Original article found here.
Posted By Adriano Bittar on behalf of the IADMS Dance Educators’ Committee, Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Following on from the exciting and intriguing posts from Christine Bergeron (How effective is Pilates as an additional training program for dancers?), and Jennifer Deckert (Breath: A Back-To-School Basic), the focus here is on Pilates and breath, specifically touching upon how they influence the performance of ballet.
The basis for discussion in this post comes from a study that investigated the effects of Fletcher Pilates® in the respiratory systems of young female ballet dancers from a public dance school. This study was presented as a poster at the IADMS 27th Annual Conference in Houston, USA1, and published in Brazil2.
BREATH in SCIENCE and DANCE
It is well reported by exercise physiologists and physiotherapists3,4 that breath plays an important role in providing the body with the necessary energy for daily living. Dancers, such as Duncan, Wigman, Humphrey and Graham also used breath to let the body access its full vibrant potency for artistic expression5. The presence of oxygen enables metabolic reactions and processes to take place, transforming nutrients into chemicals that provide energy in the cells (adenosine triphosphate, ATP) and the release of waste products.
Research tells us that breathing is a frequent movement dysfunction in human beings6,7. The shape of the diaphragm which is the primary muscle in inhalation, affects most body systems, because of its anatomical insertions and connections inside the body. You can find useful descriptions and diagrams of the diaphragm here.
Postural modifications can indirectly challenge ventilation (breathing), while coordinated diaphragm contraction may contribute to control of the trunk8,9,10. This is one of the reasons why the placement of the neck, shoulder girdle, ribs and spine can be disrupted by bad breathing. The opposite could also be true: misalignment of the body can cause bad breathing. Therefore, applying good breathing principles to our daily living should turn into a regular practice inside and outside the dance studio.
In training, dancers aren’t often educated on how to optimize breathing and the function of their respiratory systems. Even though ballet dancers frequently take Pilates that teaches breath as a basis for body control, breath is not usually used consciously while they dance1. Often ballet dancers are encouraged to not let the audience see them fatigue, to keep the breath steady and to not belly breathe.
Science is starting to understand the benefits of the use of breath and there are lots of reasons why optimizing breathing might lead to optimized performance when dancing too. Dysfunctional breathing has been linked to health problems such as low back pain, anxiety, panic disorder and mood swings, not to mention decreased pain thresholds and impaired motor control, balance, and movement11, 12. Yoga and martial arts have used different breathing patterns, such as the parceling of air in and out in fractions, or holding the breath, that are practiced to boost better overall health. Western medicine has used breath as well, to improve health and sleep, manage anxiety and control energy levels13. Deep diaphragmatic breathing slows heart rate and blood pressure, especially in times of performance anxiety14. What makes it all even more fascinating is that dancers could use breathing techniques to reprogram their brains, modify breathing behavior, and break inappropriate breathing habits. Research has shown that a better rhythm of breathing could coordinate activity across brain regions associated with smell, memory, and emotions, enhancing their functioning. In dance, this would allow for a greater capacity to learn and perform, as breathing would organize activity of multiple brain regions to help orchestrate complex behaviors15.
What would be the results of training dancers to understand the relevance of correct muscle activation and mechanics of breathing in daily activities and at work? What would it take to teach them to “move from breath”, so to understand the anatomy, physiology, functions and dysfunctions of breathing? Would they be able to add that other layer of perception to dancing? Have a look at Roger Fiametti’s “Respiration Totale” animation here to aid dancers’ understanding. Would it help to recuperate from their fatiguing routines? Would it also be of help to control posture, enhance performance and bring three-dimensional awareness to movement? These seem to be important questions that need explanation.
FLETCHER PILATES®: breath used consciously
Ron Fletcher (1921 - 2011), an American Pilates elder, ex-Graham dancer and choreographer, developed Fletcher Pilates®/FP, the Fletcher FundamentalsTM/FF and the Fletcher Percussive BreathTM/FPB after more than 22 years (1948 - 1970) of non-continuous studies with Joseph and Clara Pilates. Of all the Pilates elders, just Ron taught this breath, as he thought it would better inform his students of the coordination used while breathing. Ron devoted his life to the understanding of human movement, the use of breath, and the coordination and rhythmic motions of the body. You can find out more about Ron Fletcher and the Fletcher Percussive Breath here.
In the FPB, after a deep inhalation, with air being directed to the lateral ribs and to the front and back of the chest, air is blown out through the back of the teeth, providing awareness, resistance and more muscle engagement16. For more information about Fletcher Pilates, click here. Volume and control are key in the FPB, and aspects of breath such as rhythm, regularity, timing and direction are also important. Fletcher believes the breath should be seen happening in the body, as many body parts move when it is done correctly: “Let the breath inspire the movement. Every body can be improved, inside and outside, because the body potential is hardly ever realized. Body Contrology uses the total person. It is movement that demands thought with spirit with breath with body. One supporting the other”17. Body Contrology refers to the name given by Pilates to his method and later on, known by his surname, Pilates.
