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

How’s your pleasure quotient lately?  Can you feel how unrelenting stress has emptied our collective cups?  So you’ll notice a recurrent theme rolling in my mat classes: “This is about pleasure…move toward it.  Nothing we do here hurts. Feel enjoyment.  Let this be juicy.  Have fun with this.  Attend to that dormant kid, the playful curious one. Follow the impulse, the whim, the instinct.  The most intensity would be ‘hurts so good’.  Be gentle with yourself.  Move into breath and relaxation.  Take pleasure.”  You get the gist.

Pleasure deprivation is acute these days but this cushiony orientation to self-release has been emerging for years.  Twenty years ago, fresh out of the clinical setting, I had students and patients using dense black rollers and spiky blue pokey balls.  I let my own experience with uber-firm pressure for fascia release be my guide. Yet I was often showing people how to decrease the pressure so they could get started.

After awhile, I got it. I now offer three different density rollers and ditched Mr. Spiky a while ago.  Except for the hard core who still totally “hurt good” love him.  The double tennis balls are pressure-satisfactory for most.  Especially when I modify using two sets at once and always begin with the most cushy techniques.  I’m not sure why I was so slow to understand this basic fact: when something is pleasurable we move toward it and tend to repeat it.  How many years of rut-building “it has to be hard if it’s going to work” does it take before we try something different?  I know I am not alone.

Guess what?  Now I’m softening even more.  As of April 1, to fully participate in Friday Essentials, I’m recommending Smooth Balls in addition to roller and tennis balls.  Releasing into a soft surface is a wait-for-it experience.  Gentle, quietly pleasurable.  Quite different than a firm surface.  Release into density is a go-for-it adventure.  We dive in and the pressure “hurts so good”.  Firm or soft, we pause and breathe and await the satisfying sensation of release. One is not better than the other.  I’m just inviting a bit more time on the soft side.  Especially in the armpits, belly and hips.  Come feel.

And what has inspired this slow unraveling?  Perspective often reveals truth impossible to glimpse in the midst.  How twenty years of dance has been slowly chipping away old stories, programming about struggle and fixing and working hard.  Sometimes I hear Gabrielle’s voice so loud and clear:  “You didn’t think this was about dance, did you?”  The dance is so seductive and, for me, the first ten years of practice were totally about dance.  Incredible dedicated hours, weeks, months exploring and working 5Rhythms.  But the tables have turned.

During the last decade, I gave up working the rhythms and instead, the rhythms have been working me. They’ve become a subconscious lens through which I sense and feel and look and know.  Softening is the most obvious permeating way the rhythms have worked me over.  On so many levels.  So it’s actually no surprise that my mat and table work have been softening, too.  The serendipitous way 5Rhythms showed up in my life was perhaps part of the Big Plan.  On a mission to wrench me out of a tough way of living and working and being.  Pointing my compass toward easy and tender, pleasureful soft.  Who knew? Just like Ms. G. said…maybe it was never really about dance.

This is an invitation to soften, take pleasure.  Order a pair of those balls.  You’ll know what to do with them.  Come to class and feel.  I’ll offer an intro class in a bit and add to the Video Intro Series .  And we are LIVE back at Clara on the soft oak dance floor, four Wednesdays in April with the same theme: Taking Pleasure.  Let’s fill our collective cups.

This from the lips of Anodea Judith, sussing out  second chakra qualities in her groundbreaking book Eastern Body, Western Mind:

“By moving the body, we build muscle tissue, increase circulation, stimulate nerve endings, and generally enhance
the body’s flexibility and aliveness.
The flow of pleasure and excitation through the nervous system
bathes the organism in sensation and awareness.
Movement has its own pleasure.”
Let’s move together and take some pleasure…❤️Bella

 

Mr. Foam Roller dropped a wisdom bomb on me.  And here’s one thing I know about wisdom: it’s no static thing.  It’s not a place we arrive.  It’s dynamic, ever-changing, fluid.  So here’s how the bomb dropped.  Laying on this roller, head one end, tail the other, that’s how I routinely taught core stability…for years.  Go ahead.  Hop up.  Just try keeping your balance sans support of hands and feet. You’ll quickly feel what I was up to.  But over time I became frustrated with how you can kinda cheat your way through this technique.  The big wobble of parallel roller work obscures a lot of subtlety.  It began to feel like a total bypass of breath and the depth and delicacy of sensation. I was curious about stability subtleties so I completely dropped this practice.

