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FOCUS POCUS NOTE! If you’ve been reading Focus Pocus for a while, you might notice that I didn’t post about our focus this week on Sunday as I usually do. Instead, I’ll roll the two weekly posts (art and content on Sundays, playlists and announcements on Thursdays) int o one all-encompassing post. So whether you come to the blog for the art, the information, the music or the latest happenings and offerings, you are in the right place. Every week on Thursdays, you’ll get it all. Thank you so much for being here.

Last week, we paid attention to how the technology we use shapes our bodies. (link) We played with lifting through the arches of the feet, exhaling fully to lift the diaphragm, and lifting the eyes to look out and release the neck. I make a practice of doing this ~ feeling my feet, taking a deep breath and looking around ~ every time I see someone hunched and buried in their phone. (Please note in the comments if you are playing with this and what you notice!)

The body is an integrated system of dynamic energy, so LIFT (where ever it happens) doesn’t happen on its own. For each lift we feel and create in the body, something else needs to root. So to create that dynamic energetic balance, we focused on rooting down AND lifting up.

Your heels are designed to connect you to the earth and keep you grounded and stable. Most of us have spent (almost literally) our entire lives in shoes with a heel. Whether you are male or female (even if you are a child!), check out your shoes: almost all of them have at least some kind of heel. This constraint on the body is at cross purposes with its form and interferes with its function.

You are designed to walk and stand with your heels rooted, your arches lifted and your toes relaxed. Next time you are in a shoe with a heel, notice what’s happening in your feet. It may feel “normal” if you’re used to heels, but listen for signals from your body about what compensations may be happening.

Your tailbone is mobile and can move in lots of directions, but when we put ourselves in heels and lift the calcaneus bone off the floor, in order to keep ourselves upright, the tailbone lifts up. This is a perfectly fine movement for your tailbone to do, but when it’s held chronically it can lead to a whole host of other compensations.

In relationship to the lifting of the diaphragm, take a deep breath and as you exhale, feel the rooting of your sacrum.

Many of us do work (read: phone, computer or tablet work) or repetitive tasks (read: cooking, changing diapers, making art) that drops the head and eyes and rounds the shoulders. As we lift the eyes, we automatically drop the shoulders down the back.

We can work it the other way, too. If you feel stiffness in your neck and shoulders, drop them down and free up your neck so your eyes can look around.

Our culture puts our bodies in all kinds of compromised and compensating positions. Our practice is to notice them and to give the body an experience of what it feels like to move in alignment with its form and function. The more we practice and recognize the sensation, the more we can access it out in the crazy, smartphone-using, seated, shod world.

Please tell us in the comments below how you are noticing this dynamic energy of rooting down and lifting up. Sharing what you’re noticing helps us all connect to the sensations in our own experience.

Below are our playlists for the week. If you’d like to listen to the music, you can find almost all the songs on Spotify (you can listen for free)! As always, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

And friends, I am always ALWAYS looking for new music. Do you have a song that you love to move to or that moves you? I’d love to know what it is! Please respond in the comments below or email me at sjmnia@gmail.com!

Before the playlists, here is the scoop on a whole slew of great things happening this summer!

Nourishing Movement Classes at the Studio at Dancing Water on Thursday mornings
Nourishing Movement classes with Susan on Thursdays at 9am (through the end of September ~ in October, we’ll return to 11am) ~~ my mix of guided and unguided movement, meditation and creativity! Please go to http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop for the details. Come join us in the trees by the river for grounded, flowing, spacious movement. Second Thursdays are followed by a pot luck brunch/tea/snackie! Nourish yourself with movement and bring something nourishing to share! There is space in upcoming classes so please go HERE to sign up!
* The Studio at Dancing Water is at 2370 Old Lynchburg Road ~ detailed directions at http://www.susanmcculley.com and via email when you sign up!

Nia Jam: Balance is a Verb ~ Saturday, September 21, 1230-145pm at acac Albemarle Square Studio A with Susan & Jeanne (No Nia 101 and class will start at 1230!)
Balance isn’t something we have, it’s something we do. Balance is a constant dance of push and pull, squeeze and release, reach and root. In our fall equinox jam, we’ll focus on balance in the body and in particular in shoulders and hips. Jeanne & Susan will play with all the balances that happen between upper/lower, left/right, front/back, diagonal lines as well as fast/slow, challenge/recuperation, sharp/fluid and everything in between. Please note that there will be no Nia 101 and that the jam will begin at 1230!

