Sitting on an edge, far north Monterey Bay, Capitola tucked behind an echoing bluff.  Her old wooden pier an offering to the sea, Pleasure Point capping the farthest reach of land.  Here I’m gently held by the horizon, that asks nothing in return, just bestows silent comfort as it surrenders, softly circular, to the duet of earth and sky.  I find myself yearning for this, quintessential wide open space, whenever I’m hemmed in by urbanity.

I wish I could remember the name of a book read in my early twenties.  The young protagonist was newly embarking into the work-a-day world.  Her alarm rings on Monday morning and in that dream ‘tween state she imagines the 8 to 5 week ahead.  She fully awakens, stunned by the agenda she has unwittingly agreed to.  Trading her life away for a mere two days on the week-end.

At this same age, this realization slowly dawned on me as well.  It’s what spurned me to chuck it all before I turned thirty and crazy travel for four months.  Not once, but twice.  But life has a way of tumbling forward and all that brilliant awareness was buried under marriage and children, home ownership and careers.  The middle class American dream-come-true. And yet…so much beauty, not one regret.

But wide open spaces never stopped calling me out.  And what I am coming to understand is that the natural landscape/urban world dichotomy is a physical one, yes, but the metaphor of it lives inside us.  And I’ve been an eager student unknowingly soaking up the tutelage of wide open spaces my whole life.  Two decades ago my 8 to 5 shifted into something much less predictable but actually just as time consuming.  I appreciated the change up, barely knowing what the day might hold.  Time off was weirdly interspersed and, as the years went by, slowly became more plentiful.  Covid totally boosted that down time.

Interesting phrase: down time.  Because mostly I am finding it very uplifting.  Very seductive.  Very about time.  There certainly has been more travel to the landscape of wide open spaces, especially in the form of camping.  Which I’m up to right now.  But the fact is, I am increasingly tuned in to the wide open space when I’m home.  An agenda-less afternoon here; a list-free morning there; an evening with nothing in particular to do.  This feels new, at times interesting, curious, exciting.  At other times weird, frustrating, frightening, boring.

There are many emotional scales like this one.  Which is not particularly fabulous, but caught my attention this week:

You can look at it for general attunement to what you feel right in this moment.  Pretty limited, but a good starting point.  What captivated me more was where I generally hang out these days.  And it’s fascinating how that has shifted of late.  Because to tell you the truth, I am mostly, and most simply, content.  Pretty even keel.  Lacking of melodrama.   A little nostalgic for the old roller coaster at times.

Notice that right beneath content is boredom.  And here’s what I’m noticing: boredom is sprinkled throughout the field of wide open space.  Frustration and doubt are scattered there as well.  Travel up the scale to see all the other juicy feel-good inhabitants co-existing in the wide open space.

However, those challenging ones—boredom, frustration, doubt—can often turn out to be uber-rich fertilizers of that field.  These sentiments can be so exquisitely uncomfortable that we doubt the beauty of the field and do anything to steer away from those wide open spaces.

With all the changes in my work life, with all the ways I am working with younger people and willingly taking steps back, it sometimes feels like I’m putting myself out to pasture.  And I suppose I am, partly cuz I’m intrigued with this wide open pasture.  Willing to move with boredom, dance with frustration, be face-to-face with doubt.  Content to breathe and be.  Satisfied to sit for awhile, right here and now, and see what authentically arises of its own accord.

It was good, that life in the fast lane.  But you’ll find me way over in the right lane now. Falling in love with noticing, appreciating and harvesting the complexity and simplicity of an endlessly transformative scene slowly passing by.

❤️Bella

 

 

Me and Leonard Cohen go way back.  He and my mom were born in Montreal around the same time so I’ve always felt this strong connect.  And it was a thing of beauty to finally get out of the Covid-house and see this film gem in a theater.  Plus it was with my friend who is just as gaga about this incredible songwriter.  I never knew the whole story behind his most famous song, which took him seven years to write and longer than that to become known for the masterpiece it is.

