5Rhythms of Self Care

Fluidity, Power and Release: 5Rhythms of self care

This page is dedPower and Fluidityicated to the many teachers of conscious dance I have met, moved with and fallen in love with over the last 15 years. During these years, I have treated so many of you in individual physical therapy sessions, coaching and witnessing your physical challenges. I have also provided mini-group sessions during dance intensives. We have shared the joy, fulfillment and frustration regarding what it means to facilitate conscious dance.

Fluidity, Power and Release is a workshop for your community to address the concern we share for our own physical well-being and that of our students. There are students who come to our dance floors with current injuries. There are students who injure themselves while they are on our floors. The intention of this workshop is to amp up awareness of this truth, begin to explore and heal the most common injuries present already and increase the likelihood of preventing injuries in the future. A big ask! But keeping our heads in the sand around this reality is not very effective. Let’s open the conversation.

What follows is an outline of the scope of this offering. If you are interested in bringing this to your own community, let’s set up a time for a phone connection. Just email bella@bodyjoy.net and we’ll explore. Thanks for considering.

Bella has a lifetime of knowledge and tools to work with bringing greater movement and strength to the body. This in turn translates to limitless possibilities for creativity in personal embodied expression. As a colleague I find her depth and breadth of wisdom seep into my own work. Add this to her love of teaching and service to community and her inspiration is contagious. She is a woman of positive influence that touches the body heart mind and soul.Jenny Macke


The basis for this workshop offering germinated as I began to move in the rhythms 15 years ago. By that time I had been practicing physical therapy for 30 years and the two practices immediately began to weave together inside me, one informing the other. Teaching yoga for the past ten years has continued shaping this work continually in progress.

If your dream is to dance through your life, all the way to the last breath, Bella’s work is invaluable. I have watched so many people injure or age themselves off the dance floor, and this need not be so! Bella truly knows how the body works, and teaches us how to prevent and heal injury, soften and expand our perceived limitations, keep the body supple and strong — all in service of moving with ease and strength both on and off the dance floor. I can’t recommend her work highly enough.Lori Saltzman


Even before I knew I was on the 5R teacher training path, Lori Smullins (now Claire Alexander) and Kathy Altman created opportunities for me to work with their communities to offer self-care practices for healing and prevention of common injuries. Since those early years, much has opened for me around this weaving. I have offered this body of work as a workshop in various, always developing forms for:

  • Six years running at Harbin, a three day immersion each year
  • Three days each in Austin, Olympia, Bellingham, Dallas
  • A one day in Marin and half day in SF
  • Several weekly series and half days in Sacramento


This workshop can be offered as a stand-alone self care practice; the first two objectives cover that territory. I am passionate about teaching it in conjunction with the rhythms; the third objective expands the offering into a fully integrated wave experience.

  1. Students will receive hands on education in experiential anatomy that shifts textbook knowledge to the intimate realm of felt sense.  From this basis, they will be able to identify the most common musculoskeletal challenges and injuries that they experience both on and off the dance floor.
  2. Students will learn simple self-care skills and how they can be applied on the dance floor to prevent, explore and initiate healing for these common injuries. They will understand how to look at physical health though the lens of loose, long and strong: what is tight and how to loosen; what is weak and how to strengthen; what is short and how to lengthen.
  3. Students will experience the effect of this highly specific physical practice of inducting fluidity, power and release and be able to apply this anatomical felt experience to expand their dance. They will deepen the physical embodiment of their 5Rhythms practice by using this tool box. In communities where I have offered this, teacher feedback is so positive. It opens their students quite quickly to deeper embodied practice and answers many questions about physical challenges.


This is a brief outline of how the self-care curriculum moves within the structure of a 5R wave:

Flow: opens with an exploration of feet, where we are tight in foot and lower leg, how to loosen with balls and rollers and lengthen these structures with accurate stretching. How to feel the possibility of fluidity through contact of feet on earth. After foot focus, we move into loosening legs and hips and use developmental sequencing to literally roll our way into the weight-bearing rhythm of flow. Incorporate fluid stretching or yin for length in hips and legs. A very internal session.

Staccato: opens with an exploration of connection between core power, breath, pelvic floor. Continues with roller and ball to loosen hips, shoulders and rib cage. Moves into dance exploring movement initiated through pelvic bowl vs. movement through rib cage. How this is connected to breath and how to initiate motion in arms and legs that radiates/pulses from core. Explores effort and ease. How this pulsing internal aliveness, this life force, is the basis for connection with another. Fluid stretching or yin for length in hips, chest, shoulders.

Chaos: opens with exploration of spinal fluidity with balls and rollers. Moves into partner work in supine, side laying, hands and knees to explore the connection of tail, spine and head/jaw. How does release happen organically as an expression from tail to head? Moves into weight bearing exploration of shaking, weight shifting, unpredictability. Explores surrender vs. letting go; effort and ease; how the release of chaos arises from the merge of flow fluidity and staccato power. Dives into a felt sense of the unified group field.

Lyrical: the big whatever moment. By now group has been exposed to most technique and I love to open with a session that encourages playful creativity, integration, informal questions, personal exploration. After this so depends on where the group has travelled over our time together. Over the years, the upside of the wave has become more and more defined and the down side has opened and opened. Sometimes we move into shape, mirror, repetition, tribal…although sometimes we move here on the upside of the wave! Other times it has moved from the creative free play into a trance dive into that unified field or a deeper exploration of heart to hand connection and how that delivers us to self, other, group. Sometimes a felt sense of integration/alignment body-heart-mind and how that delivers us to authentic soul.   The big whatever moment.

Stillness: another whatever moment…focus on movement and breath, spirit and breath, length in fluid motion/quiet yin shapes and breath. Beautiful theater has emerged here.



Exposure to this content is a clear jumping off point for what I am so passionate about: home practice. After all these years I have zero proprietary sensibility around the work. Teachers of other practices and massage therapists have been my students for years and they have always been encouraged to first develop their own self-care skills and then to share what they know. In support of this, at the end of the session, students/teachers can purchase balls and rollers as well as my book and DVD Letting Go. A YouTube video series will be available this fall—Loose, Long and Strong. Teacher feedback over the years is so positive; many feel that this experience answers so many of the unspoken questions about being with physical challenge on and off the dance floor and, at the same time, opens their students quite quickly to a deeper embodiment of 5Rhythms practice.


…closing with a couple more teacher testimonials:

Andrea Juhan & Vic Cooper

We both had one just one session with Bella and miraculously we are both completely better and now have intimate relationships with balls and rollers – if you are struggling with a physical pain or limitation let her help.


Mati Vargas-Gibson

If you want a mega dose of deep embodiment in your tribe get Bella on your dance floor before she is so booked there is a waiting list. She knows so many groovy tricks to really have a felt sense of how all the pieces work and fit together. And weaves a masterful combination of direct access experience with our anatomical wonders, with deep love of 5R and soul. Just amazing. She will take any dancer into a really high level of presence and connection and get your folks readier to receive your teachings. Like plowing a fertile field and turning the soil for seeding. I have deep awe, respect and appreciation for the passion and commitment this sister teacher fellow dance traveler of the heart brought us this weekend. And no I’m not advertising this is pure unabashed and well deserved recognition. Bella is contributing a very unique and much needed piece of the puzzle to our practice. Most people don’t even know where their spine is, much less figure out how to release it from a conceptual place. Rock and roll on all your bones and release at a muscular and fascia level a few days, and now we’re talkin’.







Join event