On Saturday night I fell into the photograph rabbit hole, precious images archiving what it looked like to be a young family.  This greased the wheels for many tears on a Mother’s Day that skirted outside the bounds of Hallmark.  I’ve been a mom for well over forty years but it was only yesterday, as I danced on the Clara floor, that I recognized what a wave-like journey motherhood took me upon.

The deep flow of this experience began so innocently.  A dream, a vision, a longing miraculously manifesting as seedling.  My body incessantly changing into a life support vessel.  Exotic sensations: the weight, the tenderness, the swelling, the awkward grace of it all.  I had already spent thirty years in this trusty body yet never felt anything comparable.  And then the burst of birth, the suckling wetness, intertwining identities.  I lost myself, I found someone else, the inseparability, the fear, the doubt, the ecstasy, the exhaustion.

And then there was another independent being with distinct needs and desires and opinions.  Every staccato skill I had fostered stepped up to the plate.  The ditzy hectic years.  Another pregnancy, another infant.  Losing my own Mom just as this new chapter began.  And my brother.  Fevers and nightmares, stacks of library books, crayons, Play Dough.  Potty training, endless questions, bunk beds.  One devastating illness.  Day care and kindergarten and report cards.  Knee pads and uniforms and hoops. That upright piano and vacations and, oh yeah, earning a living, paying the rent, feeding the multitudes.  Finding time and space and love for my partner in life.  More exhaustion laced with joy and terror and pride and uncertainty.  It felt perpetual, Sysiphean and moving at the speed of light.

And then overnight our house began rocking in chaos with teen-agers and raging hormones and attitude.  Everything previously dialed in was not so reliable.  Our home  was loud with love and slammed doors and screeching brakes, raucous laughter, stumbling boundaries.  Unpredictable sophisticated re-plays of the Terrible Twos.  There was a lot of confusion and unsuccessful attempts at control.  And there was always hope and tenderness and devotion.  Ultimately there was nothing to do but let go, stay present, hang on for the ride.  And pray.

Somehow we all came through this portal intact and these seedlings launched.  They actually moved out of the house to take their first fumbling forays into adulthood.  Lyrical it was, the whole family shape shifting into what destiny had in store.  For me, the dance appeared right in this moment, age of fifty.  A Mama bear in an empty den.  An aching in my heart matched by a tingling in my soul.  My time.  At last.  Though the phone could ring at any moment.  And it did.

Now I settle into the stillness that book ends this wave of motherhood, at rest in a peace that sheds all over me.  I witness my stunning children as they make their own mark, find their own place in the world.  Good citizens of an ailing planet, contributing and loving in ways that buoy and astonish me.  In the eyes of my grandchildren lives the spirit of all who’ve come before me.  I breathe in the completion of this mothering wave, even as I feel the spiraling nature of it continues through time with them, my children.

Eternally grateful to my teacher Gabrielle Roth:

“Energy moves in waves. Waves move in patterns.
Patterns move in rhythms. Human beings are just that:
energy, waves, patterns, and rhythms…
nothing more, nothing less…a dance.

May the wonder of human birth and the sanctity of life continue to strike awe in the depths of our being….💗Bella


Holding space for 5Rhythms practice, a unique calling.  In the days preceding a session, I root through the mud of my life, digging for what’s most alive and juicy.  Then I massage this little tender fragment into the shape of embodied inquiry.  All this, before I find the right music and step through the door, in all vulnerability, to offer a group investigation.  It has been the perfect prescription for my own growth.

And there was plenty of growth this last week.  The collage pictured above was created on my birthday morning.  The Buddha with upturned palms came first and then the Thich Nhat Hanh quote leapt off the page at me.  It’s almost like a koan, is it not?  “ The tears I shed yesterday have become rain.”  So many ways that might work its way inside you.  That’s what happened inside me all week.  By Sunday that  quote was the alive, juicy, tender thing I brought to offer.

That fragment shaped into an embodied inquiry with the L Map.  I love the L Map.  You can actually sit quite still at your computer and feel this very quote filter through heart and mind with this map.  You’ll arrive somewhere.  But if you’re willing to move your body, maybe even get up on your feet, maybe even turn on something with a beat…you will arrive someplace different.  Because the body not only doesn’t lie, it is full of surprising truth. Ready?

