Pictured above? Yoga Woman, portrait of Madonna, an original artwork by Grace Slick.  In 2000 this apparition landed in my home, post-vision quest.  Under her intense gaze my childhood dance passion re-ignited.  She whispered to my tree-climbing, jump-roping, roller-skating little being, the one with keen internal body perception, natural sensory attunement.  She incited my search for freedom, space to emerge and expand.  Within two years, yoga and dance re-activated my life.  Another three years and the physical therapy clinic sold.  She shipped out to the east coast last week having fully completed her destiny-tickler mission in Sacramento.  High time to bring her magic to a new home.

The soil of childhood can conceal roots that suckle our souls.  When we recognize those inspirational head-over-heels moments, when we appreciate a natural surrender to full on engagement, we are actively tracking those roots.  These are moments when paying attention just happens.  When curiosity takes the wheel.  When pleasure is palpable.  When time is elastic.  When we are inexplicably drawn.

The imprint of childhood threads weave into our present time life.  We can choose to take heed and follow.  Or not.  But perhaps tracking these moments is a way to partner with deeply rooted destiny. And those threads are not always the joyful ones.  My tender little heart was broken open and then shuttered closed so very young.  Healing this wound…destined.  My childhood was utterly uprooted, the family moving from place to place to place.  Setting down roots, establishing community…destined. On a more upbeat note, my early entrainment in the lap of the Sierras and the Pacific continues to call me home. And that organic persistent girlhood tug to both writing and teaching keeps moving me toward aliveness.

When I looked out at community moving in the garden last Sunday morning it was all in one place at once: teaching, embedded in sangha, dancing in nature, my heart overflowing—obviously destined.  Believe it’s random your life has a particular form?  Wonder what roots have shape shifted your soul?

You can sit right here for a few, do a bit of investigatory musing.  And you can practice this week and see what your body knows.

On the mat:

Essentials Friday 10:00:  sacrum, mythic root of our life force, stored right from birth. As this energy rises toward the crown, our destiny manifests toward the divine.

On the dance floor: 

5Rhythms Sunday 10:00 and Wednesday 6:30: souls draw sustenance from embodied remembrance, historical heart happenings, beliefs and events that shape the way we imagine the world.  Come shape-shift.

Full on engagement is so juicy. Moments to cherish and pay attention. Maybe even partner with destiny.
❤️Bella

“Now you realize how precious your time here is. You’re no longer willing to squander your essence on undertakings that do not nourish you…. your patience grows thin with tired talk and dead language….Now you are impatient for growth, willing to put yourself in the way of change….You want your gods to be wild and to call you to where your destiny awaits.”
~ John O’Donohue

The dictionary definition of somatic is so very simple: relating to the body, as distinguished from the mind.  I hang with the body-based crowd.  Entering an individual session or group teaching through the heart channel or mind channel are generally not my go-to’s.  Because time and again, experience verifies that when we enter through the body channel, we authentically access heart and mind.  Feeling and insight naturally erupt up and through the body channel and often astonish us with the honest accuracy of truth.

All that being said, the mind is a powerful tool.  I fed that mind channel deeply over the last couple weeks with Joan Halifax’s book Standing at the Edge.  I love the subtitle: finding freedom where fear and courage meet.  Highly recommended.  And eventually, in a backward change of pace, I let knowledge inform my body.  More about that later.  But first I focused and absorbed the empathy chapter, curious to tease out the roots of empathic distress (last week’s newsletter) and how empathy and compassion are linked.  What follows is Halifax’s take on the subject, a summary, a paraphrase of that chapter.

Halifax defines empathy as our ability to feel into another.  To merge with, sense, imagine, include, identify with. To allow ourselves to be inhabited by another.  Sense into their emotions, view life from their perspective.  Walt Whitman sums it up:

“I do not ask the wounded person how he feels,
I myself become the wounded person.”

Compassion is feeling for another.  Empathy informs compassion, is often a precursor. But compassion is more fleshed out than empathy; a warm positive state often coupled with desire to benefit the other.  Compassion is intentionally generated with love, kindness, concern running concurrently with empathy. There is no such thing as compassion fatigue.  But empathic over arousal and distress are real.  Unregulated empathy can lead us to avoidance, numbness, burnout.  We can learn to recognize and harness an empathetic response to activate healthy compassionate concern.

