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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Priming Our "Fountain of Youth" - Raw Foods in Winter

Cranberry Salad (A Wintertime Raw Food Energy Stimulator)

Winter is a time for meditation and reflection. Certainly, our bodies become quieter. Our need for sleep is natural at this time of year. But as we turn inwards, we need to cultivate a balance. We need a certain amount of liveliness in our bodies, even during this quieter time.

We know that raw fruits and veggies are good for us. Sometimes, though, a piece of raw food is not the first thing that crosses our mind when we want winter foods.

The trick is to work with raw food recipes that give us all the nutrients that we need, and which also feel satisfying.

Recently, I had some evening quiet time, after spending the day cleaning along with the Pick-Up-and-Put-Away (PUPA) steps so necessary to bring order, harmony, beauty and joy to life. At the end, I was bushed. Fortunately, I had quiet time alone, and so I petted my cats, gave them some treats, and sat down to watch TV with a chopping board on my lap and my favorite veggies-cutting knife in hand. I made the following recipe for a holiday cranberry salad – all raw – and very eatable on its own. And just super-full of healthy vitamins and such!

Alay’nya’s Christmas Cranberry Salad - Maximal Healthy Winter Raw Foods!

  • 1 bag of fresh cranberries, washed. (You might do this with half the bag, save the rest to wash and use later.) As you go along, feeling through them, toss out the ones that are soft. Cut the ones that are firm – first into halves, then again into quarters. (If you have a food processor, you might do a very loose and light chop. But if you don’t, or just want to have something to do with your hands while watching TV, then hand-chop.)
  • Oranges or clementines - For every cup of cranberries, you’ll want between ½ cup to a full cup of freshly cut orange slices. Just peel the oranges, pull apart the segments, then chop these into smaller pieces. Guestimate proportions; you don’t need to be exact. For a half-bag of cranberries, this could be two large navel oranges, or 3 or 4 smaller ones. You can use clementines if those are what you have at hand.
  • Celery – about two large, fresh sticks – choose from the inner part of the celery heart where the celery is sweetest. Cut off any green leaves (use to put in your raw foods juicer, a stew or soup or stuffing). Cut the celery into small pieces. All these fruit & veggie pieces should be about the same size.
  • Walnuts – about a half-cup. Cut into small pieces.
    Mix the chopped fruits, celery, & nuts in a large bowl. This is a lovely give-away present to health-conscious friends and family. You can eat this by the forkful as a snack.

This will last for a bit in the fridge, but should be eaten within 4-5 days. It's a great way to get a fabulous salad made while watching a bit of evening TV!

Remember the food-combining rules: Eat “like with like.” So it’s actually best NOT to put this raw fruit-based salad with other foods. Instead, eat it early in the day as a snack before other meals.

Remember also – your stomach uses different levels of pH and enzymes to digest different kinds of food. It digests protein differently from starches. So if you have a meal of meat, fish, or eggs, try to NOT have your starches (potatoes, rice, breads, etc.) at the same time – although you can eat as many veggies (cooked and/or raw) with your protein as you like. So choose whether you’re having a “protein-based” or “carbs/starches-based” meal.

And up your consumption of “healthy oils” during the winter – they help soften your skin, and they transport the fat-based vitamins throughout your body. Avocado is good. Make your own salad dressings with high-quality olive oil and/or grapeseed oil, with a nice balsamic vinegar or a splash of lime. Add some flaxseed oil as well. (Omega-3’s and other healthy things.)

Here's to your health, wellness, and overall well-being - as we bring the year to a close, and look forward to the year ahead!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Where Are the Initiated Men of Power Today?" - An Answer to Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette

To Find the "Initiated Men of Power" - Seek Out the Martial Arts Masters

Leaders of the men's movement today are addressing the question brought before them by young men:

"In a Bill Moyers interview with poet Robert Bly ... a young man asked the question, 'Where are the initiated men of power today?' We have written this book in order to answer this question, which is on the minds of both men and women. In the beginning of the twenty-first century, we face a crisis in the masculine identity of vast proportions. Increasingly, observers of the contemporary scene - sociologists, anthropologists, and depth psychologists - are discovering the devastating dimensions of this phenomenon, which affects each of us personally as much as it affects our society as a whole."

(See Robert Moore's website page for this quote and also for an introduction to the excellent book by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, King, Warrior, Magician, Lover, written to answer this question.

See also my review of Moore and Gillette's book on today's Unveiling webpage, Moore and Gillette; King, Warrior, Magician, Lover.

The question is a real one. In all of our mythic Heroic Quests, the young man is tutored by a sage, someone whom we'll call a Hierophant - a "wise older man" who can guide the young man towards full adulthood. In his excellent book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman describes his teacher Socrates.

In the movie Star Wars, Luke Skywalker is tutored first by Obi-wan Kenobi, then by Yoda. In The Karate Kid (1984 version), Dan is tutored by a martial arts master, Mr. Miyagi.

What is consistent here? Young men are taught by martial arts masters. This is the classic initial stage of the Hero's Journey.

Socrates, Obi-wan Kenobi and Yoda, and Mr. Miyagi - together with numerous similar characters in fiction and film - are idealizations. But the "real versions" exist!

In Unveiling: The Inner Journey, I credit two martial arts masters with whom it has been a great privilege to study. Robert Fusaro Sensei, 7th Dan, Founder of Midwest Karate Association, and Peter Ralston, founder of both the Cheng Hsin school and the martial arts discipline of that name, are masters who are substantial and very authentic. Further, diligent search of the martial arts schools and systems in most cities will reveal others who are competent teachers; not only of martial arts, but also of life.

Even those who prefer something other than martial arts can benefit by the pathway to becoming a "Superior Man," as described by author Davide Deida.

Deida states "The two ways to bring you right to your masculine edge of power are austerity and challenge." (The Way of the Superior Man, p. 191)

Women are aware of whether or not men are willing to do this. As we observe men, we note whether they are creatures of comfort, or if they are afraid to disrupt their own "status quo." In essence, we note their courage - their willingness to accept both discomfort ("austerity") and their willingness to step beyond their safety zone ("challenge").

So for all men who are looking for a pathway: Seek out austerity and challenge, as Deida suggests. Give up the TV and the video games, and spend time in a real dojo; study with a martial arts master. Push yourself into the wilderness and into your own wildness. Then see how your woman responds to you. (Or if you are not in a relationship, then observe what sorts of women begin to be attracted to you.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Using Breathing to Heal

Breathing, Belly Dance, and Breakthroughs - Part II

A week ago, I was enjoying a fabulous breakthrough. Something had shifted for me emotionally. (Still am not sure what.) My body released, some tension patterns had all but disappeared, I was happy, joyful, and confident. What's more, my energy surged. On Sunday of a week ago, I could barely get through the day, no matter how much B12 and ginseng I took in. The next day, all but forgetting about supplements, I breezed through the day and worked hard into the late evening, enjoying every moment.

