The 5Rhythms™ are the foundation of movement pioneer Gabrielle Roth’s work. They constitute a series of healing maps for the body, heart, mind, soul and spirit that provide a lifetime of self-discovery and a path to awakening to our own Divine magnificence. The Rhythms make up a movement practice designed to release the spirit of the dancer that lives in every body, no matter what shape, size, age, limitation or experience. Finding your dance means finding yourself, at your most fluid and creative level. The practice is simple, yet it has the power to catalyze deep healing and creative expression. The 5Rhythms™ offer a deeper experience of our innate powers of being, loving, feeling, knowing, seeing, sensing, and healing.

Turn your suffering into art and your art into awareness

– Gabrielle Roth

The five rhythms are: flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. They come together to create a WAVE, a moving meditation practice. Rather than having steps to follow, each rhythm creates a different energy field in which you find your own expression and choreography, thereby stretching your imagination as well as your body. Each rhythm is a teacher, and you can expect to meet different and sometimes unknown aspects of yourself as your dance unfolds and your practice of the rhythms deepens over time. The 5 Rhythms™ practice starts you on that journey and introduces you to a place where you will always want to return.

About the Rhythms

Each of the rhythms represents an energetic field with unique teachings that have direct application and consequences in our own lives. Our patterns of relating to ourselves, each other, and our communities are revealed as we move through the different rhythms.

Flowing Rhythm

Being here is so much.
– Fredrick Hegel

To flow is to move smoothly and easily. It is the state of being flexible, loose, and connecting with and grounding our energy. It is the circular process of continuous change, moving around obstacles and distractions without interruption or collision.

Flowing is the rhythm of discovery. It is a state of being in which we discover the availability of our own unique field of energy. This rhythm teaches us to be grounded and centered, to feel the natural energetic direction in all situations and to be able to move with it rather than resisting and pushing against it.

The opposite of flowing is the tendency to fall into inertia, where we remain stagnant, in a fixed condition without change. This resistance to movement, experimentation, or deviation keeps us acting in habitual and predictable patterns. We all know places in our lives where we have become stuck in a place of inertia. To get out of this state requires movement and presence. Change is impossible when the state of inertia is more habitual and comfortable than the willingness to move into new patterns of awareness, experimentation and self-expression.

By increasing our awareness of our own energy, beginning with our own body, we can recognize reoccurring patterns that exist in our lives. With this deepened awareness we are more able to accurately read our own energy and the energy of the people around us. This knowledge helps us to pierce the “veil of familiarity” (our habitual ways of seeing and reacting to the world) and move with the existing energy, rather than resisting, and thereby strengthening that which we resist. We can act more harmoniously while better understanding the needs, fears, pains, and desires of others. This allows us to become more compassionate and supportive of the needs of those around us.

Staccato Rhythm

Dancing is not rising to your feet painlessly like a whirl of dust blown about by the wind. Dancing is when you rise above both worlds, tearing your heart to pieces and giving up your soul.
– Rumi

Staccato is about doing! It is about being in action, not just talking or thinking about it. This is the rhythm of defining and delivering. We define our boundaries, focus and direct our energy, deliver our communications, and produce results in this rhythm. Staccato is the energy of precision, clarity and performance. It is a fiery, passionate energy that comes from the heart. The energy is focused on the out-breath and moves in lines rather than circles. Staccato builds on the lessons and grounding of flow and brings all of our attention and focus to the present, where past and future disappear in the passion of the moment.

People who have difficulty moving with this rhythm often have a hard time setting and maintaining boundaries. By learning to focus on the out breath and building our movement awareness in the body, we can learn to clarify and set boundaries as well as engage in more effective action.

The shadow or danger of staccato is in becoming rigid, unyielding, inflexible, firmly fixed, not deviating or relaxing, tense. This can manifest as resistance to change or being frozen in place. In staccato we can recognize reoccurring patterns in our bodies that correspond to beliefs, assumptions, and themes in our everyday lives. We can see where we are stuck in old ways of doing things that are no longer appropriate to current needs and opportunities. This shadow manifests as forcing, pushing without clarity and knowledge of the current situation, and applying old solutions to new problems. Effective expression of staccato, means that we are fully present, have a clear sense of direction, and are guided by our own passion and inner fire.

