Search This Blog


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yippee! The Kindle Version of "Unveilng: The Inner Journey" - Available Tonight!

Kindle Version of Unveiling: The Inner Journey - Available Through Amazon

Tonight, darlings!

At long last, tonight!

If you've not bought your own Unveiling for yourself just yet - for any reason - now's your chance. As of this evening (Wednesday, April 25, 2012) you should be able to order the Kindle e-reader version.

  • Download to your e-reader, or
  • Download to your your computer, if you don't yet have an e-reader.

Want even better news?

I've signed up for a special program, "KDP Select." This functions as a free lending library. Meaning, if you own a Kindle device, and are a "Kindle Prime member," then if you download Unveiling (during the next 90 days only),
you can share it for free with friends, family, fellow dancers, etc. What a fabulous opportunity!

Let me know if you're doing this - it will be so much fun to hear from you! Post your comments directly to this blogsite, or email me at: alaynya (at) alaynya (dot) com.

Releasing Neck Tension (and Minimizing the Dreaded "Dowager's Hump")

Looking Younger - by Releasing Neck Tension

One of my dear friends exercises regularly. I see her often getting up in the morning, putting together a blender-full of a healthy protein and fruit smoothie, and heading out to the gym before she goes to work each day. She's resumed her "healthy lifestyle," and she's getting fitter and trimmer. Nevertheless, I keep seeing a persistent hunch-over in her shoulders and neck. It's the dreaded "dowager's hump" - and it has nothing to do with exercise!

Most of us have desk jobs. Between sitting at our desks, sitting in the car (with our shoulders brought forward as we grasp the wheel), and then sitting at home in the evenings, we are all too often in a posture that tightens our neck and hunches our shoulders forward. Even in our "leisure moments," we're reinforcing this posture. (Feel the posture that you're in while watching TV, doing texts and emails, and other digitally-based activities.)

One of the most notable signs of aging is our posture. Actually, it's a combination of posture and muscular/joint stiffness. "Limberness" is a sign of youth. Being hunched over, with a tight, drawn in neck, with rounded shoulders is a sign of both stress and aging. And when we get "fixated" in this kind of posture, we start looking like a turtle - one that is very reluctantly sticking its head out of its shell! That's the "dowager's hump" stage.

Surprisingly, not many fitness coaches and anti-aging gurus focus on this. But a tight neck, and tight shoulders, are not only absolute give-aways about aging, they also feel awful! It's hard to feel vigorous, lighthearted, and happy when our posture says that we're hunching over to avoide the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune"!

Perhaps even more surprisingly, the key to unlocking neck and shoulder tension (and releasing a "dowager's hump") starts not at our neck, but in our hips, pelvis, and lower back. As we release these areas, we begin to "mobilize" our spine. Once we do that, we can start releasing tension up and down our spines - reaching up into our neck. This is how we create a youthful, vibrant body!

I've just come back from a week at a client site. There were task-filled days, often be-bopping from one place to another, with the "to-do list" always on my mind. While I could do some stretch-outs, some yoga, and some walking while at my client's, it just wasn't ideal for my early-morning "sun salutation" yoga workout. And now, returning to home base, in the midst of unpacking and taking care of everyone's physical (and emotional) needs, I'm noticing a tight neck. And also, a tight back, and a very tight lower back and hip area. The secret? A combination of yoga and "belly dance basics" - a series of stretching and releasing exercises that are actually best done in bed, or on a soft and yielding surface. I've been combining that with deliberate breathing, opening up my diaphragms. And without even getting to my neck area, I'm already getting some release.

Our yoga practice doesn't have to be fancy, and we don't need to do lots of advanced poses. But just getting some "downward dog" and "sun salutations" in helps tremendously to release tension in our hips, lower back, and sacral area. And all of this is necessary before any form of dance can begin.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book of the Month (April, 2012) - "Simply Irresistible" by Ellen T. White

Simply Irresistible: Unleash Your Inner Siren by Ellen T. White

"Simply Irresistible" by Ellen T. White is a delightful and lively little book; a perfect read for a summer vacation, a weekend at home during a snowstorm, or for a book club (with just the "right" other readers!).