And I had three more days just like that.

Until, Thursday evening, I felt this funny little warning "hotness" in my throat. I knew instinctively what it was, and recognized that my body was craving Vitamin C. I still went out to a meeting that night.

The next morning, my throat was red, raw, and painful. There was no longer any doubt or question. Whether strep throat or simply one of the worst colds of my life, it had landed!

So I stayed (more or less) calm throughout the weekend. I pulled back from all human contact, and let friends know that I wouldn't be at some events - even those which we'd been anticipating for months. I even minimized phone time.

By Sunday, my energy was low, and I spent most of the day in bed, alternating naps with listening to a book on CD.

So what caused this magnificent "fall from grace"? Was the breakthrough not real? (Well, actually, yes it was. I knew that the tension release, the freedom in movement, and the increased energy were all very real.)

What happened was simply a big "word from the Universe" that it was time to settle down. I had taken on too much. (Have STILL taken on too much.) I was behind on almost every promised task.

Setbacks such as these - whether flu or colds, or something more serious - are often the way that our Higher Self pulls us out of our nearly compulsive "to-do" list - where our entire cognitive focus, our identify, and most certainly our attention and time - are wrapped up in our "things to do."

So I'm doing all the expected and appropriate things. Fluids. Lots of rest. Vitamin C. More rest. Chicken soup. (And more rest.)

In short order, I'll find my paperwork, and go see a doctor. And I'll probably get a round of antibiotics. But healing doesn't come from the anti-biotics, per se. (Not saying that they can't be of great help.) Rather, the healing has to come from a shift from within, and it is to this that I'm giving my attention.

And oh yes - using "breathing to heal"? Yes, I'm doing that as well. Consciously circulating energy. Reaching out with my awareness, and catching little "energy waves"; bringing them in and moving this energy around my body. Doing the Silk-Weaving Exercises (a form of Chinese breathing and exercising exercises.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Breathing, Breakthroughs, and Belly Dance

Emotional Breakthroughs Show in Our Breathing, Body Movement, and Dance

Just yesterday, I had a breakthrough.

Now my life consists of "breakthroughs." I have them intellectually. (This is what gives me ideas for everything from blogposts to patents. There are several "breakthroughs" in Unveiling alone.) And I'm used to having physical breakthroughs as well; these have made me an effective dancer.

But yesterday something happened that was a bit unexpected, and I want to share it with you while the memory is fresh.

For the previous few months - post-Unveiling-publication - I'd been having a lot of fatigue. Through being kind and gentle with myself, through rest and (not-too-strenuous) exercise, through better diet and supplements, I was slowly getting better. But this improvement was wobbly, and after almost three months, I still wasn't back to full strength and power. In fact, just the day-before-yesterday, I'd had one of those days in which all the supplements in the world - all the vitamin B-12 and ginseng - were getting me off the launch pad but not quite into stable orbit.

And then, yesterday, several little things happened. I can't quite put my finger on any single one. But somehow, in the midst of all these "little things" - a real breakthrough occured.

The "little things"? Working my daily exercise with the Course in Miracles, which I started about two months ago. (If there is anything that is life-changing, this is it. And I was in huge resistance about one of those exercises, but somehow, wound up adopting the premise that it offered - that may have been a "pivot point.")

The "pivot point" may have been when Nimeera, another dancer with whom I met the day before, looked at me and said, "Breathe." (I didn't even know that I was holding my breath.)

It may have been waking up, realizing that I was holding tension in one of my favorite tension-holding places in my back, and then starting to use undulations to release that tension, and also releasing the "emotional issue" that I felt was linked to the tension spot.

It could have been any of these; all of them, or none. What I do know is that somehow, sometime, yesterday I began to move again.

Now don't get me wrong. I'd been "moving" all these past few months. A fair bit of the daily yoga and core, stretch and resistance training. Renewed long walks. And lots and lots of housecleaning and other chores.

But I hadn't been doing much dance.

I'd attributed this to having put all my energy into the Unveiling-publication.

But there was something else, a sadness that had been a part of my life over the last three years. And somehow, it released, and my body began to naturally do the "belly dance movements" once again.

That's right, I started naturally and spontaneously moving - the undulations, the figure-eights (of all sorts). The stretches, the neck movements, everything.

And I realized, once again, that the beauty of Oriental dance as a body art (in comparision with other, equally good and very valid body arts such as yoga and T'ai Chi), is that the range of movements that it gives us are fabulously superb for releasing emotional tension. They are the best movements for real body/mind/psyche integration.

That's because an Oriental dance technique, such as an undulation, corresponds to releasing tension up and down our spine. When we release emotional tension, we can release the physical. And vice versa.

So if we have even a glimmering of how the two are connected - some attention and awareness of how our bodies and our "emotional selves" work together - then when we get the slightest little release in one area, we can use the dance techniques to help us release just a little more. We use our body/mind/psyche integration pathway to leverage this release.

So, for example, a little emotional release - leads to an undulation. An undulation leads to a figure-eight. A figure-eight leads to paying attention to what we have "stuck" in our lower backs and pelvic area. And then we bring our attention to the emotional aspect, process it, and get a bit more release again physically.

And this is why I love this dance form so much!

P.S. I write about this in Chapters 14-16 of Unveiling: The Inner Journey. And in those chapters, I credit Diane Richardson, who is a Co-Founder of Relational Energetics (see I also suggest chiropractic and massage, and other healing modalities - Reiki is good, as are others.

Friday, December 02, 2011

How to Use the "Fountain of Youth"

The "Fountain of Youth" - The Beauty Secret That Costs Nothing (and Makes Us Look Years Younger)!

Would you like to get out of bed looking ten years younger? What if something made you look even better than having a good night's sleep, or a rousing round of early morning sex? Both sleep and sex are good; no question. But what if there was one more thing that would increase your beauty, your vigor, your vital energy, your zest, and your overall confidence and sex appeal? What if there was a single, ultimate, "anti-aging secret"?

And what if this anti-aging secret cost nothing but time?

It's just because this "costs nothing more than time" that you don't see articles about this in the major women's magazines.

We all know that today, more than ever, beauty is "big business." We know that "Baby Boomer women" in North America make up the world's demographic with the greatest disposable income. Manufacturers and marketers know this, also. That's why TV shows and women's magazines are a vehicle for advertising all manner of skin care, hair care, and beauty products. They also promote services - ranging from cosmetics customization to cosmetic surgery.

All of these are good. I have no problem with any of these, and am as interested as the next woman.

