Can you feel your precious feet on the floor?  The weight falling into heels.  Sensitive to the empty space in the dome of the arch.  Plump nesting ball of foot.  Each teeny earth contact point of ten toe pads. Being grounded in these trying times…so many ways to practice.  But you might start with your feet.  What do you feel right there, right now?

Our bodies speak to us in sensation.  Sometimes, in some body parts these sensations begin to inscribe sentences. Over time some of these sentences develop into chapters.  An entire story can become written in a particular region.  If you are human, most likely this experience has been yours.

I still remember my body composing a chapter in early 2007.  The sensation began so faintly, my foot gently aching from time to time.  You might know this one.  How a random ache develops into that first step out of bed being exquisitely painful.  Sensation that haunts every move, captivates your full attention.  When you begin to inquire, plantar fasciitis will be the most common response to “what is this?”  On the “how to get rid of it” front, many practitioners will focus on where the sensation is arising: the pain at foot bottom.  Seems logical enough.

I limped along with this developing story for a good long while, using my hands to massage the plantar fascia at foot bottom, meds, various supports, rest.  Finally went to a physical therapist specializing in foot treatment.  Did he treat the painful bottom of my foot?  No.  Instead he dug into my inner shin, breaking up some gnarly fascial binding.  I had no idea this lower leg tightness was causing the foot pain.

I followed up with my own posterior tibialis digging, a muscle that sends its tendons to foot bottom.  Plantar fascia is the surface cover over an extremely dense tendon region down there.  And those tendons originate from muscles in lower leg.  My recovery chapter began with releasing what had tightened.  Lately I’ve been calling the release self-care I teach the “gateway drug” because it temporarily relieves the pain.  For full healing, after establishing loose, the healing practice of long and strong are ready to move front and center.  Not only did I learn how to consistently loosen up tight tissue, I learned how to stretch it accurately and strengthen it as well.  This chapter had a happy ending.

Over the ensuing years I’ve treated many of your feet.  I love this work and through working with you one-on-one, general principles have emerged that apply to all of our feet. Maybe your foot hurts right now, maybe you’re AOK but this pesky foot thing periodically crops up, maybe you’re just curious about how to prevent this challenging and universal problem.

To that end, this Friday September 17 Essentials begins its new chapter—Foot, Knee, Hip.  The first two classes of this series will focus on our incredible feet and uber-connected lower leg.   Come get educated and inspired by yoga infused with self-care physical therapy sensibility. Those tootsies will love you for it.

Love, Bella

 

The picture up top?  For seven days, my reality.  And now I’m back.  There is smoke.  There is Covid.  There is drought.  There is Afghanistan.  There are hurricanes.  There is loss upon loss upon loss.  My first day back felt disastrous, overwhelming.  I wondered if the time away was worth the onslaught of return. And I wonder how we continue to move through each day with a modicum of grace.

This morning it feels possible once more.  For now.  It comforts me lately to reflect on a vision of some great power in charge of The Big Plan. Holding the infant that I was in 1950 and saying, “This one. This one I am preparing for 2020.”  Because lately it feels as if the ensuing decades, regularly dosed as they were with ample suffering, were perfectly crafted to deliver me to be with these times.

And also to be with you and hold space for you in these times. The clarity I am blessed with around this calling startles me in its spontaneous arising, its unbroken feeling of connectedness.  This deep well of resonant responsive reciprocity.  And so offerings that invite us to stay present continue to unfold.  It is what I know how to do.  And some days it is the only thing I am clear about.

ESSENTIALS

I want to welcome you to this world if you have yet to dive in.  Twenty minutes on your mat to breathe, roll, tone and stretch can create huge change.  And ninety minutes weekly supports you in that personal practice.  You can do that on Friday mornings at 10:00 or you can dive into the evolving  Video Library.  Calendar Saturday October 2 10:00-noon for a slow moving  introduction to the basics.

I am also holding small, outdoor in person classes for the vaccinated. Frequent pivoting required—stay tuned! If that is of interest to you and/or you have an outdoor space that would support a small class, please drop me a line in reply.

