know understand

A simple turn of the English language can travel right to heart or gut, rattle us for days. I was listening to Thich Nhat Hanh clarify why he uses the word “understand” instead of “know” when it comes to matters of the spirit. To know is a fixed perspective. You know your address. You know that two plus two equals four. To understand is an awareness fluid in nature, shifting moment by moment. To understand is to release, to let go. Of what? Preconceived notions, precious opinions, cherished attachments. Oh those.

When we let go of what we know, when we listen with our whole selves, we could open to big whatever awe, to being astonished, to wonder expansive, to being surprised by a depth of understanding we never considered possible. I’m a big fan of knowledge. Minds are amazing, couldn’t be writing this essay without one. Yet what I understand, and maybe more importantly, what I do not understand, is more intriguing to me.

I certainly know AND understand the difference between these two in movement practice. I can be on mat or dance floor, my mind going a mile a minute on the knowledge hamster wheel…that thing someone said yesterday, my so-called plans, hasty judgments, self criticism, worry…you know. Even more insipid—I’ll catch myself doing my yoga or doing my dance—following some know-it-all driver in my head.

If I’m fortunate, I wake up in this befuddled moment and simply drop what I know because, paradoxically, I know how. Attention to trusty breath, present sensation, curiosity about what is moving through me, what body and heart understand and how that finds expression. Staying, shaking out the head need be, open to wonder, to insight, to expansion, to possibility.

This is the prolonged state I found myself in with this three weeks off so, naturally this theme is woven into my teaching. In the short run, this was the basis for Sunday’s Sweat and we’ll flesh it out a bit more Wednesday night. Dancing into understanding what is moving through us.

In the long run it is all about Yoga Therapy for me right now, finally launching Tuesday June 6. I was surprised where my creative juice flowed in these three weeks, especially when I became still enough, let go of what I knew, listened with my whole self. Astonished by an expansive depth of understanding I’m truly excited to share in Yoga Therapy. One afternoon, north of Ft. Bragg, mat laid on picnic table, Bob (thank you, love) filmed 16 one-minute little snippets: essential practices for the self care geek. They are extremely spontaneous and unproduced in appearance. But they are clear and fun and essential and I’ll be posting them weekly on Body Joy Facebook on Mondays. They are the essence of what I understand in this moment and of course that understanding is fluid and continues to change over time. Here’s the first one minute video:

#1 Essential Practice for the Self Care Geek    https://youtu.be/84tQW7glLPw

 Because I’ve travelled this path with thousands of patients and students, here is what I know. If you come to class weekly and practice at home most days about 20 minutes you will:

  1. come into new relationship with body, breath, sensation
  2. deeply understand your particular body challenges
  3. work both sides of your body together to become loose, long and strong
  4. eventually work more on one side than the other, addressing your unique asymmetry
  5. apply this in your everyday life, especially standing and sitting
  6. feel supported in the activities you love: yoga, dance, running, biking, gardening…living!

And here’s what else I know. If you want to speed up that process, come see me for a single visit. Together we’ll discover your uniqueness, fast track your self-care geek-ness and make that 20 minute investment spot on rather quickly. In support of that I’m offering a combination of physical therapy assessment and treatment with three class follow up. Info here.

Not knowing can be a very rich state…let’s move in that territory together.

Love, bella

roller

 

Journey Day 10, huddled fireside at, of all places, the Ritz Carlton, grateful for a bit of warmth and food prepared by someone other than me. Time out in the elements is challenging with persistent blustery cold. So we take a morning of privileged respite, knowing that we can, before we head out once again. The Pacific is mighty in its moods.

We spend days walking, resting, reading, making meals, listening to Pema Chodron and David Whyte, playing backgammon, watching sunsets, looking at stars, listening to waves. Everyday finds me yet quieter still, realizing what a hurdle the daily urban hustle is to surmount. A sense of hushed centered presence builds steam daily. The elements are peeling off what feels like deeply encrusted layers.