How to?  Not surprising that the key to regulation lands us right back where we began: somatics.  When we catch ourselves standing at the edge of empathic distress we can pivot toward compassion by feeling our feet on the ground.  We don’t abandon the other, we continue to include, identify with the other AND we sense our own heartbeat, the quality of our own breath.  We seek and establish a balance, a distinction, a clear boundary between our own bones and theirs.  I love Brene Brown’s embodied phrase:

Strong back, soft front, wild heart…

And when and if we fall over our own edge, which we do, there is deep learning in the swamp of empathic distress.  And what was trauma in the past can morph into medicine for the past and the future.

On the dance floor Sunday, this wealth of information channeled its way into a somatic exploration of nimbly moving from empathy to compassion.  The physical sensation of walking in another’s shoes, side-by-side seeing from another’s perspective, bearing witness, attuning to bodies-hearts-minds.  Ultimately seeing ourselves in the other, feeling our common humanity.  Our strong backs.  Our soft fronts.  Our wild hearts.

In 5Rhythms Wednesday Waves I’ll be out there again exploring this territory a bit differently.  Before we dance, thirty minutes of somatic release with rollers and balls. Focus on our compassion-generating region: deep in the core, hips and heart.  Then connecting the core and paving the way into dance with releasing the feet.  The middle chapter? An hour wave of dance.  The ending? A guided art creation led by Majica Alba.  I am in love with this co-creative possibility: two 5Rhythms teachers, one a physical therapist, the other an art therapist.  Who knew?

Three opportunities this week to hang with the body-based crowd…
❤️Bella

So much conversation these days about cultural polarization.  Red states and blue.  Big pharma and science.  Vax and unvax.  Righteousness abounds.  Personally, I reside in a bubble that affords me scarce opportunity for exchange with the other pole.  The issues are uber-complex, so much is at stake in this deep, barely navigable river of separation.  How do we find middle ground?

Just for now let’s drop this exhausting argument, this detached discussion out there.  Just for now let’s invite it into the realm of in-your-face personal.  The polarity waging on the inside.  Because we’ve all heard some version of this quote by Ezra Taft Benson, right?

“Some of the greatest battles will be fought
within the silent chambers of your own soul.”

Polarity: the state of having two opposite or contradictory tendencies, opinions or aspects.  And who doesn’t have that festering in some way, shape or form internally? For the last 3 months I’ve spiraled ‘round this one again, avidly tracking a personal polarity.  For a week this scrutiny supported by Esalen days filled with soaking and dancing, natural beauty and meditating, good food and expert guidance. Working side-by-side with Lucia Horan allows me to be in the sweet spot: being in service balanced with being held in practice.  The statue of Kwan Yin (above), travelled out of my studio, first time in thirteen years.  She exuded mercy and compassion and grace throughout the week.

Inside me there’s a little numb one who took shelter way at one end of the pole.  Surviving by letting nothing in, allowing nothing out. This early learning shaped me in many ways.  It affected the way I moved with deep loss. Through my middle years, chock full of family and work responsibility, grief squeezed its way into available holes in my schedule.  Truly.  Listening to those of you in the throws of mid-life, it’s a relief to know this experience is not unusual.  However greased the wheels were by my early childhood training.

But grief more toward life’s end gives me access to a different experience: the opposite pole.  Now there is time.  Here there is space and perspective. Here there is a semblance of emotional wisdom.  This other pole—letting everything in and everything out—feels like uncharted territory.  It has been liberating to feel with intensity and a relief to let out a bucket of tears.  Passion and tears that have been languishing for decades.

Now it is a sensation of a wound healing.  A somatic scar tentatively binding raw vulnerability. A developing understanding of empathic distress.  Curiosity about how empathy informs compassion.  An embodiment of how much is at stake in this river separating numbness on one shore and overwhelm on the other.  And that this great battle fought within the silent chambers of my own soul is giving birth to a more mature navigator.  More skillful at self-witnessing, self-regulating.   A capable steward of this oh so tender heart.

Sigh…this is what consistently paying attention reveals.  And paying attention with the support of like-minded community just ups the ante.  Inviting you along for three opportunities to pay attention in sangha this week:

  • Wednesday Waves in person breaks the format mold in this final chapter of 2021.  Two hours 6:30-8:30, but only one hour for dancing a wave in the middle.  We’ll open with my guidance, gently prepping the body for motion with rollers and balls (all props provided).  And we’ll integrate at closure with Majica guiding us through creative art expression. We begin with a focus on the feet November 10.  This first Wednesday is FREE if you have never done 5Rhythms at Clara.  Drop in to any session for $25 or pre-enroll for all five for $100.  Please check link for nitty gritty details.
  • Essentials Friday 10:00 on line deep dives into the pelvic floor.  This week an introduction to the geeky diamond-shaped anatomy…so beautiful.  Every week a gentle breathing variation on releasing, core toning, stretching and how this informs simple yoga poses.  The Video Library is there to dive in any time spirit moves you.
  • Sunday Sweat Your Prayers 10:00-noon in person & online.  Thanks to a generous community benefactor, we are still practicing in the garden space bordering the Sacramento River.  If you have yet to join us in this enchanted land, you are so welcome.  Check the link for the nitty gritty. I’m up this coming Sunday.

