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Five years ago on this day, I have fallen into the Kripalu emotion-suck, and as a result of doing nothing but contemplation and self-inquiry for the past two weeks, I am in the throes of an identity crisis.

When will my energy return? When will I surrender? Do I need to work on [the niyama] isvara pranidhana? I’m tired of struggling and fighting myself. Do I need to surrender to myself, my devotion? Surrender to my inner guru? I’m so tired of clinging. So tired. It’s exhausting me, wearing me out. My fingers, my heart, my head–I’m tired of clinging, grasping. Please just let me let go. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please.

During meditation, we’re told to envision ourselves floating in a bubble on a body of water. I see myself on the Yangtze in the middle of the Three Gorges. What the hell does that mean? I’m a small, tiny bobbing bubble in the middle of two huge canyons, surrounded by looming intimidation. So small. That’s what I chose. Crap. My heart literally hurts. My jaw. My solar plexus.

***

This day. Has been. Crap. I have been so miserable, so glum, so pathetic. Emotional eating. I cried during my lunch walk. I called [my old workplace], got [former boss] instead of the voicemail and was suddenly sucked back into Real World crapola. That call made me sick.

***

Posture clinic all afternoon–so bloated, so TIRED. Megha and Rudy lead a sun salutation sadhana, and that was tough. Megha leads savasana, her theatrical voice repeating “annamaya kosha, pranamaya kosha…” like it’s a lullaby. I break down during savasana, lots of tears, lots of snot. I can’t even roll out of my fetal position for pranayama. Everyone Oms without me, but it is beautiful. I take it in and sink deeper into gratitude and melancholy. I stay in Shadowbrook, lightly sobbing, until 6:20. I have somehow reverted back to 14-year-old Jennifer.

Five years ago on this day, Vandita leads our morning sadhana and closes class by singing to us as we lie in savasana, our own little yoga nidra lullaby. In my blanket womb, I feel comforted, tender, safe, and warm. Tears. Emotion.

There are snowflakes falling at 6:30 a.m., a day after sun and 60-something-degree warmth, snow falling one day after I sat outside on the lawn in nothing but a light jacket. Like snowflakes, we are all unique, all different shapes and sizes and density, all falling at different speed and rates, all landing in our own spot. But together, we are one. One snowflake is beautiful itself when it lands on your glove, but together the snowflakes create a gorgeous landscape of snow, drifts, men, forts, and white mountain caps. Is this why I keep seeing people’s faces here? Why, during savasana, every time I close my eyes I see flashes of my classmates’ faces, like they are posing for passport photos or a driver’s license. A, E, D. Everyone. A blink, a face. Even people I didn’t think I cared about, people toward whom I may have harbored ill feelings. We are One. I don’t need to worry about “losing” these people once I leave because they are already inside of me. They are me, I am them. Is it that simple? Can I really break free of feeling like I’m going to lose everyone here by embracing everyone, knowing we are One?

***

After class, as I get my breakfast, I see G, the woman from yesterday’s gentle class whom I assisted first. She smiles and says hello. She grounds me. I feel good. Connected. Vandita’s class has centered me, brought me back home. The funny thing is that she hardly “taught” us–she let us teach ourselves! I did my own thing and emerged from my lullaby womb feeling refreshed, as if I’d been given a beautiful, profound lesson on life. But really, I just trusted myself. I listened to myself. I sang and danced and was OK with my body, my song. These people at the front of the room–the are our guides. Not idols, not gurus, not people we bow and pray to. They are our guides, helping us find ourselves. Tickling our inner knowledge here and there, opening and inspiring, allowing us to grow. Guides, not gurus. Why worship, when the true light lives within? Bow to the Buddha, not because you worship his feet but because you want to walk in his footsteps and cultivate his inner harmony. You just want peace. Not to crawl on your hands and knees for an unattainable figure, idol, but to stand on your own and help others find their feet as well.

Molly's feet, courtesy of Molly.

***

Briefly, my bubble of security bursts as I was faced with THEFT! My black Kripalu coffee mug that I left on the shelf outside Shadowbrook was gone after I emerged from class. A taste of the real world. 😦

***

During Rudy’s guided meditation, I become still. For a few minutes, I disengage from the pull of everyone else. I feel a draw in my belly, my solar plexus. A heat. A gnawing. I feel my third eye burning along with my stomach. I feel slightly nauseated, wanting to purge–or maybe just needing a hug from a stranger. We meditate after 60 minutes of hip-openers. To see, to watch how such opening postures can clear the mind…. I sit in ardha padmasana. I can feel my posture straightening as my breath continues, micromovements of lifting and extending. It feels like little miniscule flashes of heat and light pulling my torso up, sinking my hips, rolling my shoulders back and down.

I tune in, feeling energy around me. The feeling is heat, warmth–my palms and fingers extend; I want to touch this energy. I hear murmurs, whispers, energetic echoes all around the room, as is everyone’s discarded monkey minds are hovering above, dancing, itching to return into the brain. The warmth is amazing, I feel it envelop my body; my hands again like sponges, soaking up this golden, invisible, warm glow. Rudy chimes as out of meditation, and I am reluctant to let go of the glow. I feel myself grabbing the energy, making fists with my palms, bringing that energy to my solar plexus, my heart, bowing and letting what I captured, what I collected, soak deep into my being. Let me bring energy into my life, not physical beings, not idols, not statues, but their energy, their inspiration–elements that are never gone forever, even when the source has disappeared.

During Roger’s relaxation, I experience a feeling of light pressure on my forehead, from eyebrow to eyebrow, like a washcloth lying on my forehead.

***

I am vibrating today, a ball of unbridled energy. I think yesterday’s and this morning’s expulsions have cleared my channels and freed my room for reception. Between crying my eyes out last night, getting my period, enjoying the effects of bhunaman vajrasana, and peeing out a storm after this morning’s coffee, I feel good. Happy. Open.

This morning and afternoon’s meditations turned my power up, my antenna in the right spot. During Helga’s evening sadhana, I felt like I was vibrating. Like, if [my massage therapist/energy healer] saw me now, our touch together could start a fire. The energy just blasting from my pores, circulating through my nadis like a race car circuit. After many yoga mudra forward bends, my arms were buoyed by an unseen force, rising like a beach ball was at either side of me. I feel good sitting in meditation. I am actually starting to like meditation. It helps me tune into my deep thoughts, like

NO, I don’t speak with my body, I speak through my body. My soul speaks through my body. How can I make that work for my practice teach? How can I make that work for classes at home? How can I be me and help others in the process?