Poetry is a form I’ve played in on and off since I was just a wee one.  I can feel the way regular writing in essay form has pulled me away from the virtue of verse.   I suppose inspiration from this film immersion after so many hours of silent isolation was the fire that ignited this poem.  By the time you’re reading it I’ll be resting in the Sierras, looking out over Tahoe’s Emerald Bay.  It is my offering.

Hush

No longer searching, said Leonard Cohen.
Just softly alive, befriending myself,
off the record.

Feeling the urge to activate rise up,
then nimbly sidestepping,
as the impulse fizzles
in the absence of outcome or documentation
or Brownie points.
Letting the itch die of its own accord.

There’s liquid mass melting off my bones,
sensory tides that ooze porous on erratic currents.
I’m adrift on the ebb flow of theta waves.

Slow is an elusive rhythm
that seduces then repels us,
that promises then lies to us,
that tempts us, then asks for restraint.

He also said, I reside in the foothills of old.
Practice death little bit every day,
K Pattabhi Jois said that.

Every moment we opt for a stop,
cease fire to pause and be chill,
take the silent stand as witness…
we shed gestures of testimony,
smack dab love arrows aimed
right into our weary hearts.
And, in an act of concurrent genius,
we infuse the needy breast of this planet.

May you be inspired this week to opt for a stop, pause and be chill, take the silent stand.  Send love arrows just where they are needed.  And let’s be together soon.

❤️Bella

Well, I’ve joined the ranks of Covid initiates.  So many of us in this no longer exclusive club.  And that is a good thing, feel like I’ve contributed to the possibility of herd immunity.  No cake walk for me though; it was pretty challenging, even given the ingenious medical boost.  So grateful for that and for the return of breath as each day brings a bit more energy.  The isolation may have been an amazing retreat if I had only felt well.  But in the quiet challenge a bunch of long view reflection kept surfacing.  This writing is only a pie slice of that.

Fifty years ago.  Berkeley. Rented a walk in closet just big enough for twin mattress and suitcase.  A place to lay my head when I wasn’t finishing my physical therapy internship. The last hoop to jump through before being set free in the world.  Back when a bachelor’s was all you needed to practice.  A doctorate required now and I’ve been grand-mothered in.  Most of my expertise never came from books anyway.  In such a hands on profession being thrown in the deep end is the best education.  I certainly had plenty of deep water.

Except for one thing.  The hours invested in anatomy education never cease paying huge dividends.  Those 20 weeks in lab, 8 hours a week…forever imprinted on my soul.  11th floor, UCSF.  Huge windows overlooking Golden Gate Park, bridge in the distance.  10 cadavers stretched long on plinths, breathlessly waiting.  Me, three classmates and one dead body…bonded for the duration.  At first, it took everything I had to hold back the gag, not sure if I was going to make it.  The formaldehyde alone felt like a deal breaker.  But it’s strange what you can get used to.

After week one, my curiosity got the best of me.  I was totally hooked.  All the other lab-learning required X-ray vision to imagine what was happening below the skin.  And what a world it was underneath!  Sectioning out each unique muscle and life-giving blood vessel, teasing out those message-sending nerves, peering directly at origins and insertions on white bone.  Me and Gray’s Anatomy were one.  That fifty year old dog-eared copy is still my every day go to.

In 1992, twenty years later, after touching countless live bodies—hands a bit more enlightened now—I was invited to return to that same lab.  In the company of other intrepid seekers and my original teacher, a now wizened Mrs. Nordschow, I spent all day deep in exploration.  Asking questions about deep rotators and flexors and joint spaces that only a hands-on adventure could answer.  I surprised myself by slipping right back in, like no time at all had passed.