It has been evidenced by early research in diverse populations 16,18,19,20,21 that FP and the FPB can increase breathing capacity and lung function, maintain abdominal support of the lumbar spine, improve thoracic spinal mobilization and function and restore optimal posture.
Therefore, would Fletcher Percussive BreathTM/FPB, created by Ron Fletcher, from Fletcher Pilates®, prove to be useful to young ballet dancers, in order to allow for better use of their respiratory systems?
AN EVIDENCE-BASED APPROACH TO USING BREATH IN BALLET
An experimental study evaluated 15 female adolescent ballet dancers from a public professional dance school in Brazil. The dancers were injury-free and were already taking ballet classes and/or rehearsing for at least 5 years, for 15 hours per week or more.
They took part in a specific training program with the FP method, that focused on the teaching of the FPB and FF in standing, in 1-hour long classes, for 4 weeks, twice per week whilst continuing their normal dance classes and rehearsals. Dancers were tested before and after the experiment for expansibility of the lower area of the trunk, specifically the thoraco-abdominal region; maximal exhaling time; and muscle strength when breathing in (inspiratory strength).
This study found that the ballet dancers improved their thoracoabdominal expansibility, better coordinating the rhythm of their in and out-breath. The inspiratory strength improved significantly to almost double after the study.
FP and the FPB had a very positive effect on the breathing patterns of young female ballet dancers, influencing positively the mechanics of the breath and the respiratory muscle strength.
Breathing techniques could play a major role in aiding breathing function amongst young dancers learning ballet. Teachers can incorporate breathing techniques into their classes. Research of different breathing strategies used in the ballet class, before or during performance may highlight other practical aspects concerning the use of the breath in dance and help young dancers to evolve in their art form.
INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE?
Of all the references given, start off with:
1. Calais-Germain, B. Anatomy of Breath. Seattle, WY: Eastland Press, 2006. An excellent book on the A&P of breath.
2. Roger Fiammetti’s “Respiration Totale” animation, available here. This video will give you an overview of how breath works inside the body.
3. Information on the FPB and FP can be found here.
4. Find out more about Fletcher Pilates at www.fletcherpilates.com.
1. BITTAR, A.; MELO, R.; NOLETO, R.; LEMOS, T. The effects of Fletcher Pilates® in the respiratory systems of young female ballet dancers from a public dance school. In: IADMS 27thAnnual Conference, 2017, Houston, TX. , p. 78.
2. MELO, R.; NOLETO, R.; BITTAR, A.; LEMOS, T. As Influências da Respiração Percussiva Fletcher® nas Mobilidades Torácicas e Abdominal, Força e Coordenação Respiratórias em Bailarinas Jovens de Uma Escola Pública de Dança de Goiânia. MOVIMENTA, V. 11, n. 1, p. 20-34, 2018.
3. CALAIS-GERMAIN, B. Anatomy of Breath. Seattle, WY: Eastland Press, 2006.
4. HALL, J. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology (13th edition). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier, 2016.
5. SUQUET, Annie. O Corpo Dançante: um laboratório de percepção. In: COURTINE, Jean-Jacques; CORBIN, Alain; VIGARELLO, Georges. História do Corpo: 3. As mutações do olhar: O século XX. Petrópolis: Vozes, 2008.
6. BORDONI, B.; ZANIER, E. Anatomic connections of the diaphragm: influence of respiration on the body system. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare. 2013; 6: 281-291.
7. BORDONI, B.; PURGOL, S.; BIZZARRI, A.; MODICA, M.; MORABITO, B. The Influence of Breathing on the Central Nervous System. Cureus. 2018; 10(6): e2724.
8. HODGES, P.; RICHARDSON, C. Relationship between limb movement speed and associated contraction of the trunk muscles. Ergonomics, v. 40, p. 220-1230, 1997.
9. HODGES, P.; GANDEIVA, S. Activation of the human diaphragm during a repetitive postural task. J Physiol Lond, v. 522, p. 165-175, 2000.
10. HODGES P.; GANDEIVA S. Changes in intra-abdominal pressure during postural and respiratory activation of the human diaphragm. J Appl Physiol, v. 89, p. 967-976, 2000a.
11. KIESEL, K.; RHODES, T.; MUELLER, J.; WANINGER, A.; BUTLER, R. Development of a Screening Protocol to Identify Individuals with Dysfunctional Breathing. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2017 Oct; 12(5): p. 774–786.
12. KUVAČIĆ, G.; FRATINI, P.; PADULO, J.; ANTONIO, D.; DE GIORGIO, A. Effectiveness of yoga and educational intervention on disability, anxiety, depression, and pain in people with CLBP: a randomized controlled trial. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 31, 262-267, 2018.
