Metta Ecstatic Dance
10-Day Immersion Retreat


April 21-30, 2024

South Crete, Greece

Immerse yourself in the rhythmic tapestry of this ancient and universal community practice, echoing back to the dawn of humanity. Can you hear the primal beat reverberating through the ages as people gathered around the fire, dancing in a harmonious expression of connection and celebration? Today in this digital age where we have become increasingly more estranged from one another and from the wild yet intelligent animal of our body, here at Shri Gaia Institute we are doing our best to bring back that which is most sacred – community, movement, loving kindness, connection, and eventually stillness.

10-day Metta Ecstatic Dance Immersion Retreat is both for Ecstatic Dance enthusiasts that wish to immerse themselves in this powerful movement practice and retreat in pristine nature of Southern Crete, as well as for those that wish to become Metta Ecstatic Dance facilitators. Facilitators in training will have a couple of extra hours a day where they will learn the methodology.

From the beginning of times, dance has been a universal expression rooted in human culture. Initially, people danced for ritual, celebration or to reach a spiritually transcendental state. Dance served as a communal activity, fostering social bonds and communication in the absence of spoken language. Over time, it evolved into a form of artistic expression, reflecting cultural diversity and individual creativity. With Metta Ecstatic Dance we want to go back to what is bone memory, to the time that dance was not supposed to be a specific way or carry a certain esthetic, but to the time of innate human inclination to move rhythmically in any way it wanted to express itself.

Metta Ecstatic Dance is a holistic practice created by Tanya Popovich and Melina Gale, that incorporates mindful movement, somatic therapy, and meditation, all centered around loving kindness, or Metta. The practice starts with a Metta Meditation and Somatic Therapy practice that leads into a dance where participants are encouraged to allow the body to express itself fully and authentically without the mind’s conditioning. The idea is to get out of the thinking mind and instead develop witness consciousness, allowing and observing the body as it moves without the “shoulds”. While focusing on the breath and observing the sensations in the body and the way that the body wants to move, we release pent up tension, inhibitions, and psychic knots. We begin to understand the body as it speaks to us in its own unique way – through the movement. The dance culminates in another Metta practice and final relaxation.

On this 10-day dance journey we will explore the transformative power of ecstatic dance to learn the language of our body, to reconnect to our innate wild nature that is rhythm itself. Metta Ecstatic Dance invites you to let go of inhibitions, allowing your body to move freely and authentically to the music while being centered in Metta, the loving kindness. Our curated playlists blend elective global rhythms, creating a space where you can rediscover the primal joy that comes from being in tune with your body and the collective energy of the community.

Join us in this global movement, where the ancient spirit of dance converges with the modern pulse of music. Let Metta Ecstatic Dance be your portal to a world where every step is a celebration, and every beat connects you to the shared heartbeat of humanity. Come dance with us and let the rhythm of the past and present guide you into a blissful flow of self-discovery and communal harmony.

Sample Schedule

8:30 – 10:30 Meditation, Breathwork & Yoga Class

11:30 – 13:30 Metta Ecstatic Dance

14:00 – 16:00 M.E.D. Methodology (for Facilitators in Training only)

19:30 – 20:00 Sharing Circle

20:00 – 21:00 Evening Session (Sound Healing, Yoga Nidra, Yin Yoga or Movement Meditation)

For information or applications, please contact us via email at or via our contact form.


If you are joining us in a retreat type format, you can take this time to deeply immerse yourself in a conversation with your body that will promote release of tension, emotional healing, and a newfound freedom within, while connecting deeply to a like-minded community. Get ready for taking yourself on the best date you’ve ever been to, the one where you show up for yourself as authentically and as intimately as you possibly can. Feel free to enjoy beautiful Cretan nature in-between classes, hikes, beaches, journaling or simply resting.