Let it in: (if this quote doesn’t intrigue you, let in anything that is fresh and arising now.)  Inhale, feel your body mull over these words.  Cruise through each body part and allow the question, quote or whatever is arising to chime in.  How is your breath?  This quote landed in my belly and then leapt to my heart and brought memories of the tears I shed in the wake of my sister’s death.  And, as I moved, stories about this experience emerged from the depths.  I let it all in. Uncensored.

Let it out:  Take whatever you feel inside and allow it to become visible.  Let it shape you.  What body gestures happen on repeat?  Move as if you were in a conversation about it but had only your body as express agent, no words.  Communicate clearly.  This quote moved me in bursts of angry intensity, softened into tender clarity.

Let it go:  How convenient.  The element of chaos, the third rhythm, is water.  Ocean of tears.  Buckets of rain.  What happens if it all melts, liquefies, dissolves?  Release the story’s weight, surrender to the mystery.  I shook it out, a wet dog emerging from that ocean, quaking, shuddering.  I touched history that has shifted in me, shaped me, released what no longer serves. How much still softly nests intact.

Let go of letting go and then let it happen:  It is a practice to let go of letting go.  Sometimes met with reluctance.  It feels good to shake loose.  But once we cease letting go, the big whatever has room to appear. We can be so friggin’ serious. We might try lightening up.  Shape shift: be the rain, be the tears, be whatever is next.  I felt the perfection of my sister’s life, the integral way it weaves with mine forever, how deeply my life has been moved by her touchstone.

Let it be:  Can you allow it to simply settle?  Feel and breathe into the way it has shaped you because:

“….That’s what we’re looking for:
not the end of a thing but the shape of it.
Wisdom is seeing the shape of your life
without obliterating (getting over) a single instant of it.”
Albert Huffstickler

If you’re still with me, take a pause here.  I love the L Map.  Apply as needed.  The body not only doesn’t lie, it is full of surprising truth.  I hold space for that no matter where we meet.  Wednesday, Friday, Sunday are on the regular:

This week I’ll be up front for Wednesday Waves , an inquiry about gateways: resistance and surrender.  On Friday Kim Wagaman holds us in  Release & Realign.  The above poem excerpt was from her class last Friday; we are so often on the same page.  Sunday Sweat celebrates Mother’s Day.  Majica Alba, my partner extraordinaire, is absolutely the best facilitator for this offering.  Please bring your children (free) and mothers.

I am a bit amazed about how much is on the near and distant horizon. It feels like old times….but not.  If you know what I mean.

When your feet hurt, life is miserable. Our birthright: strong flexible feet that carry us wherever we need to go without being encased by Nike max-support. Think Kenyans running barefoot across the savannah. Many foot problems heal with dynamic intervention based in the principles of loose, long and strong. Learn to deep release adhesions in lower leg; fine-tune stretching; build foot power that connects to your core. All props provided for this fundamental work that will pay dividends over a lifetime.

Yeah…back teaching at Harbin.  Like old times.  Make your reservation for a day pass or overnight.  I’ll have all the toys for this practice that really meshes with the hot soaks.

Long time since I’ve played waves in these parts.  Wanna come?

A moving dialogue between myofascial roller release and 5Rhythms dance. Release feet and legs, ground into fluidity. Free up hips and shoulders, release into natural power. Unleash spine and head, feel the surrender. A two hour breathing moving journey into the joy of healing self-care and expressive movement. Varying density one foot rollers provided or bring your own long one.

  • Roll & Release Saturday July 8 11:00 & 4:00, July 9  11:00  Wilbur Hot Springs

Just like Harbin…but so much more mellow. Make your reservation for a day pass or overnight.  I’ll have all the toys for practice on their incredible yoga deck.  What a great match with the hot soaks.

So many tears, especially in these last few astonishing years.  So much rain, especially in this last soggy year.  Makes me wonder.  Makes me believe that all those tears we’ve shed may very well have become rain…


Sea change: a profound or notable transformation.  Lately I’ve been curiously at watch as our communities of practice move through a sea change.  Something is different in this post-Covid spell.  Or whatever you call this relative break from pandemic-based living.  It feels like a paradigm shift and, for the last couple months, I’ve been trying to place my exacting finger on it.