But there's one more thing - a "special something" which no one mentions. And they don't mention it simply because there's no profit margin. Your favorite plastic surgeons won't get you under the knife for this. Your favorite "medi-spa" won't book you for a bit of Botox. Revlon and Estee Lauder - and all the many other cosmetics companies - won't post greater profits to their stockholders.

The 2011 Summer-Fall issue of New Beauty magazine has articles such as "Botox Breakthroughs" and "The Secret Surgery: How to Look Years Younger in 60 Minutes or Less."

These are all good - please, I am not suggesting that we don't take advantage of each and every benefit that these advanced beauty methods offer. From spas to supplements, from hormones to yoga, from restylane to revitalizing face creams - I'm for all of them.

But let's think about a "one hour beauty treatment" that doesn't involve a surgical procedure - or even visiting your favorite masseuse.

What could we do so that, as Lord Byron said, our lips would be "roses over-washed with dew"?

This is not some arcane secret that requires a lifetime of questing, and years of esoteric study. Rather, it is practical, efficient, and learnable. Moreover, it gives us instant results. By accessing and using our very own Fountain of Youth, we increase our beauty - we actually do look years younger - without the time and cost (and potential downsides) of cosmetic surgery, injectables and lasers, and other means that are common in our current "beauty culture."

The Fountain of Youth: What It Is, What It Isn't

In Unveiling: The Inner Journey I write about the very real Fountain of Youth that any one of us can access and use. It's all in Chapter 29, "Pragmatic Esoterics." And I was practicing it this morning, just after waking up.

And yes, I did look ten years younger getting out of bed today!

P.S. Do you want instant access to this "secret"? Go to: The Fountain of Youth: It "Really Is" Real!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lineage - in Martial Arts, Yoga, Zen - and Belly Dance!

Our "Master Teachers" in Oriental Dance

Recently, I took a workshop with Anahid Sofian, where the day's classes were taught by her protege, the internationally-renowned Eva Cernik. Among the attendees was Nourhan Sharif, and others who were remarkable for their intelligence (one had her Ph.D. in biochemistry), devotion to the art (most were long-standing students), and overall high level of knowledge about dance, art, and life.

I overheard Nourhan and another dancer, where the question that one of them posed was: Which other leading dancers do you like - and respect - the most? (The context was with historical figures - the luminaries of films, etc.)

Somehow, the conversation swung around to how we - as students, practitioners, and often teachers - show how we respect our own teachers. And someone (here I'm airbrushing just a bit) commented on one dancer who left a well-known teacher to form her own studio. She had been a teacher in the master dance teacher's studio, and took the students - who were in class with her - when she left to set up her own "establishment."

This wasn't just a burst of ego. It was a show of disrespect, and - in simple business terms - an undercutting.

I had the same thing happen to me, and write about it in Unveiling: The Inner Journey. (see the opening for Chapter 15, "Softening: Beginning to Break Through," beginning page 199.

I recall a conversation with another leading dancer, one with whom I've studied and whom I respect a great deal. I asked her how I could honor her in my work. She said, "Simply recognize me in your bio. Say that you've studied with me."

That seems easy enough. Surprisingly, though, there are dancers - those who want to "establish" themselves - who think that the best way to do this is to disregard (and even disrespect) their connections with their teachers and - when they find them - their "master teachers."

We in the Oriental dance world seek to claim legitimacy for our art form. We want respect. We demand, and the rigor and beauty of our art form demands, a high level of respect.

But to get respect, we have to give it.

Look at the great traditions in the world; the ones where personal teaching is necessary. Martial artists, the world over, acknowledge their teachers. Lineage is exceptionally important.

Lineage is important in ballet, modern dance, and other dance forms. It is important in all branches of yoga.

In Zen meditation, one of the practices is that the disciples recite the names of their master teachers, going up through their entire lineage, and thanking and acknowledging them.

We have a profoundly beautiful, moving, and exquisite art form. We also have lineage. It's time for us to respect our "master teachers."

In Unveiling: The Inner Journey, I identify my "master teachers" - in dance, in martial arts, and in body/mind/psyche/energy integration. If I've studied with them, and if there is enough of a relationship so that they can pick me out of a lineup, they're mentioned. I tell stories about them - the kind of "student/teacher" stories that highlight their role as teachers.

Right now, more and more of us are writing. (Morocco's book is coming out soon, Nourhan Sharif has one underway.) We put together websites. We have videos. In addition to teaching classes and performing, we have numerous venues available to us - through the web, digital media, and print - in which we can honor our "master teachers."

We want respect? Let's start by giving it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Getting "Inner Balance" with T'ai Chi, Chi Kung, and "Push Hands"

Peter Ralston - Martial Arts Master - and an "Unveiling" Master Teacher

Yesterday morning, when the power came back on after Hurrican Irene passed through, I went down to my dance studio for my morning yoga practice. And after my body "woke up" a bit, the yoga became a bit of free-form T'ai Chi, then a bit of Chi Kung, with some of the Silk Weaving exercises mixed in. And within short order, I was back to basic - very elementary - dance movements. Really more the essentials - Anchoring and Grounding, and weight shifting. I began attending to Principles that Peter Ralston had elucidated very clearly when I was studying with him.

Peter Ralston, a martial arts Master Teacher, taught T'ai Chi and other "internal" martial arts. He was - and still is - a very effective fighter. He also based his teachings on certain core body-alignment and energetic Principles. He is one of the Master Teachers whom I reference frequently in Unveiling: The Inner Journey.

Peter has several books published, but one that got a very good review is Re-Thinking Cheng Hsin.

Peter's teachings have had a profound impact on my dance. I particularly credit him with helping me define my first Principles, beginning with Anchoring. I spent a fair bit of time yesterday, not only in physical practice, but re-thinking how to connect the Principles with how to teach, both for beginner and advanced students. Another element underlying all of Peter's teachings is that our practice, whether martial arts or any other area, should be "effortless." (Now I'll confess that my practice yesterday, during which I focused on releasing tension and having proper alignment, was pretty hard work!)

In Unveiling, I write:

This principle - that of being "effortless" - holds true for us as well. If we are seeking to cultivate our Hathor essence, then we need to create it in a way that is effortless, natural, and easy. Similarly, if we wish to access the deep wisdom of our inner High Priestess, this must especially come about in a soft and gentle manner! In part, because this is the characteristic of real power. And in part, also, this is the only way that things will work most effectively in our lives. (Unveiling: The Inner Journey, p. 165)

You can read more Unveiling excerpts at: Unveiling: The Inner Journey.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Belly Dancing in Water - The "Origins of the Dance!"

Have you ever wondered how it all started? (Belly dance, that is.)