Could be that the intensity of these experiences account for my utter obsession with all things anatomy.  It is so friggin’ geeky.  And I totally indulged that geek-iness this year in a way I absolutely never thought I might.  On September 20, 2021 I taught a Roll, Release, Align class on feet.  Prepped by spending all the time I desired diving into bones and muscles and joints, what it means to weight bear, mechanics of gait, trouble we get into, solutions for the most common owies.  A 90 minute class initiated with screen share so students could actually see what was underneath the skin.  It was a full body class but we just kept bringing our attention back to feet.

Since that day, every Friday morning, I’ve let my geek flag fly.  And I’ve adored this year of systematically working through the entire body.  A few more classes remain to wrap up the shoulder, arm, hand unit.  Then a unit on the head will bring the year plus to a close.  All in all, when complete, a fifty plus class library is available.  Feels like kind of a legacy and I’m really proud of the work.  But more satisfying really is how a whole lifetime, beginning in that cadaver lab 50 years ago, led to this endeavor.  And I am so grateful that the shape of my relatively cushy life has allowed me to indulge this depth of investigation.  And beyond thankful for the students who actually came along for the ride and appreciate this embodied path of learning.

“I’m feeling better, walking better, my posture is improving, my spine is more flexible, my body awareness has increased exponentially, and I can actually sense and activate the psoas muscles for the first time ever!
I am very grateful to you!”   L.N.

It’s interesting that Covid came when it was relatively convenient: cancelled a camping trip, no dance until September, a handful of re-scheduled patients.  Thank you universe.  Also, in case you didn’t hear, Ritual/It’s All Yoga has closed.  So I had some quiet time to re-imagine the venue/date for Tending Your Aging Body.  It will be live at Clara, four consecutive mornings in October.  Whether you are an on line experienced practitioner or a novice curious one…you’ll love this series.  Because it covers all the best self care bases and will inspire you to no end.  Promise.  Trust the geek.

Yours in quiet reflection.
❤️Bella

My grandson wants to hike the 16 mile round trip to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite.  And he asked if I would come with him.  An immediate “yes” emerged from my lips, totally surprised me, flushed me with surging memories of the 90’s.  The decade I climbed to the top of Half Dome not once or twice, but three times.  My possible claim to fame.   Co-led a very large group of women twice and, sandwiched in between, fit in another ascent with hubby and son.

“I like it on the edge, and I take others with me.”  Gabrielle Roth

I have my own unique set of fears but being on the edge is not one of them.  I trust that place both physically and metaphorically.  It’s where my most potent learning happens.  Grant me a clear container, a space held with consummate skill, and I’m entirely willing, eager in fact, to go right up to my edge.  Sometimes I fall off and precious gold is almost always mined in the recovery. For me, experience turns to wisdom in that space of re-finding ground, realigning with center and integrating something new.

Last newsletter focused on a most interesting organ: the bladder.  I wrote about how in the field of limited awareness, this opportunistic creature can exert perhaps some unnecessary control over our lives.  How it can demand release before release is needed.  I gave some informational norms so readers could feel into their own relationship with this organ.  The response was heartening.  Many of you wrote, grateful for the information and curious about checking out habits long-engrained.

I received one response from a reader triggered by the content.  The language felt shaming.  It brought up anxiety issues. A request for an apology. Which I readily proffered.  And I extend that apology to anyone else who may have had a similar response.  Totally.  This, of course, was never the intention.  Deeply sorry.

And there is this to consider.  Triggered: having a negative emotional reaction to something, usually something connected with past trauma.  Fact: everyone reading these words has past trauma.   This is one reason holding space for transformational learning and healing can be tricky.   Because even though we all have past trauma, many of us (not all!) learn best by working on the very edges where triggering is likely to occur.

I’m grateful that the common knowledge base regarding trauma continues to be filled out.  We know that a painful destruction of old habits, those pesky unviable ways, often precedes the possibility for a life-changing creative healing process.  We know that after the demolition, a space must be held for settling and integration in order to complete a learning cycle.