Five years ago on this day, I woke up on the bottom bunk inside a dormitory made for 20.

I had gone to bed around 11 the night before, after showering. There is a girl in the program, M, who’s a “star newbie” like me. She was so upset and broke down in the bathroom. Another girl, a volunteer at Kripalu, stood there on the tiles, barefoot, comforting M, explaining that this is a safe zone, that it’s OK to cry here. I tried to help M too, but in fact I am also petrified. One month.

Everyone’s personal alarm clocks broke the silence of the early morning, going off at 5:30, 5:32, 5:40. Morning sadhana starts in the pre-dawn dark, with hip openers, spinal twists. So easy and so refreshing. When we emerge from savasana the sun is dawning and filling Shadowbrook with a natural light. We Om three times, and that was exhilarating.

***

Breakfast is eaten in silence, just classical music playing softly, and cling-clang of the silverware and dishes. I eat millet cereal with walnuts, raisins, rice milk. Green tea, fake coffee, brown rice, a hard-boiled egg. No one to chit-chat with; just time to collect my thoughts. I’m not quite at home yet, but they’re making it easy.

***

After eating, I see the outside for the first time since arriving yesterday afternoon. Cold, clear, clouds swirling over the mountains. Falls colors everywhere. I smile.

The second I open that glass door and feel that air on my face, see those clouds, I smile. It’s OK to smile here. Smile, cry, hug…it’s all welcome.

Our first morning session. In my journal, (Author’s Note: after a now-forgotten prompt) I write:

Connection. Guidance. Wholeness. Clarity. Real self. No false self. Clear. Wisdom. Outreach. Compassion. For myself and others. No cobwebs of embarrassment, shame, guilt. Just clear me.

We dance to warm up. We do the Shiva dance, shake our butts. There is noise. Sound. Smiling!

***

Lunch is coconut milk and yam soup, stir fry, brown rice, sesame ginger tofu. So filling, hearty, made with love. I dunk my instant Folgers bag in a cup of hot water.

***

Outside, it is cold. Very cold. The rain that falls feels almost like sleet. But the colors! It’s a painting. The whole mountain to our right is a painting of orange and yellow. It’s so still. The wind makes the canopy above me flap. The little birds gather on the wrought-iron trellis.

Being comfortable is essential, encouraged here. Get a blanket. Or two. Sit on a blanket. Wrap a blanket around you. Wiggle. Squirm. Stretch. Shift your legs. Get up and shake it out.

***

(Author’s note. Intense post-meditation writing follows.) Afternoon sadhana. Each time we chant Om or bow to each other and say Jai Bhagwan, it’s more spiritual, deeper, profound. I am on the edge of bawling right now, the effect of a fiery, vigorous, Stage 3-infused sadhana followed by a lengthy, warm, deep savasana. I lay there with a cushion under my knees, a blanket draped over my entire body, and I felt take care of, like I was in a hospital. This is a hospital. Soul doctors. Doctors of soul.

I envision so many people during meditation, various poses and dances and faces and our entire group moving in and out of postures. I saw this group as One, this tribe they speak of. I didn’t see abilities or personalities, just a massive collection of power, all of us together as One. It was beautiful, a once-scrambled jigsaw puzzle finally complete and together, interlocked. Side by side. No longer individual pieces, just a beautiful creation–a flower, Big Ben, Mickey Mouse, whatever. We were finally One. No pieces missing.

***

Dinner is lentil soup, vegetarian lasagna, butternut squash, green beans, cauliflower, garlic bread. I sit with M and S. We talk about mountains and children’s and senior yoga.

Back in June, as I entered the yoga studio in which my monthly 5Rhythms classes take place, the studio owner–also a yoga teacher–asked how I was doing.

“Well, to tell you the truth,” I said, “I feel uncharacteristically impatient. A bit on edge. Like I have all this unchecked rage bubbling inside of me.” I went on to explain that little things were easily irritating me, from traffic to aisle-blocking supermarket patrons to emo Facebook status updates. By nature these are all annoying things, but the problem was that they stayed with me, and I couldn’t brush them off. I could feel my heart beat faster, my chest tighten, my jaw clench any time I was faced with an obstacle.

The following is a loose transcript of the dialogue that followed:

“I don’t understand,” I said. “I do all the things you’re supposed to do to prevent these kind of feelings. I do yoga. I do 5Rhythms. I start my day with meditation and pranayama.”

“What kind of pranayama?”

“Nadi shodhana.”

“Hmm. What about ujayii?”

“No, never ujayii.”

“I think you should try ujayii to start your day. It’s a good, deep cleansing breath. Try some supported savasana, too.”

“Really, in the morning? And how can savasana be supported?”

“Oh, yes. Prop your legs up on a chair so your shins are parallel to the floor. Supported savasana is incredibly relaxing. Also–may I ask–do you have compassion for yourself?”

“Um, yes. I think?”

“Perhaps you should try some metta meditation in the morning. Especially if you’re feeling angry toward others. Perhaps extending compassion toward others through metta will help.”

Although I haven’t gotten around to trying all of the teacher’s suggestions, I found the conversation utterly fascinating. Here we were, two women: me, describing my symptoms; her, offering guidance in the form of breathing, meditation, and yoga. What makes this even more interesting is the fact that this yoga teacher is also an RN; she could have easily offered more “medical” suggestions: therapy, pills, a psychiatric evaluation. But instead of tossing around words like “Valium” and “Cymbalta,” we discussed ujayii, savasana, and metta.

I am a firm believer in integrative medicine (using conventional treatments when warranted but integrating alternative therapies when appropriate). I am not opposed to taking 200 mg of ibuprofen when my hip acts up or when I have a pounding headache. However, the conversation reminded me about all the ways yoga and its individual components (asana, meditation, pranayama, compassion) can help with day-to-day ailments and complaints. For example:

When I am bloated…

…I do intestine-wringing twists like ardha matsyendrasana/supta matsyendrasana, or the classic “wind-relieving” pose, pavanamuktasana.

When I need some “regularity” in the morning…

…I do bhunaman vajrasana, the abdominal massage I learned during my YTT at Kripalu, after several classmates complained of “blockages” from too many beans and fiber-filled dinners. (Have a toilet on standby!) 🙂

When I’ve been on my feet all day…

…I prop my legs against the wall for a few minutes of viparita karani, to get the blood from my legs flowing back into my core.

When I feel my energy waning…

…I power up for a few rounds of kapalabhati pranayama.

When I feel like I need a boost of clarity or to clear a mental block…

…I rise into headstand or handstand and spend a few minutes directing my energies toward my brain.