Of various other books that are similar, and which I know and love (e.g., "Seductress," by Betsy Prioleau, and "Mama Gena's School of the Womanly Arts" by Regena Thomaschauer), this one offers the special advantage of psychological insights, deftly drawn character studies (we always learn the most by studying examples), and a light, breezy style that makes this a perfect stress-antidote.

Ms. White organizes the book into two different Parts. Part One describes the various "types" of seductresses who snag their men. Part Two teaches the useful "skills and methods." Both of these approaches are useful, and I'm delighted that she included both - each well-supported with juicy little examples and historical vignettes.

What I found particularly surprising and delightful is that Ms. White's organization of "Inner Siren types" corresponds so closely with the known "feminine archetypes." Ms. White came up with the her different "Siren types" on her own; she was not following anyone's particular organization or structure. However, through her own observation, intuition, and insight, she came up with "types" that actually map onto well-known feminine archetypes. These were first put forth by Antonia Wolff (a student and client, and later the lover of the renowned Swiss psychologist Carl Jung), and later interpreted by Dr. Toni Grant in her popular 1980's book, "Being a Woman."

Ms. White independently intuited these different "Inner Siren" distinctions. She didn't come by these through formal study, but rather through careful observation, reflection, and logical thinking. I am thrilled that the distinctions that she's made match so beautifully to the "core archetypes" first posited by Wolff and popularized by Grant, and (as of summer, 2011) introduced more completely as aspects of the "six core power archetypes" in my own book, "Unveiling: The Inner Journey."

The "Siren Types" introduced by White are:
  • The "Sex Kitten" - most easily understood as an archetypal role. Marilyn Monroe is the penultimate "Sex Kitten." This is the Hathor archetype in one version; specialized as a sexual playmate. By the time that the "Sex Kitten" has fully evolved her persona, she is less who she really is, and more a projection of what she believes that a man wants her to be. As a result, she is often confused and unhappy - but she has exceptional allure with men!
  • The "Companion" - a much more evolved version of the "Sex Kitten." She's intelligent and witty, and builds great relationships. (These often help the men in her life.) Ms. White cites the famous Lady Randolph Churchill as a "Companion Siren." Another good instance would be Veronica Franco, a sixteenth-century Italian courtesan who was also a woman of letters. Together, these two "Siren Types" ("Sex Kitten" and "Companion") combine to create our Hathor archetype; Hathor is the Egyptian goddess of beauty, love, sensual pleasure in all its forms (including wine, perfume, song, and dance), and - of course - sexual pleasure!
  • The "Competitor" - a true Amazon. The "Competitor Siren" is exciting because she inhabits a man's world as an equal, and often dares him to "master" her in terms of achieving challenging feats. Ms. White cites Beryl Markham as a "Competitor Siren." Other famous Competitors - this time from our movie genre - include the redoubtable Mrs. Emma Peel from "The Avengers," and the Lara Croft character in the "Tomb Raider" movie and video game.
  • The "Mother" - a caretaking role. The "Mother" corresponds to the classic Empress (or Isis, Egyptian mother-goddess) archetype. She is most concerned with providing nurturance. Ms. White offers Wallis, Duchess of Windsor as an example. Another famous "Mother" siren is Pamela Harriman.
  • The "Goddess" - a much more remote and unreachable archetype. Ms. White offers Evita Peron as an example. While true "Goddess" instances are rare, many of us find ourselves drawn to the High Priestess archetype - which is centered on her own inner wisdom and knowing. Being centered in herself, and not in a man, makes this type alluring; there is always the "thrill of the chase" when seeking attention from a Goddess/High Priestess!
Great minds think alike. I love Ms. White's examples, and Part Two of her book offers many more, along with useful tips and hints. Her book is one that I will cheerfully recommend to students and friends alike, and reread myself, just to brush up on pointers!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

"Sound Barriers" and Personal Breakthroughs

Pushing Through the "Sonic Wall" - Not Easy, But Doable (with Patience, Persistence, Fortitude, and Time)

Have you ever broken through the sound barrier? I haven't; not in an aircraft at least. But in personal life, in terms of processing - working through "stuff" - I certainly have.

