In the northern hemisphere, autumn waits in the wings.  I’m a big fan of markers that have been tracked by humans for millennia.  They connect to something enduring about the human experience. Throughout time, fascination with the sun’s trajectory has connected us. The elegant way our year seasonally divvies up is a communal observation. Right now, all our sensitive bones feel the progressive dim of morning, the glow slip-sliding away so quickly after dinner.

September 23, the fall equinox, marks the actual tipping point, perfect balance between light and dark.  When sunrise to sunset is exactly half-way from riding June long and high in the sky to December’s low and much abbreviated trek.  This is a time of transition from yang active, sun-filled summer days to the yin moon of winter hibernation.  I’m grateful for these three months of letting go.  I take instruction from the shedding trees.

Equinox, equanimity, equilibrium…a season that, by it’s very nature, demonstrates balance.  Something to feel seated right here, rocking right to feel the heaviness and then rocking left.  If you’re like most, the two sides feel a bit different.  Totally normal.  But we can all find the middle.  Equinox, equanimity, equilibrium…that place of balance.

Balance was the topic this week when I went to buy some new walking shoes.  Who else remembers when Sally Edwards opened the first Fleet Feet in that well-worn Victorian house on J Street in Sacramento in 1976?  I was an early customer, so happy that someone was interested in foot health.  Hoo boy, they’ve gone all high tech lately.  Not only do you need an appointment to buy shoes, you receive this whole techno-evaluation of your feet.

This graphic shows what I already know.  I bear more weight on my right foot.  See above about totally normal.  I did love that Shoe Guy was impressed with my low level of asymmetry.  Testament to yoga practice, I suppose.  But here’s the interesting part.  I told him I want shoes with the LEAST support.  He looked askance.  I want shoes that allow me to feel the ground under my foot.  He asked why.  I want shoes that invite my feet to be fluid and strong while offering the least protection possible from harsh pavement or detritus underfoot.

I looked around at walls covered with heavy duty footwear.  The first three pair he offered were like vise grips with two inch plastic soles. He saw my dismay as well as the old pair I had dutifully brought with me and went deep in the back to find this “trail runner”.  Yes!  Love my new shoes.

Shoe Guy is entering medical school this year.  He asked some good questions and most of what I said was antithetical to his Fleet Feet orientation.  The bulk on display is absolutely perfect for customers with foot pain.  People who need support to make it through their weight-bearing day.  But if we have healthy feet and we cloak them in massive support, our feet become weak and inflexible.  I do not like to see us going down this rabbit hole.  Take notice!

If we have foot pain, proper support is important.  And it is often possible to do a bit of self care to re-gain our birth right of fluid strong feet.  Slowly move to less and less shoe support.  Put foot pain behind us.  After all, there are barefoot Kenyans who run across the savannah for miles on normal balanced human feet.  I love feet.  If you love yours and any of this touches you I’m physical therapy right here.  I still get this inquiry: no, I’m not retired.  I see one or two patients a day and absolutely love my work.

Equinox, equanimity, equilibrium…a season that, by it’s very nature, demonstrates balance.  I’ve been repeating this mantra often the last couple weeks, aspiring to this level of equanimity:

Thank you for everything.
I have no complaints whatsoever.

And that is all for today….❤️Bella

This morning I set out on my morning walk and, for the first time since my fall 7 weeks ago, I chose the path leading me right to The Spot.  See ominous picture above.  I willed myself to purposefully breathe.  Slowly.  So I could feel.  The cramp in the pit of my belly.  The catch in my throat.  The ramp of my pulse.  The way those very sensations translated in my heart. Intense dread. Panic tinged with a whiff of shame. This is the visceral route trauma travels to store memory in tissue.  For each and every one of us.  In the direct face of the evoked memory, how natural it feels to stop breathing.  Or turn away.  Or speed up. In order not to feel.

So I stayed with, decelerated on purpose.  Because feeling happens when we slow down to the pace of the body, which is generally slower than the pace of the mind. Feeling happens when we allow the internal experience to bubble into awareness.  There is a virtual buffet of embodiment tools to ramp up our ability to tune inward, to foster this ability.  But immediately accessible in the moment to anyone willing to pay attention is the breath. We often breathe at the slap-dash pace of our minds. Or hardly at all. When we attune to our breath our bodies gratefully respond by slowing down. When we attend to our breath we touch the raw material of the internal landscape.

