Summer 2021: I begin to save recordings of Roll, Release, Align on-line.  The sessions seemed to have value for students beyond our together practice.  They report ease in breaking 90 minute sessions into shorter practices.  Or the support of repeating classes in their entirety.  So I begin to build a library.

By the time I stopped teaching in September, 55 classes had gathered themselves, arranged in eight anatomically inspired chapters.  Teaching principles of loose, long and strong has been in evolution in one form or another since 1983.  Imparting this knowledge is starting to feel a bit of a legacy.   This life-long work in progress is a living breathing organism, always growing as I track my own internal experience and observe responses in yours.  Sensation, injuries, reaction and adaptation to new techniques, total curiosity…so much keeps it ever fresh. This particular on-line year is a snapshot of that continual evolution as we travelled through the entire body.

Each class has every element needed for optimal self-care:  release with balls and rollers, core strength, stretching tightness, a bit of yoga asana.  Visuals, music, poetry to spark an embodied imagination.  If you’re intrigued about how to enter this richly resourced world of self-care, there are many easy ways to slide in:

The Triplet:
Whenever the mood strikes, I’m creating three short videos focused on a particular body region.  The current triplet is about the rib cage.  I like the Swedish translation: heart basket.  Because we want this body part to be more like a basket and less like a cage!  Roll out your mat, give it a try.  Let it inspire.  This content is free.  Next up when the mood strikes?  A loose, long and strong psoas.

Intro to the Essentials:
The slow and easy basics—four one hour classes—digest at your own pace for free.  Care for your unique and beautiful body…it’s a pleasure!  Feel confident when you come to your mat, with or without the support of a teacher.  Learn the basic skills utilized in Video Library classes.  I’ll guide you through the essentials: foam rolling, tennis ball releases, core strength, stretching out.  After just one session roll your mat out at home with self-assured expertise.  Props you need at this LINK.

A One-on-One moment:
Many students come for individual physical therapy either before they begin practice or as they run into roadblocks along the way.  In a single session, in person or on-line, we suss out your unique challenges.  This paves the way for you to practice with workable modifications AND clearly focuses you on your unique asymmetries.  Not a one of us is perfectly balanced!  Practice is so much more interesting and productive when there is a felt sense of the particulars.

The Video Library:
Watch the short introductory video, choose a chapter and then take your pick of classes.  Feel the evolution doing them in chronological order.  Classes toward the end give you a feel of practice in its more current form, launch point for the upcoming live offering. By monthly subscription.

LIVE:

Release and Realign:  free preview Friday December 16 10:00 at Clara Auditorium. Enter parking lot from O St. ‘tween 24th & 26th St. Turn left, enter brown double doors.  Drop in fee $20 starting January 6.  Bring mat, 3 foot roller, two soft balls, two pair wrapped tennis balls, two blocks, blanket, strap.  Props available for purchase for preview class and each Friday morning in January.

Tune Up Your Moving Body: committed series at Yoga Shala Saturdays Feb 4, 11, 18 12:00-1:30.  Limited to 16 students.  Registration link coming soon.

The time is ripe.  So many ways to enter into the pleasure of self-care.  And speaking of pleasure….I experienced such a brilliant session as a student at Sunday Sweat Your Prayers.  We dance for so many reasons and transcendence is not at the top of my list.  But there it was, a total dissolve moment. No separation between me and you and us. And of course, then it was gone. The realization of meaning is only an echo of the actual experience.  But the physical memory of this universal truth, this felt sense of non-duality, is anchored in my bones. The reverberations bring me enormous pleasure.  5Rhythms dance 2022 runs through December 18 before we break until January 8, 2023.

This life-long work in progress is a living breathing organism, always growing as I track my own experience and yours. Ever fresh. Knowledge filtered through experience occasionally translates to a bit of wisdom.  Sharing that, offering whatever happens to come through feels a bit of a legacy.

❤️Bella

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.

❤️Bella

Recent travel immersed me in the duality of moving with continual change: joy and exasperation, craziness and wonder.  Planes, trains, automobiles (remember that hysterical film with Steve Martin and John Candy?) only began this journey.  Every time I turned around another moment of transition was at hand.  And really…how is that any different from a same-old, same-old day?

All those daily under the radar transition moments: we wake from sleep, we stand from our chair, we open the door and go outside.  It’s sunny, then overcast. The wind is blowing, then it stops.  The mid-level transitions: we’re in one city then another.  Relationships and jobs begin and then they end.  We move from one home to another.  It’s a new day, the next week, the following month…the year turns over.  And then the Big Passages: a pandemic emerges, wars flare up and die down, elections alter the course of history, regimes come and go.  The climate changes.  Babies are born.  People die.