“Unfortunately, by the nineteenth century, art and artful skill (techne) yielded to technique, and, more recently, to technology. And skills that were once grounded in the insight that comes from the rhythm of awakening, pulsing through the total mind-body-being became the mechanical artifacts of a humanity increasingly fragmented and cut off from its own depths in psyche.” Jean Houston

This pulsing rhythm is self-evident in practice. Every day I relish picnic table yoga time. I spread my mat out and do my “down and dirty” loose, long, strong ritual. And here, under the sky and trees, in the presence of sun and wind and even this morning’s cold, I am sensing body cues I could not feel at home. I needed to get away from the habitual to access this quality of quiet.

I am astonished at the gifts I am reaping. One of the main themes is this: the more subtle the practice, the more powerful and accurate the changes manifest. Small moves, intense attention to breath, 100% sensory awareness. The possibilities for healing are incredible when we are in touch with our own depths. We need to master bilateral practice and then, when we are ripe with this, the internal knowing is strong enough and ready to sense the asymmetrical truth needed for unilateral practice. This may seem like a mouthful but guiding this journey is my devoted calling.

I am excited about sharing this in a new unfettered way when I return.Yoga Therapy begins Tuesday morning June 6 in a beautiful new setting at Alhambra & G. The tag line for this offering keeps echoing in me. Yoga Therapy: essential practice for the self care geek. Yeah, you do have to be a bit geeky to take yourself on at this level. But frankly, I don’t know another way to stay active in all the ways that satisfy my soul. From uninhibited dance to climbing into the loft in the Westphalia; from crawling around the floor with grandbabies to multiple sun salutations in the sand; from climbing trees to shoveling the garden. At 67, I am just not ready to surrender any of it quite yet.

So let’s geek out together when I get home. And in my absence, keep moving in ways that are “grounded in the insight that comes from the rhythm of awakening.”

Love, bella

top photo

A week simmering in loss and love, feeling how they are inextricably woven, two sides of the same coin…if we are willing. Last Monday I was sitting with a friend, choosing music for her looming memorial service. Today she is not here. She died the same day I flew to San Antonio to be with my old papa, who is leaving quite slowly, his mental faculties quietly washing away. So much has changed in my relationship with him and I owe that healthy evolution to Gabrielle. For that I am extremely grateful. In full vulnerability, I want to write about that this morning. If you are curious about what Gabrielle Roth has to do with my dad, read on.

My childhood, maybe like yours, was way less than story-book. Through ensuing decades, I lived the good life, dealing with imprint and painful memory by various means: steeped in denial, wallowed in confusion, simmering with anger. Spent my fair share of hours in counseling plowing through it all, garnering understanding of what had happened and how it had shaped me. I arrived at a coping stance that I didn’t even recognize until the day I surrendered it. Ego protects us in some strange ways, stories can become deeply entrenched: by not forgiving my father, I held sacred the memory of my mother and sister and brother who had suffered at his hands. I would not betray them. I was a flag-bearing survivor.

 

Fifteen years ago when I began to dance the rhythms and delve into this exquisite cosmology, I was surprised to learn that staccato—so obviously my home rhythm—was the rhythm of the heart. And, even more shattering, that father was the teacher of the heart. As I moved (way different than sitting on a counseling couch), I became aware of pieces, whole chunks of my heart cold and buried, necessarily so. The years rolled by and I just kept dancing through the prescribed workshop territories: Heartbeat again and again, facing years of fear, smoldering anger, time worn grief. The broad perspective of Cycles kept returning me to new edges of a crazy childhood, dancing ad nauseum with this cruel heart teacher. Mirrors reflected back my defensiveness, the logical protective response to this singular relationship.

Over the years, I survived visits with my dad by barely being present. Once I began dancing, visits became a loaded testing ground of what I was learning, filled with shame and agony of how slowly I was chipping away at this armor. His second marriage, to a wife who cut off relationship with me and my family, did not help. Time with dad was challenging on so many levels. But I persisted. Deep inside I totally felt how he was the teacher of my heart, though not the fairy tale version I would have preferred.

Something cracked about eight years ago. This flag I was carrying for my deceased family members—I looked up at it, felt my grip on it, clearly calculated the cost of waving it. And then I just dropped it. I literally felt their relief as they cheered, released from the sidelines of this martyrdom. About the same time, dad began to lose his mental faculties. As he lost his mind, his heart softened. I remember the phone conversation when he told me he loved me. Three simple words I had never heard from him in 60 years. It was a year before I could choke those simple words out in response. And the more I said them, the more true they became.