Saturday September 28, 9-12noon – Moving & Writing with Light: Nourishing Body & Eyes with Susan & Rebecca
Susan & Rebecca offer a morning to expand your perspective on two things that everybody has: a body and a smartphone. The word “photography” means “writing with light.” A photo isn’t a copy of something— it’s a story written *by light*! And light is weaving stories all around us, all the time. Using the simple cameras that we all carry —the ones in our phones! — we’ll play with the stories of light around us and experience how changing our perspectives can change everything. Susan will weave movement and mindfulness into the morning to practice being with light & shadow. No experience in photography or movement needed, just bring a phone or tablet with a built-in camera and your body. No experience with movement or photography is needed or expected. If you like, from 12-2pm, bring a lunch and savor it on the porch, on the bench overlooking the river or on a rock in the middle of it. $75. Register at http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop.

NEW OFFERING ~~ Saturday October 26, 9-12noon – Nourishing the Nervous System with Mindful Movement
NOTE from Susan: I am thrilled, honored, excited to welcome Emily Wright to teach at Dancing Water. She is an extraordinary, approachable, gifted teacher. I can’t wait to do this with her. Will you join me?
The body is a central portal to nervous system regulation. When we are regulated and integrated, we have the capacity to be our most awake, available, creative, curious, flexible selves. Using a blend of guided movement work, journaling, visual art-making, poetry, and mindfulness practices, participants will explore states of autonomic nervous system regulation as a means to establish safe, nourishing connections to ourselves, each other, and the natural world.
About the instructor:
Emily Wright, MFA, PhD, is a movement educator, author, and practitioner. She offers classes and workshops in functional movement, contact improvisation, and intergenerational community dance informed by her extensive background in dance and other somatic disciplines.

Nia resumes in Studio A at acac downtown
Nia is back in Studio A at acac downtown:
Mondays 4:15–5:15pm ~ Rachel
Wednesdays 6-7pm ~ Jeanne
Fridays 9-10:10am ~ Loring
Saturdays 9-10:10am ~ Anne
Sundays 3:30-4:30pm ~ Anne
PLUS
at acac Albemarle Square, Tuesdays 11-12pm Nia Moving to Heal ~ Rachel (starting Sept 3)

Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom ~ Video Series with Cecily Armstrong
Over the past few years I’ve been inspired and energized by the teaching and guidance of Cecily Armstrong. She is so generous with her offerings ~ her latest is a three-part video workshop Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom. If you’ve ever felt confused about how best to nourish yourself and live your healthiest, happiest life, Cecily offers amazing insights. You can sign up for the video series here. And/or you can get access to a longer 1-hour on-line workshop with Cecily here! https://cecilyarmstrong.com/decoding-your-bodys-wisdom-workshop/

Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom [optin]

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ Sep 6 at 11:25am
Nia Freedance is an opportunity to play and tap into the creative wisdom in our body, emotions, mind and spirit. For a full hour we get to dance together with the intention of stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance will be at ACAC Albemarle Square Friday, Sep 6 from 11:25 -12:25.

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

Monday, Aug 19, 2019, 1045am ~ Root Down AND Lift Up

Roots 3:42 Bob Marley & The Wailers
Souvenir 5:39 Kaledj feat. Neko
Ibuki Reconstruction 3:33 Kodo
Say Hey (I Love You) (Featuring Cherine Anderson) 3:56 Michael Franti
No Roots 3:56 Alice Merton
Voulez Vous Cousez 4:25 Moulin Rouge
All The Way Down 3:14 The Rolling Stones
Adouma 4:15 Santana
Yahoo 7:33 Veeresh & The Humaniversity Sound
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free 4:09 Derek Trucks Band
Salala (featuring Peter Gabriel) 3:24 Angelique Kidjo
Hit the Ground 3:31 Lizz Wright
Shanti (Peace Out) 6:59 MC Yogi

Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019, 840am ~ Root Down AND Lift Up

Roots 3:42 Bob Marley & The Wailers
Souvenir 5:39 Kaledj feat. Neko
Ibuki Reconstruction 3:33 Kodo
Say Hey (I Love You) (Featuring Cherine Anderson) 3:56 Michael Franti
No Roots 3:56 Alice Merton
Voulez Vous Cousez 4:25 Moulin Rouge
All The Way Down 3:14 The Rolling Stones
Yahoo 7:33 Veeresh & The Humaniversity Sound
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free 4:09 Derek Trucks Band
Salala (featuring Peter Gabriel) 3:24 Angelique Kidjo
Hit the Ground 3:31 Lizz Wright
Way Down 5:08 The Happening

Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019, 11am ~ Root Down AND Lift Up

Snakeroot 7:58 Lis Addison
Souvenir 5:39 Kaledj feat. Neko
Ibuki Reconstruction 3:33 Kodo
Drop 4:56 Cornelius
No Roots 3:56 Alice Merton
Voulez Vous Cousez 4:25 Moulin Rouge
Drop It Low 3:45 Kat DeLuna
Adouma 4:15 Santana
Bust Da Drop 3:32 Discowboy
Salala (featuring Peter Gabriel) 3:24 Angelique Kidjo
Floater 4:51 Waldeck
Way Down 5:08 The Happening

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019, 9am Nourishing Movement at the Studio at Dancing Water ~ Root Down AND Lift Up

Edge Hill 7:00 Groove Armada
Snakeroot 7:58 Lis Addison
Souvenir 5:39 Kaledj feat. Neko
Drop 4:56 Cornelius
No Roots 3:56 Alice Merton
Voulez Vous Cousez 4:25 Moulin Rouge
Drop It Low 3:45 Kat DeLuna
Adouma 4:15 Santana
Bust Da Drop 3:32 Discowboy
Floater 4:51 Waldeck
2/1 8:54 Brian Eno

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

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FOCUS POCUS NOTE! If you’ve been reading Focus Pocus for a while, you might notice that I didn’t post about our focus this week on Sunday as I usually do. Instead, I’ve decided to roll the two weekly posts (art and content on Sundays, playlists and announcements on Thursdays) into one all-encompassing post. So whether you come to the blog for the art, the information, the music or the latest happenings and offerings, you are in the right place. Every week on Thursdays, you’ll get it all. Thank you so much for being here.

In the past few months, any time I see someone looking down on their phone, I make a point to look up and release my head and neck. As you might imagine, I have an opportunity to practice this ALL. THE. TIME.

As I practice lifting my gaze and mobilizing my neck, I noticed that this awareness changed my breathing. Whenever I look up, my breath deepens. Which makes sense, since as I look up and around, I make more space for my breath to move. The diaphragm muscle also lifts up when it relaxes (somewhat counter intuitive) so the more I exhale, the more it lifts.

As I expanded this Look Up When You See Someone On Their Device practice, I noticed that the stronger and more pliable my feet are, the deeper I can breathe and the broader my vision.

Arch of the foot. Diaphragm. Eyes. How much awareness and mindful practice can we bring to all three of them? Here are some resources offered to inspire and support you:

Most of us have spent almost all of our lives in shoes. Even if you have something you’re healing in your feet, it’s a good idea to spend some time barefoot stretching and strengthening your feet. Here are some simple but powerful foot exercises that anyone can do.

(Speaking of feet, here’s a fascinating piece on The Superpower of Walking.)

Leslie Kaminoff is one of the world’s experts on breath. He talks about breathing as the act of changing the shape inside the torso…and as one of the keys to healthful living. Here is a short video on Harnessing the Breath.

I mentioned Katy Bowman’s podcast on how social media is shaping your body. Her approach to looking at how we use (or don’t use) our bodies actually changes their shape and functionality. You can find the recording and transcript here
and here’s another good post on eyes.

We use our eyes so habitually and unconsciously, and if you’re like me and are super interested in eyes, here’s a podcast about eyes that is an excellent conversation about natural eye movement and a bunch of things I’ll bet you’ve never thought of before.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences lifting yourself up! Please do post in the comments below or pop me an email at sjmnia@gmail.com!