You know the Buddhist axiom: all things rise and fall.  But every transition, from the micro to the mega, has one thing in common.  The in-between phase.  The mystery betwixt before and after. Building skill at recognizing that moment is the work of a lifetime.  Because in that precise moment we have opportunity.  Sometimes an active choice can be made.  We can go right or we can go left.  We can turn toward or turn away.  We can speak or be still.   And sometimes we can make a choice to be passive.  Simply surrender to the way the wind blows, the direction the water flows.  Yield to the shifting ground, submit to the prevailing momentum.  We can surrender to being with things just as they are and patiently wait for time to pass.

Faster than ever, small and big changes happen all around us.  We can cultivate our responsiveness muscle during that pause between moments.  How?  Feel inside: breath, sensation, instinct, emotion, intuition.  Look out and tune into the big picture, the broad perspective and, at the same time, attend to the devil that lives in the details.  Awareness and attention, our allies in transition, paving the way to action or surrender.

Class practice invites honing that skill.  On Sunday we paused in the ready made transition between songs and I had a total aha moment.  I’ve spent twenty years growing my DJ-ing ability, part of which involves making the transitions as seamless as possible.  What’s that about?  What kind of preparation for life is that?  I was all about abrupt on Sunday.  Challenging the habitual is definitely a means to boost awareness and attention.

Cultivation of awareness and attention is a thread weaving through all Body Joy offerings.  This web page is a vision of change in progress; scroll down to see all three listings:

Tend Your Aging Body:  New people have shown up every Saturday for this 90 minutes of pleasure. They slide right into this slow gentle practice.  Since I have tons of prop options available and a great ability to articulate the practice and lots of knowledge on how to modify so its just right for you and clear visuals and divine music…well, it’s a good thing and this Saturday Oct 29 is the last chance to indulge until January.  Treat yourself.

Wilbur Hot Springs:  Do you know this oasis 90 minutes from Sac? I’ll be on the enclosed deck November 19-20 offering 3 Roll, Release, Align sessions (all props included).  These classes are included with your day pass or overnight stay. Come soak, come hike, come let go. I love this Northern California gem. Please join me! You need to reserve your day pass or overnight stay soon with Wilbur Hot Springs.  They sell out  on weekends.

Roll, Release, Align:  Actively in transition: name is a draft, description is a draft.  But a free class on a Friday in December is in the works.  Stay tuned!  Clara is definitely rented. Us three (from left to right: Kim Wagaman, myself, Jeanne Munoz) are totally excited, committed and ready to rotate Fridays 10:00 beginning in January.

Each way-experienced teacher puts her spin on loose, long and strong.  When I’m not teaching I’ll be on my mat out there with you.  It’s a bring-your-own-props class. I’ll be retailing what you need out of my trunk in the parking lot before each class in January.

And, of course, all things 5Rhythms:
Wednesday Waves tonight Oct 26 6:30pm.
Sweat Your Prayers Sunday Oct 30 10:00am with guest teacher Rachel Jordana from Santa Cruz holding it down for a Halloween celebration. Come dressed up!! Alter Egos are welcome.
Moon Lodge  Dec 5-9 at Esalen with Lucia Horan.  I’ll be assisting at my favorite place on Planet Earth.  Wanna come with?

Closing with this quote from Leon C. Megginson:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive,
nor the most intelligent,
but the one most responsive to change.”

Let’s build that responsiveness together…❤️Bella

 

Karma: a Hindu notion, a slant on fate, a notion that our destiny is not random but is rather the effect arising from cause.  In other words: what we do today has bearing on tomorrow.  Karma is the sum of our actions in this life and maybe even in previous states of existence. This rings with truth as I waltz with memory.  Each recollection jigsaws its way into my puzzle.  Each event had a time and a reason and a perfection.  Cause and effect.

That’s the west view in my studio pictured above.  This wall has become an ever evolving altar, a random call to visual expression during Covid.  Some days it feels like a karmic exploration of all that has moved through me to create what is now and what will be.

From different streams, folks in need make a landing in this physical therapy studio. Most float in through word of mouth.  But in this brave new world, more and more internet searchers seek me out.  The healing work I do is kinda niche and the web site communicates with an accuracy that helps us find each other. Most cyber-searchers are really good matches.  They know what they want, they’re in quest of something unconventional, physical therapy with depth, treatment that reaches beyond the bounds of the physical, cutting edge—not cookie cutter.

That first time phone connect always includes the deal breaker/maker question:  “Do you have the time and willingness to come to your mat for twenty minutes most days for two weeks after our initial session?” Because two weeks of attuned follow through is so informative.  It tells us if we’re moving on the right healing track.  When there’s an excited “yes, please”, well, then I know we are good to go.