5RHYTHMS:

For many of us, the medicine we receive from dancing is vital and potent.  Majica Alba and I continue to wind our way through the morass of how to safely and effectively offer.  If this territory is unfamiliar, you may take a peek here.

We dance every Sunday from 10:00-noon, on-line AND in person (vaccinated). This also has required frequent pivoting; stay tuned. Please reply if you wish to receive Saturday updates regarding the in person offering—weather sometimes calls the shots on this beautiful two acres.

For the month of September we return to Clara on Wednesday nights 6:30-8:30.  Ready for the crazy details? All east doors open, masked, vaccinated only, limited participation for optimal physical distancing.  This tells you how much we love our dance medicine!

PHYSICAL THERAPY

It is so good to be with you again up in my studio.  And I will continue to see you on Zoom if you are not in this geography or for any reason unable to safely be seen in person.  Our time together is dedicated to those specific unique-to-you body challenges.  You know.  That achey back, troublesome shoulder, ever present hip, undependable knee, persistent foot, tense neck.  You get the drift.  If you are willing to spend twenty minutes on your mat most days, I’m your practitioner.  Our collaboration moves from assessment to hands on treatment to home self care instruction, supported by our video creation.

The Big Plan is relentless…and so is this unbroken feeling of connectedness.  Feeling you out there….❤️Bella

 

Ever had shoulder pain?  No???  You are lucky and very unusual.  I totally remember my first bout.  Scooping really hard ice cream at a school fundraiser, this giant container of vanilla, the table way too high for a short gal like me.  Feel that?  But I was fine doling it out for a couple hours.  It wasn’t until the next day I noticed a dull ache about three inches south of the shoulder joint.  Classic.  And so began my personal introduction to rotator cuff dysfunction.

Way different than learning about it in a textbook, for sure.  But that’s how it’s been in my lifetime. I am the living result of a very active existence moving with a multitude of illuminating misfortunes.  A recipient of the inside story on body aches and challenges.  Ranging from the annoying to the severe.  Low back and hip and neck pain, nerve impingement, foot and knee difficulties, tennis elbow, ankle sprain, patellar fracture, scoliosis, forearm/thumb irritation.  Don’t get me started.

My rotator cuff chapter lasted on and off for a decade. In fact, the somatic memory of it is still with me, awakened because I’ve comfort-inducing-slept on my right side too much lately.  I did not learn what I needed to know about the necessary rehab and management from books or, sad to say, going for physical therapy.  There is such an emphasis in current clinical practice on strengthening and range of motion.  The ubiquitous “fingers up the wall” and the predictable tubing external rotation is still the all too common prescription.  A treatment that can actually be extremely irritating.  I’m sorry if this sounds familiar to you.

On my own, I waded through deep study of the anatomical mechanics and ongoing trial and error and observation.  I kept my sights on what was tight and needing release. I experimented my way to creating subtle stability, gained proficiency in shoulder taping. I had a couple cortisone injections.  Only then, gradually and respectfully, could strength and range of motion be added in.  My healing scenario of three steps forward and two steps back was the same frustrating roller coaster I coach every one else through.

Combine the shoulder’s amazing range of movement, the demands we continually place on it  and the delicate way it is pieced together…well, it’s amazing it functions well at all.   If you are super-curious, this video will answer all your geeky questions about the mechanics of the fascinating shoulder complex.

In Thursday and Friday Essentials this week we play in this deep shoulder field.  We always start with a little slide show of the territory.  The imagination is so powerful in healing.  We release the entire spine, shoulder blades, legs and organ body and then dive into creating subtle core stability.  Warrior 2 will be the perfect simple pose to feel the way the rotator cuff gently cinches the ball of the humerus into the shallow socket of the scapula.  To feel the way the gentle cinching is supported by the release and stability we have awakened in our earlier practice.  We’ve added the use of blocks and access to a wall to our practice.  Don’t have yet?  I always offer alternatives.

On Saturday, in once a month Essential Recharge we coast through the territory covered in February.  Feel the heart basket in its entirety: thoracic vertebrae, ribs and sternum, heart and lungs and diaphragm, the deep musculature that creates movement.  Recharge is for you if you’ve never experienced Essentials.  And it’s totally for you if you want a luxurious slow ride through how to be loose, long and strong.

