Archive

systemic movement

FOCUS POCUS NOTE! FocusPocus is now one complete post (art, focus, playlists and announcements) all together on Thursdays! 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 Thursday, you’ll get it all. Thank you so much for being here.

The weeks between Halloween and the Solstice can be challenging: the darkness and cold creeping in, the cultural frenzy of shopping and eating and jingling leaves the nervous system jangling (even if you are loving every minute of it). So for these next few weeks, we’ll be focusing on practical practices that we can do to soothe and strengthen our nervous systems. Think of them as nervous system “hacks.” We’ll focus on things we do in class all the time but call attention to them so we have easier access to them as we move through the world.

As we move into the second half of the 6-week series, we focus on systemic, whole-body movement. While grounding/orienting, squeezing/releasing and shaking can happen in one body part, the last three weeks are all about organizing and moving the body as a whole.

This week: head/tail movement. Similar to our Core/Distal focus last week, we move the whole spine and in fact the whole body by focusing on movement at the top and bottom of the spine. In our culture, spinal movement isn’t really a thing: we’re taught to keep it straight and tall and alert to all coming danger. But the design of the spinal structure – this cascade of multi-faceted bone – tells us that it is designed to move, flow and be soft and receptive. When we hold it rigidly, tension gathers and gets stuck, breath doesn’t move and the nervous system stays vigilant. Even if movement in parts of the spine doesn’t feel accessible, imagining the little bones moving and flowing is the first (and an excellent) step.

Do it right now. Move your spine from the top (right behind your eyebrows) and the bottom (the very base of your tailbone). Movement of any size and in any direction releases tension, held energy and reassures your nervous system that all is well and it can go off hyper-alert.

Here 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!

Lots of events are unfolding, friends, so before the playlists, here is all the details on what’s coming up!

Nourishing Movement Classes at the Studio at Dancing Water on Thursday mornings at 11am!
Nourishing Movement classes with Susan on Thursdays at 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 lunch! 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!

January Nourishment at Dancing Water ~ 5 Nourishing Movement classes for $50!
A new year begins. A perfect time to reconnect to your body and yourSELF. Register for 5 Nourishing Movement classes at The Studio at Dancing Water on Thursdays, January 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30 from 11-12:15pm for $50. (If you’d like to do 4 of the 5, please contact me. We can make that happen!) Must be purchased by January 2!

Book Signing and Art Demonstration at Cville Arts
Saturday, December 14, 11-12noon
This week, I refreshed my display at Cville Arts in preparation for the holiday season and my upcoming event! Come see how Octabusy was made with an art demonstration and book signing at Cville Arts on the downtown mall!

ORDER OCTABUSY!
Support local retailers by ordering Octabusy
at Over The Moon Bookstore in Crozet (overthemoonbookstore.com, (434) 823-1144, Anne@OvertheMoonBookstore.com)
and buy it at New Dominion Bookshop on Charlottesville’s downtown mall (ndbookshop.com, 434-295-2552, staff@ndbookshop.com)
and at The Telegraph Art & Comics https://www.telegraphcomics.com/
and coming soon to the beautiful Nourish Louisa shop in downtown Louisa! Go here http://www.nourishlouisa.com/ for more. I’ll be sharing more soon on events at this super-cool spot!
You can also order signed copies of Octabusy (including discounts on multiple copies) now on my website at susanmcculley.com/shop
and get Kindle and paperback editions on Amazon!
(And wherever you buy it, please leave a review there!)

On My Last Nerve: Achieving Balance Using Practices & Herbs ~ a Book Signing and Workshop at The Elderberry ~~ Saturday, January 4, 2020 ~ 12noon – 2pm FREE!
It’s time to come back to ourselves after the holiday frenzy! Join teacher and artist Susan McCulley and Clinical Herbalist Heather Wetzel to explore a realignment of ourselves following the swirl of the holidays.
12:00-1:00: Book signing and conversation about the counter cultural choice for presence and less busyness with Susan, author of Octabusy: How to Let Go in a Sea of Doing conversation
1:00 – 2:00: Susan and Heather will present a short workshop focusing on re-balancing body, mind, and spirit after the holidays utilizing life hacks and herbal strategies for moving from the habitual responses of our nervous system’s “fright, flight, or freeze” reactions into a more balanced, flowing, and peaceful state of “rest and digest” for the new year. Topics include:
· How to support yourself to be more centered, calm and relaxed.
· Physical and mindful practices that can bring you back to center and be done anywhere, no matter what is happening around you.
· Tastings (including recipes) of tried and true adaptogenic herbal preparations to enhance your  resilience to stress
· New ideas to support and encourage graceful adaptation to change and less reactive to stress
We all need encouragement and new ideas to support us as we step into change-filled 2020 and beyond. Reserve your seat now as space is limited ~ go HERE https://www.elderberryherbals.com/calendar/on-my-last-nerve-achieving-balance-using-practices-amp-herbs-book-signing-and-workshop-saturday-january-4-2020-12noon-2pm!