It’s in the silent chambers of our own souls where peace commences.  Let’s seek that middle ground together.  ❤️Bella

Maybe it’s this veil-thin time of year, death making the news, the anniversary of my teacher’s passage. Recurrent divination, this felt sense of spirit inhabiting us on the breath. Spirit moving us on the breath. Place hand to belly. Feel that rise and fall? Spirit inhabits belly, let it move your hips. Let hand drift to breast bone. There it is: spirit surrounding heart and lungs, moving your cage of ribs. Feel it entering nostrils, filling sinuous passages, releasing your neck, surrendering head to gravity. Spirit inhabits us, moves us on the breath.

And spirit inhabits us in memory as well, an imprint of those who came before. All day last Friday I was so clearly remembering a moment I shared with Gabrielle in 2008. It was the final day of my teacher training and we were both leaving Westerbeke when our paths crossed. Both of us were headed to Sacramento, she to visit her Mom, Jean, who had lived in my town a long time, though I’d never met her. We chatted a bit in the parking lot until the talk turned to her aching shoulder. She wondered if she might come for treatment while in town. I said yes and we set a time. I fervently hoped my space would be ready. Because when I left two weeks earlier it definitely was not complete.

Back story: after I sold the clinic in 2005, I was physical therapy homeless. I carried my treatment table around town, practicing my craft wherever I could. But in 2008, deep in this 5Rhythms training process, I decided to tear down my garage and build a place I could work. A place my treatment table could call home, a space I could dance and be on my mat. A room of my own. Construction was ongoing throughout that tumultuous year, sort of nearing completion when I left for that final module at Westerbeke.

Gabrielle was the first patient I treated in this backyard dream space. I’m ever sensitive to the way she blessed it with her presence. Spirit inhabits us in the memory. That day there were workers banging around downstairs but upstairs was empty and peaceful, the table graced the middle of the room. We had our moment together.

Before she left, she put in motion the longstanding relationship I had with her mother, Jean. At first I saw Jean for home visits, treating her aging body. But it became so much more. I played music for us to dance together, her hips sashaying as she stood in her walker. I brought her to a few classes. She was utterly worshipped. Jean and Gabrielle’s brother came to Coloma Center the night before Gabrielle died. The two of them danced with this community, shared in our closing circle. Spirit inhabited us all on the breath that evening and now spirit inhabits via memory. Jean joined the spirit realm a couple years ago. I miss her.

Take a breath or two right now. Attune to spirit breathing belly, chest, head, every cell inside. Trust the quiet. Seek the dark. Move toward the empty space. Make the leap: spirit surrounds us, connects us all, and, if we’re willing, guides us. Cozy up to the mystery; it serves to prepare us for response when spirit inevitably sweeps in and moves with us on its path.

Breathing with you….Bella

The deep cold snap last week scrapped a 3 day camping trip.  I can do rugged…but a 40 degree high is not conducive to anything.  So I woke Monday morning  to an empty to-do list.  My current schedule is a pale shadow of what it used to be.  But nothing planned? Not so much.

I pulled out my trusty Osho deck and asked, “What do you have to tell me about this stillness?”  I drew Ordinariness, a woman gently moving  through an orchard, gathering fruit in her basket.  The accompanying narrative was, in a nut shell, a call to bring your attention and delight to the ordinary.  Chop wood, carry water.

I began moving uber-slowly, especially in the kitchen.  Oozing around molasses-like, returning ceramic dishes to familiar shelves, placing well-worn pans in messy drawers, caressing slender silverware, utensils I’ve eaten from thirty years.  The laundry turned into a celebration of clean creation.  Chopping vegetables a prayer.  Really, it’s such a short hop from ordinary to sacred.

On Sunday we danced this ordinary landscape.  Wanna move with ordinary right here?  Imagine a six foot line on your floor.  Stand all the way at one end, let your chest expand.  Imagine yourself pushing to be more.  More what?  More brilliant, more remarkable, more exceptional, more clever, more extraordinary.  Dazzle the world with your uniqueness.  Maybe it’s a stretch; it may feel totally familiar.  But notice the energy it takes to maintain this posture of perform, pretend, produce.