And we simply have to sense what’s going on in there, feel the “issues in the tissues” (thank you Ida Rolf), before we can hope to loosen their grip.  So I’m keeping a regular slow-down-and-breathe appointment with my holy sidewalk shrine.  Having a little shake out in response to what arises.   Wondering how long it will be before I might experience neutral presence with this simple crack in the concrete.  I’ll let you know!

Just yesterday I saw a new patient with a long history of body trauma, especially in the feet, knees and hips.  Together, we talked and moved and touched and breathed.   But it wasn’t until we journeyed into belly depths that some of the emotion connected with the cumulative physical trauma began to surface.  This is such sacred work.  It amazes me how few therapists are willing to plumb the belly depths.

Here’s a simple invitation if you feel ready.  Lay comfortably on your back, knees and hips bent.  Let your soft gentle hands explore all the spaces between the bottom of the rib cage and the top of the pubic bone.  Breathe slowly.  Feel.  Gently massage in circles.  Spirals.  Zig-zags.  Go to whatever depth feels nourishing.  Give thanks for the organs that keep life force moving through you 24/7.  Greet the psoas down at the bottom, spanning the length from rib cage to pelvis.  Two hefty loins snuggling up to your lumbar spine.  Psoas—our first responder under stress.  Psoas—major storage locker for trauma.  Psoas—ready for gentle exploration and release.  In all of us.  Truly.

Well, that’s my share for today.  Tonight, after our long summer break, we begin again: Wednesday Waves.  I’m showing up with some music and a simple prayer.  That we leave our worldly expertise at the door.  Assume nobody on that dance floor knows anything…especially me.  That we slow down to the pace of the body…and just see what arises.  What does it mean to begin again?

🙏🏼 Bella

The phrase “loose, long and strong” emerged toward the end of my clinic days, a catchy descriptor for teaching patients how to follow through with healing movement at home.  Twenty-five years down the road it still fits for what I’m up to.  In fact, the perfection of it totally guides rehab of my left arm.  Six weeks now and well on its way.

LOOSE needs to come first…always.  It’s a common and risky mistake to dive into strength too soon.  Over the first few days I gingerly stroked and gently probed the intricate hand and the two long bones of the forearm: fascia and muscles and joints.  I massaged the bony elbow and all that connected it to the shoulder. Each day the sensory experience signaled the safe depth at which to work. Deeper here, shallow here, back off and wait a bit here.  A miracle in motion, feeling release and witnessing change every day.

In about a week, after a LOOSE session, I slowly explore LONG. How much can I open and reach fingers?  How does it feel to move toward a fist?  What’s possible in this wrist so achy stiff?  I can turn palm down but up is another story.  Elbow bends some, squishy at end range.  But it will not straighten, feels blocked. Shoulder creaky every which way.  Active range of motion each joint with holds at the edgy end range.  But save me from just the mechanics!   Lots of flowing motion with both arms.  Dancing signals to the nervous system that it is okay to gradually move out of protective mode and into the joy of fluidity.

In the last couple weeks, naturally I move into STRONG.  After a LOOSE & LONG session, plank is my edge.  Excited to slowly weight bear with this tender arm.  I stand at the wall, encourage left hand to copy the brilliant instinct of right hand, make full contact, extend wrist and elbow mindfully.  It takes all my concentration.  Challenging!  On hands and knees I now can take 50% weight on left.  Elbow still not completely straight. In the STRONG department, most gratifying are my functional gains.  Life takes power!  Camping, cooking, laundry, garden, driving, holding a book, typing, opening the blinds—well, just about everything. This week I held a pan in left hand and turned it enough to empty contents onto a plate.  Almost.

A shout out to three other critical supports for this healing.  Yes…I am seeing a physical therapist and massage therapist.  They are fabulous! And of course, there is the breath.  None of this comes together without it.  So synchronous how resonant breath  awareness landed concurrent with my sidewalk sprawl. Exhaling to release and to focus power; inhaling to lengthen.  And finally, add to this, no pause in caring for my whole/holy body.  Circulation is crucial for healing.  Rollers, balls, stretch to release areas injured and those not.  Core toning that flows right from my center into left arm.  On the regular, rhythmic full body engagement—walking, dancing, hiking.

If you feel a bit geeky curious about LOOSE, LONG, STRONG, check out this new triplet video , a visual of all of the above.  This is how I work.  On my own injury, on yours.  No difference if it’s a shoulder, neck, low back, hip, knee, ankle.  First we find what’s tight and release it.  After that we move on to power and fluidity.