In my non-practice, real world life, I’m continually seduced into behaving like this virus never happened.  Brazenly unprotected, despite the pile of masks moldering in my glove box, I stop at the store for groceries. I saunter by a hand sanitizer dispenser lingering unused at my sink as I head out to indoor dining.  I lounge in living rooms and chat with friends.

We, every single on of us, just moved through a world-wide plague.  An epidemic that took out so many of us and infiltrated every aspect of our lives.  It used to be the first and sometimes only topic of conversation. And somehow it just evaporated.  Man is inherently a meaning-seeking being, yet it seems that no one wants to talk about what it all meant.  Maybe it’s just too soon to have any perspective.  It feels like there is an unstated agreement, an undercurrent pull, to just move on.

But really, the fact that an entire global population proceeded through all the highs and lows of a shared traumatic experience is extraordinary.  It’s just plain weird that it feels relegated to the unspeakable ordinary.  But like I said, something is different in the communities of practice in which I participate.

Life can be counted on for delivering us to states of radical vulnerability.  Tragedy happens to us one by one or family by family.  In the case of catastrophic weather events and war, disaster happens to many in a geographic region.  But this huge and immediate drop into radical vulnerability affected every living being on the planet at the same time.

All of us stared down the gun barrel of our own mortality and for some of us it was the first time we even considered there was a gun.  I know this is so subjective, owning my own projections here, but there seems to be a deep hunger to get real, to explore and practice effective ways to deal with crisis and be with trauma.  And when we resonate with embodied practices like yoga and dance, we come in touch with the beauty available in this new state of radical vulnerability.  We have experiences in practice that can be passionately expansive, mind-blowing-ly transformative.

We’re emerging from a prolonged and painful isolation, looking for meaningful ways to connect.  There is a longing to belong.  I find the new students (of which there are many) incredibly open and courageous in this seeking.  I find the seasoned students deeply committed.  We are all actively looking for authentic ways to be with others and open to re-imagining skills that create real connection.  I heard the term “relational home” the other day.  The way we can be in community and provide a “relational home” for each other even in the face of trauma.  The practice floor is very much that: a “relational home”.

If you are ready to explore and expand, opportunities are listed here.  This Saturday, for the first time since Covid, I’m offering two hours fusing yoga and dance.  Come-as-you-are to this studio and leave with an embodied imprint, a visceral breathing experience of fluidity, power and surrender.  Rhythm and Release is for you, a perfect introduction, if you’re:

New to rolling and dancing: you’ll love learning the basics of releasing with roller and balls combined with a gentle drop into 5Rhythms dance.

New to rolling but already have dance experience: learn the self-love techniques that heal the kinks that keep you from fully falling into your dance (and life!).

New to dance but know how to roll: feel the joy of moving off the confines of your mat, so free after the releases you know and love.

Instead of going to practice being a thing to check off the to do list, this habitual thing to accomplish each week, it has become urgent.  Critical.  Fundamental for survival and well-being.  Indeed, it has always felt that way to me.  And a few others. But something has changed in the communities of practice in which I participate.  We are down for it.  And that feels good.


I was blessed by a pair of cinema angels this past week.  She Said and Women Talking on consecutive evenings, films that courageously dive into sexual harassment/abuse.  Minimal time is devoted to the actual perpetrators or the acts of violence.   Because the focus is on the women: directed by women and giving voice to women, just as the titles indicate.  Powerful.  Highly recommended.

There is a scene in She Said, the two young journalists who broke the Harvey Weinstein story quietly sharing a meal in a restaurant.  A man approaches and does that yuk overt coming on thing.  They are polite at first but he is unfazed.  He persists.  Until finally one of them stands up, looks him right in the eye and shouts “F—k off!”  Which he does.  I get chills recalling it.

Because here’s the deal.  I clearly remember the moment in 1968 when I first heard the word feminist.  Like it was yesterday.  It registered in every bone of my body, a young woman, first time considering that gender inequality was real.  Realizing all the implications and how that had played out in my short life thus far.  And I remember through young adulthood and middle age coming frustratingly face-to-face with all that meant.  And at least having a label for it.  Twenty years down the road, in 1988, exasperation fueled my exit from a job.  A clinic dominated by a man that did everything he could to keep me small.  I ended up starting my own business.  Which was a brilliant move.  But did I ever stand up, look him right in the eye and shout “F—k off!”  No.