The above are all very specific asanas/pranayamas for specific symptoms, and I think by now it’s common knowledge that a regular yoga practice in general can lower blood pressure, improve posture and balance, and calm the nervous system, to name a few whole-body benefits.

What pose/breathing practice/meditation do you do for your everyday ailments? I’m still trying to find one that eases my PMS of doom–other than an all-day savasana!

A few nights ago when I had the house to myself, I decided to bust out (OK, by “bust out,” I mean play via Netflix streaming, even though I own the DVD, because sometimes I am just that lazy) one of my favorite movies of all time: Contact.

The movie was released in 1997, not too long after Independence Day hit the theaters. The trailers made it out to be another alien movie, perhaps with less stuff blowing up. I remember going to the theater expecting one thing and coming out very confused. Not confused about the plot line or the ending but more bewildered with my own thoughts about believing in stuff that can’t be seen.

In a nutshell, Contact, based on Carl Sagan’s novel, is about an astronomer (Ellie Arroway), an atheist committed to searching for extraterrestrial life. She is a woman of science and makes it clear to her romantic interest (Palmer Joss) that she needs physical, factual proof to believe in something’s existence, even though Palmer, a religious writer and highly spiritual man, doesn’t share her viewpoint and constantly challenges Ellie about being devoted to a phenomenon that can’t be seen. One of the most provocative exchanges in the movie occurs when Palmer asks Ellie if she loved her father, who passed away when she was 9:

Palmer: Did you love your father?

Ellie: What?

Palmer: Your dad. Did you love him?

Ellie: Yes, very much.

Palmer: Prove it.

Ellie eventually makes the discovery of a lifetime, a message coming from outer space that provides blueprints for a transportation device to the aliens’ home turf. During her journey to outer space, she witnesses celestial sights that can only make her weep, and she has a highly emotional encounter with an alien that changes everything she ever thought she knew. However, she returns from the mission proof-less, with no recordings, artifacts, or shreds of evidence that corroborate her story. No one believes her; in fact, the government insinuates that she is making up the whole story, that it’s a delusion of grandeur:

Panel member: Doctor Arroway, you come to us with no evidence, no record, no artifacts. Only a story that to put it mildly strains credibility. Over half a trillion dollars was spent, dozens of lives were lost. Are you really going to sit there and tell us we should just take this all… on faith?

Ellie: Is it possible that it didn’t happen? Yes. As a scientist, I must concede that, I must volunteer that.

Michael Kitz: Wait a minute, let me get this straight. You admit that you have absolutely no physical evidence to back up your story.

Ellie: Yes.

Michael Kitz: You admit that you very well may have hallucinated this whole thing.

Ellie: Yes.

Michael Kitz: You admit that if you were in our position, you would respond with exactly the same degree of incredulity and skepticism!

Ellie: Yes!

Michael Kitz: [standing, angrily] Then why don’t you simply withdraw your testimony, and concede that this “journey to the center of the galaxy,” in fact, never took place!

Ellie: Because I can’t. I… had an experience… I can’t prove it, I can’t even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real! I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever… A vision… of the universe, that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how… rare, and precious we all are! A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater then ourselves, that we are *not*, that none of us are alone! I wish… I… could share that… I wish, that everyone, if only for one… moment, could feel… that awe, and humility, and hope. But… That continues to be my wish.

This movie hit me hard when I first saw it, and it still does today. It stirs me, it makes me cry, yet I’m not fully sure why. My heart aches for Ellie, yes, but I feel something much deeper than sympathy for a character.

I’m not a religious person, but I guess you could say I am spiritual. Perhaps this movie resonates with me because I am a bit on the fence about everything “out there” that we cannot see. Having to go to full Catholic mass weddings makes me cringe and feel uncomfortable, yet I sometimes listen to gospel music on my commute to work because it just makes me feel so damn good. I’m confused by people who go from not caring a lick about religion to talking about Jesus as though they were BFF in college, yet the moment I emerged on the rooftop of the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet and looked out at the Dalai Lama’s former residence, I felt something unworldly course through me and was moved to tears by a power that could not be seen, smelled, or measured.

I squirm when I am at a funeral and the priest reassures us all that “the departed is now with God,” and yet sometimes I find myself in the same position as Ellie, trying to convince people what I experienced is real, for real! Like the time I had an out-of-body experience during savasana after a particularly powerful yoga class. Or during that one crazy-intense yoga class at Kripalu, when every hair on my body stood on edge as I lifted into Vrksasana. Or, I swear, one time during a meditation sit during YTT, I could actually “hear” all of my classmates’ energies buzz above our heads.

Could I prove it? Absolutely not. Perhaps one could physically see the hairs on my arm sticking up during that intense tree pose, but would it be attributed to some higher power? Maybe I was just cold. Maybe I was aroused. And during that out-of-body savasana experience; well, to others, I was simply lying in corpse pose. But to me, I was floating above my own body. Try explaining that to someone who does yoga simply to get a toned butt!

A lot of what I do is hard to explain to others. For instance, just this morning, after a long and sweaty yoga practice at home, I arose from savasana with an overwhelmingly intense urge just to sit in meditation. After a dance of swirling colors swam before my eyes, the world turned to a deep indigo, and I felt like I was transported to a vast amphitheater of nothing but pulsing purple. It went from being isolated to just my head to surrounding my whole body. For a few moments I felt like I was on the verge of entering another dimension. I’ve tried to explain this to other people who meditate; some have also experienced the indigo bubble, others say meditation is just time to sit and be quiet. No colors, no shapes, no mysticism.

I’ve had trouble understanding the people who come to 5Rhythms who just kinda bob along to the music, not really getting into it. Like me. Like the way I do. And yet they come to class week after week after week. Why?! They’re not doing it my way, so clearly they’re not getting it. Do they need it explained to them?! And how can I possibly try to describe some of the intimate exchanges that occur between myself and other dancers, how we link arms and hang over each others’ backs, skin on skin, side by side, a theatrical pas de deux of sorts? Some of the exchanges we do are so eloquently executed, it looks like they have been choreographed. We are keenly aware of each others’ moves and presence, and the give and take of our motions looks anything but spontaneous. I tell ya, sometimes it’s hard to convince others that this is what all dance should be like. (Note: If you are a dance enthusiast, the link is worth watching. It’s a beautiful display of an improvisational duet between two dance students.)

It’s human nature for us to want to share what has happened to us, but it’s foolish to think that the world is going to drop everything and join our team. Maybe the movie was and always has been a gentle nudge for me to at least be respectful of others’ beliefs and values, rather than roll my eyes at the mere notion of something I “don’t get.” As the alien explains to Ellie:

You’re an interesting species. An interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.