Have you ever wondered how we - as human beings - started? Apart from Creation myth(s), and God taking a rib from Adam, and that sort of thing.

How did we go from being fairly successful pre-hominids to beings with art and culture, with complex languages, and (even) complex thoughts - on topics that range from cosmology to cosmetics to cosmic knowledge.

There had to be a "transition point," didn't there?

And for us women, there had to be a point at which dancing evolved.

Specifically, there had to be a point at which belly dance began to evolve, because this dance form is the oldest one that there is!

Seven years ago, I travelled on business to Hawaii. After checking in and taking a short nap, I got up, put on a swimsuit and cover-up, and walked down to Waikiki beach. It was late evening; the beach was deserted. The stars were out, the weather was warm, and starlight and hotel lights sparkled off the gentle waves.

From where the waves slowly lapped the shore, I I walked out more than fifty feet from the water’s edge, until I was chest-high in the warm water. Seaweed softly stroked my skin. I relaxed, lengthened my back, and let the waves gently rock my spine.

This, I realized, is where belly dance was born.

Several millennia ago, we women took to the beaches in the blistering Pliocene-era heat waves.

Up until that time, we (or our earliest ancestral hominids) were fruit-loving forest dwellers. When the savage Pliocene-era heat and drought decimated our favored forest dwellings, we had to live in the plains. This was too hot, and much too dangerous. Being (even then), intelligent beings, we did the only intelligent thing possible. We went to the beach! (So, for that matter, did elephants and dophins, all mammals who’ve adapted to a watery environment. The dolphins stayed and adapted further, and we and the elephants eventually went back on land.) We lost much of our “fur” in the process, and gained a great deal of intelligence. (Elaine Morgan writes about how our “beach time” helped us evolve in The Descent of Women (1972); another really good smart woman’s “beach read.”)

So there I was, in the slowly, lapping waves, under a moonlit and starry night, with seaweed stroking my back and thighs. I relaxed, and “reconnected” with my ancestresses.

And guess what? My body naturally and instinctively began to do the most fundamental movement in Oriental dance (belly dance); an “undulation.” I “undulated” up and down my spine, in rhythm with the waves and the seaweed.

I floated my arms out to my sides, and let them “rest” on the soft swells of the water. Once again, naturally and instinctively, they moved on their own, in a pattern that we now call “snake arms.” It has nothing to do with snakes, not really. When we women first “evolved” this dance movement, it was because our arms naturally responded to the movements of the waves.

You can read an excerpt from Elaine Morgan's Descent of Woman here:

We (or our early pre-human ancestors) spent a lot of time in the water. Enough time to morph us into what we are today; mammals who stand on two legs instead of four; mammals who use speech (which carries beautifully over water); and mammals who have hair on our heads (to protect our heads from the sun’s rays), but who don’t need much hair on the rest of our bodies. We also became mammals who dance.

We have evolved so that standing in water, responding naturally and instinctively to a soft, gently lapping wave, is enormously soothing to us. This kind of movement releases tension. It gets us back to our “calm state.” Movements that “flow” and “undulate” our spine – whether done in water (ideal) or on land (since that’s where we now live) – help us feel good. And movements that open up our shoulders, and stretch out our pectoral muscles, and release our neck tension (especially when done in water) feel very good indeed.

Experiment on your own (if you must), or with a girlfriend or two or three, and even consider asking a belly dance teacher to come up with a "belly dance in the pool" class for you! No matter how it goe, you’ll learn (or discover) means for reducing neck and back tension, unwinding the tight spots in your clavicles and pectoral areas, and even ways for reducing the impact of carpal tunnel syndrome.

What better way to counter this summer's heat waves? Enjoy!

Yours in dance - Alay'nya

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rebuilding Personal Energy (Ch'i)

Building Personal Energy (Ch'i)

Over the past few days, my personal energy levels had dropped down a bit. I was a bit more tired in the afternoons, and craving carbohydrates and sugars. These were tell-tale signs that my energy and balance were off.

To start rebuilding my personal energy, or ch'i, I prepared with a short and easy yoga session (mostly to stretch out the leg meridians; these help with sleep and relaxation), and took a nap. (Always a good choice.)

When I woke up, I found a good action movie on TV that was just getting started, and did a two-hour yoga/core/resistance/stretch session. Just the basics, nothing new and certainly nothing fancy. But I felt hugely better afterwards.

Then I did some juicing with the last of the "juicing greens and veggies" that I had stored in a special kitchenette where I keep the juicer (and a garbage disposal for handling waste, even though I compost most of it). A dedicated area helps, as a week's worth of juicing veggies and greens takes up a lot of room. Also, since this is "raw foods," it's best to keep it from meats and other food types. My ingredients were: a whole small beet, a whole large carrot and a whole Granny Smith apple, a small handful of parsley, a small handful of cress, and a few stalks of celery (including the leafy parts at the top, and the "celery root" area below the stalks). This was one of the best combos I'd ever made, it was great!

By this time, my energy was perking up. I wound up doing this in the middle of the night, so my goal now is to calm down and go back to bed. However, the combination of yoga and exercise, together with the nutrients from the freshly-squeezed greens and veggies, has my energy flowing again.

It is from this slightly more energized state that I started doing some basic T'ai Chi, and the silk-weaving exercises.

I've looked online for vids of the silk-weaving exercises as described in Michael Minik's book (referenced in a previous post), and couldn't find any good, "basic" ones. I'm sure that chi kung training is similar, but at some point I'll try to do a simple little silk-weaving vid, and post on YouTube. This is a great energizing practice, especially when used in conjunction with the basic things that get our bodies moving and our energy flowing.

P.S. - I'm still winding down and getting ready to go back to bed. Herbal tea - I use Celestial Seasoning's "Sleepytime Extra," the valerian helps induce sleep, and stir in a little GABA. Also have a chug of the Calcium/Magnesium components of the two-part liquid vitamins that I get from Dr. Sievers at Care Plus in Fairfax, VA.

It's only when I've done a good bit of yoga and stretching to warm up and get my lower back released, and core work to get my abdominal muscles engaged, that I feel ready to fully take advantage of T'ai Chi. And then, only after all of that do I feel that my body is really ready to work with dance. The elements of Oriental dance involve so much stretching and flexing of our spines, our pelvic girdle, and diaphragms - and so much core strength if we are to do it right - that we can have a really good dance workout if half our time (or even more) is spent with warm-ups and preps, getting our body ready to move in the right way. Then the dance techniques flow from internal strength and connection, rather than from being "imposed."

And we have a much better chance of doing energy circulation work in dance if we've prepared properly.