And if you think I’m not working because of this injury…hah!   I guess you don’t know me.  I’m fully in action. Having fun with my inventive work arounds and joyful with my daily gains.  Moments like this are an amazing boost in compassionate empathy—for me, for you, for us.  Embodied reminders of our shared humanity, our basic goodness.  There is so much suffering in the world.  And there is so much ease and pleasure available in the healing process.  I’m on a mission to provide just that: ease and pleasure in healing.

Let’s get together.

First, perhaps, an update.  Three weeks since the sidewalk sprawl and healing is some kinda miracle in motion. There’s still sharp pain moving certain ways, end of day ache. Using a splint on/off because I can feel how immobility makes it worse.  Gentle movement in all available pain free range as my skilled right hand treats the fascial binding ‘tween the two long forearm bones.  Learning so much first hand!  Elbow to fingertips is a non-weight bearing version of knee to toes.  In this past week healing has included creative single-handed camping AND total immersion in breath.    Breath…that’s what I really want to write about today.

Interesting factoid: we inhale and exhale 25,000 times daily.  Give or take.  Despite this constant practice, by the time we’re 50, most of us lose 12% of our lung capacity.  The news gets worse: decline hastens with age, women fare worse than men.  By 80 we take in 30% less air than we did in our 20’s.  This is why we see some elders breathing fast and hard.  Mega-evidence links this habitual change to a host of issues like high blood pressure, immune disorders and anxiety. This factoid came from James Nestor’s 2020 book  Breath: the new science of a lost art.  I’ve literally inhaled this book. More about this extraordinary pulmonaut later.

So what’s a body to do?  Well, the good news is we can absolutely change our breath habits. Bonus: it takes no extra time.  I am all about the movement of breath and how it informs a body in motion.  Integrating this new/old information is bound to define the next chapter of my life—teaching, treating, living.  Synthesis happens when we spiral back to old ways of understanding and weave in the new.  It’s how I fly.   Like in 2015, when my left hip met a book by Donna Farhi and I spiraled back into all things psoas.

I had already been down that psoas rabbit hole (more than once) but it was new to consider asymmetry in these tender loins.  Old ways of conceptualizing merged with the new.  I had to explore this first in my own body.  And then, through years of seeing feeling listening, your body.  Psoas took me on a pilgrimage with many side roads through the nervous system, stress, emotion, diaphragm…breath.

Eight focused years delivers integration, perhaps even some mastery.  And I certainly was not scanning the horizon for The Next Thing, just minding my own business.  But it came in book form again.  Just like in 2015.  The author of Breath, James Nestor is an intrepid investigator after my own heart.  He calls himself, and a few others on the planet, pulmonauts.  For a decade he travelled the globe personally immersed in a multitude of breath practices while he researched and synthesized current science with ancient wisdom.   Want to be fascinated with this thing you do 25,000 times a day? The book is a quick 230 page read.  You will be inspired.  I promise.

I’m writing this missive on my last day of a week of camping.  I had nothing to do but fall down this book rabbit hole and breathe.  The illuminating fusion of old/new information is filtering into my practice.  No doubt it will find its way into my work in the world.  It’s how I fly.

Sample health-changing tidbit:  your nose is super-important. Nostrils are the optimal entry way for breath.  Some of us mouth-breathe 24/7.  Some mouth-breathe with speaking or exertion.  Some mouth-breathe at night (think snoring and sleep apnea).  This habit completely wreaks havoc with our blood chemistry.  There are many interventions, but it starts with just noticing.  It may or may not apply to you.  If it does, proceed very slowly, gently making a shift to nose breathing when possible.

One more tidbit.  We breathe too much.  Also a blood chemistry havoc-wreaker.  Optimal breathing is 5.5 seconds in, 5.5 seconds out.  Resonant breathing is a great practice at any moment.  The ancients knew it.  Om mani padme hum is chanted precisely with this timing: twice for the inhale, twice for the exhale.  Start simply: same count for in and out.  Then gently start to lengthen the count.  Get your stopwatch out after awhile and see if you can nail it.  Personal testimony: I’m feeling some subtle and not so subtle changes, hard to put in words.  I’m gratefully sliding down this rabbit hole.