As you may have noticed, I write a lot on here about this “5Rhythms” thing I do a few times a month. Because it’s not a well-known or widespread practice, I figured I’d provide a little background about this powerful moving meditation that has been a welcome part of life since April 2010.

Basic Description

5Rhythms is a meditative dance/movement class, described most fully in founder Gabrielle Roth’s book, Sweat Your Prayers, which I read before I even knew such classes existed and that one day there would be a class 20 minutes from me. During each class (the ones I attend are usually 2-3 hours), students are led through a “Wave” of motion. 5 distinct rhythms comprise a single Wave: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness, in that order. The music, which can range from classical to country to techno, is carefully selected to guide students through each segment; equal time spent in each rhythm ensures the ebb and flow of movement become natural, rather than choppy and disjointed. A typical class usually includes two or three Waves.

A Breakdown of the 5Rhythms

Warm-Up: Classes usually start with a self-led warm-up. Soft, inviting music plays as people enter the room, and students warm up their bodies however they please, whether stretching on the floor, sitting in meditation, or simply walking around the studio. There is no official “OK, class begins now; warm-up time!” People used to very regimented classes may feel awkward having to move on their own and not having direct instructions to follow; however, there are no “wrong” movements in 5Rhythms. Standing still and just focusing on your breath is just as acceptable as moving through a flowing yoga sequence.

Flowing: The swelling skirt of a dancing dervish

Flowing: Gradually the music shifts to Flowing. At this point, people who are in seated meditation usually begin to move a little more; movement may become more sweeping and airy. The pace picks up a little, and more bodies are crisscrossing throughout the room, arms circling, shoulders rolling, chests expanding and contracting.

Staccato: Washington Monument

Staccato: After Flowing, the music switches to something with a distinct beat, music you can bob your head or snip your fingers to. Frequently, this is the rhythm during which reserved students begin to smile, because the songs are usually fun and upbeat. Typical Staccato movement includes foot tapping, hip rocking, arm punching, and sometimes even clapping or vocal exclamations.

Chaos: Roller coaster

Chaos: After building energy from Staccato, the body naturally amps up to Chaos. Typical music includes fast African drumming and techno compilations. For some people (myself included), this is the “voo-doo rain dance” portion of the class, when eyes roll into the back of the head, ponytails are released and hair let down, flailing and spinning and wild hypnotic movement ensues.

Yet, at the same time, Chaos can also be very subtle; I have had very intense Chaos experiences in which all I was doing was walking very deliberately around the studio with my hands doing all of the dancing. In that sense, Chaos can be either laughing uncontrollably or experiencing one of those deep laughs where you don’t even make a sound. Both are equally as intense.

Lyrical: Swinging

Lyrical: After expending all that energy, the body gradually cools down with entrance into Lyrical, which is seen as a combination of all of the above rhythms. Synthesis would an appropriate term to describe this rhythm. Some people settle into more of a flowing pattern here, but others are still feeling the wild effects of Chaos, toning down their movements just a tad. Hints of Staccato usually return during Lyrical, even if just for a fleeting moment. People’s movements vary significantly during this rhythm, as some are growing tired and slowing down while others are still processing everything running through them.

Stillness: Buddha

Stillness: The conclusion of a Wave, Stillness is marked by music such as Tibetan singing bowls, an achingly poignant instrumental song, or a few piano keys. Movement becomes very meditative during this phase, and for some people is very sacred and profound, almost a prayer. Some people gesture up to the sky, others sink into the floor and curl into a ball. Despite its name, Stillness is usually the most “moving” of all 5 Rhythms; it is the time when everything falls into line, realizations are made, and emotions come to the surface. It is not uncommon for people to cry or get emotional during this stage.

(Real-life examples provided by Gabrielle Roth, Sweat Your Prayers. Photos are mine.)

Instruction

Instruction is very loose during 5Rhythms, and most of the class is self-led, an invitation for students to explore their own movements and personalities. As mentioned earlier, those used to detailed instruction may feel self-conscious at first, thinking they are doing something wrong or that they should be doing what that guy is doing. I find that it’s much easier to move with my eyes closed at first, pretending I am in my living room at home, dancing to the radio. Copying others’ movement is also encouraged if you’re having difficulty getting in touch with your own rhythm; sometimes doing someone else’s move for just a few seconds will create an Aha! moment in yourself, and suddenly you’ll launch into your own pattern without even thinking about it.

If the class includes mostly new students or beginners, the instructor is more likely to include more discussion about each of the rhythms and his own demonstrations of each. Other exercises include isolated movements of each body part (i.e., “Just move your hands. Explore the movements of the fingers and wrists, make the dance come from only your hands,” so on and so forth with the head and neck, shoulders and arms, hips and knees, and feet).

Sometimes you’ll be guided on the kind of movement to make; for example, “Do an ‘open’ move,” followed by “Do a ‘closed’ move,” or do an “up” versus “down” movement. As you can see, these instructions are generous and open to interpretation, allowing for authentic movement to emerge. Never in a 5Rhythms class will you be directed exactly how to move (“Grapevine to the left, pivot turn, and shimmy on down!”) or told precisely how you should feel (“You are a goddess! You are glowing and radiant!”). The purpose of 5Rhythms is to explore your OWN movement, even if it’s sloppy and you feel like crap.

Depending on the experience and comfort levels among the group, sometimes partner work is incorporated into a class; however, it’s nothing like ballroom dancing. Partner work can be as simple as pairing up with another person and doing your own thing, just being aware of the other’s movement (this post includes specifics about 5Rhythms partner work), although some people, if there’s a connection, will find themselves engaged in a very eloquent pas de deux as though they had been dancing together forever. Some couples can dance beautifully without ever touching, and others are more tactile and like to grasp hands, link arms, etc. The instructor calls for partner changes frequently so you’re able to experience working with different personalities and abilities.

Who Can Do the 5Rhythms?

People of all abilities are invited to dance the 5Rhythms. Since the class is self-regulated, students have permission to slow down when they need to, use a wall as support, or even dance while seated. My instructor has taken classes on crutches after a knee surgery; I’ve danced with people with hearing impairments, autoimmune diseases, and myself with a gimpy hip; and I’ve seen all different types of people in class, from former Navy SEALs to yoga instructors to physicians. No dance experience is necessary, and it is typically people without formal dance training who express themselves the most during class, as they are not locked into the notion of what dance “should” look like.

What Does One Wear?

