Tag Archives: health

What is Movement Alchemy? And What’s In It For You?

Why am I here?

Why did I create Movement Alchemy?

What do I have to offer that will benefit you and others?

I’m here, I guess because my parents liked each other alot!

Seriously, I’m here because I can help you heal.

Movement Alchemy describes the transformation through movement that is accessible to every body.  Transformation that honors every body in its uniqueness and life history. Movement Alchemy is the culmination of the work I’ve done; the different disciplines of movement, the variety of injuries I’ve befriended as well as the various methods of healing I’ve explored.

Movement Alchemy is…

  • Nia classes, an energetic, fun way to get fit, connect to community and get your dance fix! 52 Moves fuse the energy of martial arts, dance arts and healing arts for a perfectly balanced fitness program.
  • Labs and Workshops that are perfect if you are new to movement or Nia. Labs and Workshops that are also rich opportunities for all of you veterans and teachers to dive more deeply into your somatic practice with others in the Nia community.
  • Sole Practice, one-on-one sessions that incorporate your personal body history and natural movement style. This information is a treasure map that will lead us on a journey of mind, body, spirit and emotional fitness, well-being and pleasure.

Why should you come and get it from me?

First, I am head over heels in love with your body!

It’s the truth and I’m pretty shameless about it! I’d like to hear about your experiences with movement, and your body history.  I’d also like to share tools to help you increase your awareness of body sensation. Awareness is the foundation for any change, whether you want to increase strength, and flexibility or get faster and increase stability. I’ll share tools that will improve your ability to  move more easily, release pain, heal and reach your goals.

Second, I’m a gifted teacher.

That means:

1. I can do what I claim.

2. There is nothing I would rather do with my time than share my love of movement with you. I bring 15+ years of experience moving bodies and a passion for exploration and movement adventure. I speak Sensation, the language of the body and with a little practice, you will too!

3. I have a new Toy and I can’t wait to share it!

On a personal note, recently I caught myself wishing I had stepped into this earlier in my life. I just didn’t have the juice I have now; the fuel, the excitement that gets me up every morning (and Movement Alchemy won’t fully manifest until October!).

What is it? This fuel?

I love my body! I love the way it moves. I love the way it feels and these two concepts feed each other.

The more I love the way I feel, the more I want to move and find ways of moving that result in loving the way I feel!

The Joy of Movement, Nia White Belt Principle 1. It is the sensation of Joy flooding my body. The sensation that says, “oh yea, this is the way I want to keep doing it”.  It was through Nia that I discovered The Joy of Movement, but it is not limited to Nia. I discovered the Joy of  Running. After 25 years of doing it-hating it-doing it-hating it, I applied Principle 5, Awareness. I ran and listened. When it didn’t feel good I made tiny changes, I tweaked – I kept my mouth closed but my teeth apart so my jaw would stay relaxed. I lengthened my stride; that did not feel good and I started counting steps again. I checked my ego, shorted my stride and slowed my pace. Ah, Joy returned. When I felt like I could run for hours, I was there. My body would ask me to run. I was slow, at first, but it felt really good and I was happy to be outside. Before long I was faster. I quietly kept up with the speeds of some more serious runners and found my pace not far from theirs. Ok, this really works!

Nia is much of what I share, but Movement Alchemy is how the big picture comes together.

Nia. Dance. Running. Basketball. Golf. Business. Relationships.

Strength. Flexibility. Agility. Mobility. Stability. Longevity.

The Balance of Yin and Yang, masculine and feminine energy within each one of us and out in the world.

Oh, yea about that new toy?!

This toy is actually a tool that gives me the power of choice; the power to choose how I’m going to use my body in any given moment. Learning to use this tool has made a huge difference in my conditioning and how my body looks. I’ll bet learning to use this tool would make a big difference in your movement practice; profession, hobby or sport, whatever your fitness, experience or skill level. At the same time, you will develop what I call your deep core reserve of stability.

Curious? Good! Come see me.

Too far away for live and in person? That’s ok, we’ve got this thing called technology. Contact me and we’ll figure it out.

Want to Feel Better and Move More Easily For Longer? Pay Attention.

Not to me, though you might want to finish reading this post! You want to pay attention to your body.

Collaboration. Cooperation. Success.

Hard + Soft = Balance

(These 2 little word plays are part of a thread.)

You’ve just started reading this. Before you read any further, adjust your attention so that it is on body sensation. If you are not accustomed to this kind of work, take a little time to listen to the kinds of sensations your body is giving you right now. Do you notice tension in your neck? Does your chest feel open and free or closed? Bring your attention to the other end of you, to your feet and ankles, what do you get? Give it 15 seconds, then slide up to your knees. Did your shins have anything to report? 15 seconds and up to your hips. A more complete body meditation will come in a later post. I’m going to move on but you’re welcome to continue with your body check, ofcourse. I’ll be here when you’re ready.

