Today’s post is dedicated to the lovely Jennifer of Flowtation Devices, who suggested that I try using a space heater for yoga/dancing, and who wrote a post about heat that made me wonder if I could ever possibly enjoy it the way she does.
Turn on the space heater and shut the guest room door.
Turn on the music, a playlist of your own creation.
This time is going to be different, you can feel it.
Start on the floor, remembering last week’s lesson. You are determined to follow your body’s instincts this time. Gently flex and point your toes. Massage your feet and circle your ankles. Feel the blood move through your feet and softly warm them. Bend and straighten your knees. Focus solely on your body. Matthew has the little one, and this time is just for you.
Windshield-wiper the knees from side to side and slowly lie down on your back. Swing your legs in wide arcs along the floor, rolling from side to side. This is your practice and you can do whatever feels right. The cats brush by curiously, but for once they do not disturb you. You keep swinging, feeling your entire body awaken. Then you roll up to all fours and articulate the spine…cat and dog…side to side…in circles. All your YogaDance training comes back to you and you smile to yourself. Someday soon you’ll be guiding others through this, but for now this time and this movement are all for you. You don’t come to standing until the end of the song.
The music shifts. You naturally fall into a pattern of breath and circular swinging motions. You spiral around yourself, swaying and circling your hips. Your left shoulder is bothering you from yoga and your right hip is still a little tight from last week, but you take them in your stride and don’t push into discomfort. You look for the movements that feel good now.
This is how your body is today, you tell yourself, dance for NOW. Only then does it occur to you how much damn time you spend dancing with your mind in some kind of hypothetical ache-free future. No wonder you get so down on your body all the time!
The music picks up, and you speed up your swaying and circles and breath in time with it. You lose track of the pattern and motion of your dance, forget to write this blog post in your head. You’re flowing and you’re warm and…wow…this feels really really GOOD.
Another shift. This music is electronic, pounding, and strange. Your body finds the beat and moves in sharp, jerky steps. For once this doesn’t feel forced or dangerous. Your body is WARM. You let go of your head and release into the movement, just the way you’ve been wanting to. You pulse to the beat, you shift your weight in crazy patterns, you find your elbows jerking out in fabulous, funny ways. And you smile and say thank you to the space heater that has relaxed your muscles for the first time you can remember, and to Jennifer, who suggested it.
Yes. This is what you wanted. You become a sweaty, dancing wild woman. Body, breath, and beat become one, and you’re not afraid anymore. You stomp and jump and squat and dip and you feel every muscle in your body coming alive, and you bless the aliveness. You feel your yoga pants clinging to your legs and you think back to all the times you tried to do this and got nothing but chilly dampness and tightness as a result. You begin to think that maybe this “heat” thing really is as great as your old ballet teacher used to say. For the first time in your life you find yourself eager for the summer weather, when you’ll be able to feel this way all the time without waiting for the heater to kick in. Your hair, swinging wildly around your head, gets damp and tangled, and you smile through it all, loving every drop of precious sweat, and welcoming it home.
For perhaps the first time ever, you “get” this lyrical thing. Maybe it’s because you picked out the music from your favourite tunes, maybe it’s because you’re truly warm and in your body for the first time in ages, who knows. All you care is that you’ve naturally shifted into the rhythms of lyrical: wild and free, but lighter than chaos. Yes. This is it.
Oddly, stillness is the greatest challenge for you today. You shift back into what you vaguely recognize as echoes of your flowing patterns, but it takes a conscious effort to move from that into the smooth serenity of stillness. You find yourself wanting to reach up with your arms, but your shoulder is hurting again so you drop the arms and try to find new ways of dancing -of being- in this rhythm.
That’s a good thing, you think, it’s all an experiment, after all.
This is an experiment worth repeating.