Unveiling "Archetypes" and Franklin-Covey "Roles" - A Practical Step in Personal Integration

Personal Integration: The First Adult Life-Journey

I've just posted to the Unveiling blog about how I'm using the Unveiling archetypes to help me clarify and prioritize tasks for my different roles, using the Weekly Compass in the Franklin Covey Day Planner system.

The more complex our life gets, the more it helps us to organize ourselves in terms of roles.

Just in these past two weeks, I've been teaching myself to connect my different roles with the various archetypes from Unveiling.

We each have six core archetypes; three male, and three female. Our masculine ones are Magician (visionary, creating "something" from "nothing"), Emperor (building structures, systems, and social order), and Hierophant (teaching and mentoring, within a well-defined and structured system). Our three female roles are Isis (also known as Empress; nurturing and caring), Hathor (perfumes, pleasure, and play - the "sweet things" of life), and High Priestess (contemplative, intuitive, insightful). We also each have two "reserve" modes; our Hestia (our hearth-and-home goddess; very comforting) and our "Green Man of the Woods" (our inner wild-man or wild-woman, who connects with nature and instinct). (For women, we may think of our "Green Man" as our "Green Woman," or Artemis - the original goddess who "ran with the wolves.")

These eight modes, taken together, are the eight "cylinders" of our "power car engine." We need all eight. If we lose touch with any single one, it's like trying to run a Corvette when not all the cylinders are firing. Dysfuction.

But operating in society, we tend to over-emphasize our Amazon (which for women is a combination of all of our masculine modes), and our Isis - leaving little or no time for Hathor or High Priestess. (No wonder we not only feel stressed, but - from time-to-time - disassociated. We're missing at least two of our "power modes.")

So as we use time-management and life-organization systems such as the Franklin Covey Day Planner, we can consciously factor in and identify roles that incorporate each of our core archetypal modes. Sometimes, we'll blend two or more archetypes into a single role, but we can do this consciously and purposefully, so it will work.

Then, as we start allocating time, we can make sure that we identify Hathor-time, and factor pleasure and play into our daily lives. We can identify High Priestess time, and be certain that we step away from society, and from "digital distractions," and commune with our inner being. We can associate simple housekeeping chores with our Hestia, and know that we're nourishing an important part of our inner reserve by caring for our physical surround. ("Wax on, wax off." This can be very refreshing.) And we can group our various nurturing and caring activities into our Isis mode, where we consciously choose and know how much time we spend on caring for others - and the trade-off in terms of caring for ourselves.

This gives us the basis for wisdom and discernment, two superior life-skills.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sexual Power - and the "Jade Egg"

Sexual Power, the "Jade Egg," and Oriental Dance (Belly Dance) - Yes, There Is a Connection!

Darlings -

A wonderful word - I'm getting my "review copy" of Unveiling either today or tomorrow; it shipped from CreateSpace yesterday. So of course I had to let everyone on my email lists know about this last night.

The first question that came back had nothing to do with archetypes, integration, or even the "Fountain of Youth" (ch'i cultivation). Instead, it was as direct, simple, and pragmatic as it could get - and it has to do with sex, and with giving and receving pleasure.

T., a dancer, asked:

... Have you ever herd of a Jade Egg and if so does it truly work? I'm in my thirties. My boyfriend told me I don't contract. I also don't get any pleasure from him so I feel kind of weird. I'm looking for a web site about the Jade Egg, but haven't found any useful information yet. Can you help me?

T., your question is very important. In fact, it is REALLY important – both for you and your partner. And your basic Oriental dance (belly dance) training can help you a LOT. You just need to emphasize working with your core as you do your movements, integrating “core work” into everything – I teach this, and will start to have workshops beginning this fall, including this topic.

Yes, I do know what you mean about the “Jade Egg.” The “Jade Egg” is an egg-shaped stone (various sizes) that a woman inserts into her vagina, and learns to move it up and down her vaginal area through muscular contractions.

You don’t have to use a “Jade Egg” (although there’s nothing wrong with it), but you CAN gain a strong core that will enhance your sexual pleasure, and your partner’s. I actually describe the best approach (an abdominal training exercise) in Unveiling, Chapter 25: Sex Secrets of Belly Dancers, and you should be able to order this either through Cleo’s Closet, or through CreateSpace (later today or tomorrow – if the “review copy” they shipped yesterday arrives in a timely manner, and I can approve and they set up their e-store – all this can happen VERY fast), or in a week or so from Amazon.

Your best resources for overall descriptions and training are:

Gerson Kuhr’s Core Training for Belly Dancers – (see link above). I make this part of the Registration Package for all of our Beginners (and even advanced students, joining in from another class), because core training is VERY important.

Unveiling: The Inner Journey, Chapter 25: Sex Secrets of Belly Dancers. Details on a type of abdominal crunch that will improve your interior and exterior oblique strength, which is what you need to induce strong pressure on your partner during love-making, and some very interesting (new!) information on how our dance movements can actually induce clitoral stimulation - indirect, but very nice!

Also, just as important as gaining core strength (and learning how to use this strength effectively), we also need to release our back tension, and tension in our pelvis and sacrum. Releasing (unnecessary) tension is as important as is using our strength. I write about this in Chapters 14-16 of Unveiling, and we can learn to use our dance movements for tension release as well as part of our dance training.

Healing Love Through Tao: Cultivating Female Sexual Energy, by Mantak Chia and Maneewan Chia, Chapter 7. Lots of detailed and fairly technical information. Rather dry and dull, but comprehensive.

Really, I suggest factoring core training into your dance moves as being the most fun and "juicy" way to get your core strength to enliven your sexual pleasure.

Best wishes in all, and let me know how this works out for you!

Yours in dance – Alay’nya

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Redeveloping Personal Energy, or "Ch'i"

"Ch'i," or Vital Energy - How to Get It; How to Use It

Like most of you, my sense of personal vital energy, or ch'i, is sometimes up, and sometimes down. About a month ago, after completing (yet another) huge proofing round for Unveiling (due out at the end of this month!), my ch'i was down - and so was I. Too many hours at the computer. Too many hours in a tight-focused mindset, driving myself to "accomplish," and over-ruling the needs of both my body and psyche.

But this is just part of being human.

All of us, at some point or other, push ourselves to extremes in order to accomplish something important - something that may even (temporarily!) override what we know is right for our overall well-being.

I'm not talking about indulging in negative behaviors, such as extreme overeating, or use of drugs, or even indulging in (protracted) negative thought-patterns. (But for a good blogpost on this subject, see the recent posting by Julie Marie Rahm (aka "America's Mindset Mechanic") on The "Shoulda" Virus.

But today, I'm talking about how we recover from - not so much a deep well - but from stumbling into a little ditch. Not horrendous, but we do need to get ourselves out of it.