If you’ve been with me, you already know how movement of breath and how it informs a body in motion is integral to my teaching and physical therapy.  I just want you to know that this marriage of breath and movement is under expansion.  If you want to feel this in connection with your dance, I’ll be leading at South Yuba Club, Grass Valley this Sunday August 13, 10:00-noon. I’ll be a student with you at Release and Realign this Friday and next, guided by Jeanne Munoz.  My turn to teach is Friday August 25. Come feel something new in your yoga breath.  Wondering about 5Rhythms at Clara?  Wednesday Waves and Sweat Your Prayers are on our traditional August sabbatical.   We begin again September 6.

Rumi says “there is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted…then, there’s another way: a breath of love that takes you all the way to infinity.”  I really think he was on to something.


One moment: upright human being out for early morning walk.  Next moment: pathetic creature sprawled on sidewalk.  Just like that.  One more lesson (as if needed) on how change happens lickety-split.  I lay there, a ball of woe, gathering my wits along with the self-esteem splattered on the concrete.  A week later, still bruised and tender sore in multiple places, I’m healing.  It’s what happens.  Over the top gratitude.  A navigable left wrist sprain…could have been otherwise.

I’m not traditionally religious, but I do believe in forces greater than just little me.  A super-power presides behind the scenes providing just what I need.  Often not what I want.  I’ve treated my share of wrist sprains but never had first hand (pun intended) wisdom opportunity like this.  I was gifted not only the physical experience but also two divinely pre-arranged schemes to escort me on to the path to healing.

First, three dance days to slow explore my altered body in motion and shake out the shock/trauma of the tumble.  Lucia Horan’s guidance was stellar.  She’ll be back for Heartbeat October 27-29.  Don’t miss it!  And then, on the heels of dance, three slated Harbin days directly following.  Dedicated quiet time for initial healing, moving in and with hot/cold water immersion, releasing with balls and rollers, the skill of my good right hand massaging affected areas on the left.  I’ll be back at Harbin for 5Rhythms and Roll & Release Sept 24 & 25.

Harbin always provides lots of precious down time with all the pursuant gifts.  As I sweet-talked my body, I found myself reflecting on the name Body Joy.  A name that arose in 2005, anticipating a shift in the way I would be working. In the letting go wake of Dreizler Physical Therapy, I felt the accumulated years of treating patients troubled with chronic, often severe, injuries.  Many of them stuck in endless cycles of suffering.  The name Body Joy erupted spontaneously.  An intuitive hit, a call to pivot.

Interestingly enough, in no time, I knew it was the wrong name.  Needless to say, fostering embodiment, even in radically different ways, opens the door for so much more to arise than joy.  The full spectrum of emotion is stored in our tissues.  Went through a long spell wishing I’d named it Body Wisdom or Medicine in Motion or anything other than pigeon-holed Body Joy.

Twenty years down the road maybe I’m coming back around to it again.  More and more I invoke cultivating pleasure as the most natural way in.  How to appreciate the rainbow of internal sensations that well up as we flirt with our suffering edges.  How to bathe this juicy awareness in breath.  How to trust and follow an awakened intuitive guidance.  Suffering can deliver a big dose of presence.  And this is great joy.

What gets in our way is a tendency to avoid all feelings of discomfort.  But pain (any kind, not just physical) is an amazing teacher to turn toward, open the box, futz around inside.  I’m only finding three things in the pain box of this wrist sprain:

  1. Physical sensation: sharp zing if I turn my palm up or grasp.  Dull ache throughout the hand.  Stiffness if it’s immobile even a short while.  I could go on!
  2. A veritable carnival of emotions felt in the body but also experienced in the mind.  Fear ‘til I found there was no fracture, anger about not being careful enough, frustration about the timing, shame around falling (again!), worry about how to function one-handed.  And compassion for all of us hurting out there.   Curiosity (an emotion? a thought?) about how it will evolve.
  3. And then there’s the story.  Belly tightens when I call to mind the futile forward falling steps on the way down.  The memory of the impact.  The stumbling walk home.  The story has a past.  And the story has a future.  How long will this take?  What if it doesn’t fully heal?  How is this going to integrate with all the other issues in my tissues?  Add to this pile the mind-boggling analysis of X-rays and my too keen knowledge of carpal bones delicately nested up with radius and ulna. My obsessive measuring of available supination each day.

Look at all the stuff in this box!  The mind loves the pain story.  And then we get caught in our feelings about the story.  Can I let the story go for a moment—the past and the future and what I feel about all that.   If I can be here now, I know that right now it’s O.K.  Maybe not perfect but I can be with it.  So much of the baggage of the past and the worry about the future weigh down the present moment.  Not only am I not this pain, this pain actually changes all the time.