These last three Texas visits have been awesome love fests, each of us surrendering more deeply to this incredible love. God has granted us the long lives necessary to arrive in this innocent miracle. Two survivors of so much trauma, we are all we have left.

I don’t know what will happen now. He has been declared incapable of making decisions for himself. The wife, with full legal control, has deposited him in a sterile memory care facility and, as far as I can tell, she does not visit him.   My husband and two incredible children have witnessed and supported all this evolution over the years. When my daughter and I arrived at his new place, it was bereft of anything personal. We fixed it up with pictures and books, walked with him, ate with him, hugged him, sat with him. Got his TV working. Wept. I want him here with me, kept offering to make that happen over the last five years when he had enough presence of mind to make that decision. He chose to stay with this co-dependent abusive relationship. Not surprising. But now he has been deemed incapable of making that choice and we have to live with the consequences.

So that is what Gabrielle Roth has to do with my dad. Forever grateful that I can sit here in this moment and feel utter tenderness oozing when I think of him, worried that he is lonely and afraid and doing what I can to alleviate that and bear that. If I had read this account in 1980, I would have been amazed. This is not an unusual family story. You know that. Healing happens when we tend to these stories instead of turning away from them. Time is short….we can courageously seek resolution.

Breathing, moving, changing…love, bella

family

 

connect-FRONT

I was held all day Saturday at a yoga retreat dedicated to sutra 1.33, the four brahmavihara. This sutra takes the practice of yoga off the cushion (where it might be relatively easy to become enlightened) into present time reality. Very specific instruction on using social relationships as a call to awaken. And unless you live in a cave, this would be a never-ending practice. Want peace of mind? Try developing these four heart qualities:

  • Maitri translated as friendliness or love. We can start by extending maitri toward our friends. Being there to give assistance and also (sometimes harder) to receive support. Today I was acutely aware of simply practicing friendliness in all the interactions of my day…there are so many!
  • Karuna is compassion or mercy. Of which I’ve written a great deal lately. Being there for those who are suffering. Searching out that fine line between defended and merged. Feeling karuna as we tend the hurts of those we love (including ourselves) and stretching to allow karuna to emerge outside our small personal bubble. And there is so much.
  • Mudita is delight or joy. Waking up to the basic goodness and divinity in others, honoring those who embody what is noble and what is virtuous. It is a seductive trap to feel pity for our own situation when we compare or jealousy as we become aware of someone else’s bright light. Like someone else’s success is a threat to our own. We are human…it happens. Mudita begs us to witness this tendency and cut it out.
  • Upeksanam is indifference, impartiality, my favorite word—equanimity. Turning the other cheek when someone’s actions oppose our own values. Donna Farhi calls it the “black belt” of the bramivihara and says “harboring resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” These crazy times call for a huge dose of upeksanam. How do we stay connected with our own truth, continue in action and not get caught up in being so damn sure who is right and who is wrong. So much opportunity to work this one.

I love the sutras, layers of learning through the practice of yoga. People are happy or suffering, virtuous or wicked; here is a way of being with whatever is before us. For me, once again this Saturday, I felt how limited it feels to explore this on a yoga mat. All that valuable embodied practice time alone; how can I take this out in the world when I have not really practiced connecting with another on the mat?

That’s why I continue to be drawn to the dance floor, especially when it comes to relationship with other. Out on that floor…what an incredible opportunity to REALLY feel happy, suffering, virtuous, wicked continually arising and practice response. Again and again. Real time practice that has immediate application when we go out in the world. This is black belt practice in connection.

If you want that, if you’re you ready to break the ice and connect then how about dedicating April 21-23 to just that? When you’re with someone, are you present and comfortable in silence, or is it about showing your best face, telling your favorite stories? Does your life feel real, rich, juicy, or a numb simulation you have little impact upon? Do you want to drop deeper, witness patterns that keep us skating on the surface? In Connect we’ll dance our way in and guess what? Breakthroughs do not need to be painful, they can come from play and Kate and Tim play deep.