13. MCLAUGHLIN, L.; GOLDSMITH, C.; COLEMAN, K. Breathing evaluation and retraining as an adjunct to manual therapy. Man Ther. 2011; 16(1): p. 51-52.
14. RAYMOND, J.; SAJID, I.; PARKINSON, L.; GRUZELIER, J. Biofeedback and dance performance: a preliminary investigation. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, v. 30, n. 1, p. 65-73, 2005.
15. ZELANO, C.; JIANG, H. ZHOU, G.; ARORA, N.; SCHUELE, S.; ROSENOW, J.; GOTTFRIED, J. Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function. Journal of Neuroscience. 36 (49) 12448-12467, 2016.
16. BITTAR, A.; JUBÉ, L.; HANCOCK, C.; PAIVA, T.; SABIN, K. The effects of Fletcher Towelwork® in women with breast cancer: clinical trial. PMA Conference, Phoenix, 2016.
17. FLETCHER PILATES, 2018. Retrieved from .
18. VOLÚ, A.; NORA, F.; BITTAR, A. The Importance of Fletcher Towelwork® in Decreasing Shoulder Pain of a Paraplegic bound to a Wheelchair: case study. MOVIMENTA. vol. 7, n. 3, 2014.
19. SILVA, G.; RIBEIRO, C.; BITTAR, A. Efeitos do método Fletcher Matwork® na expansibilidade torácica. Artigo de esp. - PUCGO, GYN; 2014.
20. SILVA, G.; RIBEIRO, C.; BITTAR, A. The Sub-acute Effects of the Fletcher Pilates® Mat on a Group of PE from Athletics Fitness Center. Post-graduation in Pilates, monograph, PUC/GO, 2014a.
21. SILVA, M.; DIAS, K.; BITTAR, A. The Effects of Fletcher Towelwork® in the Peripheral Muscle Strength and Thoracic Extension of Dentists. Summary II International Fletcher Pilates®Conference. Tucson/USA, 2015.
Adriano Bittar - PT, PhD, State Uni of Goiás, Goiânia, Brazil; Brazil-United Kingdom Dance Medicine & Science Network, email@example.com
"Sometimes I have the strange sensation of things separating ...
I can actually feel the Universe expand ... I wonder if I haven't found the
secret to disappearances." - Elizabeth Herron
Soul Alchemy (Womanifesto):
The basic definition of 'alchemy' is the transmutation of base metals to more precious metals. This was the meaning held for the word stemming from medieval times. Today, there are many ways to define what alchemy is, and all of these are rooted in transmutation, leading ultimately to transformation. This can be of a substance, a chemical, or any other energy form. I found this particular definition on the Wikipedia website:
Alchemy is the art of liberating parts of the Cosmos from temporal existence and achieving perfection which, for metals is gold, and for man, longevity ... Material perfection was sought through the action of a preparation (Philosopher's Stone for metals; Elixir of Life for humans), while spiritual ennoblement resulted from some form of inner revelation or other enlightenment.
In the way of Urban Soul Alchemy, it is to work with a damaged or more dense aspect of energy, and transform it to something new. Something more harmonious which will open and clear channels for energy to begin running freely and smoothly again, soothing dis-ease and bringing recall of joy and unity. This in and of itself is a part of the divine dance ... movement, leading to release, and bringing home true honoring of the self and of all others. Embrace and enjoy this dance, and remember it is simply a mechanism to pierce the veils of self-forgetting, to remember who YOU are, and to step back firmly onto your Path with light in your Heart, and music and electricity in your Body.
There exists a very dynamic nature between spirit and human design. Soul Alchemy is one way to become aware of the 'shadow bonds' of old or negative thought patterns and buried emotions. It is one way to learn to act upon self-guidance in order to release these bonds. We can break the continual cycle of seeking out teachers and gurus, and become our own. This brings us to true self empowerment and guides us into embracing the trust that we need in order to begin listening to, and putting into practice, the nudges and shoves of our personal intuition. When we recognize our human body as a vehicle and as a temple, and subsequently acknowledge and embrace the world of Spirit, we can create a bridge which brings these two worlds closer together and allows within our lives, miracles to happen and beauty to be born.
When we tune in to the deepest wills of our hearts and the beautiful wisdom of our souls we become much more aware of how the human and spirit worlds influence each other. Thusly we also become acutely aware of the need to be as clear of a vessel as we possibly can. Then Soul Alchemy branches into the work of transmuting the more shadowy aspects that can bog us down (judgments, emotional baggage, etc.) so that we may hold our received teachings with humility and truth. With dedication to the practice of transforming that which no longer serves harmony on all levels, we may truly achieve purity, peace, and balance.
Blessings, and Namaste,
☼ Danielle ☼
Studies have shown that when both the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere of one's brain are working in tandem, that collaborative effort can produce astounding results. The same is true within a community. When the leadership within the healing arts community and those in the business and administrative world's join together in partnerships intended for community building, the entire community reaps the benefits of that effort.
