I grew up dancing. I loved to express myself in movement. I would dance around my bedroom for hours on end to my favourite songs. Dance was processing emotions to feel free. My love to dance took me on the performing arts cycle and ballet lessons, modern, tap, acting and then singing. But acting and singing were not the joy that moving brought me.
The Arts Educational School in Tring was a quality performing arts school and I was proud to be accepted. I knew I was nothing special as a performer, but very quickly a hip-hamstring injury had me on reduced dancing and I was never going to improve! Rapidly I fell out of love with dancing in this environment. I lost my love for dance when asked to improve my technique towards an external aesthetic I did not care to conform to. I moved away from dancing for a couple of years and worked backstage in Bristol theatres.
When I re-found my love for dance it became lost again at the time I decided to study it more seriously. What was it that meant my passion to process through movement was lost when put into a structure?
Stumbling into Teaching
At 19 years old in Surrey an opportunity to teach children arose. I had a plan for a simple kids pop dance routine, but the kids were not interested. All kids had a learning difficulty of some form that challenged my idea of a traditional dance class format. Quickly, I realised that I had to abandon all plans and explore their natural expression. Over the years, I developed a skill for working with learning difficulties to help children process through movement. There was little support, training or background at this time to support what I was doing. I felt lost, unconfident and lacked direction. Although I saw amazing things happen to the children I worked with, I knew it was all their own work and I was merely a witness on the sidelines.
Severe depression ensued, financial woes and a destroyed car - time to refocus. I decided to become a lawyer (thanks to a tarot reader's tip!). Throughout my legal career I kept my Pilates practice, yoga joined my routine and lots of exercise forms to de-stress. All were high energy forms of these movement styles to help me 'burn off' my daily stress. But I always planned on an early retirement to become a Pilates teacher with a retreat centre in Hawaii.
Pilates and yoga were always about awareness of what I did with my body. Physical alignment and synchronicity of breath. I knew my breathing affected my low blood pressure in movement, so longer exhales supported me. I had a pragmatic mind-body awareness and relationship. When I had panic attacks I was sufficiently aware to know what was happening and the steps to take - pragmatic awareness of emotions too.
Through meditation practice and a long period of inactivity due to my head injury a new awareness developed. As I moved again I used it to process my emotions throughout my recovery. The movements were slow, considered, deeply aware of the energetic changes beyond my physical and mental states. I became more gentle, softer and more spacious within my body and mind. A new level of communication took place within me as I began to understand the subtlety of energy moving around and within me.
Some days this can simply be the movement of my breath. To feel the energy move when I have felt stagnant, yet other times I need to move to feel invigorated. By watching my breath quality and ease across my shoulders I have check-ins. My neck strains when it is not a strength day, my breathing is shallow when I am stressed, my pelvis aches when I need to stand on my feet. Messages I learnt to understand from my body about my energy, emotions and mental health. A new conscious awareness beyond the pragmatism and physical self-care. Movement can be grounding, connect you to the Earth, mind clearing and energetically healing, even spiritual - it depends how deep you want to communicate with yourself.
These check-ins can happen anytime, anywhere.
- Bring the attention to the body part making the most 'noise'.
- Observe and feel the sensations as they shift and change - like watching a movie.
- Notice your breath and how it feels in relation to the body part.
- Slowly, and I mean - S L O W L Y - begin to gently move that body part in synch with the breath.
- Explore an exhale or inhale and it's effect on the sensations.
- Feel a sense of space around the sensations as you move.
- Keep the space steady throughout the movements. Use the breath to breathe into & through the body part sensations.
- Notice if breathing through the body part creates more space.
- Chill out! It takes time and practice.
Explore your body like it is a playground of experiential discoveries. Love your body as your home for your life. Value it as your protector & safeguard for this lifetime. Enjoy the physical form and sensations it brings you.