My second vaccine is this Sunday.  Which means I will finally be available for in person physical therapy visits in my East Sac studio.  Transmission is still an open question, so unless you have been vaccinated, double masking for both of us will be required.  I will continue on Zoom probably as long as I remain in practice.  It has been amazing to see many of you beyond the bounds of my local geography.  It has limitations that the advantages far outweigh.

The shoulders…we can sometimes feel as if we carry the weight of the world there.  It’s been said that it’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it. True that.  Let’s learn to carry with ease…❤️Bella

I’m totally indifferent to any debate about science validity.  For me, it’s a given.  Neil Tyson said, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe it.” Totally resonate.  Given the fact that science just is, what intrigues me is it’s intersection with the sacred.  The co-mingle of science and magic.   The marriage of science and art.

Perhaps this possibility, this mysterious sense of magic, paved the way for politically-motivated individuals to cast this recent science-doubt-spell.  In this time of critical national need, when the very best public health can offer is desperately required, so alarming to feel the practice of medicine compromised.  It was heartening this week to hear Dr. Fauci, longtime head of NIH, address the dangerous partisan games played at the upper levels of CDC.  Shocking.

Religion is a culture of faith.
Science is a culture of doubt.
Richard Feyman, physicist

Science is born of a fertile imagination, from the depths of mystery. Curiosity hypothesizes.  Comfort with the unknown is the first step to evidence-based research and treatment. I grew up steeped in this fusion of the known and the unknown, literally dancing my way through childhood in the home of a scientist father.  Who also loved to dance, by the way.  My fluid body in motion has always been my preferred artistic way of being in the mystery.  But science knocked on my little girl door via the written word and I fell headlong into the medicine world of Clara Barton, nurse.

The life sciences and healing took hold of my mystic moving body and disciplined me. Kept asking me to meld matter and spirit. Find ways to negotiate between reason and intuition.  Look for common ground between logic and wonder, determination and destiny.  I’m still at it.

Medicine is a fusion field.  Many patients expect or would like it to be pure science-based.  Some practitioners pretend that it is.  Case in point: this week I treated a patient in Chicago with recent onset heel pain.  Yes, I’m still working on Zoom, vaccination end of this week!  It was science that taught me the route of the sciatic nerve, how to stress it, how to hypothesize heel pain originating in spine.  But it was artistic intuition guiding me to create ways to release the hold this neural tension had on her body and spirit.  Science teaches me about the inner workings of body.  It is the ground my work rests upon.  But facts and data will never be enough to shape the warm fertile field in which healing happens.

Inviting you to be in that warm fertile field 10:00am this week: Thursday, Friday or Saturday. What’s the diff  ‘tween Thursday’s Basic and Friday’s Deep Essentials? We always roll and release, power tone and stretch.  They’re interchangeable.  Deep is 15 extra minutes, time for a bit more classic yoga asana.  Saturday’s Essential Recharge is two hours, once a month for students who want to deepen and new students who want introduction.  This week the science guides us through the organ body, the vital biological structures that keep us ticking. And the magic happens when we feel the energetic space between heart basket and pelvic bowl, stay present with our breath and welcome insights that percolate through our soul and enliven our spirit.

Closing with Albert Einstein, wizard of magical science, who said: Science without religion is lame.  Religion without science is blind.
 
Loving being in the mystery with you….bella

On my way to an inquiry about fully inhabiting the power of being, I was kidnapped by the word fluency. I’ve taught classes aplenty on the rhythm of flow.  I wanted another way in, a quality more all encompassing than feminine, circles, receptive, earth, interior, dark, inhale, continuous, weighted.  I kept obsessing on the word fluency, felt like a somatic expression of the power of being.  A being deeply in touch with their internal weather—breath, sensation, shifty feelings, looping thoughts—and fluently able to enter the external, the slipstream of human and earth events. You’ve seen beings in full possession of this quality.  They confidently glide through any space they occupy, 360 degree aware of the full surround. Fluent.

This delivered me to fluency in language.  Which is the ability to both express AND understand. And this notion transported me to influence.  I had us partner on the dance floor.  From the power of our own being, one person influential, the other being influenced.  A conversation.  Fluency is essential for true give and take dialogue. In this process our bodies grasped something sorely needed in this crazy polarized culture.  The ability to be influenced or be influential depends with whom you are talking these days.

