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breathing along bones sally taylorA week replete with birthdays and breathing, and drawing in and letting go, and some damn fine music, I must say.

I loved the discovery of Sally Taylor, daughter of James Taylor and Carly Simon, and her delicious song Give Me Strength (thanks again to Kira for pointing the way). Perfect for this week.

To Janice and Art and Deb and Diana and Shakespeare and Pat (and Pam on Saturday), I’m so glad you were born and our dancing paths have crossed. To everybody else, hell, I’m glad you were all born, too, and aren’t we lucky to get to do this together?

Why yes, yes we are.

EnJOY it all, everybody.

Dance on. Shine on.

Susan sig

P.S. I am happy to say that an adapted Focus Pocus post has just been published on Elephant Journal.  Click here to go to it.  If you enjoy it, please pass on the love.

Monday, April 21, 2014, 1045am ~ Breathing Along the Bones

The Rising 4:47 Bruce Springsteen
A Different Space 8:43 Bob Holroyd
Free Your Mind 4:52 En Vogue
Succumb to Me 5:15 Terence Trent D’Arby
What Do You Say 5:00 Haley
Mafich Aravi 8:03 Banco de Gaia
Freek 7:16 Shakatura
Diavolo In Me (Devil In Me) 4:05 Zucchero & Solomon Burke
Sweet Child o’ Mine (Rick Rubin…) 3:56 Sheryl Crow
Give Me Strength 4:03 Sally Taylor
Halving The Compass 5:27 Helios

Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 9am ~ Breathing Along the Bones

Big Sky 4:04 Annie Lennox
Down To Earth 5:59 Peter Gabriel
The Fire From Within 4:12 Tryptamoon
Water Down the Ganges 7:10 Prem Joshua & Manish Vyas
Freedom 2:50 Tyrone Wells
Nothing But The Water (II) 5:19 Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) 3:52 Michael Franti
Knock On Wood 4:13 Safri Duo
Amma 6:26 James Asher & Sivamani
Dust in the Wind 3:30 Daughter Darling
Feel It All – Band Jam 3:50 KT Tunstall
Give Me Strength 4:03 Sally Taylor
Jai Radha Madhav 6:27 Deva Premal

Weds, April 23, 2014, 1055am ~ Breathing Along the Bones

Sacred Light 4:56 Bob Holroyd
Rafiki (Sidewalk Mix) 6:25 Bob Holroyd
Palais Mascotte 5:47 Patrick Duvoisin
No Quiero Nada Mas 4:46 Sancti Spiritus
Keep On Searching 5:08 Kraak & Smaak
Dance Floor (Nu Brazilia Remix) 5:28 The Tao Of Groove
U R The Answer 5:57 Stephen Bray/ Michael Beckwith
Played A Live 6:46 Safri Duo
Sunsethighway 4:00 Kiln
Lydia 5:58 Tim Story

Thursday, April 24, 2014, 9am ~ Breathing Along the Bones

Primavera 6:21 Santana
Africa Bamba 4:43 Santana
Smooth 5:00 Santana
What Do You Say 5:00 Haley
Oye Como Va (Latin/Trance Mix) 4:17 Celia Cruz
SexybackClean Version 4:03 Justin Timberlake
Coolsville 4:53 Rick Braun
After Midnight 3:09 Eric Clapton
Fly 3:33 Bart Hafeman
The Hearts A Lonely Hunter 6:22 Thievery Corporation
I Hope You Dance 4:58 Lee Ann Womack
Heavenly Day 3:45 Patty Griffin
Halving The Compass 5:27 Helios

TWO SPECIAL NIA EVENTS AT ACAC MIDLOTHIAN (remember: if you’re a member in Cville, you’re a member there)

Join Britta von Tagen, international Nia teacher and Nia trainer, for a Heart of Nia Playshop. This playshop will help you tap into your own deep and personal connection to Nia by developing your sensitivity as a Sacred Athlete.
Sunday, May 25, Midlothian ACAC 12-3p.m.
$35 ACAC member pre-pay ($45 at the door, space permitting)
$45 Non-member pre-pay ($55 at the door, space permitting)

Jason Alan Griffin, First Degree Black Belt, is stopping in Richmond for his cross country Nia tour. This is a one of a kind opportunity to experience Jason’s style of Nia as we sweat to some remixed James Bond theme songs and other classic Shirley Bassey tunes.
Monday, May 26 at the Midlothian ACAC. 8:15 a.m.
The class is FREE for ACAC members and $12 for non-members.