5Rhythms is done either barefoot or in soft-soled dance shoes, as most classes typically take place in dance or yoga studios with very delicate floors. As for clothing, anything goes, as long as it’s comfortable. I’ve danced in sports bras, sweatshirt hoodies, and flowing skirts, yet others come to class in sweatpants and a tee; loose-fitting jeans; or glittery, fringed, Latin-inspired dance dresses. Wear what makes you YOU. Layers are important as well, because although you may start off class a bit chilly, by Chaos you may be sweating up a storm.

A Deeper Experience

As I wrote here, there is no doubt that 5Rhythms is an intense cardiovascular practice. However, once you dance the 5Rhythms on a regular basis, you begin to notice how the Rhythms are parallel to real life, the same way yoga practitioners begin to notice that yoga is more than just doing poses on a rubber mat.

For example, you may find that you are more of a “Flowing” personality and can never be clear and precise about your needs and wants. Perhaps you need to be a little more forthright (Staccato) about declaring your intentions and ambitions. Also, you begin to see the 5Rhythms in everyday occurrences, such as children playing outside (after a breathless round of playing tag [Chaos], their movement will gradually progress to Lyrical and finally to naptime [Stillness]) or the death of a loved one (in which the stages of grief are very close to each of the 5 Rhythms).

Also with experience comes a greater comfort level in dancing authentically. It can take a few classes before you begin to let go of self-consciousness and find your true movement. I also enjoy doing a Wave or two by myself at home, when no one is watching.

Finding a 5Rhythms Class

Due to the rigorous, extensive training it takes to complete 5Rhythms teacher training, not many people are certified to teach and thus classes are not as widespread as, say, yoga classes. Certified teachers are listed on the 5Rhythms website (click on the “Teachers” side tab), and I found my local classes through Meetup. Institutions such as Kripalu, Omega, and Esalen sometimes host weekend programs or intensives. Although dancing with a group and having someone else DJ is great, the 5Rhythms can easily be done by yourself at home, as Meg from Spirit Moves Dance frequently demonstrates.

Reading Gabrielle Roth’s Sweat Your Prayers is a wonderful place to start, as she offers numerous movement examples and even suggestions for music. iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, and Grooveshark technology make it easy to create and share playlists; just be sure to have your playlist ready to go before you dance rather than choose music as you go along; the smoother the transitions, the more immersed into the dance you will become.

Final Words

No two 5Rhythms classes are the same for me. Sometimes I leave feeling open, exposed, and vulnerable; other times I leave class feeling high as a kite and in love with the world. Sometimes my cells vibrate; other times I am ho-hum. More often than not, though, I leave class feeling better than when I started, both physically and mentally. I feel more aware of the people and things around me; I am able to express my thoughts more clearly; and my body is thanking me for allowing it to move naturally rather than in some forced, repetitive manner.

To close, here are some snippets of journal entries I wrote following 5Rhythms class:

• “My body was delighted to be moving naturally, sweating from dancing, not from doing 30 minutes on a StairMaster. Dancing has always felt freeing, but it was even more so last night because I’ve just felt so restricted lately. My limbs and heart felt liberated, and in turn my breath quickened, my eyes rolled back, and I attained a sense of euphoria that even running cannot provide me.”

• “What I had learned in that class last month was that ‘dance’ can be achieved with minimal movement. Sure, I love leaping and jumping and spinning and am totally obsessed with the choreography on So You Think You Can Dance, but dance is also a mental place for me. So even though I didn’t move as much in that July class, I felt like I had danced more than ever. I connected with the music and took my soul to a different dimension.”

• “Once again, I had to drag myself to the center of the room after class. I felt like I was on a different plane and that my body needed some time to settle back on earth. All that from 90 minutes of dance!”

• “When the class ended, my cells were vibrating the same way they used to vibrate after an intense kundalini yoga class. I felt like I was drunk on air and music and sweat. What a wacky, wonderful, and soul-satisfying experience.”



(Editor’s note, 1/26/13: Gabrielle Roth, the founder of 5Rhythms, died in October 2012 at the age of 71. Detailed posts about her passing and subsequent memorial can be found here and here.)

One way of knowing that I’m truly engaged in the rest of the world, plugged into the matrix of the universe, is how many moments of synchronicity I experience. Back in the day when I was doing 60+ minute yoga sessions almost seven days a week, I was totally in the flow–not just a juicy physical flow but immersed in the flow of the world around me. I experienced coincidences all the time: I’d run into people I was just thinking of; a song would come on the radio just as I wishing that particular song would play; I’d contemplate a big trip to China and then come home, switch on the TV, and come face to face with a travel documentary about China AND get a phone call the same day from a Chinese woman (true story!).

I find that as my yoga practice dwindles, so do these special moments of connection. Maybe they’re still there, but my receptors just aren’t on. Life without yoga and breath is like living in a house with the blinds shut all the time: Everything is still out there–those people, that music, those opportunities–but I’m just closed off to them. I can go about my life just fine, but I’m shrouded and shut off from those moments of brilliance and clarity.

However, for the past few months I’ve been very committed to beginning each day with some meditation and pranayama. Nothing crazy–no more than 10 minutes in the morning–but I just have to do it. I missed being in tune with myself. My brain felt foggy from my stifled breathing and lack of oxygen. Plus, I recently listened to an interview about pranayama with Larissa Hall Carlson on a Kripalu Perspectives podcast; I took a few classes with her during my YTT, and she freakin’ blew me away. She is the Queen of Breathwork, and I remember feeling like I was dancing on clouds after 90 minutes with her. Her podcast interview was very inspiring and reminded me about the importance of those two little words: inhale and exhale.

So each morning, I do little nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing), right-nostril breathing (the “solar” side), and then finally kapalabhati (cleansing) breath, which is like the extra-caffeinated version of breathing exercises. (I took time this morning to use my neti pot beforehand, and WOAH, each breath was like a shot of espresso in my brain!)

What I’ve found is that as I am getting reacquainted with my breath, those much-appreciated moments of synchronicity are returning. Slowly and gradually I am getting “plugged in” again. For example:

(a) The Dunkin Donuts Dream.

Earlier this week I had a very innocuous dream about being very tired and bored at work, but then looking up and finding an iced coffee from DD on my desk. The coffee made everything seem so much better, and I sipped my cold treat with joy. For me, this dream is actually very odd because I usually don’t have normal dreams. My dreams usually involve terrorist plots, friends turning into aliens, nightmares about taking hundreds of photos in Disney World and then having the roll of film fall out of the camera into the destructive daylight.