This is Kate’s 6th year in Sacramento. There is a reason we keep having her back. If you haven’t spent time with this alchemist, maybe this is your moment to take the plunge. This is the first time she is co-teaching with her husband Tim in the U.S. We are in for a ride. Early bird is March 26.

Let’s do it…love, bella

 

 

time

Sacramento residents cherish spring-surprise February days. Especially this wet year. In a small backyard nook, even in winter depth, I can count on basking on those special days. Yesterday I moved my cherry red Adirondack out of maple-shade and wedged it in that nook. I lounged in bliss-flooded memory precisely where I reclined in the 80’s, leaning against the same fence, watching my babies crawl through the grass. I could almost taste the lingering sweetness, lost as I was in reminiscence. Now they are grown and gone with babies of their own. Time is strangely swift and plodding all at once.

I feel those qualities of swift and plodding reflected in my body. Maybe you do, too. I can cut my finger or twist my knee or bite my tongue and watch the swift healing miracle progress day by day. But we all experience those plodding along challenges. The older I become, the more I’m called to gently and slowly manage the chronic ones. In regards to healing the persistent, I’ve been noticing the value of unflagging curiosity, compassion and utter patience. Paying attention, slowing down, self-nurturing. Some pain does not disappear. We are totally in charge of our relationship with that truth.

Here’s a reality check in. It’s normal in any lifetime to experience at least one (if not several) episodes of low back pain. Comes with the territory. Your initial response to this noxious sensation is so revealing. Some obvious possibilities: anger—stupid to lift that heavy bag; worry—how am I going to go to work; impatience—I don’t have time for this; fix it—I’m calling the chiropractor/MD/acupuncturist/PT right now; frustration—not fair, had this last year. All too familiar.

If we live long enough and experience enough episodic discomfort, most of us find our way to a daily practice of making friends with our precious body temple. In good times and bad, we roll out the mat and just do it. Do what? That’s where the unflagging curiosity, compassion and utter patience come in. You might roll out the mat, listen and make your way through some base line routine moves, modifying as needed, creating on the spot. Maybe you are more fluid; moving from scratch each day, listening, developing, adjusting. Over time you find your style and one thing never changes: that just-do-it part.

Over several decades I’ve partnered with thousands ready to take themselves on. Together we discover what’s tight that needs to loosen, what’s weak that needs more power and what’s short that needs more length. This last Saturday the Pelvic Bowl workshop was full up with the dedicated and curious.   Among other amazing things, we focused on what was asymmetrically loose, long and strong in the pelvic region. I have a long history of one-on-one healing in the art of physical therapy. Healing in a group setting is my edge right now and I’m loving it. Between diving in with the Saturday group healing the bowl and holding the dance group Sunday dedicated to heart healing…well, I’m gratified to be doing this group work. It feels like the best job in the world!

If you are tired of feeling the victim, ready to take yourself on with confidence, psyched up to show up for yourself maybe 15-30 minutes a day, here are three opportunities to consider:

  1. Grow Loose, Long and Strong, three Saturday afternoons March 25, April 8, May 6 at It’s All Yoga. Each Saturday stands alone and is supported by a very specific home video. Or you can feel the way each Saturday builds on the previous and enroll in all three, with plenty of time in between to integrate and practice.
  2. Just want to cut to the chase and get the video? Video is free with the workshop but if you want it now, purchase here.
  3. Want to get very specific as quickly as possible? Come see me. I’m always amazed at what we accomplish in a single visit. You’ll go home with your own personalized video.

Time is strangely swift and plodding but nevertheless, it passes. Showing up for myself in good times and bad, nurturing and tending my body each and every day…it’s the only way I know to make the most of the time left. Let’s do it together.

Love, bella

 

RadiantHeart

Soft-hearted, change of heart, hard-hearted, heart’s desire, half-hearted, be still my heart, cold-hearted, eat your heart out, broken-hearted, faint of heart…feel my point? We reference the heart in myriad ways in our efforts to describe our interior emotional landscape. This is rich territory indeed. Close your eyes a moment and check into the state of your own heart right now.