The arts are not only educationally beneficial to people, they also have an abundant healing quality. Business and community leaders who are able to recognize this quality and work with the art organizations within their community are also able to develop, implement and support programming that uniquely inspires and lifts those living in that community.
A neighborhood center that offers healing and educational centered arts programs, such as drama or music therapy, better serves the people in its area than the one that does not. A business or organization that is looking to inspire and motivate its employees or constituents will see exponentially better results if healing arts such as meditation or yoga techniques are incorporated in the programs and daily structure afforded those people.
When one's body, mind and soul are well aligned and attuned to the same vibrations and goals, the overall quality of that person's productivity and resulting body of work will show it. An entire community that is equally aligned will experience this same result on an even grander scale.
What is the Deva Dance Temple?
According to Sanskrit tradition and lore, a Deva is a being of brilliant light that oversees different aspects of creation. They are believed to have an instinctive understanding of relationships, energies, elements and harmonies. The word Deva may also be seen as a seed term for that which is "divine".
The Deva Dance Temple is an umbrella term for these classes and workshops which serve to put us in touch with and deepen our connection to the Elements, Cycles, and Rhythms which are the framework and makeup of which we and the world are composed.
These workshops serve the purposes of re-igniting our passion and appreciation for the deep mysteries and magic that surround us and whisper joyous messages to us daily.
Deva Dance Temples are held when the call for them is there. This can be in the form of combining movement medicine with Women's Gatherings, Deep Soul Journeys, Community Healing work, Dream Work, Journalling, and many other forms of Art and Healing. Dance and Movement Medicine are here to assist us in this divine method of clearing through the bramble weeds and tangle brush in order to see what has been hidden from view. We can then make new decisions and choices, and put this transformation into divine action, remembering who we are and the pure potential for new world creation that resides within us all.
Another concept of the Deva Dance Temple is to invite collaboration between women in order to work together towards offering their unique gifts and talents together in a workshop setting. Ecstatic Dance and Movement Medicine are strong tools for connecting our minds, bodies and spirits on both an individual and collective component. In this way, Dance can be a wonderful addition to all other artistic and healing mediums. Some examples of collaborative mediums that I have worked on with other organizations and practitioners are:
Yoga & Pilates
Life Coaching & Self Empowerment
Drumming & Chanting
Tai Chi/Qi Gong
Thai Massage & Yoga Therapy
If it speaks to you to collaborate on a workshop by adding dance therapy, sound therapy and/or body work to your existing practice and offerings, please feel free to contact me. In the spirit of community, awakening and transformation, let's work together!
“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”
― John O'Donohue
The Other Side of Here:
As the full moon is just rising above the pines out here in the wood, and as the moonlight falls on the last of the lingering first snow of the season and illuminates it between the pines, and the familiar becomes unfamiliar, it is much easier to walk and remember that the earth below is dreaming, the stars above are singing, and that unseen blessings walk beside us at each moment. I wish you great joy as you find, unlock, and begin to unpack your own treasures ... may there be moments of stillness where in the here and now it's possible to sit and dwell on what true treasure is."
- Jeff Stockton
Traditionally, storytelling has not been simply a means of entertainment. It has been a rich method steeped in culture, music, and dance along with spoken word used to breathe life and vitality into a culture and its traditions. Through storytelling, meanings were given to the history of a tribe's people. Life lessons were passed along regarding leadership and love, and how to have a harmonious relationship with the earth, her plants, her minerals and her animals.
Storytelling is also a skill which can be tuned and refined. We can find ways to use the healing messages of our dreams and bring them forth into a story. We can take an incident within our lives that we have been struggling with, and transform it into a story through word, song or movement so that we may be witnessed by another, and healing may occur.
Our imaginations are tuned deeply into the other worlds, and the art of storytelling allows us an avenue upon which to create something tangible from our imaginative depths. Both magic and healing happen here. We can create a world within which we feel comfortable stepping. We can learn new things about ourselves which give way to epiphanies and open new doors.
And ultimately, through storytelling, we can really take the time to slow down and process. This slowing down gives way to the counterpart of storytelling. In fresh, new ways, we learn to listen ... to truly listen to the whispers of our imaginations, the messages from spirit, the wisdom of our own inner teachers.
One of my favorite examples is that of the Celts and Druids. When a message was received through the Dreamtime, they would take the time to write in as much detail as possible that which they could recall of the dream. Upon fine tuning the details, yet more time was taken to transform the words into a song or a poem.
This song or poem that was made about the details of a dream was called the "Aisling" (ash-ling). In essence, this would always transform the dream into a thing of harmony, and lead to a manifestation of beauty. This is the healing power of the story.