Full Moon Restorative Yoga with Shandoah ~ Moonday, January 13, 430-6pm
Shandoah Goldman returns to The Studio at Dancing Water (2370 Old Lynchburg Road, Charlottesville) to continue the full moon restorative practice! The full moon is a time of completion. The fullness of the cycle lends itself to a practice of non-doing. Join Shandoah for a deeply nourishing practice of restorative yoga. Using props to offer support and comfort, the body is invited to profoundly let go and unwind. Rather than efforting or stretching, this is the practice of releasing and relaxing. We’ll celebrate what is finished and soften into the next cycle. Shandoah is a gifted guide for deep release and is a Shiatsu practitioner offering hands on assists during class. All bodies welcome, no experience in yoga or anything else is needed.
Monday (Moonday!), January 13, 430-6pm at The Studio at Dancing Water, $30 or $25 if registered before January 1. (Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Full Moon class will be on February 10!)

Scholarships Available for all Experiences at The Studio at Dancing Water
We have delicious experiences coming up at The Studio AND we have scholarships available for them. If finances are stopping you from joining us, please reach out and let me know (PM me or connect at sjmnia@gmail.com).

The Movement Barn offers the GYROTONIC Method
Note from Susan: I recently had the good fortune to meet, move and have a GYROTONIC session with Casey Turner. I love the circular, functional, mindful approach of this technique. And I loved doing it with a view of the mountains in a field of flowers! Please check out her beautiful offerings.
The Movement Barn is a boutique fitness studio in Charlottesville, VA offering private GYROTONIC® sessions in a picturesque setting. Located in a field of wildflowers, The Movement Barn provides a unique workout experience for people of all ages and levels of ability. The GYROTONIC® Method is designed to increase strength, agility, and range of movement. This low impact system uses flowing exercises with circular and spiral motion to open energy pathways, stimulate the nervous system, and create space in the joints. For more information, visit http://www.themovementbarn.com, email catherine@themovementbarn.com, or follow @themovementbarn on Instagram!

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ Jan 3 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, Jan 3 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, Dec 9, 2019, 1045am ~ Soothing the Nervous System: Head ~ Tail

Qurna 7:09 Banco de Gaia
Kunya Sobé 5:20 Cirque du Soleil
Succumb to Me 5:15 Terence Trent D’Arby
Caravena 5:14 Cirque du Soleil
LaHore Connection 5:15 Prem Joshua
Crazy Benny 5:32 Safri Duo
Cantaloop 4:39 US3
Domination 7:26 Peace Orchestra
I’ll Be Around 4:32 Joan Osborne
Lydia 5:58 Tim Story

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019, 840am ~ Soothing the Nervous System: Head ~ Tail

Qurna 7:09 Banco de Gaia
Kunya Sobé 5:20 Cirque du Soleil
Succumb to Me 5:15 Terence Trent D’Arby
LaHore Connection 5:15 Prem Joshua
Crazy Benny 5:32 Safri Duo
Cantaloop 4:39 US3
Domination 7:26 Peace Orchestra
I’ll Be Around 4:32 Joan Osborne
Lydia 5:58 Tim Story

Thursday, Dec 5, 2019, 11am ~ Nourishing Movement at the Studio at Dancing Water ~ Soothing the Nervous System: Head ~ Tail

Soft Music Under Stars 8:49 Fila Brazillia
Qurna 7:09 Banco de Gaia
Kunya Sobé 5:20 Cirque du Soleil
Succumb to Me 5:15 Terence Trent D’Arby
LaHore Connection 5:15 Prem Joshua
Crazy Benny 5:32 Safri Duo
Cantaloop 4:39 US3
Domination 7:26 Peace Orchestra
I’ll Be Around 4:32 Joan Osborne
Lydia 5:58 Tim Story

FOCUS POCUS NOTE! FocusPocus is now one complete post (art, focus, playlists and announcements) all together on Thursdays! 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 Thursday, you’ll get it all. Thank you so much for being here.

