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About Monika Nataraj:  Her-Story

Happily not over-identifying with any external "identities", Monika most enjoys dancing the Divine into existence, finding Truth in every breath and sharing this with others.  Since 1999, she has lived full time on the road as a "nomadic dancing mystic Shakti adventurer of the soul" studying and practicing a wide range of wisdom modalities and in turn teaching a bevy of sacred traditions herself for 18 years.  Her current manifestations are the result of a deep passion and dedication to movement mysticism, tantric yoga, meditation, travel and community work.

Monika is a pioneer of modern sacred feminine practices and transformational teacher trainings. She is the creatrix of Mystical Dance® and Shakti Spirit®.  There are 300 women from 46 countries to whom Monika has offered 200-hour certifications in the tantric arts.

Monika has brought in-person Tantric teachings, Yoga and sacred dance to 26 countries around the world and to many thousands of people, as she delves into the inner connection of it All.  

Born in India, raised in the USA and a global gypsy citizen for two decades,  Monika has journeyed to more than 70 countries across all 7 continents. She has embodied varied avocations ranging from professional NYC bellydancer, corporate executive, yoga school co-director, non-profit foundation grant-maker, master scuba diver, teacher trainer, film festival co-founder, life coach and Mystical Dancer.  She took the name Nataraj -- Shiva in dancing form -- to remind her always that consciousness and creativity are eternally moving as One.

Monika continues to travel and teach extensively in Asia, Europe, North America and South America, at esteemed retreat centers and in the heart of nature.

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Read more about Her-Story below.



At the tender age of 5, Monika began her formal dance training and performance life under the delightful instruction of Terry Hazel.  Monika's early studies were in ballet, receiving Honors from the Royal Academy of Dance.  She went on to explore jazz and tap and was in a modern dance troupe in University.

It was on an adventure to Cairo, Egypt in 1991, admid the antiquities and temples, that Monika discovered the mystery of belly dance.  In New York City, she avidly studied for many years under the renowned expertise of Serena Wilson, Ibrahim Farrah and Yousry Sharif, all of whom she is indebted to for instilling in her a love and respect for Oriental dance as an art form. During this time, Monika was a popular Oriental dancer in the New York City night club circuit, performing regularly in NYC's major Arabic venues and cultural institutions.  

Her "love affair" with the dance continued to blossom and was reflected in the opportunities that opened for her to represent Oriental dance to vast and varied audiences ranging from dignitaries of the United Nations, Middle Eastern royalty, families from the tri-state area, the pop culture of MTV and the NYC clubbing scene, and off-Broadway cabaret aficionados. Read more about Monika's belly dance performance experience in the US and India here.

Upon her initiation into the subtleties of yoga and meditation at the end of 2000 in India, Monika began to combine her knowledge of dance with chakra energy work, tantra and bhakti yoga to create the Mystical Dance® approach, re-forming the ancient tradition of dance as a tool for spiritual evolution.  Since then she has passionately explored and taught the art of sacred and ritual dance and women's transformational leadership around the world.  Monika offers Mystical Dance® intensives in Thailand where she spends a part of the year, and in addition has led workshops and residential retreats in India, Turkey, England, Ireland, Belgium, France, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Spain, Costa Rica, Morocco, Israel, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, Bali (Indonesia), China, Canada, Chile, Peru, Russia, Egypt and the United States. 

Monika continues to perform in ritual dance offerings with her students. She has been initiated into the mystical dance tradition of Sufi Sema (Sufi whirling and chanting) through Oruc Guvenc and her annual summer experiences with Tumata in Turkey from 2008 - 2017.  She has received instruction in the sacred system of Gurdjieff Movements in which she has completed an extensive teacher training. Monika also studied and performed Odissi Classical Temple Dance in India and has commissioned some original classical choreographies.  She serves as a Core Faculty member at the esteemed Omega Institute offering dance movement and tantric teachings since 2009.

Her innovations in Mystical Dance® have given rise to a unique and inspiring 6-week, 250-hour Teacher Training Course which Monika has led annually in Thailand since 2011, along with pioneering sacred dance journeys around the world. There are currently 200 Mystical Dance® Teachers certified in 44 countries and 6 continents.

"Wherever a dancer stands is holy ground." ~ Martha Graham


Grateful for her outwardly charmed life in the West as corporate executive by day and professional belly dancer by night, Monika's soul still yearned for more. Monika experienced the undeniable impetus to seek true happiness and the inherent connection to all existence. In 1999, she made the conscious decision to leave everything from her exciting NYC life behind and set out on an initial 2.5 year quest for "Truth." Divine Grace fell upon her at the end of 2000 when she became a yoga and meditation student on the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh, India. Everything began to shift profoundly for Monika, and there was no turning back. And indeed, this sacred immersion extended, indefinitely! She steadfastly continued her studies, and in 2006 completed 42 months of intensive traditional and neo-tantric teachings.

Her early major influences include the Mahavidyas (the 10 Cosmic Powers/Wisdom Goddesses) and Kashmir Shaivism.  Her perception of existence and non-existence changed profoundly once again through "Who Am I" inquiry, which she embraced in Satsang with radical Zen master, Dolano in Pune, India.  She has been initiated specifically into the mystical aspects of dance through a special mantra sadhana with Guruji Rajkumar Baswar, with whom she explores in-depth tantric meditation, ritual and pilgrimage around India since 2006 until the present.  Monika loves to play in the dance between the world of forms and the formless.