Before I get to the music, here is the scoop on a whole slew of great things happening this summer and fall!

SUMMER SPECIAL for Nourishing Movement Classes at the Studio at Dancing Water
Nourishing Movement classes with Susan on Thursdays at 9am ~~ my mix of guided and unguided movement, meditation and creativity! Now on SUMMER SPECIAL ~~ You and a friend move in the trees by the river at a discounted rate of $20! Please go to http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop for the details. Come join us in the trees by the river for grounded, flowing, spacious movement. Second Thursdays are followed by a pot luck brunch/tea/snackie! Nourish yourself with movement and bring something nourishing to share! There is space in upcoming classes so please go HERE to sign up!
* The Studio at Dancing Water is at 2370 Old Lynchburg Road ~ detailed directions at http://www.susanmcculley.com and via email when you sign up!

Saturday August 24, 10am – 130pm – Moving with Ayurveda with Susan & Liz Reynolds
Just as we bring awareness and listen to our bodies as we move, Ayurveda teaches us to listen to both the signals of nature and our own body as a map for health and vitality. Join Susan and Ayurveda Wellness Coach, Liz Reynolds for a nourishing experience at Dancing Water on Saturday, August 24 from 10am – 130pm. Susan’s integrated approach to movement encourages deep responsiveness to sensation, sound and space. We will then transition to an exploration of Ayurveda cooking and wellness practices with Liz as she offers a delicious vegetarian meal perfectly suited for the end of summer. She will teach about the simplicity of the ancient practice of Ayurveda, and offer tips for transitioning into the fall season. Plus, you’ll get the scoop on what doshas actually are. (And if you have no idea was a dosha is, this is a great place to begin!) $75. Register at http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop.

Nia Jam: Balance is a Verb ~ Saturday, September 21, 1230-145pm at acac Albemarle Square Studio A with Susan & Jeanne (No Nia 101 and class will start at 1230!)
Balance isn’t something we have, it’s something we do. Balance is a constant dance of push and pull, squeeze and release, reach and root. In our fall equinox jam, we’ll focus on balance in the body and in particular in shoulders and hips. Jeanne & Susan will play with all the balances that happen between upper/lower, left/right, front/back, diagonal lines as well as fast/slow, challenge/recuperation, sharp/fluid and everything in between. Please note that there will be no Nia 101 and that the jam will begin at 1230!

Saturday September 28, 9-12noon – Moving & Writing with Light: Nourishing Body & Eyes with Susan & Rebecca
Susan & Rebecca offer a morning to expand your perspective on two things that everybody has: a body and a smartphone. The word “photography” means “writing with light.” A photo isn’t a copy of something— it’s a story written *by light*! And light is weaving stories all around us, all the time. Using the simple cameras that we all carry —the ones in our phones! — we’ll play with the stories of light around us and experience how changing our perspectives can change everything. Susan will weave movement and mindfulness into the morning to practice being with light & shadow. No experience in photography or movement needed, just bring a phone or tablet with a built-in camera and your body. If you like, from 12-2pm, bring a lunch and savor it on the porch, on the bench overlooking the river or on a rock in the middle of it. $75. Register at http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop.

Nia resumes in Studio A at acac downtown
Starting on Monday, August 12 Nia in Studio A at acac downtown:
Mondays 4:15–5:15pm ~ Rachel
Wednesdays 6-7pm ~ Jeanne
Fridays 9-10:10am ~ Loring
Saturdays 9-10:10am ~ Anne
Sundays 3:30-4:30pm ~ Anne
PLUS
at acac Albemarle Square, Tuesdays 11-12pm Nia Moving to Heal ~ Rachel (starting Sept 3)

Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom ~ Video Series with Cecily Armstrong
Over the past few years I’ve been inspired and energized by the teaching and guidance of Cecily Armstrong. She is so generous with her offerings ~ her latest is a three-part video workshop Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom. If you’ve ever felt confused about how best to nourish yourself and live your healthiest, happiest life, Cecily offers amazing insights. You can sign up for the video series here. And/or you can get access to a longer 1-hour on-line workshop with Cecily here! https://cecilyarmstrong.com/decoding-your-bodys-wisdom-workshop/

Decoding Your Body’s Wisdom [optin]

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ Sep 6 at 11:25am
Nia Freedance is an opportunity to play and tap into the creative wisdom in our body, emotions, mind and spirit. For a full hour we get to dance together with the intention of stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance will be at ACAC Albemarle Square Friday, Sep 6 from 11:25 -12:25.

