriously just learned these words like, five minutes before. Which is why we all keep forgetting them.
  3. Also we were already pretty intensely brain scrambled before we even started with the Flip-its.
  4. The camera angle is a little weird so some of the positions may be slightly hard to recognize.
  5. The point is not trying to keep up. The point is getting lost in the flailing. Challenge!
  6. Because this was a super loose, casual, lighthearted, silly practice, I chose not to put emphasis on form.
  7. In other words: this video doesn’t count as a permission slip for sloppy arm work! Unless of course you’re intentionally working with loose arms as part of challenging your patterns, which is totally fine.
  8. There’s more video up on the Secret Lab site, also bigger and higher resolution. Secret Lab!
  9. Since I am a sneaky, sneaky teacher, there are several things I want to convey in this video. Make your guesses here as to what they are… :)


32 Comments on “Video! Me in a pink wig. Flip it!”

  1. I can’t tell you how much this video really makes clear a bunch of stuff that was completely fuzzy for me, in ways I can’t properly explain! Words, silly words, they fail me.

    Seriously, I never really understood a lot of the “this is how we play with things” posts you’ve made, but seeing you at play like this really makes it obvious. It’s like a pink-wigged invitation to dust off the DVD or perhaps just do some random patterns to the Clash.
    Amy Crook´s last blog ..Badlands

  2. Havi

    @Amy – yay! AWESOME. And that was definitely one of the things I wanted to sneakily get across in this. That there is no limit to how you can mix it up and make it crazy.

    Play is totally one of those things that is hard to transmit through words. Like, you can’t just say, “come on! play!”. It’s sort of like how at Rally people always tell me on the first day that they aren’t really into playing and playgrounding and costumes and whatever. And I say, NO WORRIES! And then by the end of Rally, they’re playing like mad and saying OH THIS IS PLAY I DIDN’T REALIZE and then we all go wheee and collapse in a heap.

    Anyway, hooray! And yeah to random patterns to the Clash. I was just doing that yesterday!

  3. I love this.

  4. I love this!
    Kathleen Avins´s last blog ..Things that bring me back to myself…

  5. I know it will shock you that this makes me very happy. #PinkPowah

  6. Claire P

    Power to the Puffballs at Glittering Selma’s Popover Shindig!

    Yes, play! Lately I’ve been reading up on how play therapy is one of the best interventions you can offer kids on the autism spectrum and now I’m seeing everything through a neurological development filter and it is VITAL to everyone’s well-being all through life and thinking we could cure cancer, save the planet and learn how to cook the perfect boiled egg all in an afternoon if only we all spent more time playing. Ah-maz-ing.

    According to Dr Stuart Brown play is anything that has the seven qualities of:

    + [Apparent purposelessness] – play is done for its own sake
    + [Voluntary]
    + [Inherent attraction] – it’s fun
    + [Freedom from time] – we lose a sense of the passage of time
    + [Diminished consciousness of self] – we are fully in the moment; we stop worrying about looking awkward or stupid
    + [Improvisational potential] – no one way to do things
    + [Continuation desire] – pleasure of the experience drives a desire to continue

    Um, yes, I think Shiva Nata might be a good way to play!

    (More in The Book:

    So for my own practice I need to stop setting myself “this is what I will achieve today” drill sergeant commands which I instantly rebel against, and start asking “what could I do with [eg. level 2 arms] to make them super-hilariously, extreme-concentration-requiringly FUN?”.

    Oh. Right. As has only been said about 17,000 times before on this blog. Mmmmhmmm.

    Er….. off to flail up some ideas on that.

  7. Claire P

    Plus of course lots of spectrum kids (esp Aspies) are gifted at mathematics and need lots of motor stimulation/OT so I’m also thinking that maybe I should train as an OT and start teaching spectrum kids Shiva Nata to see what happens. It would have to be good!

    They’d be sneakily getting their motor coordination training all wrapped up inside a magic carpet of numbers and patterns.

    You know, ANOTHER career I have to pursue someday. :)

  8. That wig is HAWT.

    Super-fun video! Thanks for posting it!
    Beth´s last blog ..The Trouble with Saints

  9. Awe.some.

    This is really wonderful–lots of flashbacks to Rally. Much gratitude for that!

    Things I’m noticing from this video re: teaching:

    – Making the old and familiar new and unfamiliar can make for lots of brain buzzing.

    – To borrow some (tired) terminology from pedagogy studies, it’s more effective for a teacher to be the guide on the side rather than the sage on the stage. Yet in this video, you manage to be both. It’s good for teachers to demonstrate that (a) they’re human and make mistakes and (b) they still find challenge and interest in their subject.

    – I hadn’t noticed previously how much the arm angles of Shiva Nata are similar to the angles of the ship’s wheel. Shiva Nata thus becomes one tool in navigating difficult (metaphorical) storms of intellect or emotion.
    Leslie M-B´s last blog ..University teaching centers and the bureaucratic imperative

  10. Love! Love the pink wig and love playing with words and Shiva Nata. I haven’t really done that in my practice, and it’s SO MUCH FUN! Totally fried my brain following along with you.
    Dawn Haney´s last blog ..The Post-It Question


  12. oh, Havi, can I come over and play?