But here’s the truth: I like it on the edge, and I take others with me. And creating a 100% safe, trigger-free environment is just not the way I work…or write.  That being said, I’m gratefully aware of how the years have kindly softened and gentled me as I continue to work in this potent field.  But do consider yourself forewarned.

With all due respect….❤️Bella

Maybe this musing about the mystic is spurned by current loss.  Beloved mother-in-law of fifty years.  Did we really first meet when I was 19?  Matriarchal moon holding six siblings in her orbit, so many grandchildren, great grandchildren.  And now, the shape of this long-standing constellation shifts.  A few days later Robert Ansell passes, steadfast partner to Gabrielle Roth.  Did you know he was a high power criminal attorney in NYC?  Until he met Gabrielle.  Until he ditched all that, dived head first into playing bass drum, deeply supported her in the work.  She had that effect on people. The wheel turns again as the next aging generation steps up to the plate.

And I suppose that includes me.  The evidence as such softly blankets my existence.  And there it is again: I catch myself making a repeating request.  “Please don’t ask me the ‘when’ question.”  As in, “What year did we take that trip to Mexico?”  Or “When did we last paint the house?”  Or “How long has it been since we’ve gone to Yosemite?”  Or “What year did your uncle pass?”   I totally remember all these things happening.  Please, just don’t ask me when.  Because my senior memory function has alarmingly shifted over these last couple years.

Is it pandemic-induced?  Is it a natural aging process?  Is it more dire than that?  I really don’t know.  I just have this sense of sailing off into the mystic.  Of existing in a space unbound by time.  As if all memory has been surreptitiously moved into an un-catalogued container.  What happened last week exists right next to what happened last year.  A story from my fifties cozies up to a thirties story.   1970?  1990?  Who knows?

Rest assured:  this has nothing to do with my brain’s ability to function in other ways.  I drive my car like a champ.  Curiously, I take patient histories, plan treatments, create home videos more fluidly with each passing year.  I listen to and catalogue new music like a pro.  I’m masterful in the kitchen.  I could go on.  But this strangely altered relationship to time.  What choice is there but to sail off into the mystic?  Surrender to the reality of memory that shifts like desert sand.  Give up on time as an organizational constraint.  Thrive in this revised zone.  There’s a breath of freedom here.

But I am a meaning-making individual.  And I wonder what to make of this in the big picture of a life.  Well, of course, there are neuroscience facts.  For every decade after age 50, the brain loses 2% of its weight.  But this is also true: some cortical neurons become more abundant after maturity, actually continue growing in healthy old people.  In an essay entitled Memory: Short-Term Loss, Long-Term Gain, James Hillman postulates that the “gathering of old images to the exclusion of recent events seems imposed on the aged, as if the soul insists on this review.”

Well now…this sweetly rings of meaning.  My brain no longer auto-pilots into organizational mode.  At 2% loss per decade, something has to go.  But how about those new cortical neurons?   Here’s the poetic way Hillman frames what they are up to:

“Life review yields long term gains that enrich character by bringing understanding to events.  The patterns in your life become more discernable among the wreckage and the romance, more like a well-plotted novel that reveals characters through their actions and reactions.  Life review is really nothing other than re-writing—or writing for the first time—the story of your life, or writing your life into stories.  And without stories there is no pattern, no understanding, no art, and no character—merely habits, events passing before the eyes of an aimless observer, a life unreviewed, a life lost in the living of it.”

Wow.  This just rings true.  Perhaps we break free from tracking the mundane so that we might probe the past.  Make order from the myriad wild and strange events that transpire over a lifetime.  Let go of the details that no longer serve.  Surrender to the truth of what remains.  Take refuge in the privilege of arrival at the dock: of art, of pattern, of understanding, of character. If this is the journey of sailing into the mystic, I’m a grateful passenger.