In this work, we use movement medicine and potent introspective tools that assist in bringing stories to life. Perhaps we work together in order to create a piece of choreography to be shared in a small setting and have it witnessed, or simply commune together in a Deva Dance Temple and sweat our prayers. Let us share in the beauty of the story.
Dance and Music Therapy – Can a Beat Help Heal? by Mark Wimbley, M.D.
In the U.S., we have high rates of chronic pain, autism, ADD, depression and anxiety, insomnia, and adult and childhood obesity. Dance is a well known high calorie burning form of movement and a way to connect with others. In Europe, it is quite common for medical doctors to prescribe dance, art or music therapy because it gets to the gets the core or soul of the patient. Dance therapy is being used as part of pain management, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy and physical therapy.
There is a lot of concern about opiates and benzodiazepines which are two types of medicines often used for pain, anxiety, and insomnia. Some professionals, patients, and parents alike may be concerned about the use of antidepressants and ADD medications as well. Patients with acute/chronic pain have reduction in pain and need to take less opiates and pain medication with the help of dance therapy. This is in part due to the social and psychological benefits, as well as the distraction. Dance helps pain patients by elevating their mood, improving body movement, muscle conditioning, plus it can aid in weight loss which also helps reduce pain for overweight individuals.
I see in our clinics an increased prevalence of both autism and ADD. Some reports find as many as 5 out of 10 boys may have ADD; autistic traits may be as high as 2 out 4 kids according to a school psychologist. A study in Sweden indicates that boys with ADD in dance therapy calmed down, had better focus in class, and were involved in fewer conflicts. Autistic and ADD children should continue their medical treatment and consider adding dance and music therapy treatments.
Dancing offers health benefits for anyone. It can improve your cardiovascular health, muscle tone, balance, and coordination. Additionally, dance is an effective adjunct in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and depression. Dr Keil published a review of literature of 11 trials in Sweden and the U.S. which indicate that dance showed benefits for patients with dementia, Parkinson’s, shoulder pain, depression, fibromyalgia, and quality of life in heart failure patients. Studies at UCLA and other institutions show that chronic stress can lead to cancer development by weakening the immune system; dancing definitely reduces anxiety and stress.
Music therapy can also be used as a part of pain management. Music can help to soothe, inspire, and energize patients who have pain. Music has been used as a part of medicine for thousands of years. There are music therapists working with patients with chronic pain in U.S. hospitals, pain clinics, senior centers, and rehabilitation hospitals. Research demonstrates that music reduces the perception of pain, improves relaxation, decreases anxiety and stress, plus improves one’s mood. These benefits allow the patient to need less pain medication in addition to lowering their blood pressure and heart rate. Music therapy can involve listening to music, making music, singing, writing music, and using music to form images in your mind while meditating to music.
If you have traveled to Europe, Asia, Africa, or South America you may remember seeing people getting together in homes, restaurants or clubs socializing and dancing. The way we live in a hurry, always on the phone or working too much, most of us can almost palpably feel the pressure we live with. By listening to music and beginning to move to beat, you will find that you will get a good workout over time since you’re burning calories, but also it has a soothing impact on you. Dance should be a social event; you can dance with your kids, spouse, and friends. Dancing is fun and can be a great way to connect; you do not have to be the best, just give at try and get moving. Dancing is beneficial for everyone!
I came across this lovely post about a month ago, written by Vanessa Soleil of Loving Kindness Life Coaching, and of course I could not help but share it with you all. (Please see the link above.) There is such beauty in its simplicity, and is a perfect jumping point for anyone just starting out with a personal dance practice.
The prompts for self-inquiry are gentle, and yet can take you as far - or as near - as you need to go on any given day. I highly suggest getting yourself a journal, something that speaks to you, and a special pen just for journaling purposes. You will be so glad that you did!
Many blessings, and enjoy your practice.
MOVEMENT PRACTICE 1
a couple posts ago i shared the luxurious joy i felt dancing to music that resonates with me…and what it is like to have the opposite experience. we can find the wisdom in both–cultivating self-awareness while moving through ease and delight is a practice i am going to invite you into today. next post, i’ll ask you to move through something stickier to find what messages live in your resistance.
this practice is for everybody
no need to be a dancer. it’s okay if you don’t know what you’re doing…your body does. take it at your own pace, feel your feet and find your breath and go as slow or as shakily as you need…the wisdom is in what you feel, not what you look like. sometimes i have videotaped myself dancing and am surprised to see that it doesn’t even look like i am doing that much.
while i am in my experience, i feel so much movement and information happening inside my body, and it feels like so much is happening even if it isn’t visible from the outside. this is not about performance or dancing well. i have not taken dance classes since i dropped out of ballet at age 6. i promise. i did complete the training to teach NIA, a fitness program that incorporates dance moves, but is similarly, for every BODY. music and movement create a potent pathway to tap into our intuition, our wisdom, and to move out of our thoughts into a greater sense of self through somatic awareness.