This personal love affair with words was mined a couple days ago by Holly Holt , friend and fellow teacher.  She’s passionate about writing and is all about fostering the writer in us all.  To help meet that vision, she’s talking to women who write.  Women who cannot help but write.   I agreed to the interview because I adore that mission and 100% support her in it.  But I also knew there might be some pearls from this guided conversation.  I was not disappointed.

My first poem was penned at age seven, a plea to the tooth fairy. A poem that initiated a lifelong stream of verse.   And there was that diary I kept from eight to eighteen, relinquished to the trash bin in a raging fit of embarrassment.  Sigh.  And forty years of journals dating from 1970. A woman who cannot help but write. In 2005 I started this newsletter as an informational communication of my offerings as I transitioned from clinical practice to brave worlds unknown.

But toward the end of 2011 those private journal entries ceased. I must have sensed that lodged in all that off-the-record vulnerability there were musings to reach an audience I cared about.  This crossover to more personal disclosure was never a conscious decision, just a slow roll over. Didn’t start saving posts until 2013.  I just finished categorizing some of them for the new web site in Recent Revelations.

But the interview set me to wondering. Has my writing changed, lost its candor through its link to my public work in the world?  Has utilizing my writing to beat the drum about my work altered it?  In some weird way this question relates to my soup restaurant dream. Will monetizing my love of cooking change how I feel about being in the kitchen? The interview floated me all around this question and also showed me how tightly woven word love and embodied practice are confluent in me. Confluent.  Love of word, love of body…inseparable.

This age old word love of mine.  Its inextricable tie to embodiment.  This compulsion to pour sensation, feeling and thought into the written form. The revelations that come down the pike as word meets movement, as movement meets word.  Language interwoven with bones and breath and blood.  I’m dropping the worry about my writing being adversely affected.  Of course it’s impacted.  And that’s a good thing.

My private journaling was always about documenting experience and exploring what I was feeling.  I needed to write to know.  This here?  Same.  Except that because you are out there reading, the writing adventure is amplified, deepened, enriched.  Thank you for that.

I absolutely adored being with you last Saturday to trial run Dance Essentials: roll, dance stretch.  So much so that it’s re-scheduled for December 12.  If you have yet to enter the world of Essentials, this coming Saturday is perfect: a slow two hour cruise through release, tone, stretch.  Opportunity to feel so much…including fluent.

Love, Bella

P.S.  An inquiry about foot pain motivated the short video below.  Physical therapy via Zoom works amazingly well to address this oh so common challenge.  Don’t suffer with that one! Let’s do it.

Been thinking about resiliency.  The way we desperately need it right now.  What it takes to build it.  This gratitude-filled surprise to feel the most resilient I’ve ever felt in my life.  I kid you not.  Curious musing here about why that might be, starting with the dictionary definition.
 
Resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness; the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape
 
Maybe this ability to recover quickly builds (or not) through negotiating the challenges and trials of childhood and young adulthood.  In middle age some of us tap that resilience reservoir and buckle down, get with the program.  Me?  I took the traditional road.  Before I could snap my fingers, I was immersed in the traditional trappings of mid-life: discovering how to live in a marriage, stumbling and fumbling through parenthood, signing my life away to a thirty year mortgage, negotiating career moves that morphed to entrepreneur-ship.  In retrospect all that doing looks daunting.  In the midst, I just kept moving through, deeply tapping reserves I didn’t even know had accumulated.
 
Perhaps resiliency multiplies in response to being mined.  Anyway, making it all the way to now wasn’t just resiliency; I had a ton of luck and an equal amount of privilege delivering me past the bounds of middle age.  It surprises me every day to be here.  And in this current crisis, the huge demands of middle age are magnified while ease is expanded for some elders.  I put myself in that category.

Still, when someone asks how I’m doing, what it’s like for me these crazy days, my answer depends on the moment.  If they really want to know, if they have a bit of time, I speak a truth full of ups and downs, suffering and freedom, struggle and surrender, anguish and surprise. To live in this chaos, to be present with this level of unknown, can exhaust us.