❤️Bella

The name Body Joy and I have had a tumultuous relationship.  That name came on a whim in 2005.  The sale of Dreizler Physical Therapy—name, logo, community standing —was imminent and I was suffering a hiccup moment.  An ego-busting realization that my so-called identity was soon to vanish.  I had no more than a fuzzy sense of what was next.  This domain name was free and felt like it proffered a ton of leeway. I took Body Joy and fashioned a logo to go with:

We walked into the county fair yesterday kids and grandkids in tow.  It was everything your senses can conjure up:  smell of corn dogs and human crowd-sweat, carnies barking above ferris wheel drone, duck races right next to Extreme Dog Tricks.  You get the picture.  We hunkered down into the damp fetid air of the animal barn.

Dreizler PT sold, I melted into refreshing incognito, released myself deeper and deeper into yoga and dance.  Taking all the precious time I needed at the end of my fifties to explore the broad story spectrum held in my body, your body, our bodies.  My dissatisfaction with the name Body Joy became increasingly vexatious with each passing year. There is body rage and body compassion and body fear and body love and body grief.  There is even body numb.  And so for quite some time I hated the domain name.  It felt too small, inaccurate, misleading.

At first there were the bunnies.  Angora soft sweet with their long ears laid back, noses aquiver, tender little paws. Right after the bunnies came the goats.  And I became lost in a sea of sensation.  My hands took on a life of their own, so drawn past the steel bars. I let those precious creatures sniffle my fingers and permit me the pleasure of scratching between emerging horns, stroking a cheek here, a rump there.  Feeling the mutuality.  The way this gentle caress provided the goat with pleasure and the way the feel of their fur and the observation of their response fed me back ten fold.  Body joy.
Over the last few years I’ve just let the name be what it is.  Its functional alliterative brevity is a safe harbor for the three services offered.  The newish logo—heart nested into a palm—settled me into it, since I know how a heart shelters the full spectrum of what we embody.

So it’s been interesting to feel myself kerplunked into the essence of Body Joy so clearly of late.  Octavia Raheem writes:

“Joy is an act of rebellion. And so is allowing ourselves to feel our grief.”

In the face of all we are being with right now cultivating joy is not a pleasant default.  Rather it feels revolutionary. Because joy and grief are two sides of the same coin.  A focus on pleasure and joy and laughter, the experience of reaching for the sky, this can free us, can allow us to fall back to earth and truly feel the rage and the fear and the sadness.  But if, in a misplaced sense of solidarity with tragedy, we let the depths of despair take joy as prisoner, we’re walking down a dangerous road.

When I came home I felt that same pleasure applying a thick coat of olive oil to my warm moist skin post- bath.  There it was as I snuggled down tween two clean sheets.  And there it was again rolling around on two soft release balls on the floor.  Before summer break, I’m teaching three more Wednesday nights at Clara June 1, 8, 15.  The  focus is on taking pleasure.  Taking: such a pro-active verb.  Not receiving, not seeking, not basking in.  Taking.  Because cultivating joy in this moment is an act of rebellion.  There will be music that invites us in taking pleasure in our god-given bodies in free form motion.  And in the break tween those two music waves some free form taking pleasure: the sensation of balls and rollers on skin. Just like petting those goats.  Maybe you feel called to join me in this act of rebellion.

❤️Bella

 

Perched poised at her manual typewriter Washington Square, NYC, 2022:

Personal Poem 4 U, by donation
How could I not?  She looked to be the same age I was Golden Gate Park, SF, 1969.  And the Square was alive with the exact same busting out energy.  She gave me this:
And so I sat, surrounded by utter chaos, and penned this:

Poetry for This Grand Little Life

The Square brims with life force,
all peeps called to this promenade.
Pollen & gratitude season the air.
Skateboarder    Tap dancer   Stroller nanny:
hanging out—ecstasy granted.
I see the old rambling folk, too.
And I know I am one.