Because I knew about gender based inequality but, at that point in history, did not have the support, the language or the skills to express myself in a healthy constructive way.  It is incredibly heartening to bear witness to women in mid-life right now.  Women who have support, language and skills.  Women who are willing to make what was once only a notion into a reality.  And the next generation?  OMG.  No bullshit allowed.  Period.  So much hope for the future.

The range of problems stemming from gender inequity is steep, running the gamut from disrespect to brutality.  I’ve been lucky in this regard.  Am I comparing utter lack of regard in the workplace to acts of physical violence?  No.  Do they stem from a related root?  Yes. There are so many ways to view this complex issue.

This week I want to use the lens of boundary to investigate this cultural hot button.  We are humans in need of safety.  We create lines to protect our personal well-being.  Sometimes those lines are hard and fast and clear.  Sometimes those lines are squishy and confused or faint.  Those lines change on a dime and those lines are person and situation dependent.  And people, regardless of gender, step over those lines in such a creative variety of ways.  From blatant and overbearing to subtle and manipulative.

In any given moment a thought and/or an emotion can signal us to create a line.  If you know me, you know what’s coming here.  A truly authentic response in the moment originates in the body.  It is a signal throbbing deep down in belly, insistently pounding in chest.  We can learn to trust those sensations with practice.  It’s what I love about the dance floor.  We practice with our bodies.  I’m not sure how many times I’ve facilitated this embodied exploration of yes/no/boundaries.  A dozen?  But it is always fresh and alive.  It lives in the heart beat, the pulse, the rhythm of staccato.  It is a practice in polarity.  It is a practice of the physical expression of thought and feeling.

Come out to Wednesday Waves and feel this with me.

Love Letters to a Raven, an online event, began October 22 on the 10 year anniversary of Gabrielle Roth’s death.  It was a global invitation to post pictures and reflections, installations and musings, a 10 day wave with two days dedicated to each rhythm.

As folks chimed in from all around the world, perception quickly grew of how impactful this overall practice is.  But what I really appreciated was how much potent and particular medicine each individual rhythm holds.  An invitation to write every other day?  From Day 1, I just dove in, of course:

I had already written earlier that week about Gabrielle so I simply posted the link in Love Letters in thanks for these two woke feet.  How every practitioner out there has a story to tell about when and how the 5Rhythms earthquake shifted their bedrock.  How  Gabrielle left a legacy that woke my feet up and then my whole body followed suit.  And my hope that she knows every day I give thanks for these two woke feet, wordlessly moving me across this ever-shifting ground.  Woke feet: so the essence of an instinct-laden flow.

Right away I knew in my bones this was my home rhythm. How embarrassing! In my naivety I secretly wished I could be all ravishing flowing or dramatically chaotic or even serenely still. Staccato seemed so lock step ordinary boring. Hah! So little did I know of the massive steely layers surrounding my soft beating tender heart. Clueless about the journey I was embarking on that would melt my steel cage father wound. How I would finally dance my way into utter forgiveness. The incredible impact of softening around my edges…without losing one bit of my fiery clarity. Staccato…I worship you, my home rhythm, for so many years I buckled under your mastery. And now, in a strange twist of fate, you are in abject service to me every day….

This morning as I staccato-collage I am remembering Embodied Heart in Tiburon 2005? 2006? Gabrielle asked us to bring a picture of our father and by day’s end there was an entire wall filled with the photos of 80 fathers. I spent countless hours at this wall. I looked at each man and saw his utter capacity for heartless cruelty. By week’s end I was able to see the soft tenderness emanating from each photo. What an incredible gift that immersion was.

Hmmm…staccato notions reverberating! Before day’s end just one more thing about this rhythm so close to my heart. First couple years of practice: teachers who utilized this rhythm to facilitate an exploration of boundaries. It felt like there was an assumption that we all needed to “work” on building/improving/strengthening our personal boundaries. Clearly some of my partners were challenged to create clear strong easy to read lines. I finally got that my work was something different. My lines were over the top powerful, boundaries up the wazoo. Offering up a softer version of clarity was my investigation. This has been an ongoing process. Now, when I teach in this arena, I hold it as an exploration of a continuum. The highly defended at one end, the sweet pushovers at the other. And then everywhere in between. And so often it is situational. I love to play in the rhythm of staccato exploring that entire juicy continuum.