before you begin to move, clear a space and time where you can be free of interruptions, distractions, and where you can feel totally comfortable to move. wear anything that feels easy and unrestricted to move in. i recommend being barefoot for heightened sensation.
if you have an injury or limited mobility, you can still do this practice by adjusting to your body’s needs. be creative. movement can happen in really small but powerful ways when we bring curiosity to our experience. i have attended workshops where participants have needed to dance while seated or laying on the floor. shoulders, feet, elbows, ankles, eyebrows, cheeks, head, toes and fingers moved while they took care of their individual needs. i invite you to join me in doing the same, whatever your physical reality.
think of a song that brings you total joy when you hear it, a song that makes you feel excited when it comes on the radio or a track you keep coming back to for a mood booster. cue up your song and have it ready to go.
comment below or send a photo of your completed worksheet to firstname.lastname@example.org. i am so curious what happens when you explore sensation and emotions in motion. feel your body from feet to head, from belly to breath, heart to the healing hands of self-touch. notice the places that feel open, closed, and how your body likes to move.
First, check in with yourself and see how you are feeling. You can set an intention for this practice, such as to experience joy or aliveness, to let go of thoughts and get into your body, or simply to stay curious.
Start the song and dance to it. You don’t need to travel around your space a lot or do any special moves. You are just responding to a song that you love with your body, however that looks. What we are most interested in is how it feels.
Sense your feet connected to the earth, even if you don’t move them much. Sense the support of the floor underneath your soles; feel your feet touching the ground and the ground touching your feet. Squish your heels down a few times and then plant your whole feet and sink down into the support to establish that connection and return to that awareness of your feet throughout the song.
As you move to the music, pay attention to how you feel in your body. Try to keep returning your attention to your experience as you are moving. Keep moving until after the song has finished. Slow down your movements in the silence after its end and then make a gesture of completion to step out of this practice. You can bow with prayer hands or physically take a step away from where you are to close out the moving meditation.
For reflection afterwards, respond to the following questions as best as you can. Again, stay curious and non-judgmental.
and that’s it! why is worth taking the time to move with awareness? check out this article from Psychology Today on the impact of moving with body sense awareness. it’s amazing and important stuff…start small and do it daily for big impact.
Today's session in my Psychotherapy course was led by Esther Perel, an amazing woman on the frontlines of beautiful shifts in the realms of couples therapy (read more about her work at the end of this post). Esther had been coming across people over and over again who came to her and said, "We love each other very much, but it's been years since I've felt wanted." What Esther had been taught as a therapist was that sexual problems were always the consequence of deeper relationship problems. In this way, it was believed that once you fixed the relationship problems, better sex would naturally follow.
However, what she was experiencing was that even when she had worked with a couple on their relationship problems, and they were back on the same page again, connected and laughing together, there were times when still the couple would have problems in the bedroom.
Traditionally, couples therapy is a desexualized practice. It has often dealt more with issues of dysfunction and performance, and dealt less with the dimensions of the sexuality within the relationship. She found that in some people, increased intimacy leads to decreased desire for their partner.
They were already very intimate in many ways, so they were already 'inside' each other in many ways. This makes it hard for them at times because of the way they love - sometimes in a way that makes it hard for them to make love to the person that they love.
This is a painful blockage, because they want nothing more than to express themselves and how they feel, but for some people it really doesn't work. Perhaps they feel excess burden, excess worry, excess responsibility for their beloved, but in order to make love to the other you have to be able to enter inside your own body, your own sensations, your own sensuality.
These people don't know how to remain connected to themselves, physically, sensually, in the presence of the other they love so much. This leads to a split - the lust/love split.
Then there is another point - passion fades. It needs to be replaced by something more 'real', more mature. Some people will take extreme risks to the point of losing everything just to catch a glimpse of this thing we call passion. Passion doesn't just fade, there are plenty of couples that start with much more lukewarm waters, and the passion grows from there. Fantasy is basically the bread of the impoverished. She began to rethink erotic fantasies and the power of the imagination which allows us to maintain curiosity ... not only towards ourselves, but also towards our partners.
Where do you go, and what are the feelings...
These are very different questions than the typical, how often do you have sex? Do you enjoy it? How often do you orgasm...
These questions are very statistical. These typical questions leave out the erotic, and the erotic is the poetry. It is the way we engage with our sexuality through our imagination. It is what allows us to remain interested in a partner for many years. Otherwise, we are not likely to remain interested for any other reason than because we have desire for a partner.
Women in the west are living a fairly new paradigm. For many women in the world, there are still only two main reasons for sex - to have children, and as an obligation to their spouse. We are able to maintain desire for sex with a beloved for basic pleasure and connection. Desire has therefore become the primary organizing principle of sexuality and intimacy in long term relationships.