The next morning (in real life), my husband calls me from the road and tells me he is stopping by my office to say hi. I greet him outside, complaining about the broken air conditioner (“I’m hot!”) and my lethargy (“I’m tired!”). And then Bryan–having no idea about my dream, and even I forgetting about it–asks me if he should go to Dunkin Donuts to get me an iced coffee.

Suddenly alarms went off in my head, and I may have even pushed Bryan in disbelief in an Elaine Benes “Get out!” kind of way. And then 10 minutes later I was sitting at my desk at work with an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts sitting on my desk, helping me get through the afternoon.

(b) The Black Woman.

During lunch on Tuesday afternoon, my coworker and I somehow got on the topic of how women of different races carry themselves, specifically how Black women exude so much confidence. I talked about my love of African American hair, black skin, and just my overall fascination with women of color.

That evening, I went to yoga class as usual. The only difference this time was that a new student dropped by that night. As you may have already guessed, she was a beautiful Black woman, smooth cocoa skin, and the poise of a yoga model. Up until then, there had never been a Black female in that class.

(c) Egypt.

When I stepped out the front door on Thursday morning, it smelled like Cairo. Perhaps there was a fire somewhere in the area, but the aromatic smell of burning instantly transported me back to Egypt, that  smoky and hazy blanket that constantly covered the city. It’s incredible how strong the sense of smell is, and how one whiff of something familiar can take your mind back years ago. A rush of images flooded through my mind every time I inhaled: the green lights strung on the minarets, the dusty streets lined with sheesha pipe-smoking men, the perpetual haze that stuck to the sky and blocked out the stars’ natural glow, the neverending flow of traffic, the browns and beiges of the landscape. I was half expecting to hear a muezzin sing a call to prayer or see the outline of the Citadel in front of me.

That afternoon, our company had a summer picnic. A coworker introduced me to the new IT guy…who just so happens to be Egyptian. He still has family in Egypt! He visits Egypt every summer! “I was in Egypt in 2005!” I exclaim, and suddenly I was engaged in a 30-minute conversation about the country I smelled so vividly that morning.

Bottom line? It’s nice to be back in the “sync” of things. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air. 🙂

I had grand plans to make yesterday “Mudra Tuesday” and write about my fascination with the hands and the powers they possess, but blogging fell by the wayside. But wow, perhaps it was totally meant to work out that way, because today is May 4, and Internetland has seemed to declare it a pun-on-Star-Wars day. I mean, look at Obi Wan up there! An upside-down jnana mudra to convince Stormtroopers that those aren’t the droids they’re looking for?! The force is in your hands, baby!

I first became interested in hand mudras during some of my beginning yoga classes almost 10 years ago. The teacher, JoAnna, would start class with the same spiel every time: “Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position with your hands on your knees: Palms up, palms down, or fingers in jnana mudra.” She explained that palms up allowed you to be more receptive to others around you, say, on days you were lethargic and needed more energy; palms down was for those days you felt like being a little more introspective and withdrawn, perhaps on days you had too much energy to begin with; and jnana mudra (the gesture of knowledge) was a way to keep the prana circulating through your system, to become more in touch with the energies around and within us. I really dug this mudra stuff, because I had always been extremely aware of the sensitivities in the hands and feet, which are packed with acupressure points, nerves, reflexology points, etc. Days on which I am especially in touch with my yoga practice, I’ll place my hands on the mat for downdog and feel like the ground is speaking to me, like every square inch of rubber is whispering to my palms. The sense of touch will feel as powerful as taste, and holding my hands in anjali mudra or holding onto the bottoms of my feet during Hero pose will pack as much punch as biting into a just-picked Jersey strawberry in late May.

My knowledge of mudras was very basic until I started taking a kundalini yoga class in 2006. Kundalini is heavy on meditation and chanting, usually accompanied by very specific mudras. During some classes, I felt like we used our hands and arms more than any other body part! I liked using different hand positions to channel different intentions, but most of all, I loved the way holding my fingers in a certain position grounded me for meditation. I’ve tried various methods to help me get into the zone–silently repeating “inhale”/”exhale,” focusing on my third eye–but one of my favorites is simply holding a mudra and drawing the focus to the fingers, giving slight pressure on the inhale, relaxing the muscles on the exhale.

My curiosity about mudras led me to buy this book a few years ago. It’s one of my favorite and most-referred yoga books:

It’s kind of an encyclopedia of mudras, including 52 hand mudras and their function as well as lesser-known mudras that involve certain gazes and arm or leg positions. I’d get on kicks where I’d tell myself I’d do a specific mudra for 3 days, document how I felt, and then move on to a new one. It has never lasted long, though.

However, I’m trying this again. Since starting the Chopra Center’s 21-Day Spring Meditation Challenge 3 weeks ago, I have meditated every morning. For 3 weeks! This is HUGE. (More on that to come.) To help me with my meditation, I decided to crack open the mudra manual again and really commit to a specific mudra for a full week. My back has been especially achy this week, so I started with the aptly named Back Mudra.

This is what the right hand does, but I had to demonstrate with my left because I am incapable of using a camera in my left hand.

Left hand in a kind of jnana mudra, with thumb covering index fingernail.

The mudra is supposed to help relieve back pain. A half hour after doing this on Monday, my hip got really wonky and I felt awful. I repeated the mudra yesterday and today and my hip and lower back are still sore and achy. So far, this little experiment is NOT going well. 😦 I’m wondering if maybe tomorrow morning I should give up on Mr. Back Mudra and try Joint Mudra instead (yes, there is one!).

Every so often I’ll bust out in a spontaneous mudra, usually when dancing or practicing yoga. I frequently find myself holding jnana mudra in side angle (the arm that’s propped up on the thigh) or during dancer pose (the arm that’s extended out in front). Sometimes I do it simply to focus my mind on a single point when holding a challenging pose, but sometimes my hands go into the position on their own, usually when I’m really feeling a pose, and perhaps my hands want to seal in the energy churning through me. During those moments, I really do feel like Obi Wan, like there’s so much power channeling through me that I could burn a hole in the wall in front of me if I angled my fingers the right way.

I use mudras a lot when I’m dancing too, especially during the Stillness of 5Rhythms. I have had several Stillness experiences in which nothing but my hands move, and to an outsider it probably looks like I am doing tai chi, classical Indian dance, or some form of sign language. These moves aren’t planned or choreographed; they just come, and they are strong. On days I am especially in tune with my body, I feel like brilliant light is radiating out of my palms and I have no choice but to spread my hands wide and spread the energy. It’s a bit like Spiderman, but instead of a silver web, I’m shooting out beams of light.