Impermanence is a fact…so keep on moving through.   And watch your step.  If you want a partner, a witness, a coach in unpacking that box….I am so here.

Last Sweat Your Prayers in Sacramento until September 10 is this Sunday.  Community pot luck follows at noon.  Come visit for a spell.  All is quiet for the month of August at Clara.  But I’ll do the Sweat in Grass Valley on August 13.  I’m out there one-handed teaching Release and Realign today Friday July 28 10:00am at Sacramento Yoga Center.  Come be inspired.  We continue this healing offering Friday mornings without a break.

And though it may not be exactly what you want, imagining you receiving just what you need.

Love, Bella

She described every detail of her right foot pain.  The way in 2020 it commenced in conjunction with the lockdown.  Which she dealt with by taking extraordinarily long neighborhood strolls.  Her right heel, with no specific injury, began to be painful seemingly out of nowhere.  Soon it was unbearable even to walk around the house.  She did a course of physical therapy and then saw a podiatrist.  To no avail.  Finally, in desperation, she turned to the internet and found a doc who recommended regular calf stretching.  And that was the first thing that gave her relief.  Mostly.

Key word, that “mostly”.  A classic example of “the body keeps the score” and she knew it. So she found me by word of mouth, motivated by a completely realistic fear.  Unless she stayed really careful, the foot pain might full force return at any time.  Who wants to live really careful?  Do you perhaps have any history of back pain or maybe hip pain, I inquired.  Well, yes, she said, glancing upward as if her whole history was projected above.  I suppose I’ve had about thirty years of aches and pains there.  Stiffness and tenderness.  Soreness, actually mainly on the right side.

This is the way it flies, peeps.  When the issue in the tissue is central—think spine, hips, shoulders—and it lingers and marinates over time, it tends to travel outward.  Sometimes it hitches a ride on the nervous system.  Sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, thoracic outlet ALWAYS partner with a central issue.  Other times our intelligent bodies harness the periphery for a compensatory strategy.  The interwoven fascia is a remarkable fabric perfect for this tactic.  And since we’re weight-bearing creatures, trouble in the spine and hips especially likes to manifest as knee, ankle and foot troubles.

After listening to her history, it was simple to identify what we call in the PT world an O/E, an objective exam finding.  Some move that duplicates the symptom.  The best ones are patient-generated as in “every time I do this, I feel it”.  She had a solid O/E for the foot. So after examining her low back and right hip and gathering a few central O/Es, it was time for hands on table work.

I already suspected exactly where there would be tightness in the right low back and hip.  Confirmed and so obviously not on the left.  After releasing this region, we re-checked the O/Es. Not only were the hip and back ones improved, the foot one was better as well.  Mind you, I took special care NOT to manually treat the foot…on purpose.  This result confirmed how important the central issues were.

From all this, we created and video-taped a 20 minute, most days, two week plan for releasing those tight central areas, leaving the foot alone.  We’ll see what happens.  Doesn’t mean we won’t treat the foot eventually. We just need to clear up those central issues first or her realistic fear of the pain returning will, in all likelihood, come to pass.

I chose to tell this particular story (with the patient’s permission) because it is so friggin’ common.  Often people come to me flummoxed about their particular symptoms.  We believe what we have is weirdly unique or rare or special.  I’m here to testify, at least with my self-selected population of the last twenty years, that is very far from the truth.  Every so often I see someone new and, upon completion, have to let them know their challenge is unusual.  We’ll give it a home program go for a couple weeks, but if NOTHING changes, we have not nailed a good working hypothesis.  Highly unusual to have this conversation…but it does happen.

Most of our suffering falls into predictable patterns.  If the nervous system has become entangled, it’s a bit trickier and slower to treat.  But there are dependable triage models for neural involvement.  If all this seems quite dry and scientific…well that’s because this piece of it is.  Thank goodness some things are fairly predictable!

But the physical in physical therapy is only one facet of the healing journey we take together.  Once we attune to the incredible sensation of release and how it unites with and is nourished by the breath.  Once we get curious about side-to-side differences in our body and become quiet enough for the internal brewing to surface.  Once we commit to a fairly regular, though sometimes humanly haphazard, home practice.  Well…anything is possible.

I have powerful personal stories of the way physical healing revealed the nature of festering soul wounds.  And how the body is often ready and willing to offer a portal for tending to spirit. I have my own rich experiences and have witnessed this time and again in others.  Grateful for this cellular intelligence.