Chaos Rhythm

Dance till you shatter…
– Rumi

Chaos is the collision of the flowing (feminine) and staccato (masculine) energy. Chaos derives from the Greek word khaos, meaning empty space or abyss. This condition of emptiness provides a blank canvas for creation, where contraries dissolve and we disappear into the realm of pure creativity. Gabrielle Roth describes it as, “the gateway to the intuitive mind, the part of us that holds the key to our destiny, our purpose, our contribution, our presence, and our individuality.”

This rhythm is about accessing the intuitive center and letting the linear, rational way of thinking go. Here real creativity can find its expression. Chaos is about learning to let go of indecision, turbulence and stuckness. It involves breaking the mind patterns of attachment to the past (guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness and all forms of non-forgiveness) and future (unease, anxiety, tension, stress and all forms of fear) that keep us from being effective in living our own dreams and vision in the present. Physically and emotionally Chaos is about releasing the points of stuck energy in our lives and bodies. It is the rhythm of surrender and acceptance, which allows for an intense state of presence and clarity.

I know what the greatest cure is: it is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender, so that our little hearts may beat in unison with the great heart of the world.
– Henry Miller

The shadow of chaos is confusion and control. In confusion we fail to distinguish between things. Everything gets jumbled together and mentally mixed up. In this rhythm we must deal with our unwillingness to take responsibility for things as they are. We desperately hold on to control for fear of letting go and trusting our innate wisdom. We hold on to the old familiar ways of doing things, while the new is trying to emerge naturally and organically.

Lyrical Rhythm

If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold onto.
– Tao Te Ching

Lyrical is the energy of self-acceptance and creation that actualizes in the aftermath of chaos. It manifests as a light, airy and flexible quality, expressing feelings of enthusiasm and playfulness. It is the process of lightening up after letting go of the thousand things that weigh us down. As Gabrielle Roth says, “in lyrical we realize that we are all works-in-progress. Nothing is fixed, particularly our identities. Its deeper teachings are those of self-realization, the product of detachment and fluidity.” In Lyrical we learn through play and experimentation. This is a time of joy and celebration.

The shadow of Lyrical is spacing out, being caught in fantasy, daydreaming, escapism; being disconnected! Many people in today’s fast paced world find themselves so overwhelmed that they can do little more than stare out the window, dreaming of their retirement or winning the lottery. Lyrical can either be an extremely creative rhythm or a very non-productive source of escapism.

Lyrical is the energy of adventurous play. True play has no predetermined direction or definition. When we play we explore, probe, and experiment. Learning becomes a product of our fascination and interest. Most of all we laugh – we let go of being so serious – and we see the humor in our needless suffering and futile efforts to be in control. Here we try on new patterns, new ways of doing things in a more playful and joyous way.

There is no need to postpone celebration.
– Osho

Stillness Rhythm

In stillness we return home to the place where everything waits. It is a place with little or no commotion or agitation. It is tranquil, calm, serene. It is being a clear witness — becoming the breath – entering a state of total presence and emptiness! This is a place without strategy, agitation, agenda, or mental chatter.

In stillness we take the time to sit and take ourselves out of the rush, the stream of frantic energy and just be. Here we regenerate and tap into the deep well of inner-wisdom where life becomes a moving meditation and we see our interconnectedness everywhere. Action born of this still place will be concise and effective. The lessons of stillness are, “wisdom, compassion and inspiration.”

The shadow of this stillness is numbness. In this weakened state we feel deprived of the power of feeling or moving. If we feel lost, we must learn to find that still place of absolute clarity and recognize our own spirit. Here we learn to stop searching and let the answers find us!


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying here
No trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

– David Wagoner


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