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wagmore stickerWagging our tails and barking. Expressing delight as well as saying clearly what we need and want. These are two things that our culture decidedly teaches us NOT to do. In the body, tail wagging is a way of tapping into low back, leg and core strength and mobility. Making sound strengthens the core and protects the back. But if we expand wagging and barking out further, we can “wag” by offering words of kindness and encouragement and we can “bark” into healing by drawing a boundary and saying what is so. Your homework this weekend is to say something kind when you think it (to yourself or to someone else), and to be clear about what you need and say it. I’d love to know what happens!

I had a truly fantastic week teaching classes and I am deeply grateful for all of you who dance with me in the studio and all who dance with me online. In that spirit, I offer this inspiring song which brought me to tears in class this morning. Don’t let another moment slip away, my friends.

Sigh. I do feel lucky, indeed. Okay, below are the playlists for the week as well as a video that really had me wagging my tail. Enjoy!

As always, let me know how I can help more.
Love,
Susan

PS Please note that ACAC is open 8am-4pm on Monday, Memorial Day, May 27 and I will be teaching my class at 1045am at the Square (and Anne will be Downtown at 9am and Kate will be doing NiaLite at 1015am at the Square ~ check the online schedule for more details on the holiday schedule!). I look forward to dancing with you!

Evian Baby Dance video

Wag More, Bark as Needed – Monday, May 20, 2013, 1045am

Song for Olabi – 6:07 – Bliss
Kissing – 6:05 – Bliss
Sweeter Love – 8:09 – Blue Six
Catu (Vienna Sub Mix) – 6:21 – Ikarus
Work That Body – 5:35 – Rodney Hunter
Domination – 7:26 – Peace Orchestra
Diavolo In Me (Devil In Me) – 4:05 – Zucchero & Solomon Burke
Inner Membrane – 5:19 – Govinda
In Focus – 4:49 – Popcorn
Beguiled – 4:46 -Tim Story

Wag More, Bark as Needed – Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 9am

Song for Olabi – 6:07 – Bliss
Clouds – 6:33 – Feuerhake
Sweeter Love – 8:09 – Blue Six
Sunshine – 3:34 – Matisyahu
Legend In My Living Room – 3:46 – Annie Lennox
Give Love (Infinite Love Mix) – 5:29 – MC Yogi
Shadowman – 6:36 – Afro Celt Sound System
Back To Me – 3:31 – Kathleen Edwards
Body Language / Interpretation – 5:00 – Booka Shade
The Remedy (I Won’t Worry) – 4:16 – Jason Mraz
Sure Thing – 6:03 – St. Germain
Horizon – 4:00 – Garth Stevenson

Wag More, Bark as Needed – Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 1055am

Snakeroot – 7:58 – Lis Addison
Into The Night (Feat. Chad Kroeger) – 3:42 – Carlos Santana
Corazon Espinado – 4:38 – Santana
No Quiero Nada Mas – 4:46 – Sancti Spiritus
Work That Body – 5:35 – Rodney Hunter
Sometimes – 5:14 – Kaskade
Deeper (Into Places) (Silk Spinner Mix) – 6:23 – Afterlife
Hermes – 4:09 – Carlos Santana
The Hearts A Lonely Hunter – 6:22 – Thievery Corporation
Wishing It Was – 4:55 – Santana
Solita Sin Solidad [Feat. Lila Downs & Carlos Santana] – 5:29 – 1 Giant Leap

Wag More, Bark as Needed (Celebration of Laura’s birth and healing) – Thursday, May 23, 2013, 9am

Use Me – 3:44 – Bill Withers
What I Got – 3:21 – Gift Of Gab, Michael Franti, Spearhead
Corazon Espinado – 4:38 – Santana
Free Your Mind – 4:52 – En Vogue
No Quiero Nada Mas – 4:46 – Sancti Spiritus
I Know What I Know – 3:13 – Paul Simon
Break The Chain – 4:32 – Tena Clark
More Than This – 4:07 – 10,000 Maniacs
Deeper (Into Places) (Silk Spinner Mix) – 6:23 – Afterlife
Hey Hey Hey – 3:47 – Spearhead, Michael Franti
Hermes – 4:09 – Carlos Santana
Spirit Voices – 3:56 – Paul Simon
Under African Skies – 3:37 – Paul Simon
Solita Sin Solidad [Feat. Lila Downs & Carlos Santana] – 5:29 – 1 Giant Leap

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Move more in the core to free energy for extremities – my connection with the world.

Five sensations of fitness (flexibility, strength, mobility, agility and stability) in pelvis, chest, head and spine:

Flexibility:  Energy moving out

Spine moves in 6 directions:  left, right, front, back, and spiral left / right.  More spine flexibility: breathe more deeply.