I am never about fixing.  Because we really are quite perfect just the way we are.  I love that quote up top from Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi.  We may be perfect but the fact is that we all suffer.  And it might be possible to suffer less.  This alleviation creates a profound effect and not only for ourselves. When we feel good it ripples out to our inner circle of loved ones.  And that sets a goodness wave in motion out into the world.  Our own healing is the first step…and only the beginning.


For the umpteenth time I listened to a physical therapy tale of woe.  Just last week I heard the story again.  With variations on body part, it pretty much goes something like this:

“My shoulder started aching a year ago.  The doc prescribed an anti-inflammatory that helped some, but after three months, when I stopped taking it, the shoulder just kept getting worse. It got to where I couldn’t even lift a carton of milk into the fridge.  So the doc prescribed physical therapy.  The therapist gave me some rubber tubing and an exercise list to strengthen the shoulder weakness.  And he showed me how to crawl my fingers up the wall to loosen the stiffness.  I stopped going after four times because when I did the exercises it made my shoulder worse.  I am literally at my rope’s end with this shoulder.”

If you have had a less than optimal experience in the hands of a physical therapist…well, you are not alone.  I hear this story time and again.  It breaks my heart.  Because I know what is possible.  When I probe a little deeper, I often hear that the doctor never physically touched the patient.  And even more shocking, the therapist was pretty hands off as well.  Physical.  Therapy.  The name is so indicative.  How did we arrive in this sorry state of affairs?

Just a bit of historical perspective.  With a final three months of internship in three different practice settings, I graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy.  That stint of clinical training, mentored by the best, filled with literally hundreds of patients…well, that’s where the book learning integrated with reality.  Hands on.  Face to face.  There is no substitute.  I was “grandfathered” in the early 90’s when Master’s level became the educational requirement.  Shortly after that it upped to Doctorate.  That’s a lot of additional years and the bulk of that extra education shifted to research.  Evidence-based treatment became the buzz word.  So important.  Sorely needed.  And conducting research trials and writing dissertations is one way to evidence-base your work.

There’s another way evidence-based treatment emerges: hands on, face to face.  I’m owning this personal bias.  And maybe what follows is purely coincidence.  But I began to hear the dissatisfaction stories around the time I opened Dreizler Physical Therapy in 1990.  And man did I hear these stories. Because we became known in town as a kind of “last resort” clinic.  Not sure why.  But we had an awesome group of clinicians.  Not a one with a Masters.  And we provided the best of individualized hands on physical therapy.  I’m proud of the work we did there for fifteen years.  And grateful that since then I’ve fashioned a way to follow my bliss with integrity.  Evidence-based.  Hands on.  Face to face.

I’ve been honing how to make this information accessible for years and I’m excited to turn you on via  Tune Up: best physical therapy practices Hands on.  Face to face.  Your human body is a miracle in motion. Until it’s not. Injuries, genetics, habitual ways we sit, stand, work, sleep….life creates challenges. And these troubles compound as the years accumulate. This is the norm. Neck and shoulder, back and hip, knees and feet share very common and often easily treatable patterns of pain and dysfunction.  In these 3 upcoming Saturdays at Yoga Shala you can join me for a self-empowering series or drop in to any single session.

BYO rollers and balls and/or I’ll have some available for trial/purchase.  Here’s how it will roll from 12:00-2:00:

  • April 22  Foam Rolling: Release fascia in neck, shoulder, back, hip, legs. Introduction to core power. Stretch out tight lower body muscles.
  • April 29  Ball Rolling: Quick review foam rolling. Fascia release with soft balls and double tennis balls. Focus on release, tone, length, asymmetry of central psoas.
  • May 6  Tune Up: Foam roller and massage ball techniques to create a body loose, long and strong. Special focus on releases for ankle/foot challenges.

To capture a flavor of how this rolls join me for a one-off Sunday morning April 23.  Sweat Your Prayers begins at 10:00 but I’ll be ready for you at 9:30.  Music playing, balls and rollers out there at Clara.  Me?  Just offering up whatever you want, whatever feels needed before we get up on those precious feet and start moving.

Because your human body is a miracle in motion. Until it’s not.   I’m all about supporting you in that moment.   ❤️Bella

I up and quit my fresh from interning professional job after just 2 ½ years.  It was an absorbing chapter, sprawled on a floor mat, delivering therapy for youngsters shaped by cerebral palsy.  Wet behind the ears and guiding families in crisis.  Improvising solutions for the severely disabled in an under-staffed residential home.  Coordinating care with special ed teachers and advocating for kids in medical clinics.

