Tag Archives: Darude

elements interconnected 041816

Art in Action is a weekly post: a simple, practical guide to applying the ideas and principles in the Focus Pocus posts to your body and life. As always, I love to hear from you about how you use them and how you translate the ideas into action.


The basic elements of life are inextricably interconnected and intertwined. We may look at a boulder and think “Earth” but the stone was born of Water and Fire and Air, too.

Since they are of this planet, our bodies are made of the same stuff — all the ingredients blended inseparably together. The brilliance of this design is that in any moment, we can choose to emphasize whatever element is most needed.

Like a sound system mixing board, we can turn up the volume on whatever track needs to be highlighted. Use sensation and awareness to guide yourself toward healing and well-being.


Feeling over-excited or anxious? Have you been up in your head solving a problem or analyzing a situation? Feeling spacey or zoned out? Grounding with Earth energy can get your feet back on the ground

  • Drop in. Stand up, lift up onto the balls of your feet and firmly drop your heels down to the floor several times. Relax your hands and jaw and shoulders.
  • Get on the ground. Lie on the floor (or extra bonus points for lying on the actual Earth) and relax into the support (without going to sleep). You can roll and stretch but whatever part is in contact with the floor, let it soften.
  • Focus on the exhale. Extend your exhale as long as you can to relax and integrate the energy.


Feeling hot or irritated? Been in an argument or had someone pushing your buttons all morning? Feeling jagged and sharp? Smoothing out the edges with Water energy can help calm your prickly pointy parts.

  • Move smooth. Roll your neck and shoulders, stand up and circle your hips, rotate your ankles and wrists. Imagine your body flowing especially in places where you tend to hold tension.
  • Get in touch with water. Take a shower or wash your hands. Drink a big glass of water or a cup of tea. Listen to a recording of ocean waves, rain, or (my favorite) water running over rocks.
  • Breathe evenly. Inhale and exhale for the same count (say, 4 in and 4 out) with no pause between them.


Sleepy or bored or distracted? Feeling lethargic or low energy? Sparking the Fire element can wake you up and get your attention.

  • Shake. Do some jumping jacks or simply shake your hands, feet, shoulders or head. Literally shake yourself up.
  • Fire up the iPod. Listen to your favorite up-tempo energizing music. Two of my favorites are Sandstorm by Darude and Raging Fire by Phillip Phillips. Dancing is optional, unless the song is super good and you can’t help it.
  • Bellows breath. Sit tall and forcefully exhale and inhale using bhastrika breath or bellows breath. Find instructions here.


Feeling tightness in your muscles or your mind? Find yourself in a contracted position on a plane or around an issue? Been slumped in front of the computer or TV for a while? Opening up space with the Air element can release tension and offer a broader perspective.

  • Stretch. Lengthen your body along the bones. Let your whole body find length from feet to spine, from legs to fingers. If you’re on a train or at a meeting, stretch what you can – maybe your hands or sit up taller or imagine yourself in a big open space reaching long in all directions.
  • Look at the sky. On your way to the car, take a moment to look up and see how much space (even on an overcast day) there is all around you.
  • Breathe in. Expand your internal spaciousness by breathing deeply in. Let your ribs expand to the front, sides and back.

* The mind is a powerful tool. If you can’t move due to injury or circumstance, move what you can (e.g., shake out just your right hand if your left hand isn’t available) or imagine yourself moving. Just using your imagination will have almost the same effect!


generosity give arms wide open

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”
― Simone Weil

It takes courage to give generously ~ money, gifts, but mostly ourselves. Are you willing to share yourself? To offer the gifts that only you can give? How generous are you willing to be?

Here’s an exquisite version of Boots of Spanish Leather, a song we danced to this week. As only Bob Dylan can, it tells the story of giving gifts and the only gift we really want from another.

Below is the music from the week ~ but first some announce-y type things:

My friend Tonya Ridings is teaching Kundalini Yoga at acac! As taught by Yogi Bhajan, PhD, Kundalini Yoga is the yoga of awareness. It consists of a series of physical and breathing exercises, chanting, mantra and meditation. This ancient technology heals and builds from the inside out. This class is appropriate for beginners. Wednesdays 1:30-3 at ACAC Downtown. Join Tonya and become your best self!

• It’s St Patrick’s Day next week! Join me on Monday (1045am acac Albemarle Square) and Tuesday (9am acac Downtown) for Firedance: the energetic, joyful Riverdance routine! Be sure to be wearin’ your green, donchaknow?

Nia Jam Friday, March 20, 545-7pm, at acac Downtown Group Ex Studio ~ Magic
Join Kate Aust, Anne Wolf and Loring Myles for the debut of Magic, a new routine by Ann Christiansen. The intent of this body of work is to allow you to see and find grounding and grace in your dance: G (grounded), R (relaxed), A(alert/aware), C (centered), E (energized). Bring a guest for free!