And if staccato was my home rhythm, chaos was a foreign land.  One by one, over the years, there was a moment when each rhythm anchored into my body.  It was palpable.  But there was something about chaos that just wouldn’t/couldn’t/didn’t land.  It took a world wide pandemic.  There was loss that dropped me into heart-wracking grief in a way I had just never had time to allow in the past.  The sleepless pain of it, the overwhelming empathic distress stripped me naked.  It went on for weeks.  In the midst of it, in my dance, I noticed the green EXIT sign over our auditorium door.  I realized if I could read it, my head was not released.  In an instant, my head let go in a way I had never experienced, sending a reverberating wave to tail bone and shooting out fingers and toes.  It was an extended journey from control and confusion to all out surrender.  And since then, the quality of surrender is weaving its way gently through all the rhythms/all my life.  Gabrielle used to say that sometimes you go for it and sometimes you have to wait for it.  Chaos….thank god, you have been well worth the wait.

Shapeshifter extraordinare, so many ways to move through the portal of flow, staccato, chaos. I call lyrical “The Big Whatever”. And, yes to the universal experience of lightness and joy and air, which became so real in Year One when happenstance dance-lifted me in front of a huge fan. Yes. But the cycles, the life cycles brought me home to the lyrical medicine deeps. I began this practice with my life in chaotic glorious confusion. As I stayed with, kept moving from trizophrenia toward integrity, as my body began to sister with my heart, my mind began to shhhh….the reason I was born here on Planet Earth emerged from shadow. Everything from inside out, the masculine feminine merge to creation, effortlessly shape-shifted into a lyrical destiny that had always been patiently awaiting. For me, the rhythm of lyrical is about alignment. The cohesion necessary to allow our soul to bear true fruit. And now, in gratitude, in the abundance of fall’s harvest, all these years later, I slip slide toward stillness.

I once asked Gabrielle, “So at the end of a wave, at the end of a class, at the end of a workshop…what is it, what sensibility, are you aiming for, wanting to create?” With not a moment of hesitation, she replied. “Emptiness and unity.” I call that up on the regular. I’m only just beginning to understand that it might be the same answer for the end of a life.

So much more I could have expressed.  The gestalt is reverberating inside me.  Love Letters to a Raven was an ephemeral cyber-space moment, no longer visible, just like the dance.  But, if this is your practice, this elicits such a beautiful DIY possibility.  A couple days to feel into each rhythm.  Meditation, writing, artwork.  Or simply noticing each particular energetic vibration—flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical, stillness— as it arises in your day, in your body, in your movement, in your heart, in your awareness.  Attune to your soul—what does it need right now?  Empty out, be still, let spirit inform you.

And if you want to investigate the territory as it was meant to be explored, come dance Wednesday Waves at Clara tonight November 2 6:30 and Sunday Sweat Your Prayers November 6 10:00, actually back in the garden just for this week and next.  There is nothing like it.

Love, Bella

Gabrielle Roth….I have some crazy stories to tell about the ten years I was her student.  And just as many tales generated by her practice of the ten years since her passing.  Because the rhythms are alive in every part of me.   That’s why knowing her in the flesh was just icing on a way big cake.

Every practitioner out there has a story to tell about when and how the 5Rhythms earthquake shifted their bedrock.  For me, it was twenty years ago…age fifty-two.  A bit late, but right on time.  Last kiddo launched, hemmed in by the daily grind, dark shadows obscuring all the light in my life.  Ready to break free, beyond willing to step into the mystery, destiny tantalizingly one step away.

On a whim, we made a sharp right turn off Highway 1 when the sign said Esalen.  Never been. One empty room: 24 hours for $200. In the dreamscape trance of early morning I stepped across the Huxley threshold and began to dance.  As if I had been dancing my whole life. Which in a way I had.  All this magic happened in the very room the 5Rhythms practice had been birthed.  By the end of the hour, my life would never be the same.