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. There is one coming up in Richmond the week of May 17 and lots of other places, too.

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Airborne Kansas.-.Point.of.Know.Return

As a kid, whenever I got a new album (yes, one of those big, black plastic things), I would put it on my parents’ record player, turn it up, and lie on the living room rug to read every lyric and every liner note on the album cover. Double-extra-bonus excitement if there was stuff on the dust sleeve or – be still my heart – and extra booklet!  I loved knowing every single word and even better, the story behind the music.

So after a week of playing with the Airborne routine, here are my liner notes.

Dance on. Shine on.
Susan

Airborne ~ Liner Notes

Big Sky – 4:04 – Annie Lennox

Annie Lennox’s voice is like power and tenderness wrapped in a passionate package. All the lyrics of this song are beautiful and evocative, but in particular:
I slipped through
The vortex of the sky
Darkness and light
Is what’s inside

Listen for my favorite part — her “woo” as if she is catching her breath.

Down To Earth – 5:59 – Peter Gabriel

As some of you know (since I mention it pretty much every time I use his music in class), I’m a big Peter Gabriel fan and he is my pretend boyfriend (of which I have several – turns out I’m a pretend shameless hussy). I have loved this song since I heard it in the movie Wall-E. I’ve been looking for a way to use it in Nia for a while and this feels like the right fit. With its theme of environmentalism and grounded, waltzing beat, it’s a song that reminds me of the preciousness of life on the planet:
We’re coming down
Comin’ down to earth
Like babies at birth
Comin’ down to earth
Redefine your priorities
These are extraordinary qualities

The Fire From Within – 4:12 – Tryptamoon

This song’s waves of giggles and reminders to breathe (in French and English) combines with waves of sound to ride and play on.

Water Down the Ganges – 7:10 – Prem Joshua & Manish Vyas

The simple yet rich and layered patterns in this meditative, Eastern-influenced music invite variations on simple movement themes.

Freedom – 2:50 – Tyrone Wells

I first heard this song when I ran into Kroger to pick something up one morning. It stopped me in the aisle and I scribbled the lyrics that I could catch on my grocery list. I tracked down the song as soon as I got home and had it choreographed by lunch.

Nothing But The Water (II) – 5:19 – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

A friend turned me on to the passionate music of Grace Potter a couple of years ago. I love this song’s rocking spiritual feel and have done my best to reflect it in the choreography with swinging movements through the three planes…plus some rock solid balancing.

I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) – 3:52 – Michael Franti

Ultimately, the practice of Nia is about aliveness. Michael Franti’s whistling, “whoa” song celebrates life in all its complexity. This song is a joy-fest as far as I’m concerned. And if you haven’t seen the fan mashup video, well sit yourself down and enjoy…and be sure to watch it to the very, very end.

Sunchyme – 3:54 – Dario G.

Dario G was an English dance and trance group in the late 90s and this song is based on a sample from The Dream Academy’s Life in a Northern Town. I can’t resist music that makes me want to dance and sing!

Breathe – 4:17 – Telepopmusik

This song is full of delicious sounds from the slightly muffled, scratchy-phonograph vocal to the rhythmic snip-snaps to the bouncy, electric bubbles. Perfect for playing with the meditation of music and movement. And, hey!, the lyrics are right in line with the focus:
Another day
But there’s nothing to do but believe
Just believe
Just breathe

Dust in the Wind – 3:30 – Daughter Darling

In 1977 I was in 8th grade and my English teacher used the lyrics of Kansas’ Dust in the Wind to illustrate poetry of mortality and the inevitability of death. I was already a lyric lover (as mentioned above), but having a teacher recognize the poetry in the music I listened to, as well as the realization of the weightiness of the song stuck with me. Twenty-five years later, Daughter Darling covered my beloved junior high ballad beautifully. The wistful but urgent vocals and the melancholy strings feel like wind.

Feel It All – Band Jam – 3:50 – KT Tunstall

There are so many things I love about this song from KT Tunstall’s latest album. The imagery of nature — seeds and rain, branches and snow, birds and eagles – align with the elemental focus of the routine. This is the “band jam” version of the song which reminds me that even though Tunstall makes great music when she’s alone with her looping machine, there is richness when music is made together. But most importantly, the chorus reflects one of the foundations of mindful practice: we are here to feel it all.