Quite frequently they reveal they have already tried EVERYTHING or that I’m the last resort or they’re discouraged but willing to try again.  I’m not sure how I became that practitioner but the story stretches way back.  Dreizler Physical Therapy was absolutely known in this community as the top place for treatment challenges that were chronic and complex. And bits and pieces of my work before that had a similar touch. There is no doubt about this being my karma.

I have a long-honed ability to listen to complicated histories. Fine-tuned ears, an open heart, eyes that miss nothing.  And then I just clearly know/intuit where and how to embark.  And what the outcome possibilities are.  And how to move softly and gently, just the right amount.  And how to support and educate and encourage all in one breath. It is my karma.

And so is teaching classes rooted in this experience.  A group session is a nest for my patients to land for support.  It’s creative space for people to slowly explore and heal on their own.  It’s a welcome mat for folks to meet me, those who may need some individual help.  Yesterday I taught the very last on-line Roll, Release, Align class.  This was a Covid-motivated two and a half year undertaking.  It was an anchor for me and a dedicated posse.  I listened and learned and loved so much.  I will miss it.  A lot.

But it’s time to go LIVE.  Tend Your Aging Body  allows us to put our feet in these new community waters and take a reading.  See above about soft and gentle and just the right amount and support and educate and encourage.  Each 90 minute session is a luxury dive into your interior breathing pulsing vital space.  New and old ways to release what’s stiff or rigid; tone up what’s exhausted weak; stretch out, lengthen what’s tense tight; feel into effortless alignment.

Clara Auditorium is spacious, the music encourages us to let go; masks are totally O.K. Questions I’ve been answering:

  • Do I have to attend all four?  No, drop into any one that works for you.
  • Are sessions recorded? Yes, receive video by email and keep practice link forever.  Pre-enroll for four, miss a class…receive video link.
  • Do I bring my own props?  Bring your mat and 3 foot foam roller if you have one.  Roller not required.  Sometimes we are practicing with the wrong density.  Yikes, so important!  All densities there for trial.  Soft balls and tennis balls provided.
  • Can I purchase equipment on site?  Yes, after class purchase anything you fall in love with.
  • Will sessions be available in Video Library?  Yes, when the series is complete.
  • How do I know if my body can do this? Call me (916) 267-5478 and let’s figure that out together.

Maybe you also know what you want, you’re questing for something unconventional, new ways to deepen into your body, tap in and reach beyond the bounds of the physical, embark on something cutting edge—not cookie cutter.

I’m excited to be out there again.  With  you.  Let’s go for it.  We step into that healing space exactly one week from today.  It’s my karma.

Love, Bella

Sitting here in the cool of this morning, knowing full well the temperature is set to go sky high again today.  Like everything else, the weather is just not what it was. Sounds like a refrain from a country song: “things just ain’t what they was”.  Change, continuous on so many planes, keeps us firmly entrenched in long term Zen training.  Some days it’s a big stretch to view all the chaos through a spiritual filter of surrendered presence.  It’s a big ask when it’s 115 degrees, fires burn the forest, division is the entrenched cultural norm, war & poverty are not even front page news, breathing air is unhealthy and Covid just keeps slinking around our edges.  Can we love life in whatever way it is being served up?

I keep answering yes.  Eventually.  Some days harder than others.  But the same priorities keep my yes alive.  Sowing seeds and harvesting fruits of connection to loved ones.  Coming to my mat to breathe and feel and tend. Partnering with astounding patients healing up in the studio.  Preparing nourishing food in a kitchen I love.  Dancing in this community. Watering my plants.  Breaking away for the devotion of living close to ocean and mountains.  And teaching.  How impactful holding space that supports us in movement has become.  And even though “things just ain’t what they was” all this still supports my love of life.

Teaching and practicing live is calling me.  Big time.  We are all gaining skill in personal health risk assessment.  Can you feel that?  I reached a tipping point when my physical health needs had to come in better balance with my emotional/mental health requirements. Who knows what the future holds but right now teaching, practicing and treating patients live is bringing me that balance.  The Clara venue is very spacious.  If you’re in the Sacramento region, we dance there Wednesday night and Sunday morning.  And I will be there four Saturday mornings in October for Tend Your Aging Body.  Feeling it out.  Possibilities for a weekday drop in class are beginning to brew.  If you’re feeling it, let’s be live together.