Oh, and did I mention no trash talking?  There is not mind chatter, no scores, and no judgment. It is you noticing how you do what you do, with respect, honor and love. So if you’re still paying attention and I interrupted, please continue and I’ll be here when you’re ready to move on.

I like the expression “being in your body”. I use it with my students and I’m looking forward to using it with one-on-one clients.

“Being in your body” identifies a state of presence.

Like most states of being, there are several levels. You may simply be aware of your body’s existence. You know that you have a body, you are aware of the shape of your body and chances are pretty good that you have defined what sort of mover you are.

If you are managing an injury, the injured area may be what draws your attention, possibly to the exclusion of the rest of your body. This injury may affect more than your attention to your body; it may also affect how you live in your mind. It may be that this injury has damaged your ability or desire to move as you did before and it may feel like a natural shift to spend less time living through your body. You may be more cerebral. Injury can also affect how you interact with the world outside yourself and negatively affect how you manage your emotions. It may change you.

You may become acutely aware of your body when you have strong emotional reactions. A pounding heart that accompanies fear. Shaking hands and wobbly knees that follow a fight or flight shot of adrenaline. The ache in your chest from having lost someone. The expansiveness of joy.

You may notice when creativity kicks in and you are totally immersed in the process. Cramping fingers from hand writing, drawing or painting longer than usual; blisters from guitar strings. A stiff back from sitting in one position. Tight trapezius muscles in your upper back and neck. You may even be aware of a tension headache.

Every day of our lives we are in relationship with the body in which we live. We go about our usual schedule and the body gives feedback. If we pay attention to the information our body is giving us, we can create a better existence. When our bodies are properly cared for, we can spend more time out of our heads and more deeply enjoying life; we have a sense of confidence in moving and a certain level of self-trust.

Our body speaks to us through sensation. Sensation can be considered the language of your body. Unless  neurological damage is present, every inch of you experiences sensation. If you’ve been reading me, you know that I have a penchant for repetition. So…

Every inch of you experiences sensation.

As Debbie Rosas Stewart, co-creator of Nia shares, every single one of your 7ish trillion cells has access to sensation.

Often, even those areas with nerve damage will register the sensation of pressure since the brain processes pressure a little differently and even processes the types of pressure differently.

If you don’t believe me, take a little field trip with your hands. Even if you know this is a true statement but haven’t tried it for yourself – don’t take my word for it – go on. I’ll wait.

Ok, so you’ve made a discovery or two or a dozen – that’s cool.

So now what do you do with this little jewel? How about building a sensation vocabulary? You won’t need any awesome new toys, but you can get one to keep up with this new life project if you like. All you need is your attention – every so often. You can begin with once a day. Get your phone and set an alarm or put it in your calendar – whichever one you prefer. At this time (you pick it, you know your schedule), you’re going to pay attention to the sensations you’re getting through your body.

You might start by asking yourself – your body not your mind – if you’re comfortable. To be clear comfort is not the absence of pain, it is a sensation unto itself (and yes, I did just say “unto”!). When my body is experiencing comfort, I am relaxed or able to relax. I am settled into a position that, for however long it is comfortable, is creating ease. I feel as though I could be in this position for the rest of the day. Does this sound familiar? While we all have generally the same parts for locomotion, there are details that make us individual. Movement history, trauma and injury history. In other words, the way we have lived in our bodies. What I described as my experience may or may not be similar. How do you experience the sensation of comfort?

The truth is that I probably couldn’t be in that same position for much longer than a few minutes. I have joints and a couple of muscles imbalances that will ask me to adjust. Let’s go back to the fact that I have joints. We all have joints. If we didn’t have joints, movement would be enormously limited. So limited, in fact, that we might give it up altogether and evolve into something else! Joints come in several varieties, some more movable than others. What they have in common is that they need to be used in the way in which they were designed to stay healthy.  Synovial joints are the most movable. The facet joints between the vertebrae are examples of synovial joints. “Synovial” refers to the nutritional lubricant or fluid that every one of these movable joints has. This fluid acts as a shock absorber, and helps to keep friction to a minimum (’cause you know that the more friction there is, the more heat and break down is a likely consequence). Enough with the technical stuff.

How do you keep your synovial joints happy and healthy? Move them. Experiment 2: move your joints and notice how movement is created without force. Move and listen to the feedback your body gives. If comfort is present, you know something about your design. If pain was created, you know something else.

Pain is not a sensation to be worked through. Here we go…

Pain is not a sensation to be worked through.

Pain is a guide. Pain is a way of alerting your mind that something is wrong or maybe just not-quite-right and needs to be tweaked. If the pain is a whisper, then a tiny shift may be all that is necessary. So tweak your movement. If the tweak does not resolve the pain, create a slightly more significant shift in how you’re doing what you’re doing and make an adjustment. If pain persists, change the movement altogether and do something different – if you’re running, walk. Making these shifts before pain is screaming and chronic is a smart way to stay healthy, mobile and excelling at whatever movement you love.