Child Come Home – 3:29 – Jamie Catto

Jamie Catto is my hero and mentor. On the front edge of my sabbatical last year, Jamie talked me down from the ledge and invited me to explore new ways of making art in the world. This song is an unpublished — one that he sent me after our conversation. I am grateful to him for the personal connection he made with me and for the art he offers us all.

Jai Radha Madhav – 6:27 – Deva Premal

Deva Premal’s beautiful version of the Jai Radha Madhav mantra transcends language. Even if we don’t understand the Sanskrit she sings, we understand the message: love is space.

easy 7 easy buttonI’ve noticed this week how often I hear (from myself and others) the words “easy” and “hard.” The more I think about it, the more meaningless those words feel. It’s all relative.

Focusing instead on what is the the edge between challenge and healing, on the other hand, offers a rich practice that can be applied to any activity or situation. That’s where I want to dance.

We did a soft launch of my new routine, Airborne, this week. Allowing the new music and movements be a playground for the challenge/healing balance. Next week, we’ll dive full-on into the new routine and see what else there is to play with!  Below is the playlist ~ more on it next week.

Part of what makes our mindful movement practice powerful is how it spills out of the studio and supports us in our lives. This week, two Nia Stories about just that: one from Pat Taylor on how her Nia practice informs her study to become a massage therapist and one from Madeline Holly-Sales about how Nia affects her musical performance. Thanks to them both for sharing part of their practice. It is a gift to us all.  Enjoy their stories, be inspired, and by all means, share your own (email it to me at sjmnia@gmail.com)!

Dance on. Shine on.
Xo
Susan

Challenge & Healing ~ Monday, October 14, 2013, 1045am
Challenge & Healing ~ Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 9am
Challenge & Healing ~ Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 1055am
Challenge & Healing ~ Thursday, October 17, 2013, 9am

Big Sky – 4:04 – Annie Lennox
Down To Earth – 5:59 – Peter Gabriel
The Fire From Within – 4:12 – Tryptamoon
Water Down the Ganges – 7:10 – Prem Joshua
Freedom – 2:50 – Tyrone Wells
Nothing But The Water (II) – 5:19 – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) – 3:52 – Michael Franti
Sunchyme – 3:54 – Dario G.
Breathe – 4:17 – Telepopmusik
Dust in the Wind – 3:30 – Daughter Darling
Feel It All – Band Jam – 3:50 – KT Tunstall
Child Come Home – 3:29 – Jamie Catto
Jai Radha Madhav – 6:27 – Deva Premal

birthday cakeA birthday. A holiday. Any day. The cycles of days and weeks and seasons and years can lull me into the illusion that it’s all the same. Sometimes I forget how amazing it all is.

The last scene of Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town, kills me every time. In it, a young woman has died and has asked to go back to her life for one day. She finds the beauty and the pain of it more than she can bear, so before breakfast even starts, she asks to go back. As she leaves, she really notices the details that she had never paid attention to when she was living. Here is Penelope Ann Miller’s monologue from her 1987 Tony nominated performance in which she says good bye to the world and all its sweetness…and there is also a wonderful 2003 production with Paul Newman as the Stage Manager.

I think of this scene all the time. I think of it when I touch my husband’s hair, eat blueberries, smell lilacs, hug my kids. It’s the small things, the everyday things, the lemons in a bowl, a rainbow of Sharpies in a jar, a cat on the table, sunflowers in my yard that I do my best to take in, appreciate, absorb. Can I possibly savor this enough, notice this enough, love this enough? I want to be here for my living.

As she goes back to her grave on the hill, Emily says, “Oh Earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.” She asks if anyone living actually sees it and the Stage Manager says no — the only ones who do, even a little, are poets and saints. I’m neither of these, that’s for damn sure, but I do want to be one who realizes life’s wonderfulness.