Gabrielle left a legacy that woke my feet up and then my whole body followed suit, moving me in professional directions I could never have imagined.  This practice ripped the crust off my heart to reveal childhood scars desperate to be danced, re-written, forgiven, celebrated.  And now 5Rhythms is a lens through which I view the world, a trusty guide through thick and thin.

When Gabrielle was alive, I felt a trembling overwhelm in her presence, bordering on abject terror sometimes.  Those sharp edges, that incisive look, her uncanny ability to call out the depth of my internal experience.  So. Many. Stories.  But now, in the dark of my bedroom, sometimes she comes to call.  She slips in wordlessly, just how she black-clad slid onto all those dance floors I was blessed to share with her.

But in my dreams all her sharp edges are muted now, holy hug of support, hushed, patient, benevolent.  I like to believe this was/is her true nature.  And I hope she knows that every day I give thanks for these two woke feet, wordlessly moving me across this ever-shifting ground.

This week the ever-shifting ground delivers me to Montreal.  It’s where my mom was born in 1927.  With my daughter and grandson, we’ll explore and feel and search for some of the places her feet traversed.  Leonard Cohen was born in the same neighborhood in 1934.  Perhaps their feet moved on some of the same paths.

I’ll be home just in time for Tend Your Aging Body on October 22…an offering that emerged right out of my soul when I veered off the straight and narrow professional path.  Thank you Gabrielle.  And then I’ll offer up Sweat Your Prayers October 23. Thank you Gabrielle.  Never, in my wildest dreams could I have imagined I’d be doing this work either.

Thanks to her and the winds of fate we are waking up together, wordlessly moving across this ever-shifting ground.


Back-to-back dance workshop weekends, live community moving in and through, déjà vu from a previous lifetime.  But I just hopped on that dusty dance bike and, a bit shaky at first, felt my trusty body pedal down that well-worn path.  Surreal, challenging, tender, revelatory…all packed into ten days.  As often happens when we steep in intensity, a dormant sensibility, an insight that had been scrambling toward daylight, slowly begins to tease itself out.

What is able to come to light during an expertly guided embodied exploration always astonishes me.  A word on that “expert” thing.  Because it makes a difference.  I bow to Kathy Altman, a teacher who has been guiding me on and off over the last twenty years.  Her precise, perfectly timed invitations, her gentle and solid presence gave me the courage to start excavating that dormant sensibility. And I kept digging around this nugget all week.

The next weekend I was held in practice right here in Sacramento by Majica Alba.  This was her first independent (of me) 5Rhythms workshop offering.   It. Was. Stellar.  Words fail here.  Not only have I had the extended joy and trepidation of witnessing her growth and maturation, I’ve had the trembling responsibility of having a hand in this transformation and a front row seat to boot. So, to be a student in her space, to completely trust her to hold me as I continued with this embodied exploration, to feel the expertise of her support…see why words fail?  Maybe put yourself in my shoes a minute and feel….it was wondrous remarkable.

So what was hiding in the wings, waiting for its turn center stage?  It emerged during the first workshop as we moved in the lengthy span ‘tween courageous action on one end and being with things just as they are on the other.  The well-known serenity prayer is a quiet plea for wisdom, wisdom to know the difference between these poles.  When to be in action, when to surrender.  And that word—surrender—was just a murky insight that’d been scrambling toward daylight for awhile, begging to slowly be teased out.

I could have spent a year stretched out on a therapy couch intellectualizing how I unconsciously, habitually slip into busy, do-do-do action, unwilling to pause in that holy wisdom middle ground, fears about stillness being equated to irrelevance, worthlessness, death.  I am so long done with that couch thing.  Though I love my brain and I get how this process of writing helps my mind get what my body already knows.  So this embodied exploration of surrender continued in the second workshop, keeps moving through me, continues to reveal so much.  Can you feel the essence of this Mark Nepo quote?

“Surrender is like a fish finding the current and going with it.”

What does this word surrender mean to you?  How does it show up in your life?  Can you feel the pull of gravity in your body, maybe even right here in this moment, and source it for surrender?  How do you discern when surrender is maybe a tricky cover up for inertia or collapse?  In the face of tension or rigidity, can you feel surrender work like a fabric softener without the losing the texture of clarity?  Can you surrender to what is, just say yes, give up trying to know?  Can you tap into the greater energy permeating through your life?  Let go of preference, surrender to life being in charge?  Hmmmm.  A breath here.  Thanks for trying that on.