Ditched it and spent twenty years investigating the back-story, how to induct core stability in the most softly discerning ways.  Muted attunement deep inside.   Fascinating for geeks, a bit boring for the rest of the world.  A couple months ago, after two decades of abstention, on a whim, I hopped back on to feel what I could feel.  Oh my gosh.  The subtlety had been there all along.  I just wasn’t fine-tuned enough to sense it.  And this little story goes to the heart of how we land in wisdom bomb land.

First I needed to make the leap from ignorance to awareness.  Frustration is a great indicator something needs to shift. I made the leap the day I ditched the roller.  That move away from old habit toward the unknown propelled me into new learning realms.  Books, classes, teachers…yes. Knowledge is important. But then I had to filter that new information through my own experience.  Listening in, tracking, reflecting.  Paying attention to how my own body, heart, mind responded, resisted, transformed.  Lots of trial and error.  The comprehension had to mesh with real life experience before understanding and integration could arise.

Worthy wisdom isn’t born overnight.  In this case it took twenty years.  Knowledge and experience had to marinate in the crucible of time.  It’s still a total mystery what called me back to that old habit a couple months ago. But hop up I did and, in an instant, I felt everything I’d been missing back in 2000.  The response of patients and students has been phenomenal. This moves stability out of the world of geek-dom and into the world of playful fun. Really.  And the roller is actually a better hands on instructor than I can be…especially on Zoom.  Articulating this practice continues to evolve and is a beautiful example of how dynamic true wisdom is.  It is so not a static thing.

I’ve been teaching a maturing version of loose, long and strong for thirty years now.  It was utterly fulfilling to usher 10 new students into the world of Essentials via the just completed series.  Missed it?  Want some roller hopping?  It’s in the Video Library.  Want some wisdom?  Digest the knowledge encapsulated in those four classes; let it meet and inform your unique experience. After it marinates in the crucible of time, a big chunk of body wisdom will be yours.  Want it tailored to fit?  I just saw a patient this afternoon who just completed the series.  Over the past month she’s been on her mat trying different pieces on.  Today we made a cell phone video of the most important thirty minutes for her unique body.  She is excited to come to Essentials this Friday for the first time.  I know it is just the support she needs to stay motivated the rest of the week.

Wanna play?

  • Essentials 10-11:30 Friday: This week we complete our anatomical exploration of spine.  Next week we begin a seven week journey through energetic spine, travelling the chakras.  We roll, we tone, we stretch.  We laugh, listen to music, commune.  It’s good warm pleasure.
  • Moving Outside 12:30-2:00 Thursday March 3, 10, 17: celebrate Spring in a big garden on the Sacramento River. Practice outdoors graced by earth and sun, sky and wind, feeling the lay of our unique home land. Co-teaching with Judy Tretheway, proprietess of this property.  Judy and I go way back, two elders with many decades of embodied wisdom bombs—Qigong, 5Rhythms, orienting, forest bathing.  Together we’ll guide this experience with dance, movement, connection and breath, moving with the great outdoors. Come feel.
  • Sweat Your Prayers 10-noon EVERY Sunday: out on this same Sacramento River land.  I’m either teaching or out there dancing.  This community is incredibly welcoming.  Get out in nature.  It will do you so much good.
  • Physical Therapy: my studio or Zoom in your room.  The wisdom bombs created over fifty years fall easily in this fertile field.  Bring whatever challenges you and together we’ll find our way through.

There’s so much that connects each of these offerings.  But that piece—  listening in, tracking, reflecting—the supported opportunity to do just that is at the bottom of it all. I’ll keep holding that piece for us.  It is my offering.  ❤️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