Mindful Movement & Metta at Buck Mountain Episcopal Church Parish Hall (4133 Earlysville Road, Earlysville VA ~ GPS takes you to the church, keep going a little bit to the white building just past the church yard), Friday, March 27, 2015, 6-715pm. Experience the No Words routine ~ all instrumental music and is taught in silence ~ interwoven with the words of lovingkindness or metta meditation. Returning to the meditation throughout the routine can help keep the mind focused and the heart open. Absolutely no experience is needed in movement or meditation to participate. The event is free to all with a request for donations to the Buck Mountain Wellness Ministry (suggested $12).

dance. sit. write. April 18, 845am-4pm at Buck Mountain Episcopal Church Parish Hall in Earlysville. Spend a day exploring the interconnection of movement, meditation and creativity. No experience in any of the three practices is needed. We’ll provide what you need including incredible food from Rebecca George’s Dragonfly Kitchen. Find all the details here and email me for a registration form ( I’ve been working on this for years. I would love to share it with you. EARLY BIRD PRICE of $60 if you register before March 21!

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.

Dance on. Shine on.

Susan sig

Monday, Mar 9, 2015, 1045am ~ Generosity: Give Courageously

Wish You Were Here 6:12 Bliss
Rafiki (Sidewalk Mix) 6:25 Bob Holroyd
Don’t Say 5:47 Deep Dive Corp.
What Do You Say 5:00 Haley
Oye Como Va (Latin/Trance Mix) 4:17 Celia Cruz
Blood Stud (Ray Mang Remix) 8:36 MB Disco
U R The Answer 5:57 Stephen Bray/ Michael Beckwith
Give Love (Infinite Love Mix) 5:29 MC Yogi
Give A Little Bit 3:36 The Goo Goo Dolls
High 4:04 James Blunt
Shanti (Peace Out) 6:59 MC Yogi

Tuesday, Mar 10, 2015, 9am ~ Generosity: Give Courageously

Passing Through 5:17 Bob Holroyd
Moonsmith 5:50 Cantoma
The Sweetest Thing 4:28 JJ Grey & Mofro
Don’t Say 5:47 Deep Dive Corp.
Walk Into The Sun 5:21 Dirty Vegas
Take Me to the River 6:00 Talking Heads
The Brazilian 3:54 Dirty Vegas
Played A Live 6:46 Safri Duo
Give A Little Bit 3:36 The Goo Goo Dolls
Jets 4:35 Bonobo
Boots Of Spanish Leather 6:17 Martin Simpson

Wednesday, Mar 11, 2015, 1055am ~ Generosity: Give Courageously

Éireann 5:10 Afro Celt Sound System
Rafiki (Sidewalk Mix) 6:25 Bob Holroyd
Qalanderi 6:55 Cheb I Sabbah
SexybackClean Version 4:03 Justin Timberlake
Coolsville 4:53 Rick Braun
Break The Chain 4:32 Tena Clark
One Billion Hands 4:05 Lourds Lane
Push It Up (feat. Kylie Auldist) 3:37 Cookin’ On 3 Burners
Never Coming Home 5:00 Sting
Everloving 3:26 Moby
Boots Of Spanish Leather 6:17 Martin Simpson

Thursday, Mar 12, 2015, 9am ~ Generosity: Give Courageously

The Rising 4:47 Bruce Springsteen
Back to the Earth 5:27 Rusted Root
Habibe 7:12 Big Blue Ball featuring Natacha Atlas, Hossam Ramzy, Neil Sparkes, The Hossam Ramzy Egyptian Ensemble (Adel Eskander, Wael Abu Bakr, Momtaz Talaat
Shadow 4:28 Big Blue Ball featuring Juan Cañizares, Papa Wemba
Exit Through You 5:52 Big Blue Ball featuring Joseph Arthur, Peter Gabriel, Karl Wallinger
Ghosts in My Machine 3:33 Annie Lennox
Sandstorm 7:26 Darude
Stairway To Heaven 8:03 Led Zeppelin
The Fire From Within 4:12 Tryptamoon
You’re the Ocean 3:49 Teitur
Horizon 4:00 Garth Stevenson

Saturday, Mar 14, 2015, 9am ~ Generosity: Give Courageously

Wish You Were Here 6:12 Bliss
Rafiki (Sidewalk Mix) 6:25 Bob Holroyd
The Sweetest Thing 4:28 JJ Grey & Mofro
Shadow 4:28 Big Blue Ball featuring Juan Cañizares, Papa Wemba
Break The Chain 4:32 Tena Clark
One Billion Hands 4:05 Lourds Lane
Sandstorm 7:26 Darude
Stairway To Heaven 8:03 Led Zeppelin
The Fire From Within 4:12 Tryptamoon
You’re the Ocean 3:49 Teitur
Because 2:22 Elliott Smith
Horizon 4:00 Garth Stevenson


For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at…

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!

rushin refugee AngelouObamaIt’s really something, this addiction to rushing. I’m finding that it’s more than just about scheduling less and doing one thing at a time.

The habit runs deeper than that.

What with taking care of business and taking care of others and taking care of myself, what choice do I have but to hurry and rush?