What if you’re a type A, hugely competitive athlete? More reason to learn to pay attention. You may drive your body harder and it is especially important to listen to the cues your body gives you. Whatever type you are and however you move, give your body what it asks for when it asks and barring any unforeseen natural disaster, chances are good that you will be able to do whatever you love for a very long time.

The Power of Choice

When we were children, many of us wanted to change the world. We wanted to do what we wanted, have everyone get along and live happily ever after.

Somewhere along the way many of us decided it wasn’t possible. As we got older we become more “realistic”. We began to see the world as it “really is”.  We came to “understand” that we are not capable – not smart enough, not creative enough, not rich enough, not brave enough, not strong enough.

To change the world it does actually take every single one of us. Not a special group with special talents and bottomless resources, connections and raging confidence.

Every. Single. One. Of. US.

You. Me.

The study that was recently published by Scientific America suggesting that if we believe there is choice involved in circumstance, we act and make our own decision with less empathy didn’t exactly put the emphasis on the heart of the study. What was left out is how we can rarely know another’s life. We can be shown someone’s circumstances and we can be told they made choices that landed them where they are, which is what this study did. We cannot live in another’s heart, know another’s pain except through our own experience and it is just that – our experience. What we would have done in the same situation is irrelevant. It was not our experience, therefore we have nothing to say. It is no one’s place  to take away another’s right to do the best they can in any given situation. If we cannot empathize, we step away.

We make dozens of choices every day. Some as simple as having a cup of coffee and others far more complex and far-reaching.

Every decision we make is in response to two stimuli: Love and Fear.

That’s it.

We make decisions based on what is socially acceptable – fear of not fitting in, fear of reprimand, fear of public humiliation, fear of being shunned.

We makes decisions based on what we are told by “experts” – french fries are bad for you, you should exercise at least 3-5 times a week, no pain no gain, women should stay home and have babies and men can do anything they want.

We make decisions based on how we were raised – if your child doesn’t get into Harvard or another such prestigious school they have little chance of “success”,  if your child doesn’t get straight As all through school, they won’t get into a “good” college and have a successful and happy life, you have to go to church every Sunday or you’ll go to hell, if you don’t make alot of money you’re lower on the human scale.

I chose some dramatic examples above, but none of them are fictitious. They are all examples of concepts from which life decisions have and are still being made. Some of them are minor (eat fewer fries) but most are decisions that we might feel hard-pressed to makes in different ways.

We don’t necessarily believe in the decisions we make. We make some decisions because it is what’s expected; it’s conventional wisdom; it’s the way it’s always been done; this is how Mom or Dad did it; “the powers that be” decreed it so. Who are these powers anyway? I’m going to go back to a very big statement I just made.

We don’t necessarily believe in the decisions we make.

This is a big deal.

We often know that the decisions we’re making are not the best decision we could be making.

What if every decision we made was truly out of love?

Rinse and repeat:

What if every decision we made was truly out of love?

What if, instead of getting caught up in what we don’t want to happen, what we ‘hate’, what is the “tried and true” path, we focus on what we want, what we love and what we know to be true in our bodies/gut?

If I have always made decisions based on a certain way of thinking, how will I know how to change that?


When I make decisions that are purely self-serving, based in jealousy, resentment, pain, anger and fear that the goodies will run out if I don’t take them now – my body feels a certain way.

When I make decisions that are based on my truth, the honesty of my life, a transparency and generosity with everything I have – my body also feels a certain way. This sensation is vastly different from the one above.

Do this. See how it feels. Revisit a decision you regret and listen to the sensations that come up in your body. Then speak or think of a decision you know is right for you and feel that.

Make no mistake, I’m not talking about self-sacrifice. Mostly that just breeds self-importance and resentment. I’m talking about getting what I need for my physical health, mental and emotional well-being and spirit or spiritual growth. Then, the more I give, the more I get.

Then, I will be able to see that there is enough for everyone.

So what am I suggesting in a practical sense? Take care of your body – fall in love with it whatever shape its in right now and go from there. Take care of your brain by stimulating it with new stuff and your mind by giving it truth and not overloading it with assumptions – ask lots of questions! Care for your emotions by respecting every one as a guide – there are no “positive” or “negative” emotions, there are simply emotions for our use. There are always reasons why we feel the way we do. Spirit or spiritual care: open the box and jump out – we are ALLLLLLLLLLL creative – we have unique ways of looking at events and processing information – take you way out and give it a spin! A belief in a divine can be important; believing in something bigger than ourselves. Find a belief system that feels true to your heart and in your body. Your mind will follow.

Our world is changing and we will change with it. We cannot go back. The past is just that – it is passed. What worked then will not and should not work now. So we step forward.

We can only take care of the world if we take care of ourselves first.

The choice is yours.  Making small changes in your life can have big results in the world.

Change yourself –  change the world…