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Not many people like being photographed from behind, but living with a photographer, I am used to hearing the shutter flutter whenever my backside is facing him.

Sorry, Sir Mixalot, not like that. More like this:

The photos above are all from our 2006 trip to China, when every step I took was the beginning of an adventure into the unknown, whether it be onto an airplane leaving the Tibetan plateau, a wooden pathway through the luscious greenery of Jiuzhaigou Valley, or aboard the dingiest water vessel I have ever set foot on.

Caught in time is one foot in front of the other, a poetic symbol of a journey about to begin. I am not posed, but I am poised.

I wish images like this could be captured each time I walk into a 5Rhythms practice, but then there’d be photo after photo after photo—millions of photos—because sometimes I feel like it’s not just stepping inside the studio that’s the beginning of a journey but each individual step within the 2- or 3-hour class that has me embarking on a new adventure, exploring unfamiliar terrain.

One minute I’m throwing my body across the room in a frenzy of Chaos, and then—just like that—I find my center and twirl around myself like a whirling dervish.
I lean against the wall, roll on the floor.
Slide up next to a woman with a bum knee sitting in a folding chair and engage in a seated version of dancing.
My hands and feet are claws, then feathers.
My face dances as we pair up for a dueling Staccato, one person exclaiming “Yes!” and the other “No!”…
…The sensation of hearing my voice during a dance class is both foreign and exhilarating.
I glissade with a partner as though she and I are ballerinas; when partnered with a male to the same music, we are friendly warriors, all angles with a touch of lightness.
Stillness comes, and I think I don’t want to go on the floor, but without thought I am soon on the floor, curled up like a fetus, expanding like a stretching cat.
I am breathing audibly, entranced by the soft music my lungs have created for me.

So many snapshots, so many destinations in one class. With each step, I have boarded a plane, skipped through a grassy field, balanced myself on railroad tracks, jumped into the ocean, fallen off a cliff. Where will my next step take me?

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
~Lao-tzu

I was supposed to attend an African dance class this afternoon, as I so excitedly gushed about last week, but I ended up on my living room floor doing this instead:

This is what happens when you’re in your 30s. You spend a Saturday shoe shopping–bending down, standing up, lugging a heavy bag around DSW–and the next day your shoulders and back are all f**ked up and you have to decide whether to take the dance class and risk hurting yourself further or stay home and do an hour of therapeutic yoga instead.

While I’m on the subject, let me just say that the above DVDs have my 100% total approval, and if you have any issues with your low/upper back, sacrum, hips, neck, or shoulders, these are most definitely something to have in your media library. My first experience with Gary Kraftstow was about 1.5 years ago, when I was looking for some kind of relief for my bum hip. I was browsing Netflix’s selection of yoga DVDs and read several good reviews about the low back/sacrum/hips workout, and let’s just say that I watched that DVD so many times that I probably have ownership rights to it now. I eventually returned the disc to Netflix and bought the DVD online, later buying the upper body one to complete the collection.

I recommend these DVDs all.the.time. If you tell me you have a back problem, you can bet I will be throwing Gary Kraftstow’s name in your face. The thing about Viniyoga is that it’s designed to be therapeutic, kind of like a physical therapy regimen but with yoga postures. Each of the DVDs has three routines, ranging from 20-something minutes to about 50, and each workout is crafted specifically to help the affected area; the postures are meant to be done in the order they are presented. There is nothing fancy about the workouts, no bells and whistles, no music, no candles, no om’ing in and chanting out, no studio full of yoga models sporting the latest Lulu. It’s either a man or woman doing the postures and Gary’s voiceover giving the instructions. It’s boring as hell…but very effective, just like physical therapy.

If you are diligent about the practice and do the workout(s) regularly, I can almost guarantee you will feel progress/relief (however, I am not a health care practitioner, and this is just my 2 layperson’s cents). I did the low back one almost daily for about a month, because at the time my hips were all kinds of crooked and my sacroiliac joint was always popping one way or the other. I didn’t always feel relief immediately after doing the workout, but throughout the day I would feel things settling into place. Like today, I do a workout anytime I feel “out of sorts,” when my body feels like a car that’s driven over one too many potholes. Nine times out of 10, something in my sacrum/neck/spine always gives a desirable pop or crack of relief when I rise from savasana.

So, no African dancing for me this week but I had a nice, long date with Mr. Kraftstow (did both a low back AND shoulders routine!) and did these dancey-dance things instead:

• Subscribed to Conscious Dancer magazine.

• Discovered Nia and Dharma Dance teacher Susan McCulley’s blog, on which she posts some excellent playlists that have made their way to my Grooveshark menu.

• Discovered the music of Cryptex, which made me dance so much that now I’m certain the floor in our 80-something-year-old house is going to fall through.

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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