We’re aging.  Really.  And over the decades, guess what, our needs change.  There is tender self-care your body craves. This offering is so NOT boot camp! Pleasure mat skills with rollers & balls that free up tight fascia.  Core vitality accessed through breath-psoas intimacy.  Length for the tightest muscles.  Tend Your Aging Body is perfect if you want the motivation and confidence to come to your home mat to breathe and feel and tend.  It’s not complicated.  Even 15 minutes can make a world of difference.

If you’re a beginner to this way of being with your body? You’ll absorb the essentials. Experienced? Come to deepen your practice, feel the space.  Together we’ll be creating the support for a fluid body, powerful in motion.  Come breathe, come feel, come change.  Really.  Well maybe a picture is worth a thousand words:

I suppose if things just ain’t what they was, we have a chance to create whatever is next, whatever will someday be the new was, something that may even be better than the old was.

Yours in the Big Whatever….❤️Bella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in quiet reflection.
❤️Bella

I love historical novels.  Just finished The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams chronicling the decades long effort that created The Oxford English Dictionary.  In addition to the mix of fact and fantasy, it was a language exploration, how words are derivative of experience but also shape our experience.  Dictionary definitions—spring boards into a huge language pool.  I often use them in writing to illuminate how our interpretation of each word is shaped by our unique experience of a constantly evolving reality.  It’s a miracle we can communicate this way at all!

So take the definition plunge with me.  Today I’m curious about how our needs for self-care change over the decades.  Consider the word care:

1) provision for the health, welfare, maintenance, protection
of someone or something
2) to have feelings like concern, responsibility or love
for someone or something

Many of us are quite skilled at bestowing care for others. Pointing the finger right at myself.  But what happens when we personalize this meaning:

Concern for and taking loving responsibility for my
health, welfare, maintenance and protection needs.

There are so many ways self-caring might manifest.  In the best of all possible worlds, we minister to the needs of our vulnerable hearts, tangled minds and wild spirits.  But you know where I’m headed: caring for our tender bodies is foundational and naturally opens the portal to all these other realms.

Some examples of how NOT to care for a tender body:

  • some habitual drill we latched onto when that first owie desperately needed attention years ago
  • some routine drilled in ad nauseum by a personal trainer in the last century
  • a latest and greatest internet guru series
  • a pre-fab list your medical provider handed you as you walked out the door
  • fill in your own version

Here’s what I know from direct experience, with my own body and a virtual multitude of bodies: our needs are super-personal and our needs change.  This is just plain common sense.  Each new body trauma reshapes us and begs for re-calibration of care.  As does the passage of time.  I so very often work with folks on the brink of a decade change intuitively sensing this.  They come in with an almost instinctual need for a shake up in self-care.  What we need in our thirties is very different than what we need in our sixties.

So after Labor Day when you’re ready to rededicate, recalibrate, restore, renew…and receive, come for expert guidance. I’m returning to Ritual (the old It’s All Yoga) on 6 Saturday afternoons for live-in-the-flesh classes that help you suss out what you need. Limited to 12 participants for optimal spacing and personal attention  Six exploratory chapters: tender, gentle, pleasure-filled.  Each session filmed for supported home practice.  Tending Your Aging Body: stay tuned, enrollment link active soon.

It’s all about the shoulder lately in Roll, Release, Align.  You can be there on line this Friday morning to feel, breathe, move, change. What the heck is a latissimus dorsi?  Did you know this power house muscle connects your pelvic bowl to your arm?  Look at this big boy…amazing:

And this Sunday morning is literally the last dance…until after Labor Day.  Majica and I share the mixing, back and forth to offer up two waves on the fly in the garden.  After we move together, let’s eat together.  Come out of your cave…bring a potluck offering…feel the joy of connection, the support of community.  It’s a good thing.

Grateful for all our tomorrows and the human way we are able to rededicate and renew….❤️Bella

The word feminist was an ear chime in 1968, a sound that every cell in my body registered.  I was standing in history’s crossfire. Transported from a childhood home steeped in traditions forged by an unyielding father figure and literally dropped right into the hurricane eye of uber-radical UCLA. Talk about frying pan to fire.  The notion that equality—political, economic, social—could be a reality was an alluring fantasy for someone with two considered career choices (once ballerina was out of the picture): nursing or teaching.

Despite this liberating environment, this incredible awakening from deep slumber, all those youthful years of conditioning wielded an entrenched authority that kept me on track.  Although I did manage a slight left turn from nursing to physical therapy.  By 1973 I was a brand new hireling in the halls of health care delivery right when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to protect a woman’s liberty to choose her reproductive fate.   It was a timely ruling, a logical outcome of feminist sensibility.  Why would anyone believe that the US government could hold sway over my body?  In what cockamanie world does that make sense?