Strength:  Energy Moving In

Core muscles run around the body.  Balance and extension (i.e.,  martial arts kicks, punches, blocks) in all directions creates core strength – especially when sounding!  More core strength: clarity, boundaries, tell the truth.

Mobility:  Energy in Constant Motion

Each vertebra moves independently. Mobilize core with spinal rolls and undulations, pelvic circles, and eye movement.  Spine mobility: can adjust and flow with present moment.

Agility:  Quick Stops & Starts

Hip bumps for pelvis and lumbar spine.  Chest isolations for thoracic.  Head and Eye for the neck.  More core agility:  adjust quickly and precisely for ease and power.

Stability:  Energy Moving from Center out in all Directions

More stability:  more relaxed and ready to move into any of the sensations with ease.

Sense five sensations in your core and how that affects your connection with yourself, others and the world.

 

 

 

 

 

Everything is connected:  in Nature, in nations, in families, in the body.  Change something, add something, take something away, and the whole balance shifts.  Energy flows in and out, not in just one direction.

I am fascinated by the core of the body as a physical design and as a container, exchanger and director of energy and emotion (click here to read earlier posts on the core).  The focus of the Miracle and Wonder routine is to release tension in the wrists and ankles with the intent of opening the heart.  By giving attention to joints in the extremities that regularly hold tension, we freed up energy and space for the core.  But energy flows from the outside in and the inside out.  So the opposite is also true:  if we can move more through the core of the body, it frees up more energy and space for our extremities – our primary connectors to the world.

In Nia, we play with five sensations of fitness:  flexibility, strength, mobility, agility and stability.  For all five, I tend to think first about my arms and legs.  But I can cultivate all five sensations in my core, too.  The more engaged and versatile my core movement is, the more engaged and versatile my expression and connection with the world around me is through my extremities.

So let’s look at the five sensations as they relate to the core of the body – pelvis, chest, head and spine:

Flexibility:  Energy moving out

There aren’t many long bones in the core through which we extend energy (the ribs are long-ish but they curve around rather than extend), so how do we create flexibility with the mostly small and/or solid bones of the core?  The answer is in the spine and in the breath.  The spine, the crustacean-like column of bones that encases the spinal cord and connects every part of you to every other part of you, is designed to move in 6 different ways:  left, right, front, back, spiral left and spiral right.  Using the weight of the head and the stability of the pelvis, allow your spine to tip to each side, to open front and back (think, cat/cow from yoga or looking up/lifting your tail and looking down tucking your tail), and twist left and right.  As I create more flexibility in my spine, my breath can flow more fully and deeply and I radiate out and connect more expansively.

Strength:  Energy Moving In

The most obvious answer to strength in the core is the ubiquitous abdominal crunch, but core strength includes the cummerbund of muscle that runs around the body.  Core strength is in the back, sides and front – as well as internal and external.  Playing with balance and extension in all directions and in all three planes is a powerful way to create more core strength.  In particular, martial arts movements of kicks, punches and blocks also engage the deep core muscles – especially if we make sound while executing them!  As I create more strength in my core, I can be clear, set boundaries, and tell the truth.

Mobility:  Energy in Constant Motion

The spine is actually a long series of small joints running from the center of the skull (just behind the bridge of the nose) down to the base of the tailbone.  Each of these joints is designed to move independently, although for most of us there are places in our spine where the vertebrae are “stuck” together.  Spinal rolls and undulations are great movements to stimulate more mobility along the length of the spine.  Pelvic circles can release more mobility into the hip joints.  Looking curiously with the eyes can increase mobility in the neck.  As I create more mobility in my spine, I can make micro adjustments and flow with what is happening in any moment.

Agility:  Quick Stops and Starts

Each of the three body weights has the potential for agility.  Hip bumps (or pretending you have a tail that you want to whip side to side) activate agility in the pelvis and lumbar spine.  Chest isolations wake up the thoracic spine and fire up the core muscles on all sides.  Head and Eye movement, when used with quick, bird-like precision, brings agility into the neck.  (Watch out, though, head and eye movement moves a lot of energy.  If you ever feel dizzy or nauseous, pat your belly and slow your movement down.)  As I create more agility in my core, I can adjust quickly and precisely whenever I need to with ease and power.

Stability:  Energy Moving from Center out in all Directions

Often, when we think of stability we think of density and heaviness (and this is often what we do with the spine:  allow it to solidify and compress).  The actual experience of stability in the body is energy moving from center out in all directions.  I find the best way to connect with stability is to stand with lightness allowing my feet and tail to root and my crown to lift.  Then I can allow the spine to open, creating space between the vertebrae and my ribs to expand and lift away from center.   As I create more stability I feel more relaxed and grounded – ready to move into any of the other sensations with ease.

This week, experiment with sensing for all five sensations in your core: while dancing in class and through life.  Notice how your connection with the five sensations in your core affects how you connect with yourself, others and the world.  A-Ho!

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