There is a concept of the 'double flame'. How do we live in relationships where we are trying to experience a very new kind of intimacy ... where we also want passion. This is not just unique to highly sensitive people. Passion has always existed, but was mostly a privilege for the men. Intimacy was where a couple worked the land together, raised children together, and were companions, sharing commonalities.
It had very little to do with intimacy equalling "In-to-me-see". This kind of intimacy is still relatively new - where we want to transcend our existential "alone-ness" while we connect with our beloved. We want to be validated. What we have here in the west is something that we women tend to take for granted.
With the same person we want social status, economic security, a passionate lover, family life, a best friend, a trusted lover, an everything-all-in-one-person. We now want one person to give us what an entire community used to provide.
These needs spring from different sources and pull us in different directions. We want to be surprised, but we want routine and security ... yet we don't want to feel like things have become too routine. Desire is often flattened by that which has become too routine. We want possibilities to be opened up to us. Love wants to narrow the distance, neutralize the threat, and know the beloved. Desire thrives on the unknown, the mysterious, desire doesn't want to close the gap.
Reconciling intimacy, and the erotic end of the domestic, involves finding a way for us to have these fundamental human needs be attended to within human relationship - and not always at the same time.
Absence and longing is a cornerstone of desire. Can we want what we already have? Desire is free of responsibility - there is no caretaking. There is no responsibility in play, except for playing by the rules. Love, on the other hand, is not free of responsibility. The vast majority points to the fact that desire is activated by wanting. Questions about what you want are very easy to bring in to any therapy session.
Here are some questions to help create conversations that lead you and your partner toward deeper intimacy:
These kinds of questions help to bring about what we are all yearning for - togetherness and separateness at the same time. Throughout this session, Esther referred many times to these books; Arousal by Michael Nader and The Erotic Mind by Jack Morin.
If you feel that this Psychotherapy course is something that would interest you, please go here.
ESTHER PEREL is the bestselling author of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. Her book has been translated in twenty-five languages - and she is fluent in nine of these. She is a master trainer and workshop leader, and has given two Ted talks to date. Known for her keen cross-cultural pulse, Esther shifts the paradigm of our approach to modern relationships. She is regularly sought around the world for her expertise in relational health and communication, team building, erotic intelligence, couples and family identity, work-life balance, and corporate relationships.
*I recommend checking out two other books in this genre that you may enjoy, here and here.
This week I had the pleasure of listening to Peter Levine speak about the relationship between somatics and trauma therapy. This was as another part of my Psychotherapy course. The title of the seminar was Going Beyond Trauma Therapy to Find Love & Happiness. It was of course, the somatics aspect of his talk which really caught my attention, since this is the work that I do.
Listening to other facilitators and experts in the field of somatic therapy is like being able to dive into a bag of candy that you've never tried yet. What I mean by that is, if you know that you are someone who loves candy a LOT, you know that this will be a new flavor that will bring new enjoyment. The taste may be better than any you've yet tried, or it may not be as good as any you've tried, yet regardless, you will have a new mind awakening taste to add to your palette of enjoyment!
Here are some of the key points I took away from Levine's talk:
There is a delicate process to having people gradually re-live experiences, and re-negotiate them. Trauma gets locked in the body. At a moment of traumatic experience, your body may want to have a certain kind of response. More often than not, the mind will stop us and this deep desire to move a certain way will get locked in.
Our body stays prime with the responses that would have led to a successful outcome -- to what we believe to be 'an escape'. If there is a recurring pain in one's body, a pain that has been difficult to find the source of, it will almost always help to go in and uncover what may be being held in there. Sometimes, this can even be the underlying cause of a depression that has been difficult to find the source of.
It can be confusing when the body is saying one thing and then you try to interpret it too quickly, without allowing the body to complete its action. Then it can become difficult to remember. When you allow body memories to complete, to come to resolution and release, that memory can be brought into consciousness and put to rest. Somatic experiencing is about accessing this innate inner knowing that the body speaks.
One thing that we may wish to consider: How do we go about putting these memories to rest, so that injuries or ailments don't keep occurring?
According to Levine, there are layers of stored memory:
The first layer is what could be deemed autobiographical memory. Then there are emotional memories - ones where you have an emotional reaction to something and you are not sure why. This usually draws you to begin searching a bit deeper. The deepest level of memories are the procedural memories. When trauma is resolved, one will generally uncover the great power inside of it. This is where true transformation occurs.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is something that works from the top down. This is where we analyze our thoughts, and then we engage in our process from there. Core physiological processes, on the other hand, work from the bottom up, moving the body in order to move up to emotional memories, then cognitive memories, and upward eventually to autobiographical memories which lead to forming coherent narratives in order to be able to say, "This is my story. This is where I came from ... but this is where I'm going."
If you feel that this Psychotherapy course is something that would interest you, please go here.