In that same moment, Watergate was blasting over the airways and  religious fundamentalism was weaving church and state in totally disturbing ways. Official policy seemed to be steadily moving to the dark side.  And this, my friends, as it turns out, was only the beginning.  At the same time all this was coming down, I was an eager novice in varied clinical settings, growing a foundation in healing skills to serve patients.  In clinics similar to mine, in other quiet rooms dedicated to the relief of suffering, bombs were exploding.  This siege has never abated.

And now this. Fifty years down the road, Roe vs. Wade overturned. It is inconceivable.  Even an imagination as active as mine cannot conjure what it means to be 14 years old, poor, newly pregnant and living in the foreign territory of Texas.  All the rhetoric I can hurl from this white tower of privilege doesn’t touch the outcome for this wrong place, wrong time needy human being.  I want to be outraged.  I really do.  I know it’s in there.  But right now all I feel is utter exhaustion.  Clawed into place gains….lost.  We are pedaling backwards toward an abyss that is frightening.  The only hope I can summon is that just maybe this is the final gasp of a way past the expiration date dysfunctional patriarchy.

I don’t have anything else to say here except that it’s your body.  Every human being deserves the right to choose what to take into their own body—physically, emotionally, mentally.  Each of us needs support in finding our own unique way to process and assimilate those choices.  And every body is entitled to let go, to release that which does not serve.

Please vote.  And if you can afford to give, National Network of Abortion Funds is a good recipient.  And the only thing I know for sure to do right now is to keep moving.  That, too, is a choice.  Let’s do that together.

🙏🏼Bella

Align.  Align with.  Be in alignment.  This word has such physical footing—arrangement in a straight line or in correct or appropriate relative positions.  The deeper definition radiates from that foundational physicality.  B.K.S. Iyengar, credited with popularizing yoga, first in India and then around the world, was certainly on to this notion.

“It is through the alignment of the body that I discovered
the alignment of my mind, self and intelligence.”

I’m taking a step back here, maybe you want to as well. I’m considering the lifelong physical journey of my own body.  This quote just resonates.  Completely.  So many childhood experiences knocked me off center and then delivered me to young adulthood.  Yet even on the brink, such a ripe moment for potential awakening, alignment remained a physical therapy plumb line connecting ankle bone, hip, shoulder, ear.  By the age of 25, left neck pain kept pulling me out of alignment.  Relentlessly, more than ten years.  The connection of this physical pain to the pain in my heart was somewhere on a way back burner, obscured by the tasks of launching into middle age.  When I turned 34, shortly after my mother’s death, slow healing began. Only in retrospect do I wonder about that connection.

The pull out of healthy physical alignment in tandem with a gritty bundle of unresolved feelings kept this suffering in motion for decades.  Years of physical turmoil: shoulder issues, low back pain, foot owies.  A body part would heal, there would be a period of relative calm and then another trouble would crop up.  It was the most intense, 40 year post-graduate training a physical therapist could undergo.  Learning from the inside out.  Incredible.  Not recommended. Not regretted.

Twenty plus years ago I began to dance again.  Gabrielle Roth had stuff to say about being out of alignment.  She called it trizophrenia – thinking one thing, feeling entirely something else and then acting in a way that had nothing to do with either.  I immersed myself in a practice that ruthlessly called me out when my actions did not jive with my feelings and thoughts.  Of course, as per usual, awakening did not lead to immediate cessation of suffering.  In fact ten years ago left hip pain completely took me for a ride.  This wake up scream was so loud, there was no choice but utter surrender.

I had to discover new ways of molding my body toward alignment.  And on a barely conscious parallel track I was creatively finding ways to spend time with my father.  My heart just kind of melted into a forgiveness I never considered possible.  I sat bedside with him as he passed two years ago and realized I had been physically pain free for quite a long spell. This time, with his passage, the coincidence of aligned healing was not lost on me.

“Ecstasy is an egoless, timeless state of being, a state of total alignment and unity of body, heart, mind, soul, spirit.”  Gabrielle Roth

Of course, who knows what the future holds?  My 72nd birthday, a couple weeks away, I’ve never felt better.  My body is fluid and free…my heart is love-filled, my mind quietly brims with wonder. Doing the work in the world I was meant to do.  Spirit unfalteringly turned toward this final chapter.

The re-name of Essentials to Roll, Release, Align is not random.  Whether it’s in class or in treatment, we roll in pleasure-filled ways to release what holds us in check.  And then we align.  Powerfully.  And without overtly teaching spiritual alignment per se, the deeper definition of alignment radiates from that foundational physicality.  It always has.  It’s just taken me years to feel it so completely.

Let’s align together…❤️Bella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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