Thanks for exploring surrender with me this weekend at Clara Auditorium.  We start with Tend Your Aging Body on Saturday, rolling our mats out to facilitate surrender.  We release bound and resistant fascia by gently partnering with gravity, surrendering to the gentle touch of the toys. You can drop in any of the four Saturdays or pre-enroll.  I’ll have lots of props, no worries, just bring a mat.  Video recorded for you.

Just a word on that “expert” thing.  Because it makes a difference:

“Bella’s knowledge of the human body is clear and deep… She showed me diagrams, offered metaphors…enlisted my absolute curiosity to look and feel WITH her…Bella is a brilliant educator.  I am inspired now to cultivate a relationship with my psoas muscle!  I just needed the guidance of some patient and skilled hands….One session with her has opened many windows into my own body.  I am tremendously grateful.”  MT

Clara Auditorium for Sweat Your Prayers on Sunday morning, too.  It has been so beautiful to feel us coming back to this space.  With “us” being such a fluid word.  So satisfying to experience so many new movers finding their way through the door.  Many tears falling as familiar faces re-appear.  I’ll be up front Sunday morning with a score that invites continued embodied exploration of…guess what?  Surrender.

Metaphors.  It’s like dancing for my mind when I hear something like “fish finding the current”.  I just get it.  This metaphor is an anonymous quote but says it all:

I am learning to live between effort and surrender.
I do my best and hope for what I want
but I do not resist the direction of the wind.

Yours  in the current, in the wind….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.



The essence of the phone call I took last week rang with familiarity.  Once again, a grateful being reports the influence dance practice wielded in shaping a life.  No matter that this person attended only a year or two, the last time a decade ago.  The experience had been of great import and they wanted me to know.  I’ve had the privilege of listening to countless stories of this flavor.  Most recently, someone who’d come a handful of times attributed remarkable shifts in destiny based on the experience.  Hardly seen this individual since.

Over twenty years, I’ve witnessed tons.  Folks who cycle in a bit, out a bit, then bounce back in again.  People who show up one time and then, referencing that one time, return a decade later.  Movers who are incredibly articulate about their process and those that never say a word.  Individuals who’ve heard about 5Rhythms forever, meant to come for years, finally arrived. Dancers who’ve been with me week after week for two decades.  People whose movement vocabulary transfigures right before my eyes and those who carry on without variation year in and year out.

And then there are the big events.  We watch new life gestate and then be born.  We’re present to hook-up joy and break-up pain.  The shock of illness followed by the empty absence, the heartache of loss.  Marriage transpires out there.  And so does divorce.  The festival of life plays out on that sacred floor.

In fact, the only thing that remains constant is the container itself, which for many years I held on my own.  Which was a phenomenal undertaking.  And just as extraordinary, in a whole different way?  The positively impactful adventure I’ve had the honor of sharing with Majica Alba: partnering in this community-holding endeavor. The dictionary defines community as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.  By frequent report, this is one of the top reasons people show up to dance.  That feeling of fellowship, of belonging, of sharing with like-minded/hearted.

Yet here’s the ironic seduction I’ve noticed over and over: the moment it begins to feel like our community has gelled, is somehow defined, an established group consistently showing up, the illusion this is makes itself known.  Invariably what follows is a transitional period of dissolve as a new grouping takes form in the next elusive shape.  It’s like the word community is a verb.  The pandemic has created its own dynamic bit of play with this amorphous community phenomenon.

And I am so down for it.  Every last bit of it.  Because I’m in such good company with those who’ve opened their hearts to me, shared the impactful nature of this practice.  There is a surprisingly powerful dose of influence thrown in when you’re the one who invariably shows up to make it happen. No matter what.  I’ve been out there hot on the heels of my own life festival events: birth, death, illness, major life upheavals.  All the reasons students might choose to cancel and just stay home.  But here’s what’s true: those hot-on-the-heels moments hold mega-weight. The most meaningful teaching/learning excavates personal vulnerability to illuminate the all-embracing universal. Who knew that my most penetrating insights would begin to pile up after I had the audacity to step in to teach?