Shake it off, let go as you walk to the other end of the line.  On this far end, let shoulders collapse, rib cage cave.  Feel the flavor of not good enough, less than, hidden.  Comparing and forever coming up short.  Overwhelmed by accomplishments of others, wishing for more.  More what?  See above.

When you’ve inhabited both ends, let yourself wander this polarized strand a bit.  Or put on some music and dance betwixt too much and not enough.  Be curious.  How does the middle feel?  Nothing added.  Enough.  Unpack this for yourself. I delight in the sensibility evoked by this timeless phrase:

Just be yourself…everyone else is taken.

I adore teaching 5Rhythms, a practice of limitless possibility. Offering this exploration Sunday anchored me into the ordinary and the mysterious way it is woven with stillness.  This week on Wednesday night I want us to feel stillness throughout a wave, serenity at hand no matter what rhythm is sweeping through us in these crazy times.  Our ability to face a sink full of dirty dishes and just peacefully, methodically render them clean.  In the most ordinary way.

On the 5Rhythms horizon:

  • Sunday Halloween Sweat  Oct 31:  Put on a costume, dance with us in the garden.  First wave also available on Zoom 10:00-11:00.  In person?  We have a surprise ritual in store for you from 11:00-1:00.  Bring your lunch; we’ll stay after and break bread together.
  • Wednesday Waves in October 20 & 27:  We have a special “dance mask” for you at the door.  These KN94’s as comfy as a mask can be.  It is amazing to be on that Clara wood floor.
  • Wednesday Waves Nov/Dec5 classes for the remainder of 2021.  Majica and are going to serve up a tasty hybrid of what we love.  I’ll start us out at 6:30 with foam and ball rolling and release BEFORE we dance a wave.  AFTER we dance, Majica leads us in an art experience.  No experience necessary for participation in these three uniquely healing practices.  We are calling you in if you have NEVER danced with us.  Just print this ticket…your participation FREE for the very first class November 10.

Richard Linklater, an American film director, producer and screenwriter sums it up for me here:

As you get older, you want less from the world;
you just want to experience it.
Any barriers to feeling emotions get dismantled.
And ordinary things become beautifully poetic.

Yours in the poetry of it all…Bella

A body rests face down on my treatment table and my hands, butterfly wings, rest upon the flare of ribs.  I sense our breath in tandem gently pressing my way south—right, left, right, left.  One side gives, responsive to my touch, springing back as I release compression. Swedish translation for this flare of ribs? Heart basket.  Indeed, this one side gives way like the fibers of a basket.  The other side lives up to the English name: rib cage.  There is a dense unyielding quality, a jail bar rigid resistance.  The two sides are like night and day.

I don’t remember when I began conversing with bodies this way.  There are early memories of being behind someone, my hands an inquiry around shoulder blades, my thumbs in curious exploration where neck meets the head.  This unfolding wonder about finding the knots, their strange asymmetry, the pleasure response evoked with just the right amount of pressure, the palpable sense of tension releasing.  Eventually it became part of my work in the world.

I do remember the moment this hands on passion woke to new possibility.  It dawned when my own heart basket was the recipient of treatment. The therapist taught me how to follow up using the double-wrapped tennis balls and be my own best body worker. It was 1984, it blew my mind, it healed my woes, my focus took a left turn.  I realized the release that skilled hands can generate translates to what self-care tools can create.  Since that epic day my work became duel-fueled: hands-on investigation paired with my rapidly expanding self-care voyage.  Translating the provision of relief (often temporary when done TO you) into the power of deeply informed education.  Lasting changes happen when the right stress is applied to the right tissue on a steady basis.

My latest discovery tickles me to no end.  Calves.  Tight on anyone who is active.  The standard foam rolling technique—leaning back on hands with calves on roller—meh.  Never felt like it was doing much.  Catch this video if you want to really release calves.

We practice this calf release weekly in Essentials.  This week we’ll pull together foot and ankle, shins and calves, knees and thighs…plug the whole leg into the sensual curvy ball/socket of the hip.  90 minutes Friday morning is total luxury; 15-20 minutes on your mat most days is magic.  Maybe you’re intrigued.  Maybe you’re tired of feeling too tight or too weak to do what you love to do.  Maybe you feel the call to care for your one and only body.  Here’s the best way in.  Prepare for the journey with these tools.  Then dive into Essentials: the introduction, now in the Video Library.  After that there are three ways to show up for yourself: 1) purchase any session in the library   2) join us on-line Friday or  3) enroll for Friday and receive the most up-to-date recording that same day to do in your own time.  Easy to create 3-4 shorter sessions with each recording.