Barefoot woman flows smearing
grey chalk on stark paper.
Rail thin black man
a punctuation in staccato shape.
Precise, fluid repetition, homage to the ancestral.

Hawkers for pre-rolls & edibles, everybody hustling.
Dark dudes toking, teenagers huddling.
It’s a show-your-tits replay,
a fashion mandate sparked by chimes of freedom.

Microcosm of the world
every hue & life span & he/she
gathered in the communal
celebrating congruent aliveness
to the beat of bass drum chi.

Each & every one of us wrenched
from hum-drum to Covid
two years wrestling with the norm.

And now…here…spring 2022
this desperate grasp for what used to be
side by side with ephemeral grace,
this present lightness,
this carpe diem wonder
moments fleeting as memory.

Each & every one of us
emerging, blinking, yearning
so dubious of what dormancy has incubated
so fucking ready to revel in it.

I put that pen down, carpe-diemed, danced to that band…the trombone was incredible, the place was on fire, if joy was edible you’d be stuffed with it.

Home today…already dipping into pungent memories of Manhattan, a city that has held my urban heart captive since I was a little kid.  Back just in time for Roll, Release, Align tomorrow at 10:00am.  Focused on where that heart lives—the rib cage.  Let your hands rest there a moment.  Feel the breath.  Feel the heartbeat.  Celebrate you aliveness.  Gabrielle energy was abundant in those city streets, so many memories of dancing right there. Sunday morning I’ll be playing tunes out in that garden: Sweat Your Prayers.  Always ready to move with the peeps in the pulse of this west coast urban heart.  Wednesday Waves is back live at Clara—five sessions of Taking More Pleasure before we break ’til September.

Let’s move together, create moments as fleeting as memory….❤️Bella

The smell of Grandma’s kitchen lives on in my cells.  The slope of her spine bending to peer in the oven. Her low drone hum as she mixed and bustled and served.  But despite being a grateful recipient of my own Mom’s inherited flair for cooking, I embarked upon adulthood with a specialty in chocolate chip cookies.  Only.  I remember calling home, scribbling marinara sauce details on a torn grocery bag. Which remained taped to the kitchen wall, often referred to as I floundered through that initiation year.  But apparently the cooking thing ran in my blood.  And when I’m fed by my son or daughter…well it is so gratifying to feel how it has been passed through.

When my mom died I inherited Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.  But I never cracked it open.  Too immersed in Diet for a Small Planet and Laurel’s Kitchen.  Who cared about soufflés and coq au vin and all that butter and cream?   I had no idea what a seminal influence Julia Child was until her screen story fascinated me.  First via Julie & Julia, then the documentary Julia and now the current HBO series also named Julia. Not to mention this always-gets-me-laughing 1978 Saturday Night Live parody by Dan Akroyd.

All kidding aside, in her late 30s, living in Paris, Julia Child experienced  “an opening up of the soul and spirit ” after a meal of oysters and sole meuniere and good French wine.  By the age of forty, squarely in mid-life, she graduated from the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.  Over the next few years she studied, taught cooking and partnered to create a cookbook that Americans could digest.  When her book was published in 1961 the typical American homemaker was caught in the thrall of convenience.

Canned tomato soup and lima beans, frozen Salisbury steak T.V. dinners and Swanson’s chicken pot pies, Wonder bread and Miracle Whip.  You get my drift.  I totally remember gagging on canned asparagus served with a dollop of Hellmans and canned pimentos.  These products were in my home right alongside that homemade marinara sauce and other delectables made from scratch.

Some would argue Child’s influence carried us from the non-chalance of 1950’s American cuisine to our current obsession with all things gourmet and local and organic and fusion.  I have eaten in many places around the world and always appreciate coming home to the freshness and inventiveness of California cuisine. It definitely was not like this fifty years ago.