Facilitators in Training

In addition to the program followed by retreaters, facilitators in training will have two additional hours per day where Metta Ecstatic Dance methodology is learned. This class covers not only the practicalities of how to plan a M.E.D. session but it also prepares you with leadership skills that will enable you to be an effective and safe facilitator. Metta Ecstatic Dance is a deeply transformational process and as such our facilitators need to acquire the necessary skills to not only lead a beautiful session but to create a safe and nurturing space for all participants. At the end of the program a Metta Ecstatic Dance facilitator diploma will be issued. This methodology class includes:

– Learning how to guide Metta meditation techniques
– Mindful movement to increase bodily awareness
– Dance as somatic movement, dance as mindfulness practice, dance as tension and emotional release, dance as a ritual, dance as a celebration of
joy and dance as a community building practice
– Working with music and curating effective playlists
– Leadership skills and creating a safe space for participants
– How to manage intense emotional releases
– Final Relaxation techniques
– Facilitating a full Metta Ecstatic Dance session


The course will take place in Paleochora, South Crete, Greece. Crete Island is the biggest and the extreme southern island of Greece. Paleochora is Crete’s gateway to the Libyan Sea. It is one of the most beautiful towns in the prefecture of Chania with extremely good weather where the summer lasts for over five months! Here, you will feel at home through the kindness and friendliness of the people, you will taste the delicious local cuisine while the beauty of the sea and scenery will literally sweep you away.
The picturesque village is located on a small northern peninsula surrounded by two exquisite beaches with sand and pebbles. The distance between Chania and Paleochora is a 75 kilometre drive enriched with the wild beauty that the Cretan scenery has to offer.


Our training venue is an eco-cottage retreat and seminar centre located between Paleochora and Anydri village in the south of Crete island. Set in the most beautiful landscape, our venue is only a few minutes away by car (or about 20 minutes trekking down a canyon) to some of the most pristine beaches and graphic Paleochora village. Accommodation is based on a triple and double occupancy, and single rooms may be available upon request. There are two fully equipped kitchens for participants’ use, as well as a small third kitchen in the yoga room. There are two practice spaces for our use: an outdoor and an indoor space.

Arrival and departure

All traveling arrangements are arranged by the participants. We can assist you with directions from Chania or Heraklion airport, and with booking a taxi or providing information on the bus schedule. Buses leave regularly from Chania to Paleochora and it is very simple to reach Paleochora by bus. Closer to training start, when we have all participants’ arrival times, we can bring you in contact with others arriving at the same time and you can share a taxi / travel together by bus.


Food is not included. There are two fully equipped kitchens available for participants’ use (one kitchen per three rooms) where you can store food and make your meals. There are large grocery stores and supermarkets in the village. Early dinner can be eaten out at the beach at many taverns that serve fresh local food, or cooked in the kitchen. Fresh Mediterranean food is available at every tavern and there is also a Vegetarian restaurant in the village.

Founders and Facilitators: Tanya Savitri Popovich & Melina Gale

Music by: Christo Z

Christos grew up in Athens, Greece. From the age of ten he came into contact with Rock, Blues and Soul. It was somewhere in the mid-70s when his best friend’s older brother opened a record store right below his house. He began his DJ residencies in Athens in 1985 and has been active throughout the years as one of Greece’s most treasured dancefloor maestros. He kept residencies in Athens’ most known dance venues such as Mojo Bar, Zoo, Plus Soda, Bo, Balux, Home Club, One Happy Cloud, Mamacas, El Pecado, Room and many others, as well as in Mad, Astra, Cavo Paradiso and Remezzo in Mykonos, Cassablanca in Santorini and Palais Namskar in Marrakech to name a few. His steady and faithful dancefloor enthusiasts love his deep knowledge of various eclectic musical styles that he skillfully blends in deep soulful house beats. In recent years he has been experimenting even more so with different types of music, mixing African rhythms and electronic sounds, with influences from Jazz and Soul. He has made hundreds of edit-bootlegs and remixes that stand out for their aesthetics and musicality, thus creating his own personal soundtrack. We will have a great privilege to enjoy his DJ sets during this 10 day Metta Ecstatic Dance Immersion Retreat.

Participation Cost

Triple room
950 € Early Bird
1050 € Regular Price

Double Room
1150 € Early Bird
1350 € Regular Price

For Facilitators in Training there is an additional fee of €350 to the above prices

*Early Bird – sign ups 60 days prior to start

*Regular Price – sign ups up to 10 days prior to start

Deposit of €500 along with your application is needed to hold your spot on the training. Remaining balance is due by April 10th, 2024.
Availability is limited to a room type, please book early to avoid disappointment.
Please read our cancellation policy here