And I am right here for that in person one-on-one session that flows in this dance from the pleasure and relief of hands on table work to the joy and empowerment of mat education.  Zoom appointments you wonder?  I guide the self release that informs the resulting education.  Always we end with a video recording for home.

So is there a conversation you are currently engaged in with your body?  It speaks volumes in sensation and whispers in endless variations of breath.  Sometimes it clamors for our attention and other times it’s afraid to bother us.  Listen in.  I’m right here to be in that conversation with you.

❤️Bella

It’s our first act as we exit the womb.  An inhale.  New, fresh, born into possibility.  Arising.  And then there is our departing gesture: the exhale.  A dissolve, a let go into mini-death.  Passing away.  Arising and passing away.  So brief, that precious time we have allotted between birth and death.  Take a breath in and pause.  Feel that sweetness.  Rumi invites us to use that time wisely:

“There comes a time when nothing is meaningful
except surrendering to love.”

It is in this surrender we suffer the inevitable loss of what and who we love.  It is in this surrender that our hearts inevitably break.  It is in this surrender that the inseparability of love and loss become an anguished reality.  Maybe your heart is like mine.  In an effort to carry on, it is capable of feigning forgetfulness.  But below this surface deceit, my old wounds smolder.  And with this fresh loss they ignite into a renewal of this perspective. This time the love/loss bond feels urgently regenerated.

I have an old tattered bookmark with a quote from Stephen Jenkinson, author of Die Wise.  A reminder, a hindrance to feigning forgetfulness:

“Grief is a way of loving what has slipped from view.
Love is a way of grieving that which has not yet done so.”

And Confucius say, “In each life there are two lives.  The second one begins when we realize we only have one.”  The moment that second life begins, the moment we heed the call to live in earnest, that moment comes for each and every one of us.  We can be so friggin’ denial adept that it comes quite late for many.  Too late for some.

Yesterday we danced in this territory and felt ourselves come alive.  It is one thing to sit here and read about loss and love as a concept.  Something quite different happens when you move with it.  I’m teaching Wednesday night again.  I don’t know what else to do but keep moving with this.  It’s how I’m built.  Maybe you can join us at Clara.  Maybe you’re not ready.  But we can all breathe.

Take a deep breath in.  Feel whatever is arising, feel born into possibility.  Hold that breath: cherish the time you have been allocated and remember what and who you love.  Let the breath go.  Feel it all passing away.  Yourself included.

Surrendering to love…bella

The hula hoop craze seared its way into my seven year old memory.  Everyone had one and when I wasn’t roller skating that plastic was circling my hips endlessly.  I played with this toy on and off through the years and as an adult, cursed/blessed with a more analytical mind, I became intrigued with clockwise vs. counter-clockwise.  I found that everyone has a strong preference for directionality when it comes to circling the hips.
And  it somehow felt therapeutic to work at coordinating moves in the more challenging direction.

This weekend my grandson proudly showed me his new found ability.  First time I’d played with one in maybe five years.  Still could do!  After we each showed off our moves, I asked him to try circling the other direction.  He had to place his feet wider apart, put out way more effort and, after a few valiant circumnavigations, the hoop circled on down to the ground.  He tried again.  Same.  It looked like my own prior experiences.  With a lot of effort and a substantial deficit in coordination I used to be able to keep it aloft for maybe a minute.

So I was totally surprised when it was my turn to go the hard way and it was totally easy.  Fluid, effortless, simple.  Obviously something had shifted in this body.  And here’s what I know for sure.  In the fall of 2015, after a painful bout of left hip pain, I became serious about addressing the asymmetrical deficits at my core.  Up until then I trusted training symmetrically despite increasing evidence that my body was not symmetrical.

Exactly three years later, in the fall of 2018 I moved with uterine cancer and a full hysterectomy.  This loss served to deepen my relationship with this asymmetry and gave me access to feeling sensation at an even more subtle level.  I continued to refine this subtle core toning, working centrally, unilaterally and on the diagonal.  The time necessary for this was surprisingly small—5 to 10 minutes, but the consistency was everything—3 to 4 times a week.