Over the past month, I've made a lot of improvements, and both look a lot better, and feel much better also. ("Better" as in - friends telling me that I'm looking "great" and "fabulous" - without makeup! "Better" as in - my energy and mood are consistently a good notch improved from where they are a month ago, so that things might still upset me, or get to me a little bit, but my recovery - both physically and emotionally - is much, much faster.)

There are really just three things that kick this "recovery" off:
  • Exercise: Walking, together with yoga, Chinese "silk-weaving" exercises (for ch'i building, and a bit of free weights and core
  • Diet: Lots of raw foods, lots of freshly-juiced drinks of greens, veggies, and a bit of apple. Minimal carbs. (Yes, I still indulge in things that would be better less-indulged-in. That's the next step.)
  • Supplements: Liquid vitamins with ginseng. Recently added Co-Q10, Salmon oil, and acetyl-L-carnitine, for metabolism boosting.
The result? In the past month, I've increased my early-morning walk from a mile to three or four miles, and feel fabulous while so doing. While my productivity level feels the same, my feeling of flow and ease while working are both increased, and I'm happier.

All of this is just the precursor work -- just getting in shape, both physically and energetically, to really get in shape - which is my next major intention.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Part 2 of Esther's Story - Now Online (for this week only!)

Part 2 of Esther's story continues our Purim weekend for just a few more days.

New Unveilng "Study Guide" Page on Website

Unveiling - Table of Contents and Study Guide

Just got a new webpage loaded - a Seasonal Study Guide.

People who have advance copies of Unveiling (really manuscript drafts) have been reading them slowly. Yes, Unveiling is a pretty meaty book. (In the latest proofs, its about 450 pages of text, then there are references. And I still need to produce the Index.)

But it's not really the length. And it's certainly not hard to read. The style is easy enough, and lots of stories.

The challenge is that it brings up stuff that we have to process. And when that happens, we each have to put the book down, and take a little time for the "processing."

This happened to one of my friends who was reviewing it. And then it happened to me, just the other day. The ("final-final") proofs came in; I started reading through from the beginning, once again.) And the thing about reading proofs is - there's enough time between reads so that I become emotionally "sensitized" once again. It's one thing to write the words; it's another to read them as a "reader."

And now that I'm reading them as a "reader," some of the stuff comes up and just punches me! And this is even though I've actually written the words down, and then read them many (many) times.

So yes, Unveiling takes time to read. It's really about the emotional processing involved.

So I had a lovely experience this last weekend. I was invited to participate in a Purim celebration at a local synagogue. I helped the children learn a little dance; I provided the girls with pretty dancer's veils to use, and the synogogue had lots of rhythm-making instruments for the boys. (What fun! Noisy, but fun!)

So we all had a good time. But this motivated me to put up Esther's story (from Unveiling, Chapter 8) onto the web - and I'll keep it there, just for a little bit. (For this coming weekend, I'll pull back on Esther, and put up the bit about Scheherezade - in honor of the Persian New Year, Nowruz.)

All this tied in with something that I'd been thinking - that we really needed a "Seasonal Study Guide." Something to correlate Unveiling with our dance practice, and with the energies of the different seasons.

So go visit
Seasonal Study Guide, and you'll see the Table of Contents, and a brief description of content, organized by season.

And do honor Esther by visiting her page - Esther and Purim.

Creating Personal Energy

Personal Energy or Ch'i Training - How to Get It and Use It

This blog, and possibly several that I'll post after this, will address a topic brought up by Donald Michael Kraig (DM Kraig), author of Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts (see link below). Don, who writes on the Llewellyn website blog, recently posted a brief discussion on how we generate magickal energy. Don's post referenced one by a gentleman referred to as "Frater A.I.T.," on personal energy work. A little extreme, maybe, but to-the-point.

The essence of Frater's message is that if we are to be effective with "magickal" work (that is, using our intention and will to create reality as we desire), then we must be doing some form of "personal energy work." Frater A.I.T. references the "Middle Pillar," which is an energy-draw-down exercise well known in esoteric circles. In fact, Israel Regardie, one of the 20th century's leading esoteric masters, wrote a book on this subject, The Middle Pillar.

There are actually four things that we need to do, for effective magical (or "magickal") work:

  • Access personal energy, or ch'i,
  • Remove (or at least ease) the tension blocks in our bodies that keep us from accessing and circulating our personal energy, or ch'i,
  • Build and circulate our ch'i,
  • Direct our ch'i, or intrinsic vital energy, according to our will.

In The Middle Pillar, Regardie makes two very useful points supporting the above. First, he identifies the importance of clearing out the tensions (both physical and psychic) that would inhibit our free flow and use of personal vital energy. On p. 86 of The Middle Pillar, he states,

"... unless some method is devised for distributing [the awakened energy] and thus relieving the pressure, the center itself will in the course of time suffere derangement through over-stimulus, and there is bound to ensue some serious disturbance to the nervous and psychic system.

Freud, Jung, Reich, and others have all identified the association between emotional or "psychic" tension and tension in our bodies. Ida P. Rolf, founder of Structural Integration (Rolfing-TM)noted the same.

One of the clear goals of hatha yoga is to prepare our bodies for increased energy flow, and one means of doing this is to open up the various tight spots where we tend to store "stuck" psychic or emotional residue, along with physical tension and pain. Eckhart Tolle further describes the existence of our pain-bodies, in The New Earth. (While Tolle does not associate pain-body with our tendency to store aspects of it in our physical bodies, this is well-known to both practitioners of hands-on healing methods as well as practitioners of body arts, such as T'ai Chi Ch'uan.)

Regardie's second useful point has to do with circulating this vital energy, or ch'i. He quotes from the revered Chinese manual, The Secret of the Golden Flower (p. 88):

Therefore you only have to make the Light circulate; that is the deepest and most wonderful secret.

All this is to set a background for discussion.

The Middle Pillar brings energy down from higher consciousness. When a person is able to do this, he or she can then circulate the energy.

An alternative means of accessing personal energy - not necessarily igniting the various centers, but certainly a good way to bring in energy - is to use the Taoist method of the Microcosmic Orbit. This leads to the same kind of energy circulation as is described in Middle Pillar instructions as "Circulating the Body of Light."

After being reminded, by both D.M. Kraig and Frater A.I.T. (through their blogposts) of the importance of energy circulation, I added various energy-development and circulation exercises back to my daily routine. In particular, I began with the Chinese Silk-Weaving Exercises, which I initially learned many years ago from a book by Michael Minick (now sadly out of print).