If you’re more tired than usual, you’re totally normal.  Our nervous systems are pushed beyond their comfort zones.  I’ve had my share of weariness.  But these months have been illuminating my ability to lean into a deep well of personal resilience.  A reserve built over a lifetime, and not just through the sheer act of making it through.  There is something more: the way I’ve consistently cared for myself over time is serving up a wallop of endurance, a stamina that feels uber-essential for survival in this chaos.

This Saturday’s Essential Recharge offers a practice for building resilience.  All these “R” words keep tumbling out of what’s in store for us in two hours of Recharge:
Reflexes: instinctual response to the moment, heightened with practice
Resilience: built through finding balance between power and fluidity
Release: step one, key to unleashing all that power and fluidity
Resourced: by the dynamic duo of subtle strength and soft surrender
Reverence: connecting us to a greater power than our own
 
Two hours to gently receive an introduction/refresh of all the essentials.  You choose how to follow up at home with access to real-time recording.  Bits and pieces you can dive into in the privacy of your home, on your timeline.  Here’s a quick YouTube video-shot of the territory we’ll cover on Saturday. 

If all this intrigues you and you want additional support, on-line classes begin again every Thursday and Friday morning starting September 17.  And I’m listening.  You have been talking to me, telling me the positive effects you are feeling from this practice.  Wow…who knew resiliency could feel this good.
 
Come feel with me…..❤️Bella
 
P.S.  Link to pre-enroll/donate for Essential Recharge is at the bottom of this page: Yoga On-Line.
 
 

There’s a narrow plot south side of my studio, the only remaining place receiving full sun in a yard purposefully forested over the decades.  Twice a year I double dig the earth-wormed soil, add nourishment, cultivate hope.  This year those little optimistic seedlings sprout as teeny prayers for a harvest chapter currently unknowable.  Besides nourishing my belly and soul, this biannual activity gauges my own physical health.  Exactly five years ago I couldn’t turn the soil on my own, surrendered to a severe bout of left hip pain.  Four years ago I could shovel fifteen minutes at a time before needing a rest.  Two years ago I worked this land two hours non-stop, no problem.  Today I’m third day into a sore right hamstring from this very same chore.

This is what it is to be human.  To be incarnated in a body bound to go on the fritz time to time before it eventually comes to its final halt.  We’re surrounded by news shouting of our mortality right now.  Yet even our everyday aches and pains serve to sense our kinship with and compassion for the suffering of all sentient beings.  My aching hamstring had me in this frame of heart when I saw I was tagged in a Facebook post (see above).  So I let my curiosity investigate.  The author reaches out to his friends for advice about the most common human travail: low back pain.  When I last checked 69 people had advice for him.  Why this huge response?  Because we have all been there and we have all moved through this human dilemma with varying degrees of success.

Over 80 percent of us will experience a LBP episode some time during life.  Most of us will recover within a few weeks or months with or without treatment.  In the physical therapy world we name these recuperated folks symptom free (yeah!) but unfortunately not sign free.  Lay anyone on my treatment table and my hands will go right to the restricted tell-tale soft tissue that takes up residence after painful sensation disappears.  On literally every one of us. And that’s what sets us up for chronic or recurring problems. 

So yes to the myriad of answers on this gentleman’s FB post: ice, heat, CBD oil, chiropractic, massage, this stretch, that stretch, this gizmo, that traction.  It all works for symptomatic relief.  Which we need when pain is super-acute.  It’s when things calm down, its when we think we’re finally done with all that…that’s when I want to be with you.  That’s when returning the injured fascia to a more supple condition, subtle toning the deep core and gently lengthening the clenched tissue can lay the foundation for non-recurrence. 

The quickest way through this residual quagmire is with expert physical therapy one-on-one help.  Which is what I do, currently without the treatment table part.  It is pretty amazing what we can create together on Zoom.  But you can also come to the floor on your own 15-20 minutes daily and systematically address the most common areas that need your help.  And that’s what we do in Essentials on Tuesday morning 10:00.  Fascial release in the spine, shoulders and hips, toning deep core and stretching of key regions that tend towards tightness on all of us.  Loose, long and strong is the ultimate answer for our Facebook friend up there.

