Tag Archives: Notice

The Alchemy of Awareness Online Somatic Practice Tips

Delicate Pink 2 by Rachel

The Alchemy of Awareness Online Somatic Practice Tips

Have you been thinking about starting an Awareness Practice to improve the overall quality of your life making getting through life more like dancing through life?

You can start this very second and it will take you 5 seconds to practice!!
Are you ready?
Are you sure?

Tip 1: Notice the position of the soles of your feet.

Did that even take you 5 seconds?

Easy, right? So easy, I’m going to give you another tip that will deepen you new practice in just another 5 seconds!

Tip 2: Notice your soles again. Now reach down and touch the soles of your feet.

Did that just change your life?! Probably not, right? Alright, so to actually change your life, it looks like I’ll have to share another tip!

Tip 3: Do 5-second Awareness Practice 1 or 2 every time your phone rings.

Now you’re on your own until the next tip comes out tomorrow at 3pm central!!


 Be on the lookout for a new blog post every Thursday!

Living in Sensuality – Be the Movement

FreeDance in White Dress

This morning I took a class at the Y called Tums, Legs & Buns. The class was taught by Kathy Ross, a highly skilled and gifted teacher. Kathy blends yoga and Pilates with conventional fitness and has always delivered an effective class. It’s been a while since I’ve taken such a class and there was a point or two during the legwork where I couldn’t think of anything except the movement. I think I can safety say that I was completely immersed in the movements! I was in the movement moment!

I doubt I was the only one.

After I got home, I still had little sensation reminders of the class.

I watched Out of Focus, a documentary about Ohad Naharin and his creation GAGA, while I ate lunch. GAGA is an improvisational practice and what I’ve been able to pick up has greatly influenced my dance – and my body. A little later I went through my freedance/improv practice, inviting some of Naharin’s comments to settle in. “Be cool,” he suggests to a repertory group of dancers he’s working with. “Enjoy your body going into the movement.”

“Enjoy your body going into the movement.”

My body relaxes just saying it to myself.

Tense, self-conscious, perfection or technique-driven movement didn’t work for the Tin Man and it doesn’t work for us either.

Last Friday morning (2am or so) I woke up unable to roll onto my right side. My shoulder was too uncomfortable. When I got up for the day, I discovered that the range of motion in my shoulder was compromised, most noticeably by pain. By Sunday I had almost zero internal and external rotation and little extension. I have no idea what I did to piss off my shoulder. I went on to teach 2 classes in a sling and planned to not only visit my favorite Feldenkrais practitioner, Julie Francis, but to also consult an sports medicine specialist. For 2 days I protected my shoulder, adjusting my normal body flow to accommodate my new restrictions. Ice. Heat. Ibuprophen. Arnica oil. No relief.

As I was getting into the shower after class, Monday I noticed just how hard I had been holding myself. Getting in and out of shirts and exercise tops was practically a tear-jerker. I took a breath and drew the exhale throughout my body, with particular attention to releasing in my shoulder. Immediately it hung more comfortably. Another couple of breaths and conscious releasing exhales and the shirt came off with less pain. I taught Tuesdays class without the sling, relinquishing level 3 workout intensity for level 3 consciousness. By Wednesday morning I was again able to hook my bra like a big girl!

I still don’t know what I did, but the two experiences brought me around to considering how easy it is to be aware of what is challenging. Often our activity can be so difficult that we cannot be anywhere else. If we’re injured in such a situation, we’ll probably remember what we did, to tell the doctor. It’s the rest of the time that I’m getting to.

How many times have you heard someone tell you, in embarrassment, that they hurt their back getting out of the tub, or getting out of the car? How about getting out of bed? These are the movements we go through without thinking. These actions are a means to an end, they’re not the main event. They’re so not the main event that most of the time we don’t have any memory of doing them – mmm, how did I get here?

I watched as Naharin’s advice to the dancers changed their movements from technical and detached to expressive and connected.

Be in the movement,” applies to everyone. Hindsight only helps in the case of accidents involving things like planes, trains and automobiles. If we weren’t paying attention otherwise, we won’t have anything to reference in hindsight.

Credits: Out of Focus is a Heymann Brothers Production and is available for $35 through http://www.heymannbrothers.com

Don’t Dooooo Iiiiiiiiiit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stretching Leopard

Contrary to what Penny, Sheldon and Leonard’s friend on the Big Bang Theory believes

it is nooooot good to stretch before you run!

Or dance. Or walk. Or play basketball. Or play golf. You get the idea.


Unless you’ve already been dancing!

I’m in an experiment kind of mood, so go grab a rubber band and throw it in the freezer. Sometime next week (or next year) you can retrieve it and stretch it out.

Better yet (and more immediate) go digging through stuff you’re saving for your kids, or for scrapbooking later or the sales information in your glove compartment – that’s been held together by a rubber band for longer than you’ve had that Duran Duran t-shirt. Give that little guy a stretch.

Tearing or outright popping and breaking will probably be the result.

Your muscles are not entirely unlike these rubber bands.

Oh, yea, and another reminder that stretching cold muscles is not the best idea – it’s uncomfortable and your muscles don’t want to stretch. They don’t. They’re telling you they don’t.

Stretching Hamster

What’s really cool is that they actually have a built-in defense mechanism to prevent tearing. Very simply what happens when you attempt to lengthen cold muscles is that when your muscles get to the breaking (or tearing) point, they shorten – instead of lengthen. The result is that your stretching gains you little to no ground and you could injure yourself.

Even if you’re doing your physical therapy flexibility exercises at home it’s vital to warm up before you stretch. Physical therapists will suggest that you use a heating pad on a small area (unless you’ve got one of those heavy canvas ‘blankets’ that heat up!) or that you take a hot shower to increase your circulation of blood to the area being stretched.