In 1963 there was no such thing as a TV cooking show.  In fact Julia didn’t even own a television.   She just she had utter confidence in the concept, deep unshakeable knowing that it would prove to be the best way to connect with her audience.  She had to maneuver her way through a cadre of male doubters to manifest this belief.  She never waivered, even funded the first episodes herself.  As ground breaking as all this was, what really captivated me was the juxtaposition of her television show success with her stage of life.  When The French Chef finally hit the airwaves Julia was 51 and smack dab in the midst of hot flashing menopause.

The physical symptoms accompanying the “change” get way more airplay than the more subtle aspects.  A lifetime of biological programming to procreate and rear children does not go away with a shift in hormonal status.  For many, the spirit of creation re-invents itself.  The so-called empty nest can unleash inspiration that has been patiently or not so patiently waiting in the wings for it’s moment.

This was surely my experience.  I flailed for a couple years after kids left the nest.  Comfy home, good relationship, thriving business.  But all this sad poetry, a depressing dissatisfaction, a what’s-the-point attitude.  At the age of 52, in the most synchronous random fashion, I fell into the dance.  It was like a portal awaiting my entrance.  And though it was quite awhile before I realized it, chapter two had finally begun.  Without reservation, I danced my way through menopause, barely knew it was happening until it was over.  And with utter clarity, I sold that thriving business and started over.

So I am head over heels in love with Julia, rooting for her every step of the way in this series that does not complete until May 5.  I’m sure it helps that I absolutely adore creating just about anything in the kitchen.  But really, this is this story of a woman who goes all the way in the second half of her life.  I feel lifted on her wings.

❤️Bella

I laid in funky dread bed this morning, pulled comfort over my head, delayed the rise. Coffee/newspaper (see headlines above) just confirmed the everything-feels-broken sensibility.  And I’m old enough to know it has felt this bad before.  Hasn’t it?  And yet right here, right now, my feet covered in felted wool, nested into this oak hardwood.  My hips sunk deep into a red cushion, the miracle of light rain falling on this teeny urban acreage…breathing.  Still.

And ruminating on the value of my work in the world, when so many same-age friends have laid the work-a-day world to rest.  Beneath the covers I let myself bathe in memory.  And 2005 arose, the year I un-tethered from hard-core work, an attachment that captures so many of us in middle age. The sale of Dreizler Physical Therapy was imminent and I was seeking a name, an identity to facilitate a graceful pivot into what was next.

Except I really didn’t know what that was.  I only knew it was about healing, about bodies in motion, about dance, about yoga.  In a whimsical moment, without much thought, the name Body Joy was coined.  Despite the fact I’ve gone in and out of feeling it as a good descriptor, it has stuck as the umbrella name for three offerings: yoga, dance, physical therapy.

So it fascinates me that I’m back to the Joy part.  A respite, a re-fuel, a release from the everything-feels-broken sensibility.  Sacred moments to touch inside and feel our wholeness/holiness.  Revel in the glory of sensation, luxuriate in breath, take pleasure in the miracle of a body in motion.   We carry so much in our backpacks—personal, communal, global.  It’s heavy.  And each time we gather there’s an opportunity to leave those relentless burdens at the door—on the mat, the treatment table, the dance floor.

Those backpacks don’t go away.  We pick them right back up as we leave.  And sometimes, as they say on the airlines, the contents may have shifted during flight.  So here are ways you can shift the contents, participate in some body joy.   Take respite.  Re-fuel.  Luxuriate.  I’m gonna keep offering what I feel we need. Put your backpack down for a bit:

  • Wilbur Hot Springs  April 25-27:  Ninety minutes from Sac, I’ve been Wilbur soaking for years, always dreamed of teaching on the outdoor deck.  This is my second gig.   Rollers and balls come with me for Roll, Release, Align; mats already there for you.  Release is such a natural pairing with the hot soaks.  All class sessions included with your day pass or overnight stay.  Don’t wait; summer is heat/smoke season.  Class times      Wilbur day use/ overnight reservations

 

  • Taking Pleasure Wednesday Waves April 6, 13, 20, 27:  Seizing the moment to dance together indoors at Clara again.  Four sessions utterly dedicated to luxuriating in the pleasure of being in motion. This is an invitation to move toward ease, tenderness, softening…fun.  Pre-enroll in all four or drop in to any one.