Now it is fall again and another three years have passed.  I find myself bounding up the long flight of stairs that lead up from the beach where we are camped.  Balancing on the roller with total ease (pictured above) while gazing at Mama Ocean.  And I can hula hoop to the right or the left.  I feel the best I have felt in many years…maybe ever.  And I know the physical is just a part of the whole.  But it is the physical that supports me in continuing to open my heart, quiet my mind, find full expression for my soul and touch into spirit in all ways possible.  And sharing this route to self-care is what Essentials is about.

Maybe you’re curious and have yet to dive in.  This Saturday at 10:00am, for the first time on line, I’m offering Essentials: the introduction.  If this time does not work for you, pre-enroll to receive the recording.  In two gentle hours learn all the basics of release via foam rolling and double tennis balls; above mentioned subtle core toning—symmetrical and asymmetrical; stretching spine, rib cage, arms and legs.  Want a visual sense of that?

Not only will you feel great by noon, this prepares you to take any Friday morning class Pre-enroll for October or drop in. Or take any class available in the growing Video Library.

So that’s what’s Essential in October where we continue our journey from the feet up.  If you missed the first two foot-focused classes, especially if your tootsies are giving you grief, both those classes are in the library now.  When we start again on October 8 we’ll move up from the shins and slide into the knees.  These sessions are 90 minutes and I hear from many of you that they so easily break into segments of 20-30 minutes, allowing you to create shorter sessions from a single recording.

Circling and circling…so much love coming your way…❤️Bella

Remember spring 2020?  We entered this strange chapter at the Equinox, realities of life as we knew temporarily ending at the same time that signs of life renewing itself were blooming all around us.  Now it is Equinox again.  Six seasons have come and gone.  And the “temporary” feels utterly perpetual.  Somehow the Sunday New York Times helps me mark the passage of week after week and the cover article of their flashy magazine grabbed my attention:

When We Could Be Together All We Wanted To Do Was Dance

The author recalled the hopeful doorway we moved through Equinox 2021.  Remember?  The vaccination thing was working.  We cast off our masks and gingerly, or not so gingerly, began to be with each other.  Faces revealed.  Embraces relished.  The joy of gathering in public spaces.   Fear put to simmer on the back burner.  What did the author, Carina Del Valle Schorske, do in that short window of time?  In every conceivable NYC setting, including a 5Rhythms class given by a teacher I know, she danced.  And danced.  And danced some more.  And then she wrote of her experience and quoted French historian Phillipe de Felice:

“Eras of greatest material and moral distress
seem to be those during which people dance most.”

Which is confirmed weekly by our dance closing circle comments and my own experience.  The bigger question is why. One more quote from this article:  “Historical accounts leave little doubt that the boom in public dancing had something to do with the proximity of death.”  And that still leaves us wondering why.  Why dance when death is looming on the transom?  Could it be that we all have a boogie lurking inside us and the realization that this impulse may never find expression breaks us free?  A now or never thing?  The specter of our own mortality unearthing our god given body joy, the yum of beat responsiveness, our longing to feel and be with other breathing bodies, sense the common pulse of humanity in motion.

I just know what is true for me.  I’ve had intervals of loss and moral distress sprinkled with regularity throughout my life.  From the get-go.  Maybe that’s why the dancing force is so strong in me.  Lately it seems like god has renewed my subscription with grief.  And I feel the impact of six seasons of beating the drum, improvising ways for us to vibrate together.  No matter if I’m out moving with you or dancing behind the desk …it has proved to be an anchor for me.  Blessed be my family, friends and my home.  The sky, the trees, the ground.  And there is no doubt that moving in the garden on Sunday and Clara on Wednesday also keeps me from floating off the face of planet earth.  In this era of great distress dancing is a saving grace.

Not to make light of our time on the mat together.  When I realized how far we journeyed in these six seasons I knew it was time for an introduction to the landscape.  Something I used to do periodically in person.  Live.  Remember?  But since on line is working for Friday morning Essentials, an introduction on line just makes sense.  This two hour practice is all you need to know to be in class on Friday mornings and/or avail yourself of the slowly developing Video Library.  The first class on feet just landed in the Hip, Knee, Foot section.

This video gives you a quick overview of what we will cover during two hours Saturday October 2 10:00-noon.  Can’t make that time slot?  Guess what?  Enroll anyway and receive the recording.

Alrighty then.  All the way from death and dancing to the pleasure of rolling.  All over the board today.  May the balance of light and dark in this seasonal moment inspire the balance we need as we cruise together toward the winter solstice in these rocky times.

Love through it all….❤️Bella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Bella