And so, after a bit of perspective-inducing time off—picture above, last day camping at Sunset Beach—I’m back at out there.  If being part of community as a verb calls to you here are three ways I’d love to move with you:

  • Maybe you’ve always meant to dance.  Or used to and know it is time again.  Or always come and can’t wait.  Wednesday Waves at Clara—Taking More Pleasure—is happening until June 15.  And then we break until September.  Sunday Sweat Your Prayers in the garden happens through July 31 before that break.
  • Maybe you know you’ve always wanted to do yoga but think it’s not for you.  Or you’re curious about this rolling and releasing thing.  Or you’re always there every week and can’t wait.  Roll, Release, Align on line Friday 10:00.  This week’s focus?  That incredible diaphragm, the way it creates a bottom for the heart basket and is in 24/7 service to the breath.
  • Maybe you’ve got something bugging you in that shoulder or neck, that hip or low back, that knee or foot.  Maybe you want to learn how to tenderly and expertly care for it in a healing way.  That’s my thing!  Call me (916) 267-5478 and let’s talk about how we’ll make that happen.

That feeling of fellowship, of belonging, of sharing with like-minded/hearted.  That’s what it’s about…❤️Bella

I remember a moment just like this years ago: Oregon coast, feet-in-the-sand.   Out of the blue, a notion to sell the physical therapy clinic.  It dawned all over me.  A need to bust out of confinement, something expansive demanding space for expression.  Eventually the sale came to pass.

But that dawn all over me feeling?  I heard it described by Martha Beck in a recent podcast.  I hope you know this feeling, too.  It arises when we get quiet, go inside, rest into our bodies.  Take time to sense what’s warm and fuzzy and full of pleasure.  Feels peaceful, tastes like freedom.  What really lights us up.  Because, Martha Beck says, every lie makes us tense and every truth makes us relax.  And that’s precisely how it came down that day on the Oregon beach.

Last week in Yosemite, dallying in a snow-covered meadow, sky other worldly blue, snow-blinding brilliant, air nostril sharp, I had a moment that felt like that one years ago in Oregon.  There was that tell-tale warm, fuzzy inside.  Truth instinctively generating full relaxation.  Body opening to a wave of freedom and possibility and curiosity.  It dawned all over me that I really did not have to do anything or go anywhere or be anybody.  It felt radical.

Seriously, it feels like some deeply ingrained childhood program got hacked.   Perhaps I do not have to be successful or channel ambition or push through to the next thing.   Perhaps at 70+ it’s age-appropriate to have nothing to prove. What?  Maybe this life chapter asks for something else.  Simply being and bearing witness and opening to love.  This truth makes my whole body melt.

And one might ask…so Bella, why are you writing this newsletter, why are you teaching, why are you still seeing patients?  The things I am doing, the ways I am working, the ways I attune to serve community…none of this is required.  And perhaps that’s why I love doing these things.  Because I choose them.  Because they emerge from the authentic well of my being and give me great joy.  Mostly…some days more than others!  No Pollyanna here.  Just like you I’m on this pandemic ride and continue to experience deep dips.  Just like you I’m riding the hills and valleys of aging.

And even though I do not have to do anything or go anywhere or be anybody, here’s a couple offerings on the horizon that might be of interest to you:

Moving Outside 
3 Thursdays      March 3, 10, 17      12:30-2:00
I wrote about nature deficit disorder last time.  Spring is emerging in this garden on the Sacramento River…come experience body and land as one being. Earth, sky, everything in between. Outdoor practice is a natural health-boosting opening to receive this energy.  I’ll be collaborating with the owner of this property, Judy Tretheway  Speaking of aging, we’ll combine many decades of embodied wisdom—Qigong, 5Rhythms, chakras, forest bathing—to guide this journey through dance, movement, connection and breath. Let’s feel the lay of the land…outside together.

Core Strength 
Saturday       February 12         9:30-10:30
The basic power I experience at my core is life sustaining.  Vital.  This strength allows me to be active in ways that would not be possible without quality tone down deep.  It can be yours with 15 minutes on your mat 3-4 days a week.  This short video is my invitation to join me in creating that vitality:

So I hope you can get quiet, go inside, rest into your body.  Take time to sense what’s warm and fuzzy and full of pleasure, what really lights you up. It’s one reason I come to the mat and the dance floor.  Let’s move together somewhere soon….❤️Bella