Friday night was another 5Rhythms class, this one just 2 hours of a traditional Wave. I was thrilled that my friend Amanda offered to take the class with me; she took a few classes back in 2010 and then fell off the bandwagon, but she is a fantastic mover, so it was great to have her back! The class drew in several new people, plus Michelle, a woman I connected with at Biodanza last year and who I have been longing to dance with again. She is one of those people who can just look at you and you feel overwhelmed with joy.

Here are some random notes from the evening:

The Watchful Hands

It is typical for the instructor to begin a Flowing exercise by telling us to dance with our hands. Before we introduce the arms, shoulders, spine, hips, and legs into the dance, we move only our hands, become fully immersed in the subtleties of the wrists and fingers. However, this time the instructor told us to imagine eyes on the palms of our hands. When we move our hands, what are they seeing?

What I saw was a sliver of everyone else’s dancing, and when we were fully given permission to dance with our entire body, I found myself tuning into my classmates’ movements, noticing a particular move they were doing, and completing a variation of that movement. Call it “copying,” but I saw it more of a form of connection with every.body there in that studio.

‘To Me’ vs. ‘For Me

To kick off Chaos, the instructor, as he has done in the past, had us join hands and form a circle, our arms shaking wildly as one form, our bodies being pulled one way and then another. Was it irritating that we were being pulled in several different directions at once or was it guidance for us to give into the moment? Is this chaos happening to you or for you?, we pondered after class. What if we shifted our perspective so that the chaos we face in daily living is happening “for me,” rather than the victimized “to me”? Is it possible to see the world that way?

This snowstorm is happening ‘for me’??

Amanda the Kite

At one point, when the majority of the class was either vibrating in place or making small steps around themselves, Amanda flew across the studio floor as though she had wings on her ankles, a Porsche speeding down a suburban street when everyone else was going cautiously at 25 mph. Her body was a kite whipping wildly on a windy day; her movement spoke joy, and it was at that point I remembered the instructor’s comment about seeing someone else’s movement and really, really liking it, so much that you want to try it out. So for that moment, Amanda inspired me to be a kite.


Chaos forced me to strip off my sweatshirt, and all I had on underneath was a black sports bra. Normally I really don’t like to remain “shirtless”; when not caught up in the ecstasy of dancing, having my midriff exposed makes me feel all kinds of vulnerable. Not that I have a beer gut hanging out from my yoga pants or anything, but the stomach is just a weird body part that shifts in appearance with every forward fold, backbend, side stretch, and jump. Every time I disrobe down to the sports bra, I’m reminded of the Seinfeld episode when Jerry’s girlfriend walks around the apartment naked and how he’s repulsed at seeing her clothes-less body cough, sneeze, and shake.

I had that nervous feeling for about 3 seconds after peeling off the shirt, but then I was back in the throes of Chaos, moving around every which way, the thoughts of a prana-filled, sweat-covered belly taken over by a deep appreciation of my entire being, the way it was whirling, curling, shaking, and gyrating. My hair, which I normally go great lengths to ensure is pinned back and held neatly in place, was a hot mess. Half of it had fallen out of the rubberband, a few ends were plastered in my armpit, and whatever was left was stuck in the corners of my mouth or covering my eyes. It is in those moments of naked sweaty stomachs and fly-away Medusa hair where my freedom is found.

Michelle’s Plateau Pick-Me-Up

After the pure wildness and rawness of Chaos, the Lyrical that followed was difficult for me to maintain. I was sweaty, exhausted, and had reached a plateau. My Lyrical began to feel flat, and just as I was reluctantly shifting into the dreaded “forced” movement, Michelle shimmied up to me and did a little shake-shake-shake here, shake-shake-shake there, the twinkle in her eye and smile on her lips infusing me with a new spark of energy, like I was a Super Mario Brother coming across a 1-Up mushroom. I didn’t need a new song, a caffeine shot, or a rest break to come back to life; all it took was a little exchange of energy, and I was granted a new reserve of breath and enjoyment.

Some Sweat and Sweetness

I was paired with the studio owner during the shift from Lyrical into Stillness. We clasped hands and engaged in a lovely pas de deux, our breath slowing and our movements growing softer and softer. Had I not been just utterly sweaty at that point, I would have given myself more fully, but I was afraid of pressing my glistening back all over her delicate blouse. It was still a sweet moment.