This morning, after my failed attempt at the Back Mudra, I did some yoga stretches. While seated upward in Dandasana, my hands unconsciously found their way into this mudra:

At the time, I had no idea what this gesture was called or what it meant. My hands just wanted to go there, and I let them stay there for a while. The top hand was very sensitive, and I felt as though it was pressing against something very light but very powerful, like a wall of electrons or something. It’s hard to explain, but it felt nice. I consulted my mudra book afterward: Turns out the top hand was in Abhaya Mudra, the gesture for promising protection, and the bottom was in Varada Mudra, gesture for granting wishes or mercy.

While sitting there with my hands lookin’ like Buddha’s, I was suddenly transported back to 2006, my trip to Tibet. We had visited monastery after monastery, all filled with giant, towering golden Buddha and Dalai Lama statues, each whose hands were poised in a specific mudra. So as I was thinking of this, my playlist switched over to a new-agey track that included the sounds of Tibetan drums and the chant Om Mani Padme Hum, which is the mantra Buddhists repeat to themselves as they make their pilgrimage to the holy sites of Lhasa. The mudras, the music, the memories…I was overcome by emotion and brought to tears. Indeed, the force was with me this morning.

This weekend has been themed a bit around discomfort, but in positive sense (for the most part, aside from my aching back). As in, unease in taking risks, breaking out of “safe” zone, stepping out of your comfortable boundaries. Like in yoga, when we’re chilling in Warrior I and realize we can perhaps bend the front leg a little more and sink further into the stretch. Little baby steps outside of our “I feel jusssst fine” mentality.

For example, on Friday night I went to the gym for my usual 30 minutes of swimming. However, that night I decided on a whim that instead of swimming to the wall, stopping, putting my feet down, turning around, and pushing off again, I was going to try something different and do an open turn every time I hit the wall. An open turn is an easier alternative to the wall flip as a means to keep swimming rather than stop–even for a few seconds–to switch directions. You approach the wall underwater, push off with your hands to give you the force to turn your body around, and then push off the wall with your feet.

After just a few minutes of doing this, I was really feeling it. I was never one to linger at the wall before, but it’s amazing how having your feet on the ground for just a few seconds is a generous mini-break. Take those few moments out of the equation, and my heart was PUMPING. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to go back to my “normal” way of doing it, but there’s was also a part of me that was determined to flow past the initial fear. Sure enough, maybe about 10 minutes into the session, I was still feeling it but I had reached a new level of OK-ness. My brain switched from OMGWTF#(*#*&!!Imgonnadrown! to “Uff, this is a tough workout, but I feel strong!” Even crazier, when I glanced at the clock and saw I had been swimming for 31 minutes, I honestly wanted to keep on going, even though I usually wrap things up at the half-hour mark. So I continued for another 10 minutes. I was utterly exhausted when I finished, but it was such an accomplishment to try something new, kinda scary, and be cool with it in the end.

My other big foray into the New & Scary was the “Introduction to the Spirit World” workshop I attended with a friend on Saturday. To be honest, neither of us had a genuine, heartfelt interest in the subject matter; it was more of a skeptic, eyebrow-raising curiosity that led us to the event. The flier promised techniques to help us raise our vibration, connect with our spirit guides, and communicate with said guides through visualization. The program was also BYOC. That’s bring-your-own-crystal, BTW. Although I am used to meditating and have certainly felt shifts of energy and vibrations, especially after very powerful dancing practices, the rest of this program material was wayyyy out of my comfort zone. My intentions were probably 20% based on curiosity and 80% more of a dubious investigative journalist approach. An embedded blogger, maybe?

I didn’t have any crystals on hand, but my friend’s fiance had an entire dusty box stashed under their bed, and I borrowed an amethyst from the treasure chest. We didn’t spend too much time focusing on crystals, and the most we did with them was hold them in our hands while we tried to connect with our spirits. I can’t say I necessarily felt anything different, but I still gotta give crystals some credit–they do emit higher frequencies of energy. I mean, for my 5th grade science fair project, my dad helped me get a transistor radio to play, powered by nothing but crystals and some metal wires and stuff. The instructor also explained that crystals–in the form of salt–is what makes us feel so cleansed after a day at the beach in the ocean. The salt purifies our bodies, removes negative energy, and makes our bodies more open and receptive to positive energy, to connect with our source. Now, I’m not ready to go out buy a quartz tower and make my husband turn our office into an official “crystal room,” but I don’t see the harm in wearing crystal pendants or earrings. It certainly can’t hurt.

However, the majority of the workshop–the talk about the spirit guides–really made me antsy. Although I kind of understood the statement, “You are a spirit first, having a human experience,” I wasn‘t so sure about the other spirits who are supposedly surrounding me. “You are not permitted to walk alone on this planet,” the instructor said, who paused every now and then while talking, looking a bit distracted, explaining to us that she was listening to her spirit guides and that she didn’t mean to be rude. At one point, as she was gesturing with her hands, she give a little giggle, apologized, and explained that she had just accidentally poked her spirit in the eye. She told happy stories of being guided through difficult situations by her spirit guides and not-so-happy stories, like the time her spirit guide of five years decided to move on and essentially “broke up” with her. We took time to sit in stillness, increase our vibration, and try to connect with our spirit guides. Some people in the room had done this before and described feeling, say, a man on one side and a woman on the other. I experienced what I usually experience during meditation–a feeling of warmth and expansion. My palms and arms were pleasantly warm, and my body felt a bit like it was a balloon being gently filled with air. I felt it in my hands the most; they were resting palm-up on my lap, and during the deepest part of meditation, it felt as though my fingers were growing like wild plants, each digit growing and growing like Freddy Kruger claws but with the appearance of tree roots.

The instructor went around the room, her hands waving in front us like she was washing an invisible window. She praised the “regulars” for their amazing energy and clear chakras. My friend’s energy was deemed questionable. And when the instructor approached me to tune my chakras, she grew very concerned that I could not relax. It was true–we had been sitting in metal folding chairs for more than an hour, and my hip and lower back were killing me. (I hope she knew it was hip bothering me and not my first chakra!) She poked and prodded me, asked how old I was, and urged me to have a session with her. Yikes! I felt like the yoga newcomer who couldn’t even master child’s pose while everyone else in the class is up in handstand. Even the other first-timer at the program, who at first complained about not being able to feel or see or understand anything spiritual or energetic, by the end of class was describing being surrounded by four spirit guides–and was able to name them, nonetheless! My friend didn’t see any spirit guides but she did have a pretty intense emotional release that simply fascinated the other attendees and instructor. I, however, was the “special” student, who had to move to the floor because her legs hurt and who didn’t have any releases or presentations from spiritual sidekicks. But I’m OK with that, because I did have a nice meditative experience, enjoyed that brief feeling of expansion and lightness, and was happy for my friend for being able to get rid of emotional gunk that had been buried in her heart.