In future posts, I'll describe some of the results of my practice. For the moment, let me add my encouragement to both D.M. Kraig and Frater A.I.T. with regard to energy practice. However, allow me to specifically recommend yoga together with basic T'ai Chi and Chi Kung. If you can find good YouTube vids on the Silk-Weaving exercises, please share. (I may have to make and post my own.) These practices, being more physically-based, will have a greater likelihood of energizing our physical bodies and clearing out stress points. Then, it should be easier to do the more cognitively-based exercises, such as the Middle Pillar.

Best wishes to all.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Flu-Colds - an Excellent Tiime for Pain-Body Checkout!

Woke up early this AM with the flu-cold that had developed overnight in full control; all sorts of achy-painy things, it hurt just to move. And of course, in this kind of state, my energy is really way down.

So I lay there, not feeling as though I could get up, and not feeling as though I even particularly wanted to, and of course, all this pain-body stuff starts working its way through my head. (Pain-body, b/t/w, is a term coined by Eckhart Tolle, he describes it in his book, A New Earth, and I reference it - a fair bit - in Unveiling.)

So the best way to handle our pain-body stuff is to just love it, embrace it, accept it. And when we are really low-energy, we can't resist, we can't fight it, and it's hard even to get ourselves distracted. So I'm looking at this cold/flu, this whatever, as a really good pain-body processing time. And, oh yes, indexing.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Photo Shoot Yesterday - What Fun! (And Lessons Learned)

I'm not saying it was impromptu - it was definately planned - but this was my first invitation to a photo shoot that I didn't set up and arrange. Karen W., marketing guru and genius, arranged with her dear friend Janice, of AutumnCat Studios, to do a shoot at our place.

Janice and her husband Jerry show up, full equipment; lights, reflectors, heavy-duty camera. We ID a great place in the house, they hang huge backdrop, we get fabulous natural light. Shoot commences. Karen and I alternate; mostly "professional" for her, and a different form of "professional" (dance costume) for me.

Three lessons learned:
1) Per Janice, lighting is everything. Most of her needing a photographer's assistant (aka husband Jerry as "Set Monkey") is that she needed someone to adjust background lighting precisely, and to hold the reflector precisely. Test shots are more about lighting than pose. I'm getting it. Photography is not so much about the camera, it's about the lighting. First lesson of the day: Understanding and working with photographers' lighting is why it's important to work with someone who's good. Thank you, Janice! Can't wait to see the proofs!

2) Costumes. Omigod, costumes. After two years of writing, all my costume stuff is in disarray. I barely pulled together two costumes for the shoot; much to do with cries of anguish as safety-pins exploded. Second lesson for the day: Get costumes altered & adjusted for fit, tested, organized, and "preopositioned." That means, everything that needs to come together for a specific costume "look" has to be stored together; not in separate places all over the house. One costume needs one dedicated set of jewelry & accessories, not to be shared with other costumes, unless I'm taking them out to play with creating different "looks." (This is not to be done fifteen minutes before the shoot, but rather on a calm at-home Saturday.)

3) False eyelashes are an enormous hassle and take huge amounts of time. But for shoots, they're worth it! Third lesson: Allow extra time for false eyelashes (or "falsies" of any sort), and more time thereafter to remove them, clean them, and store them. And more time to recover from the trauma of adrenaline from any kind of mini-performance (photo shoots count), making costume fixes, and putting on and putting-up-with weird things glued to the eyelash line. So the real third lesson is: Allow extra time for everything.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spring Quarter - Season of Air - Spins, Turns, Movement Across the Floor

Dear Ones -

I need your help.

Can you recommend good YouTube links and even DVDs for dancers who make good use of space in their dances?

If you would, please send me your suggestions, to alaynya (at) alaynya (dot) com. Also, I'll post your name (if you'll allow me to) as the person who recommended a link; and if you have a website, I'll post that also. So please give me the name that you'd like used when I post the link and reference you, and give me your website, and whatever title you have ("Professional Dancer," "Artistic Director of Troupe Whatever," "Dance Teacher," etc.)

Thank you, and I'm looking forward to getting your inputs!

The starter-webpage for the Spring Quarter is up, please visit at Spring Quarter Studies. Not done yet, but a "working draft."

I've got a starter set of "recommended resources" in terms of music and DVDs, and even books (for the academic part of the study). But I don't have a good set of YouTube links on the various themes for Spring.

The first theme I'd like to get going is that of "using space" intelligently in our choreographies. Do you have any favorite YouTubes of dancers whose choreographies make good use of the space in which they dance?

By this, I mean: Do they have a good opening sequence in which they define and claim the space? Do they have a variety of movements-in-space, such as big circles, diagonals, etc? Do they intelligently use the depth of the space, so that when they come forward, it has an emotional meaning, and when they withdraw, it also means something?

I'm interested in a variety, ranging from good artistry and technique, to good conceptualization, to good emotional understanding of how their movement in the space of the stage communicates to the audience.

I'm also interested in posting links to YouTubes that show different sizes of stage environments; from small and intimate to large, and even the open-air types of spaces.

Alay'nya with veil - photo courtesy E.J. O'Reilly

Spring, in our Judeo-Christian heritage, is the Season of Air. (Think, "the March winds.") It corresponds to the Suite of Swords, where swords represent our intellect and ego. And of course, being the Season of Air, it's time for us to move forward.

During winter, we practiced grounding. Over these next three weeks, as we transition to spring, we'll introduce movement patterns that help us "transition" between stationary dance techniques and those that take us across the floor. We'll also work with our veils; learning veil drapes, framing ourselves, and how to "unveil" ourselves as we move into a light and airy veil dance.

yours in dance - Alay'nya

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Princess Training"

"Princess Training" - It's Not All Tinsel and Tiaras

Who among us hasn't fantasized about being a Princess? Why else would our favorite fairy tales, from Snow White to Cinderella, hold our interest? Why else would some of our favorite movies be the Princess Diaries, not to mention our classic favorite; Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Over the past few decades, Princess Diana held our imagination, as she became our social and fashion idol. Her sad personal history invoked both our sympathy and our fascination.

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck appeared in the 1953 movie, Roman Holiday.

This spring, we'll all become fascinated with the royal nuptials of Kate Middleton and Prince William. We'll have our royal wedding fantasies all over again - for the first time in decades! And won't we all wonder - and perhaps wish for - what it would be like to really be a Princess?

Well, the truth is - we might - each of us, individually - start becoming Princesses.

Think about it. What does being a Princess really mean?

It means inherent nobility, doesn't it? It means that a woman is sufficiently evolved so that others accord her the respect and the honor that acknowledges her as being of a different "quality" than most ("common") folk.

We can take this two different ways. Some of our Princess ideas involve someone who is so refined, so delicate, so sensitive, that her sleep is disturbed if there is so much as a pea hidden under layers of mattresses. That's one fairy tale.