Personally, I’ve had a week of heavy-hearted. We all know this one, heart as sinking stone, ever-present weighty. My elderly father is failing, negotiating the realm of no longer being able to live independently. This man, teacher of my heart in so many utterly painful ways, is not only losing his physical capabilities, but has been steadily losing his mind for several years now. I half-heartedly joke that this mental loss finally allowed him access to his own heart. But it is no joke. He ended our conversation yesterday with “You know I love you”…a phrase that never left his lips until a few years ago. I am glad we both lived this long.

And I felt his love, not just via cell phone communication, but through deep cellular transmission. I’ve been tuning into him a lot lately. Did you know that the human heart is an electro-magnetic organ, the only biological structure that creates a pulsing electrical charge? This charge gives rise to a vast electromagnetic field allowing the heart to communicate with every other cell in the body. And this electromagnetic field doesn’t stop at the boundary of the skin. It actually can be measured up to 10 feet away. And I wonder if that is it’s limit.

And here’s the take home deal: this heart field gets stronger (and weaker) when we consciously attune to, connect with our inner heart. Really…scientifically measured. Place your hands gently over this pulsing organ, give it your full attention for a moment or two, breathe right into it…your electromagnetic field just got stronger, cast a wider more powerful net.

Not only does the heart transmit electrical energy, it is expert at receiving pulses of this energy from others. As we become aware of our own electromagnetic radiance, we begin to perceive the quality of other’s heart energy as soft and tenuous or robust and strong. You might have an intuitive sense of this. And that intuition is based in physical electro-pulsing reality.

Your heart began pulsing in utero at 5 weeks and immediately began to entrain with your mother’s heartbeat. If you place a distressed, weak snippet of heart tissue in a petri dish along with a healthy strong bit of heart tissue, the strong one slowly begins to empower the weak one. In very little time they entrain, they begin beating together. Imagine the implications.

This humble 24/7 servant is a radiant guide to love, creativity, healing, deep knowing and compassion. I want to play in this field with you on Saturday February 18. I hope you can come Cultivate Compassion.

We are here to heal each other, it is sorely needed in these times.

Feeling full-hearted,

bella

 

pelvic bowl 9

I have books on my shelf with titles like Pelvic Power that have been there since the nineties. Because the eighties core stability craze focused on creating a corset around the lower body and neglected to include the pelvic bowl floor. Woops. So my interest in this multi-faceted topic goes back aways.   Teaching patients to coordinate deep abs with pelvic floor was a clinical treatment goal back then.

In 2006 I dove head first into kundalini yoga for a year and a half and muhla bhanda, root lock was basic…same concept with an energetic function to boot, moving prana, life force, up the central channel in a journey to divine connection. This energetic function was always present of course, but largely unnamed. Some yoga practitioners believe it takes about a decade of regular practice to come into full relationship with this energetic awareness and physical action. I’ve been on it longer than that and it continues to unfold.

Regular readers know that more than two years ago I entered a new chapter, learned that at the bottom of the bowl lay a piece of my scoliosis puzzle. And that I went to Portland to learn physical therapy and energetic techniques to treat the pelvic floor. When I returned I put the word out via this newsletter. An invitation to explore and treat women with pelvic floor issues like continence, pain, prolapse AND hip or low back pain that might have a pelvic floor component. Since September I have worked with 12 of you. I am humbled by your trust, honored to be a witness to your tender process, grateful to have some developing skills to co-create healing with you.

I returned from Portland as the recipient of an extremely thorough and very sterile clinical education in “just the facts ma’am.” I knew what I was getting in to. And I also had time with an alternative practitioner who was incredible and, yet also, not how I felt it was right for me to be with someone. So when I came home and literally dived in, it surprised me that it was only a little strange. There I was palpating tissue—tender, responsive, alive—I had just never been with that particular tissue as yet. We were getting acquainted and yet the basic feel and qualities were predictably familiar.

All my unconscious competence was brought to bear without hesitation. It actually felt pretty obvious what was called for with each person. There are occasional mysteries, but our muscle, fascia, joint problems are mostly pretty routine. That being said, this new arena is fresh and challenging and I welcome more hands on experience, excited about how maturing skill shapes the horizon of what is possible. It has compelled me to reflect on what it means to be a professional. How it goes hand in hand with dedication to curiosity.