That’s what today’s class is all about. Below is the playlist.
enJOY the day.
Xo
Susan

Awareness of Poets and Saints – Saturday, August 3, 2013, 945am

Big Sky – 4:04 – Annie Lennox
Down To Earth – 5:59 – Peter Gabriel
Qalanderi – 6:55 – Cheb I Sabbah
The Sound of Sunshine – 3:44 – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Freedom – 2:50 – Tyrone Wells
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) – 3:52 – Michael Franti
Sorrento Moon – 4:56 – Tina Arena
Fever (Adam Freeland Extended Remix) – 7:03 – Sarah Vaughan
Just Say Yes – 4:41 – Snow Patrol
Feel It All – Band Jam – 3:50 – KT Tunstall
Gandhi/Buddha – 3:28 – Cheryl Wheeler
Lux Aurumque – 4:16 – Eric Whitacre Singers

details orangeA super-delicious week of reveling in the details of it all! Here are the playlists for the week, plus a few videos that I promised and the Mary Oliver poem we used and one little tidbit that totally had me wagging my tail…

Thanks for making much of something small. There is magic in it.
As always, let me know how I can help more.
Love,
Susan

Five A.M. in the Pinewoods

I’d seen
their hoofprints in the deep
needles and knew
they ended the long night

under the pines, walking
like two mute
and beautiful women toward
the deeper woods, so I

got up in the dark and
went there. They came
slowly down the hill
and looked at me sitting under

the blue trees, shyly
they stepped
closer and stared
from under their thick lashes and even

nibbled some damp
tassels of weeds. This
is not a poem about a dream,
though it could be.

This is a poem about the world
that is ours, or could be.
Finally
one of them — I swear it! —

would have come to my arms.
But the other
stamped sharp hoof in the
pine needles like

the tap of sanity,
and they went off together through
the trees. When I woke
I was alone,

I was thinking:
so this is how you swim inward,
so this is how you flow outward,
so this is how you pray.

~ Mary Oliver (from House of Light)

Details: Don’t Miss the Small Stuff – Monday, May 13, 2013, 1045am

Healing Senses – 8:27 – Parijat
Marisi – 6:33 – Cantoma
Survivor – 3:49 – Destiny’s Child
Just Say Yes – 4:41 – Snow Patrol
Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – 3:42 – Kelly Clarkson
Break The Chain – 4:32 – Tena Clark
One Billion Hands – 4:05 – Lourds Lane
Gonna Be [Ben Human Remix] – 4:10 – Mo’ Horizons
I Can’t Get Next To You – 3:09 – Annie Lennox
Manana – 5:59 – Christophe Goze
Colour In My Name (Featuring Precise) – 6:08 – Spiral System
Beautiful – 4:06 – India.Arie

Details: Don’t Miss the Small Stuff – Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 9am

Helpless – 4:15 – K.D. Lang
Kissing – 6:05 – Bliss
Survivor – 3:49 – Destiny’s Child
The Sound of Sunshine – 3:44 – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Nostalgia Worship – 6:46 – Bassnectar
Open Sesame (G’s Talking Drum Mix) – 6:10 – Crosstown Traffic
Shakin’ It Up – 6:15 – Ganga Girl
Magalenha – 3:39 – Sergio Mendes
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free – 4:09 – Derek Trucks Band
Slip Into Something More Comfortable – 4:48 – Kinobe
Once Upon The Sea Of Blissful Awareness – 7:31 – Shpongle

Details: Don’t Miss the Small Stuff – Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 1055am

We Are All Connected – 7:07 – Magic Sound Fabric
Tears From The Moon – 4:18 – Conjure One Feat. Sinéad O’ Connor
Catu (Vienna Sub Mix) – 6:21 – Ikarus
Drifting Away (Paradiso Mix) – 5:07 – Faithless
Right Here Right Now – 5:57 – Fatboy Slim
Baila Morena – 4:10 – Zucchero & Maná
Shoofly Pie – 3:57 – The Wood Brothers
Black Horse And The Cherry Tree – 2:51 – KT Tunstall
Solo Flying Mystery Man [1999] – 3:29 – Pauline Taylor
Wild Honey – 3:47 – U2
Boots Of Spanish Leather – 6:17 – Martin Simpson
Bells & Singing Bowls – 5:30

Details: Don’t Miss the Small Stuff– Thursday, May 16, 2013, 9am

The Day After Everything Changed – 4:30 – Ellis Paul
Kissing – 6:05 – Bliss
Just Say Yes – 4:41 – Snow Patrol
Nostalgia Worship – 6:46 – Bassnectar
Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – 3:42 – Kelly Clarkson
Born 2B Wild – 7:59 – Puff Dragon
One Billion Hands – 4:05 – Lourds Lane
Black Or White – 3:19 – Michael Jackson
Solo Flying Mystery Man [1999] – 3:29 – Pauline Taylor
Colour In My Name (Featuring Precise) – 6:08 – Spiral System
Once Upon The Sea Of Blissful Awareness – 7:31 – Shpongle

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