Lastly, I did something today that I never thought would happen: I willingly decided NOT to attend a 5Rhythms class. The decision was not an easy one, because I have attended every class at this particular location since its inception in November; I am a regular! But it’s an hour drive away, gas prices are getting ghastly, and, um, I actually listened to my body. This whole week my body has felt totally out of whack since I took a 2-mile walk in new (and now returned) sneakers. I’m not just talking about an achy lower back; it has felt like someone tried to twist my entire top half off like a bottle cap. I’ve felt crooked in downdogs, my shoulder felt weird when I swam on Friday, and my hip has been acting up again. So instead of dancing like a wild woman for two hours at 5Rhythms today, I RSVP’d “No” on the group website and texted my massage therapist in a panic: “R U available for an hour today? Please?!?!?!” Luckily she had an open slot, and thank gosh I took it: She took one look at my naked back and said I was totally off kilter. Everything on my left side was completely torqued, from my neck down to my hips.

So, as it turns out, sometimes the comfort zone is a good place to be, and finding the willpower to refrain from plowing ahead is the challenge. I was at my edge this morning and really didn’t want to creep any further off the precipice by delving into a high-intensity dance practice. Saying “no” to 5Rhythms and attending to my body first, asking for comfort, was my “discomfort” zone. And I’m glad I went there.

There is something especially sacred about 4th Friday 5Rhythms that sets it apart from classes on other days, in other places. Maybe it’s the fact that it takes place in the evening, after dinner. The sun is lowering as I drive to the studio, and when I emerge two and a half hours later, I am surrounded in darkness and guided by moonlight. Maybe it’s because it’s the end of the work week, and what a great feeling it is to leave the office, kick off my shoes, and dance the night away, sweating away the stressors from Monday through Friday and freeing space in my heart to welcome a wonderful weekend. Or maybe it’s the physical location itself–a yoga studio tucked away in the basement of an office building, our little secret dance hangout. It’s invisible from the outside, but once you go down those steps there is a warmly lit, womb-like space with beautiful wooden floors and Sanskrit words with English translations decorating the wall trim: peace, light, breath, space. This is the spot where transformation begins, where the week ends and something new begins.

Maybe it’s because I did a powerful meditation yesterday morning on the concept of flow in the universe, about being a conduit of energy between everything and everyone, or maybe it was just the fact that I had off of work yesterday for Good Friday and spent the entire afternoon on a girls’ day out at the mall with my sister and grandmother, but I felt *charged* last night when my feet hit that studio floor, even though physically I felt somewhat drained from being on my feet all day. New students showed up; people whom I thought wouldn’t ever return came back. One of the new students had the most satisfied smile on her face the entire time, her eyes closed, her face beaming. I couldn’t help smiling in return whenever I looked at her; she looked like she was at the best concert in the world, grooving along to the music and swaying to the sounds around her.

I paired up with another new woman a few times, a Nia teacher actually (I think I may try her class!), who, I would hope as a Nia teacher, really felt the music and was such a powerful partner to work with. At one point, during a staccato number to very primal Native American drum beats, we must have looked like natives calling out to the sky or Mother Earth or dancing around a fire pit. It was so earthy, filled with passion and intensity. She flung her arms up as I threw mine down, and we alternated back and forth, a silent but dramatic language between our bodies. We were still in the rhythm of Staccato, but I’m pretty sure Chaos was banging on our rib cages, demanding to be released. Luckily the teacher’s next song was something a little less intense, because had he changed the track to something full-blown Chaos, that woman and I would have turned into banshees for sure. The fire in our eyes…it was like that transition in 28 Days Later, going from a regular human being into a red-eyed, blood-thirsty maniacal zombie.

Two hours later, during our final moments of Stillness, I found myself sitting on the floor, my hands in Vajrapadama mudra, a gesture to cultivate cosmic consciousness, believing that through connection with everything around us, we will find the trust within ourselves to do what needs to be done.

Source: Spirit Voyage

After that, my hands closed into Anjali mudra and I drew them closely to my head. As my hands approached my face, I sensed an amazing warmth coming from my third eye. Or maybe it was warmth from my energy-charged hands radiating toward my head. Either way, there was a strong attraction, and class ended with my prayer hands resting between my eyes. During the silent moment of rest between class ending and the beginning of our sharing circle, I nearly fell asleep, but I think it was just a kind of savasana, a way of absorbing everything that had just transpired and “waking me up” for the next stage of the evening.

Because once I got in my car, I was ON. I was a new Jennifer, and every song that came on the radio in that 20-minute drive home felt like it was playing specifically for me. You know that feeling–when you’re in a good mood, maybe it’s a Friday night, you just had a great date, you got a raise at work, whatever–and suddenly every song in the world is the most rockin’ beat ever, and you become enamored with whatever the DJ plays? That was me last night, blasting the stereo, bouncing in my seat to Alanis Morrissette (“You Learn”), Van Morrisson (“Brown-Eyed Girl,”), UB40 (“Can’t Help Falling in Love”), Adele (“Rolling in the Deep”), and even Pink (“F–kin’ Perfect”). I came home and just couldn’t sit still–needed.more.music. I escaped upstairs to our iPod stereo and scrolled through our music library, playing more Alanis, singing along to “The Couch” just to prove to myself that I remembered all of the disjointed lyrics, feeling totally in agreement with “One,” rocking out to “So Pure” (IT’S ALL ABOUT DANCING!!!!), and then switching over to U2 for “All That You Can’t Leave Behind,” followed by “Beautiful Day,” at which point I was truly in some other zone and changed the lyrics to “Boo-tiful Day,” because I was holding my stuffed animal pug (Boo) and making him “dance” along with me.

And then I finally got tired for real. Just like that, my body said, OK, that’s enough for now. And I went downstairs, checked some e-mail, washed the dishes, foam rollered a bit to work out some muscle kinks, and went to bed at 1. Just another 4th Friday/5Rhythms kind of night.

About the Author

Name: Jennifer

Location: Greater Philadelphia Area

Blog Mission:
SHARE my practice experience in conscious dance and yoga,

EXPAND my network of like-minded individuals,

FULFILL my desire to work with words in a more creative and community-building capacity;

FLOW and GROW with the world around me!

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