So naturally all this is shaping what I want to teach on February 11 in Pelvic Bowl: a workshop for women. Lately my spirit of inquiry has been captivated with reading about this region’s special function to generate pleasure. This is ripe and edgy information and I am just now considering how to weave in this integral piece. As we explore the physical channel, learning anatomy, feeling breath, bones, muscles, sphincters, we can allow and track what this energetically evokes. Count on time for exploratory writing of those heartfelt, soulful places.

I love this work and the workshop format really calls me. So much coming up ! I hope you can join me.

Love, bella

 

 

FB banner Cultivate

The year was 1970. I was stretched out in the dark, atop a floor mattress in a funky duplex in Sherman Oaks. A commanding voice boomed out of the FM radio, spoke to a part of me I knew existed, just had never articulated. Baba Ram Dass might have been the first person to speak directly to my soul, describing the ineffable in a way I understood. There in the pitch black, vast worlds became visible, territory I’d yet to journey, landscapes terrifyingly immense but seductively essential.

He’s been inspiring through the decades, even when he had a stroke in 1997, he moved through to find his way back to expression. This quote by him sparks my excitement for Cultivating Compassion on February 18 because it touches on the essence of our investigation:

“The hardest state to be in is one in which you keep your heart open to the suffering that exists around you, and simultaneously keep your discriminative wisdom. Once you understand that true compassion is the blending of the open heart and quiet mind, it is still difficult to find the balance.”

The dictionary defines compassion as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress with a desire to alleviate it.” But what about that “discriminative wisdom” piece Ram Dass speaks about?   The dictionary didn’t put any qualifications around the “heart open to the suffering” part. Gabrielle Roth says “sometimes compassion is a slap in the face.” Huh?

I’ve been dancing along this continuum that seems to stretch from one pole to another. All the way at one end is someone completely defended, guarded, unavailable. We know this place. Someone who can walk right by a cardboard nest tucking a homeless person into a cold alcove just off the street. And not even look. OK, this does not feel like compassion. But how about that other end of the continuum? Imagine someone who spots this homeless person, immediately merges with him, scoops him up, takes him home, cares for him as long as necessary. Someone who literally does not feel boundaries or a sense of separation.   Kinda seems like compassion. Is it? This is the essence of our investigation. What is compassion and how do we cultivate it?

Stanford Medicine is a leader in this field with their Center for Compassion; research shows the practice of compassion is as important for health as physical exercise & diet. The center offers Compassion Cultivation Training programs. We’re gonna be a little more loose and open-ended. We’ll come in touch with our own breath and heartbeat, listen to our own heartspeak, open to self-compassion. We’ll dance and we’ll paint. We’ll learn from each other, move into shapes of defended and merged, paint some more. Dance, speak, paint, dance, write, paint. Cultivate this elusive and potent quality in our own embodied way. No surprise. Arrive at our own unique sense of what compassion is and shed a bit of light on our own relationship to it.

Just some of my own musings on a compassionate heart:

…not a merged heart, but a capably witnessing heart

not a defended heart, but a heart thawed to room temperature

loose enough to feel and firm enough to know

reaches out while simultaneously diving in

knows when to fold ‘em and when to hold ‘em

full to the brim and empty as a bucket…

So curious about your heart…please join me and Majica (artista instigator extraordinaire) on February 18.

Love, bella

P.S. I know some of you readers have never danced with me. Because you write back and whisper to me. This is for you: come for a slow and easy Intro to 5Rhythms , the full gestalt in 90 fascinating minutes. Enjoy christening the learning space upstairs at the new Co-op. And if you’ve never moved with us in Sacramento, free pass to Wednesday or Sunday at Clara included. Come on; you can do it!

 

 

 

 

Body Joy: Yoga with Bella Dreizler

2017

Been dancing in the new year at St. Joseph’s Grass Valley as long as I’ve been involved in this conscious dance practice. I’ve missed one or two over the last decade+ and it always seemed a bit strange to NOT be there. To be out in the world carousing and drinking and participating in all the standard crazy behaviors that signify ringing in another journey around the sun in this culture. Don’t get me wrong, I was out there having fun, it just felt like something was a bit off. Like ritual. Like intention. Like community.