I hope you can join me tomorrow and revel in the pleasure a supported hour session like this provides.  I hear you….please, can we focus on neck and shoulders?  Of course, all these hours with our devices is friggin’ hard on us.  So, that’s the focus tomorrow.  You need a roller and a single small ball and two tennis balls taped together or put in a sock.  And your knowledge that I’m a phone call away if you want some individual help. Oh yeah…and your willingness, patience and sense of wonder.

It is my pleasure to be with you in this healing way…❤️Bella  

Exactly a year ago I was moving through a gloomy health chapter.  Post-surgery, post-radiation, lengthy bronchial infection,15 day unexplained fever.  Each exacted their toll pressing me to build back my decimated immune system.  If some prescient angel whispered in my ear, foretold the scenario we are moving through exactly one year later…well I would never have believed.  Would you?

Even that health crisis didn’t slow me down much.  But this?  Every piece of me is decelerating.  Speedy pieces I didn’t even know about are easing on down.  Recent talk about “re-opening” the country makes these tender slow pieces balk.  Cry out “not ready yet.”  Not eager to jump up and move at the speed of light again.  Just like you, I’ve had to cancel thing after thing.  Stuff I thought I was looking forward to.  And I’m feeling this paradoxical, even a bit guilty, sense of relief with each scrapped plan.

I don’t want people to die.  I don’t want anyone to suffer—physically, mentally, financially.  Yet I find myself rooting for emerging wildlife.  Celebrating clean air.  Honoring this drop in fossil fuel dependence.  And sensing our communal appreciation for this new-fangled stillness, this break, this pause.  And I really don’t know what to make of it. 

Will we look back at this episode two years hence, three years, five…with a sense of wonder?  Will things radically shift from here on in?  Will we return to the speed of light?  Finding comfort in Rilke’s counsel:


 “…at present you need to live the question. 
Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it,
find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.” 


And so we languish in the question.  Personally grateful for time afforded by my privileged circumstance.  A gifted opportunity to be witness still and offer intriguing containers for healing and practice.  Amazed by the options and rapidity of this technological shift to on line, aware of its limitations, living with lots of questions.  Today, some random musings about the altered healing and practice containers that make up my world of work.

On line Physical Therapy:  Hands on, on line?  Really?  Yup.  Over the years, when geography created obstacle, I’ve been in service to friends, family, colleagues.  Certainly has limitations, not the best way to provide…yet very effective in a pinch.  And in a pinch is where we are right now.  
How does this work?  A session begins exactly as before.  By the time I complete a history and visual movement assessment, even when I have the treatment table option, I often guess what my hands confirm. I know…hands on care, expert release…the best part!  But if you have a roller, massage ball, double-wrapped tennis balls, I can absolutely guide you to treat yourself.  Then we re-assess the impact on your motion and symptoms.  This co-exploration creates your home self-care, which we Zoom record for easy follow through.  If we’re on the right track, 15 minutes daily on your mat will create steady improvement. You’ll know if you need another appointment or can continue on your own with Essential class support. It starts with a phone call to assess possibility.

On line Essentials Yoga: Tuesday 10:00; bookmark this page (link changes weekly for optimal Zoom security) and register anytime before class.  Slow moving, gentle introduction or refresh for anyone wanting to develop an effective self-care/self-reliance mat practice.  Anyone with a body that yearns for supple flexibility, quality muscle tone.  Anyone who wants to believe that 15 minutes most days can give their body exactly what it craves to support optimal well-being.  Deeper Being is the advanced version of this class.  Friday morning, by invitation only.

On line 5Rhythms: Wednesday 6:15pm & Sunday 9:45am.  The cyber-evolution of this has been slow and wondrous.  With Majica’s youthful aptitude we keep moving into new tech-territory.  Join us this week for a 15 minute Zoom opening circle.  Then click Soundcloud to dance a 45 minute wave.  Option to keep Zoom open, connect with those little dancing boxes or turn Zoom off and move in solitude.  Or a little of both.  Zoom closing circle balances the intimacy of breakout rooms with full group sharing.  We are all adapting together in this unique environment.  Stay tuned for the next evolution on the horizon.

