At the conclusion of a recent 5Rhythms class, one of my fellow dancers shared with the group that she loves class because “I feel safe to be a child again.”

I understood what she was saying—5Rhythms is a space to be playful, uninhibited, curious, and spontaneous—but I was feeling something much different that night.

5Rhythms doesn’t make me feel like a child. It makes me feel like a woman.

The week leading up to class, I had been privately mulling over at what point in her life a female comfortably begins referring to herself as a “woman” (particularly a female who has not yet carried a child or given birth, which I imagine would be the tipping point for being comfortable calling oneself a woman). For instance, if I am writing up a blog bio, I struggle over what noun to use after “Jennifer is a 31-year-old ____.” Girl? Gal? Chica? Saying “woman” feels so…adult. So mature.

Most of the time, I do not feel like a “woman.” I am obsessing over big airplanes, spilling cereal and yogurt all over my cubicle, laughing about butt jokes, and dreaming about Disney World.

But during 5Rhythms…that is when I feel like a woman. Certain music, certain movers will extract that essence out of me, and I feel wise, vibrant, strong, feminine, proud, daring. There is a head-to-toe, bone-to-muscle-to-blood connection with myself, and I feel so whole, so womanly, so pure.

So Pure, just like Alanis Morissette in her music video of the same name. I have fun, I let loose, I sweat and open up and become the dancer that has always lived inside of me.

I am still replaying in my mind the moment during Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” when I was dancing on my own, my arms rising above my head to the lyrics “In the arms of an angel….,” and suddenly from behind me, another’s arms linked through mine, now intertwined like angel’s wings. My feet were solidly planted on the floor, but I felt miles above the earth. We remained paired together in the final stretch of Stillness, a wordless song that was eloquent, fierce, passionate, sad, and intense all wrapped into one. I gave myself fully into the movement in a way that no “girl” could do; this was the dance of a woman.

During the sharing circle after class, I began to blush as others in the group commented about being fascinated with our movement, how they loved watching the two of us dance together. Some even thought we were part of a modern dance troupe! One woman had very nice words to say about how watching us was like watching two spirits completely connected with each other.

It was all so overwhelming to take in (I have always had a hard time being complimented on my natural talents) but also so so so so very much appreciated. I had not felt this way since 2006, when during my Kripalu yoga teacher training Megha and I danced our separate solos together at the back of Shadowbrook Hall as Linda Worster performed at the front. That night, a few of my classmates kept showering me with compliments about how beautiful I was to watch.

Despite the words making me smile and squirm at the same time, the compliments from both my YTT and 5Rhythms classmates were a touching reminder that I am still a dancer, despite not practicing in a studio or wearing pointe shoes.

Likewise, even though I don’t necessarily feel “grown up,” dancing has certainly given me comfort in my femininity and allowed me to move beyond the boundaries of girlhood.

Thank you 5Rhythms, for making me feel like a woman.