One morning I woke up, felt my smoldering depletion, the depth of the bottom line of my chosen profession: being with people in pain.  And I grudgingly questioned this work as a life choice.  So in total youth innocence we dumped our few belongings in storage, plunked packs on our backs and pilgrim-ed 15,000 miles through the U.S. and Canada…without the benefit of a car.  Forging our newly adult selves in the raw cauldron of life on the road.

We returned to live in a VW bus outside a friend’s home and I waited tables at one of those 70’s fern and redwood restaurants.  Bringing people omlettes was the exact inverse of pain. Food delivery created so much happiness.  After six months, with a bit of perspective under my belt, I felt myself inextricably drawn back to physical therapy.  There was something there for me and I needed to find out what.

I’ve been dancing for decades with this unique destiny and after all this time, I’m clear that human existence includes chapters of pain. The challenge of living in a human body is overwhelming at times. It can be extreme. And in the midst of that extremity, despair can be so intense. These are moments when we are at our most tender, our most vulnerable.  When the human will to go on is challenged to the max.

And despair is not our only response; these can be moments of incredible courage.  Of tangible insight.  Of potent transformation.  This profession is not just about being with people in pain.  It’s about being with people in their stunning power-packed moments. Being a witness, breathing with, listening.  And, on occasion, touching softly the privilege of partnering in transformation.  This continues to be a powerful calling.  And I’m grateful that all those years ago I stepped back, took a deep look and consciously renewed my vows.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like we’ve all been extra aching lately.  I’ve been with so many beings experiencing a world of pain…physical pain that spills over into heart and soul, deeply.  I’m versed in that world, personally as well as professionally.  I know how the fire of loneliness is stoked as we watch everyone go about their days with casual ease, lost in the notion that surely no one else feels like this.  I’m here to gently remind us that we’re not alone.

I landed on the dance floor Sunday with all this working through me and turned it into a two minute invitation.  This is an invitation you might invoke when the sheer loneliness of it all comes to call.  But it does require one thing, which can be a big ask in those vulnerable moments.  It necessitates reaching out toward another.  We need each other.  We simply can’t do this alone.  We need someone willing to be with and breathe.  Someone capable of being in the presence of pain and not giving advice.  Someone who does not feel compelled to fix the hurt.

We mindfully created that exacting partner presence on Sunday. We let spill whatever was challenging.  Physical pain.  Or heartbreak.  Or mental anguish.  Questions about our soul suffering identity.  Our impatience with platitudes about trusting the unfolding mystery.  Two minutes total: verbally and then in movement. And then two minutes to simply be there for the other.  It took so very little time.  And it created so much potent healing.

I spend plenty of time alone these days.  And mostly I enjoy the company I keep.  But I shine differently as reflection.  Not only do we need each other, we are glorified by each other.  We simply cannot do this alone and really, why would we want to?


Evaluate and treat:  3 X a week for 6 weeks

So would read any number of prescriptions at the physical therapy clinic I owned.  The patient came in for assessment and then returned on the regular for hands on treatment and exercise progression.  Not unusual for this prescription to be renewed at least once.  Discharge was the ultimate goal, but there was no hurry.

This frequency was good for business, but over the years frustration was brewing underneath.  Increasingly I was present to the subtle way this frequency sabotaged the patient’s ability to take the reins of their own healing.  It felt like, for lack of a more tactful phrase, physical therapy babysitting.  And being a participant in this dynamic began to eat away at my soul.

So I sold that clinic and slowly, organically shifted to an entirely different business model.  In the fertile 3 year interim before I built the studio over my garage, I treated people on the fly, hauling my treatment table here and there.  The dual qualities of efficiency and agency began to intertwine and a more relevant way to provide health care emerged.   Both the patients and my soul thrived with this change.

Mostly I treat patients once or twice or thrice.  Our first consideration is to insure that commitment to healing is strong and, even more important, there is real excitement about taking the reins. What does that mean in practical terms?  To see me one-on-one there’s only one requirement: show up on your home mat twenty minutes most days for two weeks following that first visit and do the movements we phone video record.  That way, as you track shifts in your symptoms, we find out together if you’re on the right track.

Hands on follow-up visits are for progression, adjustment, modification.  And even when we arrive at a satisfying completion, things change over time.  People come back for tune-ups as needed.  A handful come for more frequent support: weekly for a bit or monthly.  Is this a lucrative business model?  Absolutely not.  Do I care?  No. There is such incredible freedom and honor and responsibility to be beyond that point in my life.