The current format of each of these offerings is second best to the real deal.  They vary in their translatable nature.  5Rhythms? One third of this practice is about our interior dance.  For those willing to stay the course with this moving meditation a unique dose of strength will be gained.  These abundant internally focused moments are still held in the context of the full group’s energetic connection. Physically missing you!  Aching for the spontaneous way each class flows, created by the palpable chemistry between dancers, facilitator, music.  Sigh.  But I can still feel the medicine delivered in only the way a community can deliver it.  Showing up for ourselves and each other…we will never forget this practice chapter.

Physical therapy?  It is what it is.  Second best, but available.  The few I have worked with were so grateful for the help in this time with no other alternative.  Less complex problems are more successfully do-able. Multiple involved body regions, surgical complications, symptoms that radiate into the extremities—a bit more challenging.  Can’t wait to re-open my studio!

Essentials?  By far the most translatable.  It’s always been about you and your mat.  If you’re a visual learner, the close up demos are priceless.  If you’re an auditory learner, clear articulation of physical instruction is my forte.  If you’re a kinesthetic learner, everything you need is readily available.

All classes offered freely with option to donate. We move through this current situation each with our own challenges.  If you’ve been unaffected financially, thank you for your contribution.   I am just grateful to be of service, truly no one turned away if times are tough.  My deepest wish is for you to take advantage of these healing practices made so available during this interlude.

More of that same Rilke piece to close:


 “…Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.  Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers.  They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything…” 


Experiencing everything with you….love, bella




Esalen…land of alternate reality…Day 6.  By night I nestle in my bunk bed cocoon, synchronous dreaming with the assistants with me in this workshop.  By day I soak these bones, revel in beauty, seek alone space, drop into connection, dance my heart out.  Daily chapters in the dance dome with fifty souls: witnessing, caring for, playing music for this practice of presence. 
 
My morning ritual here is long standing, anchored to my first visit in 2002.  I wake in the dark, amble down hill to the tubs.  Bathe in silence, scan the horizon ‘til the stars disappear and the sun rises. Hot from the inside out, I enter the empty massage room, bag of toys in tow, churning sea beyond the glass beckoning to my internal waves.  I roll my spine, heart basket, bowl of pelvis, well-used legs.  I double tennis ball more deeply into back body, then  gently trace and inquire into psoas front body.  I roll pokey ball ‘round hips, shoulders.  I softy awaken my subtle core and stretch the big players that attach pelvis to legs.  I fold forward, back bend, twist.  I breathe and I feel in.  If I’m in a hurry, 15 minutes will do, most days here it’s more like forty minutes.  Whatever, the day is ready to unfold out of this moment.
 
This act of total pleasure, focus, pure self-love is my sacred calling to share.  Come to The Essentials at Clara 10-1 next Saturday, February 15 and feel the tender joy this provides.  An hour reviewing the foam rolling from January, then a dive into the balls, a deepening dabble in psoas and lengthening out.  So much peace to breathe and rest and feel.  Pre-enroll and I’ll send you the lat session’s home support video.
 
Mr. Fix It is an ego character I inherited from my father.  Finally I’m old enough to understand how the energy of this character directed me to this body-based passion.  When I was younger, this trait manifested in less than skillful action sometimes.  But now I bless the painful early learning that steeps me in deeply compassionate service.  Service that bubbles from a deep well of my history, my heart, fuels me to offer what I feel and know in the healthiest of ways and create change in a suffering world.  Utter vulnerable moment to close with yesterday’s writing that fleshed out Mr. Fix It.  Writing that deepened my acquaintance with this life long companion.
 

Dad’s Repair Shop

Random Saturday mornings calmly doing business
atop the scratched formica table. Just the night before,
its rosy surface fraught with meal time chaos.
Dislodged sandal straps, transistor radios gone wonky,
bike flats to greasy chains—if it was broken, Dad could fix it.
 
But when it came to my little sister’s funeral,
the plaintive echo of his repeating mantra, still a felt sense:
“There’s just no way I can fix this one.”
 