And so when new management took over St. Joseph’s two years ago and declared it unavailable, a little piece of my heart withered. But now things have shifted and we get to return. I am super-excited, anticipating spending time again in this unique venue built in 1866 as a convent for the Sisters of Mercy. The clapboard, the tall stained glass, the rose garden…and all the memories this place holds. It calls me back.

Juliette and I sat down this week and sketched out this Eve & Day journey. It begins with potluck (bring whatever!) and connection before moving into a first wave of music. The incredible Terre Busse will create a Temple of Release for the massive stage. A place where we can lighten our burden, metaphorically and physically let go of what no longer serves. Maniko will work her sound magic, lead us in our most beloved sangha songs. And then, of course, we’ll dance some more. There is a lounge area right in the space—futons, pillows, blankets—to cuddle up and be social. Count on a ritual around midnight leading us from the landscape of release right into presence. There is nothing like emptying out to create possibility for landing in the present moment. After midnite, some downtempo, sliding us toward bedtime.

In the morning I’ll hold us for simple foundational yoga on that buttery dance floor starting at nine. No prior yoga experience required. And then we’ll dance some more, harvesting release and presence, turning it into the fruit of intention. See above: “Like ritual. Like intention. Like community.” What a grounded, heart-full, conscious way to step in to 2017.   I hope you can join us for New Year’s Eve and/or the New Year’s Day Sweat. See sidebar link for all the juicy details. No more dance in Sacramento until January 4…

And so as we cruise into the holidays, I am sending my love to you and yours. I know we will meet again on some floor somewhere. May it be soon.

Love, bella

 

animal hang

I’ve been doing a lot of hanging out lately. Meaning I’ve been upside down, letting gravity have its way with me, allowing elongation. Slowing down and breathing fully. A gravity assist into revised perspective. Traction-ing open hunks of vertebrae, sanctioning disc expansion, yawning ribs free.   In suspended shapes off my couch, treatment table, strap sling, I experience much. What it feels like to breathe into my back body, especially upper right and lower left, the air entering and emancipating what yearns to be free. The exhale calling in the opposite diagonal, inviting it to draw to, align to center.

I breathe into each release as a pull toward earth mama, a surrender, a willingness to let go, let be. And when someone works on my body in this shape—even for the briefest minute—the liberation, the unleashing, the undoing is magnified ten fold. And so I knew I had to raise the head of my treatment table so I could work on others in this shape. Seriously, if you have spine or hip stuff going on and you have not experienced this…just saying. And then of course there is the home application piece: how to find a way into upside down and subtle low core awareness to create facilitation of traction in weight bearing. In other words, how to keep it alive on your feet or sitting.

And since I am on this anatomy geek thread, a word about the double tennis balls. You know them for their spine release magic and if you don’t you probably should. This year they made their way to the edges of the lower leg bone, the tibia, for awesome foot healing assistance. And a month ago they landed someplace new because I did not have a handy block to wedge between my thighs, a yoga technique to encourage rooting pelvis to feet. Just picture the double tennis balls snug up in there…ok I know, TMI. But just to make sure I was not entering some uber-crazed zone, I had five embodied types try it and they were all blown away.

It is a very easy way to teach subtle core stability in ADL, activities of daily living, including some dance and yoga. Because you can move easily with them, the only requirement being awareness and a muted central activation. This central squeeze helps sustain the length you feel in traction. I am super excited to begin using them as teaching tool in combination with practical ways to traction. It will be the basis for class this week at It’s All Yoga: Tuesday morning 8:30 and Friday night 6:00. Love that I have this venue to teach in.

In fact, as long as we are in anatomy geek mode, I am reporting truly happy land when teaching experiential anatomy lately to yoga teachers in training. This topic can be so fun when we put down the textbooks and realize that we are living in one. Of all the things I teach-offer out there, this hands down comes with the most ease.

In fact, just picture that stacked spine as you read, exhale and root sit bones, inhale and glide crown toward ceiling. Feel how long you can be…long to be free…bella