Nia White Belt Training with Kelle Rae Oien Aug 15-21 at SoulShines in Richmond
Whether for personal growth, developing your practice or preparing to teach, the Nia White Belt training is a life-changing experience. Join stellar White Belt Trainer, Kelle Rae Oien at the new SoulShines Studios in Richmond. Go here for more information!
https://www.facebook.com/events/796684947329568/ (NOTE: A belt can audit 3 sessions for free. (They will need to pay for classes with Kelle – not included in the free offer) A retake (anything more than 3 sessions) is $99 to HQ and $400 to Kelle. That includes all classes.)

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

Friends, I am always ALWAYS looking for new music. Do you have a song that you love to move to or that moves you? I’d love to know what it is! Please respond in the comments below or email me at sjmnia@gmail.com!

Monday, Aug 12, 2019, 1045am ~ Lift ‘Em Up: Arches, Diaphragm & Eyes

Heavenly Day 3:45 Patty Griffin
My Culture 5:39 Maxi Jazz/Robbie Williams
The Obvious Child 4:10 Paul Simon
Braided Hair 4:03 Neneh Cherry/Speech
Wash It Away (Lift ’em Up) 9:27 Nahko and Medicine for the People
I Know What I Know 3:13 Paul Simon
Lift 3:55 Audio Adrenaline
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) 3:52 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Proud 4:30 Heather Small
Lift 4:12 Mysteria
Under African Skies 3:37 Paul Simon
Father I Know (Mix 1) 3:08 Jamie Catto
Lift Your Gaze 5:17 Minna Twice

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019, 840am ~ Lift ‘Em Up: Arches, Diaphragm & Eyes

Heavenly Day 3:45 Patty Griffin
My Culture 5:39 Maxi Jazz/Robbie Williams
The Obvious Child 4:10 Paul Simon
Braided Hair 4:03 Neneh Cherry/Speech
Wash It Away (Lift ’em Up) 9:27 Nahko and Medicine for the People
I Know What I Know 3:13 Paul Simon
Lift 3:55 Audio Adrenaline
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) 3:52 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Lift 4:12 Mysteria
Under African Skies 3:37 Paul Simon
Father I Know (Mix 1) 3:08 Jamie Catto
Lift Your Gaze 5:17 Minna Twice

Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019, 11am ~ Lift ‘Em Up: Arches, Diaphragm & Eyes

Heavenly Day 3:45 Patty Griffin
My Culture 5:39 Maxi Jazz/Robbie Williams
The Obvious Child 4:10 Paul Simon
Braided Hair 4:03 Neneh Cherry/Speech
Wash It Away (Lift ’em Up) 9:27 Nahko and Medicine for the People
I Know What I Know 3:13 Paul Simon
Get Up 4:51 Badmarsh & Shri
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) 3:52 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Get Up and Get Down 3:10 The Dramatics
Under African Skies 3:37 Paul Simon
Father I Know (Mix 1) 3:08 Jamie Catto
Lift Your Gaze 5:17 Minna Twice

Thursday, Aug 15, 2019, 9am Nourishing Movement at the Studio at Dancing Water ~ Lift ‘Em Up: Arches, Diaphragm & Eyes

Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight 3:08 Amos Lee
Souvenir 5:39 Kaledj feat. Neko
Amazing 4:34 One Eskimo
Ibuki Reconstruction 3:33 Kodo
Dinner At The Sugerbush 5:17 Brent Lewis
Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That 3:31 Robert Randolph & The Family
Drum Trip 3:45 Rusted Root
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free 4:09 Derek Trucks Band
Salala (featuring Peter Gabriel) 3:24 Angelique Kidjo
Something So Right 3:56 Annie Lennox
Shanti (Peace Out) 6:59 MC Yogi

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

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