Peter A. Levine, PhD, holds doctorates in both medical biophysics and psychology. He is the developer of Somatic Experiencing®, a body-awareness approach to healing trauma, as well as the founder of the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute, which conducts trainings in this work throughout the world and in various indigenous cultures, with 26 faculty members and more than 5,000 students. He is also a senior fellow at the Meadows Addiction and Trauma Treatment Center in Wickenburg, Arizona. Levine’s international best seller, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, has been translated into 25 languages. His recent interests include the prevention of trauma in children, and he has co-written two books with Maggie Kline in this area: Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes and Trauma-Proofing Your Kids. His most recent book, In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, was released to rave reviews. Levine’s original contribution to the field of body psychotherapy was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy (USABP).
I have just finished listening to another wonderful seminar in my Psychotherapy course. This seminar was led by Michele Weiner-Davis, author of Divorce Busting, The Divorce Remedy, and The Sex-Starved Marriage. I completely agree with her belief and approach to couples counseling in the way that even when we believe there is no other option than to part ways, there are multiple ways to learn to communicate anew.
In the following post, I discuss some of the key points that I learned in this training session.
The vast majority of problems that couples are having, which cause them to want out, can be solved. It is important to come first from a place of "this marriage can be saved". This is not always the case, but it is a better place to start from - and this is not coming from a religious perspective. She watched more experienced clinicians shift the conversation really quickly to divorce topics once it became "established" that the relationship was not salvageable. As she watched this happen, she thought, I wouldn't have done that ... I could think of many different options to help this couple out.
We come complete with values, beliefs, and assumptions that affect our life choices. Many therapists feel that they can't do anything for a couple if only one person shows up. That a lot of them feel like if only one partner is present, the marriage is DOA. Time and time again, she herself would cancel a session if, for example, only four out of six family members showed up.
Imagine a mobile, and if you set one piece of the mobile into motion, then the entire mobile begins to move. Relationships are like this. It just takes one piece to set the entire framework into motion. Many people don't think this could be effective; however, many times it is considered that a session will be ineffective without a proper 'head count'. But it has more to do with what the therapist has to say, and not so much about interactions.
Another prevalent myth is that you need two people in order to solve relationship problems. The truth is, in many ways, we are doing our clients a disservice if we allow our clients to believe that the only way to have any impact is through words. The truth is, there are many people who are much more action oriented - men in particular. We tend to ask men to talk more and open up, but rarely do we ask women to become more action oriented. Most divorces these days are initiated by women.
Stereo-typically speaking, women are the relationship caretakers. What tends then to happen is that a woman's concerns about certain things spill over into other aspects of the marriage. And rarely does a man, when his wife begins 'nagging', want to spend more time with his wife! Women will generally then decide the relationship is over, and this leads to her growing quieter, because in her mind, there is nothing left to bother with. Ironically, the husband will then think, 'Great! She's not complaining anymore, things must be fine now.'
Many women say, 'I've said everything I can say, and it goes in one ear and out the other' and of course in many ways she has said everything. But there is a clue in there - if nothing is smoothing over, perhaps less talking and more doing needs to happen. We don't have to be extreme. Helping people be more action oriented, changing how they approach things can make a huge difference.
We all know how to push the buttons of our partners, we all know what to do to get a shift in their behavior, or to get a reaction. So it may be true that we can't change other people, but we can change the way that we do something in order to get a different response. For example, let's say someone gets nervous when their spouse is driving too fast. Rather than saying it to them each time, they begin to tap their foot - their 'braking' foot - and their spouse begins to clue into this. Chances become good that they will slow down in order to save the confrontation or argument.
Look for solution oriented responses. It is difficult for most people to do this. Try to turn negative statements into positive ones.
It is important to know what your goals are, so that you can remain aware of whether you are moving closer to or further away from your goals. It is important to know what 'improvement' looks like through the eyes of your partner. Identify what works - even a little. Identify what has worked in the past - even a little. If a couple fights on a Monday, then they have a great week until they have another fight the following Monday ... this can lead to a belief in each of them that they fight all the time. Call to mind the times where things were working.
Sometimes hurt can be translated into anger. This can be commonly seen in a couple after the birth of their children, when there is less time for each other. In what ways does your partner communicate to you their emotions? You may want them to say a specific thing to you, such as "I love you", but are they a verbal communicator? In many cases, when asked, one partner is able to call to mind numerous ways that they know for certain their spouse communicates their love.
If you are interested in checking out this Psychotherapy course for yourself, please go here.
Michele Weiner-Davis is an internationally renowned relationship expert, marriage therapist, and professional speaker. Michele is the director of The Divorce Busting® Center in Boulder, Colorado. Her work has been featured in most major newspapers, magazines, and on shows such as Oprah, 48 Hours, 20/20, The Today Show, and many others.
Welcome! Thank you for visiting my blog space. In this place, I will share writings of my own, along with other events and musings from the world of Movement Medicine, Dance Therapy, Yoga and Shamanic Healing.