The weeks between Halloween and the Solstice can be challenging: the darkness and cold creeping in, the cultural frenzy of shopping and eating and jingling leaves the nervous system jangling (even if you are loving every minute of it). So for these next few weeks, we’ll be focusing on practical practices that we can do to soothe and strengthen our nervous systems. Think of them as nervous system “hacks.” We’ll focus on things we do in class all the time but call attention to them so we have easier access to them as we move through the world.

As we move into the second half of the 6-week series, we focus on systemic, whole-body movement. While grounding/orienting, squeezing/releasing and shaking can happen in one body part, the next three week will be about organizing and moving the body as a whole.

This week: core – distal movement, in and out. The reflexive movement of curling into center and stretching out is something we are literally born doing. You probably did some variation on it this morning when you woke up. The balance of the protected, safe feeling of pulling in and the exploratory, expansive feeling of reaching out creates a sense of well-being and calm in the nervous system.

Do it right now. Tuck into your center. Feel your belly draw back and your back body curl. Then reach out and stretch your limbs and head/tail long (oooh, yes, head and tail! we’ll get to that next week!). How does that feel? I’m always interested to hear about it, so please do leave a comment below!

Here 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!

Lots of events are unfolding, friends, so before the playlists, here is all the details on what’s coming up!

Nourishing Movement Classes at the Studio at Dancing Water on Thursday mornings at 11am!
Nourishing Movement classes with Susan on Thursdays at 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 lunch! 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!

Full Moon Restorative Yoga with Shandoah ~ Moonday, January 13, 430-6pm
Shandoah Goldman returns to The Studio at Dancing Water (2370 Old Lynchburg Road, Charlottesville) to continue the full moon restorative practice! The full moon is a time of completion. The fullness of the cycle lends itself to a practice of non-doing. Join Shandoah for a deeply nourishing practice of restorative yoga. Using props to offer support and comfort, the body is invited to profoundly let go and unwind. Rather than efforting or stretching, this is the practice of releasing and relaxing. We’ll celebrate what is finished and soften into the next cycle. Shandoah is a gifted guide for deep release and is a Shiatsu practitioner offering hands on assists during class. All bodies welcome, no experience in yoga or anything else is needed.
Monday (Moonday!), January 13, 430-6pm at The Studio at Dancing Water, $30 or $25 if registered before January 1. (Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Full Moon class will be on February 10!)

Scholarships Available for all Experiences at The Studio at Dancing Water
We have delicious experiences coming up at The Studio AND we have scholarships available for them. If finances are stopping you from joining us, please reach out and let me know (PM me or connect at sjmnia@gmail.com).

Book Signing and Art Demonstration at Cville Arts
Saturday, December 14, 11-12noon
This week, I refreshed my display at Cville Arts in preparation for the holiday season and my upcoming event! Come see how Octabusy was made with an art demonstration and book signing at Cville Arts on the downtown mall!

ORDER OCTABUSY!
Support local retailers by ordering Octabusy
at Over The Moon Bookstore in Crozet (overthemoonbookstore.com, (434) 823-1144, Anne@OvertheMoonBookstore.com)
and buy it at New Dominion Bookshop on Charlottesville’s downtown mall (ndbookshop.com, 434-295-2552, staff@ndbookshop.com)
and at The Telegraph Art & Comics https://www.telegraphcomics.com/
and coming soon to the beautiful Nourish Louisa shop in downtown Louisa! Go here http://www.nourishlouisa.com/ for more. I’ll be sharing more soon on events at this super-cool spot!
You can also order signed copies of Octabusy (including discounts on multiple copies) now on my website at susanmcculley.com/shop
and get Kindle and paperback editions on Amazon!
(And wherever you buy it, please leave a review there!)