But a more true-to-life fairy tale (yes, still a fairy tale, but one with a richer meaning) is the story of The Little Princess; about a girl who called on her inner Princess in order to get through times of hardship; of privation, of loss, and of both abuse and ridicule. She called upon and trained her inner Princess - and she was rewarded by having others ultimately honor and acknowledge her.

In A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgeson Burnett, Sara must cultivate her inner Princess in order to survive the harsh treatment when she is orphaned and left in a girls' school. Her fortunes finally change, but only after she has had to call upon every ounce of strength, courage, and compassion that she can muster. A wonderful read, especially when we're feeling lonely and sorry for ourselves!

Being a Princess is something that we develop from the inside, not something that we inherit.

Think about it. Being a Princess is not easy. Princesses are called "Your Serene Highness." There has to be a reason for this. As we cultivate our inner Princess, one of our first steps must be to develop our serenity.

In my forthcoming book, Unveiling, I write a lot about archetypes, and about cultivating a body/mind/psyche/energy integration pathway. Surprisingly, we do have a template for this integration pathway. The modern Tarot deck is drawn from the ancient Qabalah; the Judaic studies of how we can transition between states of consciousness, depicted as the "Tree of Life."

The Tarot devolved; the Minor Arcana became the playing cards that we use today in card games. Originally, though, these cards meant something. In fact, the various suites meant something.

The Suite of Spades used to be the Suite of Swords, and referred to the Element of Air. This is the suite that we associate with spring. So, starting in just three weeks, we begin our study of the Element of Air. In dance, this translates to spins, turns, movement across the floor, creating patterns in space with our veils, etc.

The different face cards meant something as well. The idea of "Pages, Knights, Queens, and Kings" refers to levels of study and mastery. The "Pages" face cards can also be interpreted as the Princesses. Think of the face cards - for our purposes - as being "Princesses, Warrior Princesses, Queens, and Kings." Each is a level of mastery.

So we start our year with the transition from winter to spring; almost every old culture has its New Year beginning sometime between Imholc (Feb. 2nd) and the Vernal Equinox. (The Druids started their New Year at Imholc, the Chinese start sometime in February, between Imholc and the Vernal Equinox. The Persian New Year, Nowruz, starts on the first day of spring.)

Often, new students enter our Studio around this time of year. They're ready to shake off the winter doldrums and start moving their bodies!

What we will include in our curriculum this year, for the first time (in approximately 2,000 years) will be "Princess training."

Each of you enters as a Princess-in-Training. Your first year - whether you are physically part of our Studio, or studying with us from a distance - involves learning how to "be a Princess."

A lot more interesting, and a bit more complex, than one might think.

For more details, I'll shortly post a starting page on the Alay'nya website. Feel free to follow along with us, and you can post your comments and reflections, as you apply the "training" to your life, here on this blog!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Getting back to daily practice with "Master Teachers"

Dear Ones -

We started our new round of classes this last Sunday (and will blog about that soon), following an absolutely delightful little Open House the previous Sunday (and will blog about that soon, also!).

I made a little "covenant" or pact with new intermediate student S., who has a great background in dance; strong set of basic techniques. And like many of us, she's ready to find her "true self" in dance. She's ready to open up her realm of technique, of choreography, of self-expression ... but I get ahead of myself.

One of her dance "idols" is Suhaila Salimpour. I agree, Suhaila is one of the "great ones." In fact, I took my VERY FIRST belly dance workshop with her, many years ago. She was eighteen at the time, and she taught the workshop in Philadelphia. It was such an adventure to go to my very first workshop! (She did a great job, by the way.)

So both S. and I would benefit by having practice sessions throughout the week, and I suggested that we each get one of Suhaila's DVDs and work out with it. (Suhaila has lots of DVDs out, and there are at least a few with the Fairfax Public Library.)

Yesterday, to make good on my promise - before I got so distracted with other things that it slipped off my list - I pulled Suhaila's Yoga Fusion DVD from my shelves, and fired it up in the very early morning hours. (What better way to get an official government "holiday" started than with a good workout?)

This really is a good workout; about 40 minutes. And it really is NOT for Beginners! The people who will benefit the most from this DVD will already have some dance training, and are in reasonably good shape, and who want to improve not only their flexibilty, but the smoothness, the "liquidity," of their undulations - and get better control over their core muscles.

What I particularly like about working with this DVD is how Suhaila takes us into undulations (both "normal" and "reverse") starting with the yoga cat/cow alternation. A great way to improve our sense of how the undulations come about naturally and organically in our bodies!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Opening Our Hearts - Sunday February 12th Open House

Opening Our Hearts - With Movements from Oriental Dance

Dear One -

It's been a long winter. We've shoveled snow, we've huddled against the cold. We've spent our days and evenings at the computer desk, hunching over the keyboard.

Now, warmer weather beacons. (We're going to have a warm day this Sunday!) We're getting ready to get out and play.

Before we even think about things like "getting in shape," we have something to do first: Restore our body's natural alignment.

Loosen up a little.


Literally, this Valentine's Day (right on the heels of Imholc, the Druidic New Year, and also the Chinese New Year), it's time to open our hearts. Release all the tense and tight muscles in our diaphagms and our spines.

Earlier, I was going to use this first big Open House as a time for loosening up our pelvis. A lot of Shakira-shaking. (Think "Hips Don't Lie.") A lot of shimmy.

Well, that will have to wait for another month.

Right now, it's all about heart. And ribcage, and spine (especially right in our midback, where we carry some tension). And our diaphragms - which have gotten very tight and compressed over this winter.

So this Sunday, we'll do a whole lot of stretching and limbering up - and a lot of opening our heart - with movements taken directly from Oriental dance.

See you Sunday - 11AM! (Email me at alaynya (at) alaynya (dot) com if you need directions.)

yours in dance - Alay'nya

P.S. - One of my dear friends, Kathy Carroll, sent me a book - "I Come As a Brother," by Bartholomew. He talks about "opening our heart" as "radiant pink" energy field. What a lovely read!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Free Belly Dance Open House Sunday, Feb 13th, 11AM - 1:30 PM

Free Open House at Alay'nya Studio Sunday, Feburary 13

Featuring Special Invited Guest, Anna Gordon, who will coach us on self-massage and (seated) partner massage, from 11-11:30 AM. (Come early! Doors open at 10:45AM. RSVP with Alay'nya at alaynya (at) alaynya (dot) com - in case of inclement weather.

Munchies, hot drinks.

Mini-class from 12:15-1:15PM.

See you there!

love - Alay'nya

New "Letter to My God(dess) Daughters" - Imholc (Feb 2nd)

Darlings - read the latest celebrating our pivoting towards light, life, and movement at Letter to My God(dess) Daughters - Imholc (Feb 2nd).