Monika established a successful yoga and medition school in the Himalayas of Dharamsala, India with Manu Akshobhia, where for 7 seasons they led a spring-summer series of month-long yoga immersions and comprehensive neo-Tantra and sacred relationships workshops.  In addition, Monika has held intensive tantra and yoga workshops in Turkey, Thailand, Belgium, Spain, Canada and the United States.

While living in the Himalayas seasonally from 2006 - 2016, Monika has had the opportunity to receive annual tantric teachings from H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama. She has taken refuge within the Kagyu Tibetan Buddhist lineage directly from H.H. the 17th Karmapa in a private audience where he also gave her the name Karma Norzin Lhamo.  Later she received the Tara empowerment from the Karmapa and continues to attend his teachings in India and the US. She has also been introduced to the practice of Dzogchen through direct transmission from Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, and has begun the Path of the Warrior trainings under the lineage of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. She is grateful for some of her latest Tibetan Buddhist journies which led her to Leh, Ladahk in 2014 to receive the Kalachakra teachings from HHDL, along with 150,000 other intrepid aspirants in the high Himalayas. She has received empowerments from Garwang Rinpoche in his monastery in Sikkim in 2017. Monika is certified as a mindfulness meditation teacher through Kaia Yoga in the U.S.

Her synthesis of spiritual, embodied practices for women has resulted in the unique 200-hour Shakti Spirit® Teacher Training Course which Monika offers annually in Thailand since 2014.  There are currently 91 certified Shakti Spirit® teachers around the globe.  Monika also co-taught the 200-hour Mystical Yogini® Teacher Training Course, accredited with Yoga Alliance, held in 2015 in Dharamsala, India and created the 300-hour Advanced Tantric Empowerment Teacher Training in 2016 also in Dharamsala. 

Rounding out her "outer formal" mystical experieces, Monika completed the 300-hour Shamanic Energy Medicine training in Chile with the Four Winds Society, led by Alberto Villoldo.  She has co-led with Marcela Lobos, of Four Winds Society, a women's medicine journey honoring the wisdom practices of the Himalayas and Andes, and they continue to collaborate on pioneering expeditions. Monika has begun a deeper exploration of breathwork with the Biodynamic Trauma Release Breathwork training with Giten Tonkov.  In addition, Monika has attended retreats and received teachings from Sharon Salzberg, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ram Dass, Toni Bergens of Journey Dance, Shiva Rea, David Deida, Mooji, David Nichtern and Robert Thurman.

Monika is humbled by the spiritual support, knowledge and inspiration bestowed upon her by all of her teachers and is eternally inspired by the grace of Maha Shakti.

"Abide in the Self. Then joyfully embrace All that follows as the delightful play of the Divine."  ~ Monika Nataraj


A lifelong traveler, by age 30, Monika journeyed to all 7 continents, and by age 40, had ventured to more than 70 countries worldwide.  Fascinated by cultures, mystical sites and directly experiencing the fullness of life by delving into the unknown, Monika revels in re-discovering herself through the reflections all around us.  

She has voyaged from the Antarctic to the Arctic, trekked the high Himalayas, scuba-dived in the world's last pristine coral reefs, safaried around the globe, payed homage and led rituas at countless holy pilgrimage places, danced in wild carnivals and sacred temples, stood in awe before history's greatest artistic creations, and generally marveled at the endless wonders of this world.

She has literally lived on the road (and out of the US) for twenty years, and is now slowly but surely re-rooting herself again in New York City while maintaining a super active 'traveling teacher' itinerary (pre-COVID 19).  She realized early on that the greatest adventure is the inner journey, but dharmas and karmas (and severe wanderlust) kept her globetrotting, despite being a Cancerian with a Taurus ascendant! Currently, Monika resides on a tropical, sunset beach in Thailand where she has called seasonal home for 17 years.

"The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience." ~ Emily Dickinson 


After graduating with degrees in Chemistry and Art History from Case Western Reserve University, Monika worked for 10 years in corporate philanthropy and was director of human resources policy & strategy for Prudential Financial.  She feels blessed for the community involvement projects she was charged with as the Prudential Foundation's Culture and the Arts and Education Program Officer.  During this time she also served on the Board of Trustees of the Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company, Third Millennium: Advocates for the Future, and the Link Community School. Monika is former member of the prestigious National Advisory Board for the Ford Foundation's Community Development Corporation/Arts Resource Initiative. These experiences imbued her with a deeper sense of community service which carries through her current work which she views as seva or  "karma yoga." 

Monika is the co-founder/director of the Dharamsala Film Festival (DFF) in Dharamsala, India.  This unique, spiritual film festival, founded in 2012, highlights Consciousness and Creativity in independent films from around the world. Four full DFFs have been successfully offered. The DFF has also hosted many specialty events including a birthday celebration for the HH the 17th Karmapa, plus bringing the renowned soulful chant artist Krishna Das and the stellar Sufi group Tumata to Dharamsala, for the first time.

Monika is presently focused on co-creating a global initiative called Water Wisdom Way, an intersection of environmental activism, shamanic ceremony, sacred pilgrimage and women's wellness.

“Intoxicated with love, I too dance the rhythm of this moving world.”  ~ Rumi




Mystical Tantra Immersion: Turkey Goddess Retreat
5th - 10th August 2019
SHANTI RETREAT: Tantra for Women
8th - 10th November 2019
Mystical Woman: A Journey Into the Sacred Feminine
8th - 16th June 2019

Connect with Monika

Website : MonikaNataraj.net | Email : info@MonikaNataraj.net

"There is no other greater ecstasy, no other greater blissfulness, than to know who you are. To know the inner space is to know all." ~ Osho

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