The Zaar ritual is a healing rite conducted (typically) by women for women in parts of East Africa and the Arabian peninsula.  It tends to involve, among other things, ritual purification, music and dance.  There is a mythology and history behind it that I intend to write about in another post, later.

I first experienced the musical and dancing aspect of the Zaar in a focus class that was run by Hilary Thacker, with Adam Reid drumming for us.  We spent the whole hour listening to this one rhythm that we called the Ayoub. Here’s a clip of this rhythm being demonstrated:

We practised movements very unlike our normal bellydance movements – much looser with no real concern for how they looked.  There was a lot of turning and twisting, throwing our hair around and throwing out our arms.  It was tiring, but the rhythm drove me on.  We kept at it for pretty much the whole hour and afterwards I felt amazing!  I’ve often experienced a ‘high’ after exercise, but this felt more profound than a straightforward exercise high.

That’s the reason that I took to researching the Zaar, and it’s the reason that I now share my knowledge by facilitating workshops focused on this combination of music and movement.  It’s the reason I call the workshops “Wellness and Energy Through Ancient Rhythm and Movements”, because it does energise and contribute to a sense of well-being in my experience.

If you’re interested in trying this out, my next workshops are on Saturday February 27th, as part of the Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace festival pre-events.  You can book online here.

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