 

  • Roll, Release, Align Friday mornings, on line:   The current chakra map exploration delivered me to this pleasure focus.  Really, this practice is so chakra 1 & 2 derivative.  An utter focus on the body, feeling weight, the affect of gravity, connection to earth AND noticing the juiciness, the entangled dance of sensation and emotion arising.  Loving the return to integrating more yin time in combination with uber-soft release.  Come feel.

 

  • Moving Outside April 14 & 21:  celebrate Spring’s emergence in a large garden on the Sacramento River. Grace of earth and sun, sky and wind; feel the lay of our unique home land.  Co-teaching with Judy Tretheway, proprietess of this property.  We go way back, two elders holding decades of embodied wisdom—Qigong, 5Rhythms, chakras, orienting, forest bathing—guiding a journey through dance, movement, connection and breath, moving with the great outdoors. Come feel.

 

  • Sweat Your Prayers Sunday mornings, live: There is just nothing else like this.  Over two years we have dance-pounded the earth into a natural floor.  Lately I’ve been barefoot out there and it is total pleasure.

So maybe you feel called to create some sacred moments, touch inside, feel your wholeness/holiness.  Leave those relentless burdens at the door.  You never know…the contents may shift during flight…..

💞Bella

Essentials: the body of work blending ball and roller release with core activation and stretching.  Body self-care that supports doing everything we care about.  It was named Essentials way before the emergence of pandemic-related essential workers and essential services.  And, exactly two years ago, in a moment of pandemic-induced fluidity, the name held as I pivoted to on-line sessions.

For two years now, nearly every Friday morning, from my home studio, alone together, we do the essentials.  In the last year I added a monthly live class on my backyard deck.  And I have my eyes on neighborhood space for maybe possibly tentatively semi-regular in person teaching.  See what I mean about pandemic-induced fluidity?

But this name—Essentials.  I know what it means.  Those who practice appreciate the meaning in the most embodied way.  But I’m feeling it’s time for a re-name. A title that calls it what it is.  Instead of one that leaves you wondering.  So here it is: Roll, Release, Align.  We roll to release.  And that release opens the door for strength and length.  And that, my friends, is what delivers optimal alignment.

Why alignment is crucial could be a whole ‘nother newsletter.  But you might just notice the relationship of your head and spine and hips as you read.  Your spine is so happy to rise straight up out of hips while your head floats effortlessly above.  That’s why we roll and release to align.

I’ve been up to this magic for a long time.  But how the magic happens is so fluid (that word again). A continual creation in progress.  Recently two new elements emerged big time: yin release and roller stability.  Two practices that share three intriguing qualities: fun, pleasure, stillness.  Because incorporating more fun, more pleasure, more stillness is exactly the medicine I need.  And I’ve always trusted my own sensibility to move the practice in uncharted directions.  Take a peek:

What’s new on the mat always magically manifests in dance and on the treatment table.  And vice versa; it’s an intimate triangle.  I have 30 of these soft 4 inch balls that I’ve slowly been incorporating in one-on-one treatment.  Especially for the more tender among us.  Wanna dance with them? Because they offer such immediate pleasure, we’ll use them a bit in Taking Pleasure, the upcoming Wednesday Waves mini-workshop at Clara.  You can pre-enroll to save/commit or drop in to any one session.  Take note.  April only, folks.  Stay fluid…total mystery about anything beyond April.  Seize this hopeful moment and move with us to explore all things pleasure.  And I’ll be up front this Sunday, live in the garden just in case your pleasure quotient needs max attention.

Fun, pleasure, stillness, magic…maybe it’s time to make a move toward.
❤️Bella