Picture of a U.S. Navy F/A-18 breaking the sound barrier. The white halo formed by condensed water droplets is thought to result from a drop in air pressure around the aircraft at transonic speeds, from Wikipedia Commmons entry on Sound Barrier

The Sanskrit term for penetrating the personal "sound barrier" - taken into the personal realm - is kriya. These kriyas are not only known, but usual and expected.

As a yoga students starts "processing" - both by doing physical yoga poses and the meditations - they start to have their "stuff" come out. This can be physical; jerks and spasms while doing yoga postures. It can also be emotional; huge "waves" of feeling come over and through a person during these times.

I first learned the term kriya from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way:

As we notice which friends bore us, which situations leave us stifled, we are often rocked by waves of sorrow. We may want our illusions back! ... And thanks to the morning pages we learn what we want and ultimately become willing to make the changes needed to get it. But not without a tantrum. And not without a kriya, a Sanskrit word meaning a spiritual emergency or surrender. (I always think of kriyas as spiritual seizures. Perhaps they should be spelled crias becasue they are cries of the soul as it is wrung through changes.)

We all know what a kriya looks like: it is the bad case of the flu right after you've broken up with your lover. It's the rotten head cold and bronchial cough that announces you've abused your health to meet an unreachable work deadline. That asthma attack out of nowhere when you've just done a round of caretaking your alcoholic sibling? That's a kriya, too.

Always significant, frequently psychosomatic, kriyas are the final insult our psyche adds to our injuries. "Get it"? a kriya asks you.

[The Artist's Way, pp. 81-82]

The term kriya, though, actually means so much more. Translated from the Sanskrit, kriya really means a "completed action." There is, in fact, a whole yoga practice built around kriyas; it entails the physical postures (asanas), energy work, specialized breathing (pranayama) and visualization. In short, kriya yoga is exactly what we are doing in dance form. (Look for more about kriya yoga over these next few years, as I learn more and infuse what I learn into what we are doing.)

Whether yoga or dance, this is all a part of our pathworking. And the important thing about a kriya being a "completed action"? It means that a person has broken through a personal "sound barrier." They've managed to get to the other side of a huge wall of personal resistance.

Not without cries and tumult. Not without tears in the night. Not without wondering if we're just crazy, or if our lives have been a total loss.

The early attempts to penetrate the "physical" sound barrier all met with resounding failure. The planes simply bucked and shuddered, and couldn't get through. It took many passes, many redesigns, and many different efforts over many years, before the first breakthroughs occurred.

Are you going through a kriya? (I was, over the last two months.) If so, the following from the Wikipedia entry on the sound barrier may interest you:

On page 13 of the "Me 262 A-1 Pilot's Handbook" issued by Headquarters Air Materiel Command, Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio as Report No. F-SU-1111-ND on January 10, 1946:

Speeds of 950 km/h (590 mph) are reported to have been attained in a shallow dive 20° to 30° from the horizontal. No vertical dives were made. At speeds of 950 to 1,000 km/h (590 to 620 mph) the air flow around the aircraft reaches the speed of sound, and it is reported that the control surfaces no longer affect the direction of flight. The results vary with different airplanes: some wing over and dive while others dive gradually. It is also reported that once the speed of sound is exceeded, this condition disappears and normal control is restored.

The comments about restoration of flight control and cessation of buffeting above Mach 1 are very significant in a 1946 document.

In case you didn't get it, let me restate: "... the control surfaces no longer affect the direction of flight."

That means, while we're going through a kriya, our lives go all to hell. Our usual means of "controlling" what goes on - in and around our lives - just don't work anymore. (Sound familiar to anyone? It describes my last two months to a "T.")

The relief is that "once the speed of sound is exceeded, this condition disappears and normal control is restored." In short, once we've passed through the kriya (the crisis, or spiritual emergence), we get some control again.

For those of us going through such crises - now, in the past, or to come - understanding this process and knowing that we regain "normal control" on the other side is most reassuring. Not to mention that we'll have pierced our own personal "sound barrier." We'll be flying in a totally different realm.

Exciting, hmm?