And then yesterday with the passing of Maya Angelou, such a bright inspiring source, well, dammit, we just don’t have that much time. There is so much I want to do and say and feel and read and write and move and see and be that it’s no wonder I feel the push to rush. And that’s not even to mention all the beliefs I have around equating my worth and value with what I accomplish.


Since this has turned out to be an iceberg of a focus, I’m officially declaring June 2014 to be Savoring Month. Each week in June, we’ll focus on an aspect of savoring: Time, Process, Seeing, Nourishment and Living Meditation (or that’s what it looks like now, anyway).

On Wednesdays in June, I will offer a Rushin’ Refugee Report in a comment on the Rushin’ Refugee post and on the Focus Pocus Facebook page about how I’m doing with my experiment in breaking my rushing habit and doing more savoring. In particular, my personal focus is on eating (fork down, chew, swallow breathe, relax), drinking (sip and breathe, sip and breathe, even after yoga), and driving (leave extra time to get there without the adrenaline rush), but I may throw some other observations in there, too.

And today, in honor of Maya Angelou, allow yourself to be inspired…and allow others to be inspired by you. (The two poems that I used in class this week are below.)

Dance on. Shine on.

Susan sig


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Monday, May 26, 2014, 1045am ~ Rushin’ Refugee

Kecharitomene 6:35 Loreena McKennitt
Center Of The Sun 5:01 Conjure One Feat. Poe
Hero Dead And Gone (Discotheque Mix) 4:55 De-Phazz
Qalanderi 6:55 Cheb I Sabbah
I Know What I Know 3:13 Paul Simon
The Boy in the Bubble 3:59 Paul Simon
Coolsville 4:53 Rick Braun
Sexual Revolution 4:48 Macy Gray
Wake Me Up 4:10 Avicii
Beautiful (Radio Mix) 3:54 Audio Adrenaline
Falling Into You 4:19
Céline Dion
Under African Skies 3:37 Paul Simon
The Boy In The Bubble 4:30 Peter Gabriel

Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 9am ~ Rushin’ Refugee

Sofa Rockers [Richard Dorfmeister Remix] 8:34 Sofa Surfers
The Hush 5:24 Rae & Christian
Nostalgia Worship 6:46 Bassnectar
Air Batucada 4:40 Thievery Corporation
Open Your Heart 5:46 M People
Hermes 4:09 Carlos Santana
Run (Radio Edit) 2:41 Gnarls Barkley
La Da Da 3:32 The Makepeace Brothers
The Remedy (I Won’t Worry) 4:16 Jason Mraz
Colour In My Name (Featuring Precise) 6:08 Spiral System
Falling Slowly 4:04 Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova
Unidentified Stillness/water 4:39 Unidentified*

* I hate to include unidentified music in my playlists, but this piece was too lovely not to use in class. I use the Shazam app to identify music but it didn’t recognize this one. If anyone has software or other means for identifying music, let me know!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 1055am ~ Rushin’ Refugee

Éireann 5:10 Afro Celt Sound System
Marisi 6:33 Cantoma
Alba 5:16 Paul Mounsey Featuring Nahoo
In Caelum Fero 7:49 Adiemus/London Philharmonic Orchestra/Miriam Stockley
Dalmore 3:59 Nahoo
Stranger in a Strange Land 6:20 Nahoo
Adagio for Strings [Remix by Ferry Corsten] 6:35 William Orbit
Phenomenal Woman 4:24 Ruthie Foster
Kayama 7:58 Adiemus/London Philharmonic Orchestra/Miriam Stockley
Hymn 2:42 Adiemus/London Philharmonic Orchestra/Miriam Stockley

Thursday, May 29, 2014, 9am ~ Rushin’ Refugee

Égypte 4:28 Cirque du Soleil
Rumeurs 10:09 Cirque du Soleil
Caravena 5:14 Cirque du Soleil
Kunya Sobé 5:20 Cirque du Soleil
En Ville 4:59 Cirque du Soleil
Birimbau 6:12 Cirque du Soleil
Sandstorm 7:26 Darude
Rondo 6:07 Cirque du Soleil
Kalimando 6:31 Cirque du Soleil
Horizon 4:00 Garth Stevenson

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

When Great Trees Fall by Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.
When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.
Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

Two Upcoming No-Membership-Required-Anywhere Classes in June ~

Friday, June 20, 6-7pm at the Buck Mountain Episcopal Church Parish Hall in Earlysville ~ more info to come soon

Saturday, June 21, 5-615pm at ACAC Downtown ~ Nia Jam with Adrienne, Mary Linn and Susan
As part of a club-wide solstice celebration, we’ll be teaching a special Saturday evening Jam with a reception on the rooftop deck afterwards (weather permitting, of course).
Members (including instructors!) can bring a guest for free, so grab a friend and be part of the celebration of summer!


We’re excited to support a weekend of classes and workshops with Nia Trainer, Julie Wylie, July 18-20 and then a Nia White Belt training September 16-22. Events will include lots of things for everyBODY as well as for belts wanting to reconnect to the principles and practices. More info coming soon. For now, mark your calendar!


For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at…

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. There is one planned in Charlottesville in September (see above) and lots of other places, too.

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