Winter Solstice Restorative Yoga + Sound Experience with Shandoah Goldman ~ Sat Dec 21, 2019 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm ~ TWO SPOTS LEFT!
Immerse in the return of light as you cocoon yourself by candles and hearth. The experience is set within a quartz faced historic hall. Rest deep into restoring postures while being serenaded by crystal bowl soundscapes + alchemist delights for the senses and an energy gift bag to take home.
WHEN Saturday December 21st optional walk on scenic trails arrive by 3:30pm / Experience begins at 4:30pm and ends at 6pm
BRING a yoga mat/ two blankets/ two firm pillows or 1 bolster / warm layers / water
LOCATION Private home in Esmont revealed after purchase of ticket
WHO Restorative Yoga guided by Shandoah Goldman | Somatic Cville \ Sounds by Waverly Davis | Sacra Space \  Alchemist delights by Chloe Morgan
TICKETS Limited spaces available $44 before 12/1/19 $52 after  https://www.tickettailor.com/events/somaticcville/320206

On My Last Nerve: Achieving Balance Using Practices & Herbs ~ a Book Signing and Workshop at The Elderberry ~~ Saturday, January 4, 2020 ~ 12noon – 2pm FREE!
It’s time to come back to ourselves after the holiday frenzy! Join teacher and artist Susan McCulley and Clinical Herbalist Heather Wetzel to explore a realignment of ourselves following the swirl of the holidays.
12:00-1:00: Book signing and conversation about the counter cultural choice for presence and less busyness with Susan, author of Octabusy: How to Let Go in a Sea of Doing conversation
1:00 – 2:00: Susan and Heather will present a short workshop focusing on re-balancing body, mind, and spirit after the holidays utilizing life hacks and herbal strategies for moving from the habitual responses of our nervous system’s “fright, flight, or freeze” reactions into a more balanced, flowing, and peaceful state of “rest and digest” for the new year. Topics include:
· How to support yourself to be more centered, calm and relaxed.
· Physical and mindful practices that can bring you back to center and be done anywhere, no matter what is happening around you.
· Tastings (including recipes) of tried and true adaptogenic herbal preparations to enhance your  resilience to stress
· New ideas to support and encourage graceful adaptation to change and less reactive to stress
We all need encouragement and new ideas to support us as we step into change-filled 2020 and beyond. Reserve your seat now as space is limited ~ go HERE https://www.elderberryherbals.com/calendar/on-my-last-nerve-achieving-balance-using-practices-amp-herbs-book-signing-and-workshop-saturday-january-4-2020-12noon-2pm!

The Movement Barn offers the GYROTONIC Method
Note from Susan: I recently had the good fortune to meet, move and have a GYROTONIC session with Casey Turner. I love the circular, functional, mindful approach of this technique. And I loved doing it with a view of the mountains in a field of flowers! Please check out her beautiful offerings.
The Movement Barn is a boutique fitness studio in Charlottesville, VA offering private GYROTONIC® sessions in a picturesque setting. Located in a field of wildflowers, The Movement Barn provides a unique workout experience for people of all ages and levels of ability. The GYROTONIC® Method is designed to increase strength, agility, and range of movement. This low impact system uses flowing exercises with circular and spiral motion to open energy pathways, stimulate the nervous system, and create space in the joints. For more information, visit http://www.themovementbarn.com, email catherine@themovementbarn.com, or follow @themovementbarn on Instagram!

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ Dec 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, Dec 2, 2019, 1045am ~ Soothing the Nervous System: Core ~ Distal

We Are All Connected 7:07 Magic Sound Fabric
Calling 5:52 Bliss
Lovers House 4:49 City Reverb
One World, One People 4:43 Xcultures
Adore 5:09 I:Cube
Today 6:41 Junkie XL
I’ll Take You There 4:35 The Staples Singers
Shine 4:12 Joshua
Easy Tonight 4:09 Five for Fighting
Tom’s Diner 3:50 DNA, Suzanne Vega
Still 8:19 Wade Imre Morissette

Tuesday, Dec 3, 2019, 840am ~ Soothing the Nervous System: Core ~ Distal

We Are All Connected 7:07 Magic Sound Fabric
Calling 5:52 Bliss
Lovers House 4:49 City Reverb
One World, One People 4:43 Xcultures
Today 6:41 Junkie XL
I’ll Take You There 4:35 The Staples Singers
Shine 4:12 Joshua
Easy Tonight 4:09 Five for Fighting
Tom’s Diner 3:50 DNA, Suzanne Vega
Lydia 5:58 Tim Story

Thursday, Dec 5, 2019, 11am ~ Nourishing Movement at the Studio at Dancing Water ~ Soothing the Nervous System: Core ~ Distal