The harrowing ways he played a hand
in her misery were out of reach to remedy.
And the shame my folks carried
from that epic unraveling,
well, some of it landed in my bed,
where my tender eleven year old soul
forged secret ways to be with all those tears,
so deeply laced as they were with shame.
 
This dusty story, attic corner relic near sixty years,
only now am I ready to reckon and release
this shed-able inheritance,
this shift-able fragment in time.
Truly we are never broken, just so very tender human,
our parts and pieces continually re-arranging, 
until the circle is complete.  
 

So fixing it is just not what it’s about anymore.  Being with, breathing, making space for healing, compassion…this is what creates the spacious field of presence in which things are bound to change in their own sweet time.

Love, bella

A regular visitor to my home hobbled in on one of those awkward walking boots this week.  I had no idea she’d been struggling with foot and ankle pain for six months.  She recounted a familiar sad saga.  Slow onset; chiropractic visits to no avail; sports medicine doctor for non-helpful cortisone injection; and finally, a podiatrist, who fitted her with the clunky boot.  So she could “rest”.  Inside, my eyes were rolling in frustration. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been with this story.  I asked if any of these medical practitioners had touched her foot, her ankle, her leg.  You guessed.  Not a one.

She was open to me doing a five-minute investigation with my own hands.  It was no surprise to feel really nasty fascial restrictions in the posterior tibialis inside the shin on the affected side.  I dug into the other side for comparison so she could feel the difference.  Then deeply massaged the gnarly zone for three minutes.  She could feel how much the pain had diminished when she took weight on the foot.  Then I showed her how to do it herself with the famous double tennis balls.

Eighty percent of the patients I see in my current practice are straight up simple like this.  She has some work to do, releasing first and then learning how to lengthen and strengthen the tissue once it’s not gnarly.  Many of the physical ailments that challenge us fall into the easily self-treatable category.  That’s why this winter I’m offering The Essentials 10:00-1:00 at Clara, third Saturday January, February, March.  Because for many of us, some body part on the fritz is the norm.  And sometimes that fritz really cramps our style.  What if we could suffer less? 

So who is this workshop series for?  Anyone who loves to move AND wants to continue being mobile and active until the end.  Because it really doesn’t take much time to give your body the support it loves.  Really.  If you have 15 minutes most days to whip your mat out at home, you’ll absolutely enjoy this simple body-tending.  Bonus: we’ll be rolling and releasing every session…so leave at 1:00 feeling like a million bucks.

Pre-enroll or drop into any one Saturday or, better yet, sign up for the series.  A review of the previous session is built into #2 and #3.  YouTube video support comes to your inbox following each session.  Makes your personal mat time so do-able.

And now a word to:
Dance and Yoga Students: 
I love dance and I love yoga and how I wish they were stand alone practices for maintaining optimal physical health.  But really, they are not; they need support.  In fact, in the presence of fascial restrictions and poor core tone, these practices can be risky.  Sustaining an injury while practicing is an unfortunate reality. Take it from someone who has been there.  More than once. Tightness won’t magically heal with stretching; it needs massage-like release.  Basic core tone?  Happens optimally with a deep listening, subtle awareness. And tuning into psoas extraordinaire is so integral that we’ll be delving into the tender loins in each session.

Yoga Teachers or anyone who teaches embodied practice:
This series, chock full of info and technique, is easily integrated into your own practice and into your specific way of teaching.  I have zero proprietary interest in this body of work.  At this point in my professional life, I only want the value of it spread as widely as feasible.

Massage Therapists:
Consider a possible shift in your practice: when you learn these basic skills you can teach them to your clients.  They will love you for sharing this way of maintaining all the goodness you create for them on the table.  See above about zero proprietary interest.

Runners, cyclists, rowers, golfers, tennis players…sports enthusiasts:
The awesome cardio-vascular capacity and great power in specific muscle groups you have developed comes at a cost.  Asymmetry and imbalance in fascia, length and strength are remediated with just the right dose of self-care.

This is expertise I’ve garnered over a long lifetime of treating patients and working with my own physical challenges.  It is intimately informed by my hours on the dance floor and the yoga mat.  Being fluid and feeling powerful are our natural birthright. The Essentials is a very small investment of time that supports a very vital life of optimal health.  Come feel it with me.

Love, Bella