About Annya Ishtara

Hi! I’m Annya Ishtara.

I facilitate women to come into deep, embodied connection with themselves and their unique wisdom as they learn how to use their bodies and their energies for their own joy, creativity, well-being, and personal power.

Together we work with movement, energy, and meditation using the ancient and time-tested methods of qigong, belly dance, and meditation to help each woman remember her sacredness and beauty. Through my work, women connect with their own authentic truth and intuition so they can more fully live and express the magic of their own uniqueness.

Annya Ishtara Belly Dance Pecha Kucha Veil Swoop

My Story

I used to live from the neck up. I tried dancing that way. I tried making decisions that way. I tried being healthy that way.

In fact, I thought that was the way that a person was supposed to live. I thought I was supposed to “master” my body with my mind and not pay attention to it. And I also thought that something or someone outside of me knew more than I did about what was right for me.

Not surprisingly, living in disconnection from my body and my own wisdom didn’t work – like, not at all.

Paradoxically, I also had inklings that I did know something. In fact, I knew lots of somethings.

But I still couldn’t consistently make contact with that feeling. I had trouble believing in myself. I felt awkward, disconnected, and lacking in an inner sense of guidance or intuition. I figured that being intuitive, graceful, and competent was just the way other people were, but not me.

Over time, through my dance practice, and later through my qigong practice, I started realizing that being in my body gave me access to inner resources I had never had before. I naturally began to feel more confident, grounded, and clear because I was more in my body and because I was connecting with my internal energy flows. I started to trust myself more. I realized that I did have intuition and that it was worth following.

As I stumbled along my path in search of my authentic self and embodied knowledge, I’ve taken a lot of detours and lost my way many times. But I’ve always managed to find my way back to my own center.

I don’t claim to be in 100% deep connection with myself at all times because, after all, I am a work in progress! And honestly, I’m not even sure that that’s humanly possible. But I have come a long ways, and I have a ton of training and experience in embodiment, healing, and energy practices. I can be your guide along your journey to embodied joy, renewed health, and deeper trust in your body because I’ve traveled that bumpy road myself.

All of my courses and 1-on-1 work are designed to lead you into embodied connection with your own authenticity and to help you learn to trust yourself so you can more fully express your unique soul beingness in health and joy.

What trusting yourself can look like is:

  • you feel more comfortable in your body
  • you feel stronger and healthier
  • you feel more connected to your intuition and you second guess yourself less
  • you know what you want and need
  • you know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that you are the greatest authority on yourself
  • your creativity blooms
  • you judge yourself less and worry less about what other people think of you

It’s a good place to be!

Want to be in the know about my most current offerings? Email me at annyaish(at) Annya-Ishtara-Dance(dot)com and let me know you want to be on the mailing list. *Be sure to fill in the appropriate punctuation to make it a working email address.

Or sign up for my newsletter on the Contact page.


A few things about my dance experience that might surprise and delight you are:

  • When I first began to take dance classes in jazz and ballet as teenager, I was so uncoordinated, that dance teachers used to tell me that they didn’t think I’d ever become a dancer. Well, I proved them wrong! Now most people think I am a natural dancer and have trouble believing that there was ever a time when I couldn’t do a simple step-together-step. Because of my own difficult dance experience in the past, I know a lot about how to help women get into their bodies and really dance.
  • My oldest student (so far) was 89, and my youngest student was 7. Belly dance really is for all ages! I have also taught men as well as women.
  • As a belly dance soloist, I improvise 99% of my performances, meaning that I create a unique dance in the moment just for that particular experience. To see some of my improvised performances, go to my Videos page.
  • Most of my early belly dance performances were to live music, as opposed to recorded music, which is now the norm in the US. Most of the bands I performed with were Middle Eastern inspired. However, I have also belly danced to a sitar band, a psychedelic klezmer band, several industrial rock/punk bands, Cuban bata drum ensembles, and I have performed with rock guitar virtuoso Eric McFadden and his trio.



Annya Ishtara’s Dance and Movement Training

Annya Ishtara’s path to becoming a belly dancer began as a young girl, when she knew she wanted to be a belly dancer, despite having never seen one, or even having heard Middle Eastern music. When she eventually began belly dance lessons in 1991, she was instantly hooked on the beautiful movements, vibrant music, exotic costuming, and the discovery of Middle Eastern cultures from which this dance comes. Belly dance is such a diverse, deep, and fascinating topic, that she hasn’t stopped learning since!


Her other dance studies began with Jazz and Ballet when she was a teenager and evolved to encompass Haitian, West African, and Cuban Orisha dances, Butoh, and Contact Improvisation, among others. She has also studied Rajasthani Gypsy dance of the Kalbelia people and Ghoomar Ladies dance in Rajasthan, India, and Turkish Roman (Gypsy) dance in Turkey.


She has a wide background in movement, energy training, and health related studies. She has studied a variety of dance and movement forms for over 40 years, including yoga (in India and the US), and over 1000 hours of in-person training in tai chi and qigong (in the US and China). She has a Qigong Instructor Certification and a Tai Chi Teacher Certification (2 year program) from Qigong Academy. She is also a trained massage therapist (600 hour program), Level 2 Reiki practitioner, licensed minister, and has been trained as a licensed Art of Feminine Presence® teacher. She is certified in Level 1 of Sadie Marquant’s Raqs Flow Bellydance Training Program.

Annya also has an extensive background in herbal medicine, having trained for 9 years with a number of notable herbalists. Her herbal training included a year long herbal apprenticeship with Mara Levin and a 3 month shamanic apprenticeship with Susun Weed. Annya has many years of experience in leading and participating in women’s ritual. She is a contributor to the Women’s Circle Ritual Handbook: Autumn Edition.




About Annya Ishtara’s Belly Dance Classes


Annya Ishtara teaches a blend of Turkish and American Classic style belly dance, tempered with her own eclectic touch. She draws from her training and experience as a dancer in many genres, as well as her massage and qigong training, to help dance students safely and effectively train their bodies to easily and gracefully perform the movements of belly dance. Classes focus on technique, as well as expressive and energy aspects of dance.

What sets Annya apart from other belly dance teachers is that she comes from an internal, body-centered perspective, which she blends with a visceral understanding of energy, so that women can really understand and develop tools with which to inhabit their bodies more fully.


I have become a much better dancer over the years because of belly dance, and it has helped so much in the other kinds of dance that I study. Because of Annya’s gentle encouragement, I have been in a few performances, which is something I was certain I would NEVER do, but it has been such a huge accomplishment for me!

Emily Scumacher

Arroyo Seco, NM

 As a trained massage therapist and long-time student of movement, Annya’s stretching exercises at the beginning of class were a class in and of themselves.

Jannet Edminson

Toronto, Canada