Breaking Good 9:45 James Asher
We Are All Connected 7:07 Magic Sound Fabric
Calling 5:52 Bliss
Lovers House 4:49 City Reverb
One World, One People 4:43 Xcultures
Today 6:41 Junkie XL
I’ll Take You There 4:35 The Staples Singers
Shine 4:12 Joshua
Easy Tonight 4:09 Five for Fighting
Tom’s Diner 3:50 DNA, Suzanne Vega
Lydia 5:58 Tim Story


I had a dream that I died. Or that I was about to die. I had gotten some kind of diagnosis and (true to my food-centric, vegetarian form) the plan was to eat my lunch salad, then take a pill that would end my life.

This might sound like a bummer of a dream but it wasn’t. First, I was overjoyed to wake up. Then I was intensely aware of the unspeakable sweetness of living…and of its impermanence.

Since The Dream, I’ve been renegotiating my relationship to time. I’ve been paying attention to when I rush through, scrabble over, gobble up my life. I’m doing my best to slow down, savor more, embody presence.

Sometimes it goes better than others.

Last week, I was having a rough go of it when I came across two dharma talks by meditation teacher and author, Tara Brach. Her words often inspire me but these connected straight to everything I’ve been feeling about transience. The two talks are Impermanence: Awakening Through Insecurity, Part 1 & Part 2, and I strongly recommend them both. Listening to them brought me to tears and to laughter. Her stories and words reverberate in my heart and mind still. (These two talks have planted seeds for a whole slew of focuses for our movement together, so stay tuned for more on them in coming weeks.)

In the second talk, Tara tells the story of a woman who’s been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer with the prognosis of one year to live. She has a 2-year-old daughter. Her mantra, her mission becomes this:

No Time To Rush.

When we are truly aware, not in an intellectual way but in a heart and soul way, that our lives will one day be over, what becomes important? What matters? Perhaps counterintuitively, all my hurrying to accomplish things, all my squeezing as much as I possibly can into every single day suddenly seems like the opposite of what is important.

Yesterday, at the busy, noisy grocery store, I waited in the cashier’s line to pay for a cart full of vegetables. When it was my turn, the cashier hastily picked up my reusable bags, “I’m sorry, hold on, please,” he said as he set them up on the counter, “Let me get your bags ready to load.” With the dharma talk words moving around in me, I looked at him and said, “It’s no rush. Take your time.”

He stopped propping the bags up and look straight at me.
“Did you say, ‘It’s no rush’?” he asked.
“I did.”
“Well, let me take a sip of coffee then,” he smiled and stopped long enough for a swig from his travel cup.
He took a breath and so did I.

Rushing is contagious. I wonder about the countless times I’ve impatiently checked out of grocery stores, silently urging the cashier to go faster. In all those hurry-up encounters, the humanness of the moment, and actually, the moment itself was lost. In our Get ‘Er Done culture, it is a gift to give each other a little time, a little breathing room, a sip of coffee.

It’s been a curious exploration to slow down my rushing. Coincidentally (if you believe in those things), I am reading Sarah Susanka’s book The Not So Big Life. In it, she invites the exploration of priorities, questioning of choices and an examination how we spend our time. She writes,

Now is experienced not as time but as presence and although we are aware of flow, it’s as if its duration is incidental, it barely touches us, much as a leaf floating along on a stream would barely be aware of the water’s movement. (p. 147)

This is the dance of No Time To Rush. Allow time to be a flow rather than a commodity. Allow myself to be the leaf floating effortlessly rather than the dam trying to control it.

It is inexpressibly precious, this life. Even with all its messiness and pain and confusion, it is exquisite and worth savoring. None of us has time to rush.

The human body is designed to move and function as a complete system. Everything is connected. Everything.
In movement, focus on spirals and diagonals to access and stimulate this holistic, systemic movement.

Diagonal movement includes both left/right and upper/lower bodies.

Diagonals integrate the side body and the inside and outside of arms and legs.

Spiral and circular movement incorporates all directions in 360 degrees.

Circles and spirals integrate intrinsic and extrinsic muscles as well as connective tissue.

Notice the sensation of diagonal and spiral movement in the body, mind and heart.
Notice how you might approach your day, your work, your relationships diagonally and spirally.

Move and create and live systemically, holistically. Include all your parts.

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