So let’s get a little more specific…..because it’s interesting how often our journey begins or eventually comes around to the psoas. Check this picture out:

Did you know they call this muscle the “first responder”?  Because in moments of perceived threat, the psoas comes on line to help you fight or run or maybe just freeze. Known as storage locker for stress and trauma, for me, in my medicine work, it holds the literal center. This Sunday afternoon I’ll be at Summer Moon Yoga for Centered: me & my psoasa two hour dive into the belly. A golden opportunity to go in there with expert guidance usually available only in one-on-one appointments.  A focused chance to feel, breathe, viscerally touch this place where gut instinct arises.  We have two tender loins (psoas’) and they differ from side to side.  Tending that difference is quite often a pivotal healing touchstone. Come with your curiosity, bring a roller if you have one.  I’ll have additional props and plenty of gentle wisdom to share.

If this is your time to take the reins I would be honored to be your coach and witness and biggest fan.  You inspire me every single day.


Dear Bella,

Oh those body tales of woe…our stories.  Myriad chapters spread over time.  My current troubles began as many do.  Insidiously.  Which the dictionary defines as “proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects.”  Right?  A shadowy ache in forearm, there one day, gone the next.  Elusive then lingering.  Lifting a full tea kettle: ouch.  Tenderness in elbow.  Not  debilitating, but unpleasant, worrisome.  And after wishing it away a bit too long, I deeply massage forearm and that definitely helps.  But right hand starts to complain about so much tedious work.

And then magic happens.  A déjà vu moment that’s regularly recurred in this life dedicated to treating body ailments…mine AND yours.  So I’m minding my own business, tennis ball rolling out my shins when the bulb lights up.  Shin.  Forearm.  Same!  Two parallel bones spanning knee and ankle just like the two bones that connect elbow and wrist.  In a posture of utter supplication, I roll the forearms just like the shins, cruise up into elbow and dig into triceps. Which are, of course, part of the drama.  Such a tearful moment: relief, gratitude, awe…all wrapped into one juicy sensory experience. Quick video:

Here’s the rest of the story.  A variation on this synchronicity has occurred countless times in my work.  The very next morning a young cello player comes to my studio with chronic left forearm pain.  We had work to do in her thoracic spine, scapula, rib cage.  It’s all connected.  But we finished the session with this very technique.  I kid you not.

I am not a traditionally religious person. But every so often I feel god working through me.  Bestowing me with ailments to feel into, move through. And then this gentle nudge to pass the healing magic on.  Is this forearm thing behind me yet?  Well, no.  Just like you I do the self-care I need and then get busy or neglectful or fate-tempting or downright stubborn.  Resistant to the obvious: this body needs consistent care and attention and love.  And then I come back.  Just like you.

It’s that coming back that I am here to support.  Read on a bit about these two juicy things if you want a leg up:

  • About Yoga: a triplet of free videos to inspire you. Pull out your mat and jump start your practice. New offerings on this page as the spirit moves me.  This triplet is to help you foster a rib cage loose, long and strong.
  • Release and Realign: we finally named this Friday morning drop in class that officially begins January 6.  But don’t wait…come out for the free class December 16 10:00 Clara and meet the “we”.

Who is this “we” of rotating teachers?  Kim Wagaman and I met in 2007 at Yoga Solution.  Her openness, attention to alignment and breath and balance and asymmetry, her sparky curiosity and sprinklings of poetry utterly moved me.  Ever since those early days we’ve been mining possibilities.  We’ve taught workshops together and went parallel online when Covid came to call.  Jeanne Munoz was in my teacher group at It’s All Yoga 2012.  As soon as we completed training we collaborated on a Friday night Roll & Release class.  Until she had twins and we had to take a pause.  We knew we’d be back together someday.   It was meant to be.  That day has finally come.

If you have a body tale of woe–a current story or multiple chapters spread over a lifetime, maybe something insidious that is proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, with harmful effects—I’m right here for you.  Did you know that back in my clinical era I used to see 12 patients a day?  That was hecka training.  Now?  One a day.  Love it.  Because it is so nourishing relaxed, focused and creative, spontaneous yet individualized.  So utterly uncompromised.  I adore this work.

No matter where we meet—on the dance floor, on the mat, on the treatment table—-please be welcome.  Join me for a tearful moment: relief, gratitude, awe…all wrapped into one juicy sensory experience.