Now that you have warmed up your body, here’s another note about stretching:

Notice where you are feeling that stretch. You should be feeling it in the muscles belly – the middle of the muscle. If you feel the stretch in a joint, stop immediately. If the sensation goes away immediately, slowly go back into your stretch. Listen for the sensation of gentle pull in the middle of the muscle you are stretching.

Stretching Tiger

In yoga classes it looks as if we are stretching before we are warm. The first several sets of Sun Salutations are to be done gently with the desired affect being a gradual increase of body temperature and blood circulation so that when your body is ready you will be ready to get the most from your practice.


The Gift of Intimacy

Present Glow in BlueI cannot know another until I know myself – intimately.

Sexually? Sure. That’s a great start. And plenty of practice too! Practice stimulates hormonal levels and makes body sensation more accessible. The key is to pay more attention to the details of sensation with each practice.

Another way is to spend a few seconds several times a day acknowledging how your body feels. After all, intimacy is being in relationship with the details of whatever is being observed.

How about slowing down? Not a popular idea but very important.

In terms of “another”  mentioned above, the greater my ability to notice my own body communication the more sensitive I am likely to be to the body of others. An intimate partner, yes, but also any other I choose to notice.

Paying attention. Noticing. Mindfulness. Cognizance. Consciousness. Observation. Knowledge. Awareness.

Awareness is a gift.

Awareness is a gift only we can give ourselves.

Those around me can remind me and suggest that I pay attention. I will only benefit if  I practice body mindfulness. I also have to do this mindfulness thing for myself – no one else can do it for me (also known as I take responsibility for my well-being).

In it’s richest form, awareness is a practice. Without awareness there is little or no healing.

What if we practiced Nia (or yoga) while we watch a tennis match?

Sounds kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it?

So why do we run on a treadmill or workout on an elliptical while watching tv?

Here comes the anarchist in me:

Get rid of all the tvs in health and fitness facilities.

What a wonderful holiday gift.

It’s long past time to re-think the way we treat our bodies. Watching tv while moving amounts to negligence.

How about this one:

Heightened awareness will make your sex life better.

Barring an event bigger than you, heightened awareness can help you avoid chronic pain and serious injuries.

What better gift could you ask for?

The Secret of Brilliant Movement – Mini Sensation Meditation

Let’s make this interactive:

This might be a conversation you open and hold with your body only, or perhaps you’d like to share your discoveries with the rest of us.

Diving into Sensation. Or tip toeing. Or crashing. Or stomping. Or sinking. Or slipping in.

Take a moment and awaken your Body Awareness. Three full, easy breaths.  Bring your attention to a body part and notice how it feels. Choose a sensation word and said it softly out loud. The door is open…

How do you define “brilliant” movement?

What is the Sensation of brilliant movement?

Would you describe your movements every moment as brilliant ?

Let’s not think of this as an all-or-nothing proposition, so… where and when are you moving brilliantly?

Do you sense brilliance in your entire body or does a particular body part or area come to mind?

When you receive the answer, stay with it. See in your mind’s eye and feel your brilliant movement as an immediate and intimate experience. In the intimacy is the details.

Is it when you’re dancing with your friends? Are you moving brilliantly when you’re running? When you’re cooking?

What is it you do, then, that isn’t brilliant?

Why isn’t it brilliant?

Who told you it wasn’t brilliant?

Not brilliant compared to what?

Revisit your brilliant movement. Take time to consider the questions and the answers your body gives you. Spend as much time in any one as you like. As with any of my meditation suggestions, you can explore the meditation in it’s entirety or you can take it apart. Play with one question in the car, stopped in traffic. Play with a question while you’re standing in line and another at the computer, in front of the tv or anywhere to practice and heighten body awareness.

Remaining connected to the sensation of brilliant movement in your body, invite your mind to explore these mental toys:

What about using the words brilliant and energetic interchangeably?

Where does your sensation go?

Now we’ll use brilliant interchangeably with difficult.

Where does your mind go? What sensation or sensations do you notice?

How about brilliant and specific?

How are specific and difficult movements connected to brilliant movement? Are they?

Let’s go to brilliant and painful.

Are any of your brilliant movements painful? Yes? Why? Must the movements result in pain to be brilliant?

What if we use the words brilliant and functional interchangeably?

Will you go back and answer any of the above questions differently? Is there a change in your body sensation?

How about we use the words brilliant and pleasurable interchangeably?

What changes now? Is there a difference between functional movement and pleasurable movement? Sensation?

Now let’s make easy and brilliant interchangeable.

What’s the change? Does the change occur in your mind as shifts of perspective? Is the change wholly physical?

A bit of both?

Let’s bring the sensation and concept of satisfaction into the equation. Brilliant and satisfying?

When and where is your movement brilliant and satisfying?

Ok, adding  another element into the mix.

For brilliance, it must also be satisfying and painful. To be satisfying, it must be brilliant and painful. To be painful, it must also be brilliant and satisfying? Does this work? Is it possible? Where does it breakdown? Do you know this sensation or these sensations in your body?

Are all of these possible? Some? None?

When we make brilliant interchangeable with authentic, what happens?

Brilliant with healthy?

How easily can you equate your body’s natural and unfettered movement with brilliance?

Where does your mind go when you consider brilliance in the organic nature that is your very personal movement style?

Are there rules to being brilliant? Is there a charge for brilliant movement? A piper to pay?

Is brilliant movement expensive?

Is there a sacrifice?

Or is brilliance freedom?

The “Secret” is within you.

Art by Kalidou Kasse