    Also, how amazing do you look in that pink wig!! Something about you reminds me of the character Stormy Llewellyn from “Odd Thomas” – probably because she was my favorite and she was wearing pink at one point in the novel…. RANDOM BRAIN ASSOCIATION OR WHAT.

    You are so rad.

    And now I can’t believe I let my Shiva Nata DVD go because I wasn’t having fun….boo!

  13. I feel like I am playing at the playground! Pink puffball popovers for everyone!
    Elizabeth´s last blog ..south of melancholy

  14. Oh!


    You are awesome on video.

    And this is so very cool.
    Leela´s last blog ..voices in my head

  15. Lisa

    Oh my gosh, I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this!

    Havi. Shivanata. In. My. House. !

    And just so you know — video loves you, you look absolutely amazing!

  16. J'aime

    Gosh, looks fun – while also freakin’ hard… :)

  17. Havi,

    Great video!!

    It helps to see the different arm positions. I am no where near this level. Seeing this video, well the second time around, it helps me see that I’d enjoy doing it in a group. And would probably do it more often. Also, can see the play between you and the others even though they are off camera.

    So cool.


  18. Lindsay

    What a fantabulous video! I’m so envious of your utterly fantastic wig. Too fun!

    This totally breathes new life into Shiva Nata possibilities and I’m feeling quite inspired. Thanks so much for posting this!

  19. Yeah!
    More videos! More wigs!

    Merci mille fois from Frenchyland!

  20. Havi, this video is wonderful! You, Shiva Nata, and a pink wig…More, please!
    Hiro Boga´s last blog ..Announcing…the Week One winner of the Rule Your World giveaway

  21. paige

    I keep looking at the shivanata stuff and shrugging, ’cause I can’t do that.

    But every time my mind is between thoughts, it gently wanders back to this video …

    The first thing that popped into my head this morning was “reflection, reflection, reflection”.

    … utterly intriguing …

  22. Sue T

    Thanks so much for posting this!
    Pink wigs rule!

  23. Reba


    too much awesomeness in this video – no wonder my browser couldn’t load it all. This is actually the message that came up on my screen: BROWSER… CANNOT… COMPUTE… TOO… MUCH… AWESOMENESS…

    I am so glad that this exists – The Playground beamed magically to my living room.


    Reba´s last blog ..The Queen surveys her Queendom

  24. Mahajana

    Reading about you dancing the dance while wearing a pink wig is one thing.

    But SEEING IT! Oh my God! Awesome.

    What you are doing is a big inspiration, thank you for that!

  25. Greetings, Havi –

    Don’t know if you meant to teach this, but here is something I learnt: a great way to encourage students to lighten up. “I will make at least eight mistakes. I expect more from you.” OMG. That phrase is pure gold for a teacher. Thank you!

  26. @Claire This “They’d be sneakily getting their motor coordination training all wrapped up inside a magic carpet of numbers and patterns.” just might be one of the most beautiful things I’ve read recently.
    Shannon´s last blog ..Activities galore!

  27. Wow!

    I just got around to watching this last night – and it ROCKS. The. House.

    Thank you :-)

    Léan Ní Chuilleanáin´s last blog ..String! It’s Important!

  28. Nana

    Havi, I just bought your shivanautical starter kit, and, though Andrey’s DVD has not arrived yet (I’m in Brazil), trying to memorize the eight arms positions is already helping me so much! My shoulder pain is getting better and I feel I can gradually become more of a gracious person!
    Can’t wait for the DVD to arrive, I’ll have a party when it does!
    Thank you so much for existing and looking gorgeous in a pink wig. I think you should braid it next time.

  29. Just got to practice with this today and it brought me right back to pink powderpuff playtime at the playground. Thanks for giving me a way to dance in some of that magic from my own living room :)

    Love and xoxo, and Selma Power!
    Briana´s last blog ..Time for some minty freshening up

  30. Melissa Dinwiddie

    Love this! I just got the starter kit and have been learning the arms, laughing my ass off at how fun it is to be confounded (confunded?), but *fun words* instead of numbers? Brilliant!

    And the wig? Let’s just say I’ve got some serious wig-lust going on.

    Yay Shiva Nata with funny words and pink wigs!
    Melissa Dinwiddie´s last blog ..The Universe Wants You to Create

  31. AHA! So THAT’S how to play with words!!

    I think I’ve been too constrained with my interpretation of “doing Shiva Nata with words”: I would just say the words instead of the numbers, but I wasn’t doing anything interesting to connect them into silly and fun sentences. But now, I see! Not just funny-to-mess-up, but fun-to-play-with!

    Also, I’ve had a bit of wig-envy since you’ve been talking about it and sharing pictures, and now I’m convinced I’m going to get one. :) Not pink, though: that’s not me! :P I’m hoping I can find a bright turquoise one! :) Now I can’t wait for Halloween, when I know there are all kinds of ridiculous wigs available at not-so-ridiculous prices!

  32. brooklynchick

    LOVE the wig. Love the laughing.

    Ok, this is to Madonna but doesn’t it look like this kid is doing Shiva Nata?

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