Honouring śavāsana

One day last week in my daily practice, I settled into the breath and movement without time restriction. I felt in the groove. Moving through a more active series of postures, I knew my body was up for a little sweat. In more recent months, I have been focused poses that offer an antidote to an escalated nervous system, seeking decompression rather than physical challenge. But that day I felt the time and space around me as I challenged myself *gently* to exert more energy.

Each day, as with any discipline, you don’t always feel that flow –and that’s ok. But this post isn’t really about doing more active yoga, its about the dance between activity and stillness.

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Enter śavāsana, the sanskrit word meaning “corpse pose.” Normally a closing posture at in a yoga class, this can be one of the most challenging spaces to maintain awareness and focus because well we are just laying there. The body is presumably relaxed, supported by the ground and working on the inside to integrate the movements from the last hour of practice.

As far as I know, yoga is the only physical practice (though its part of a larger philosophical system of balancing the mind) that has a codified relaxation period built into its structure. But in this stillness, the the mind is challenged to not problem-solve or fall asleep. Often a teacher may cue the breath to help us stay anchored to the body in an alert way or suggest a visualization when thoughts or feelings arise (which they will), to acknowledge and let it pass.

So back to this experience of having time and space to practice, because this was the day I realized I’d been cheating myself of a proper śavāsana for at least a few months. It was a slow process, that started with shortening the time. My mind justified this in a whole lot of ways: I’m busy, I’m bored, I already meditated today. Sound familiar to anyone? In further reflecting on this, I came to understand the loss of savasana correlated with my experience of time as a 1000 tonne beast sitting on my shoulders. And I saw that clearly during this particular practice because I allowed myself to be a proper corpse at the end, stayed in awareness and non-doing, mind chatter on low. Not that it always feels so seamless.

We all have full lives of which time for practice can feel scarce. And I’m certainly of the mind that some corpse is better than no corpse. But particularly with self-directed practice, it can be easy for an important element of yoga like savasana to slide. Because its so passive (but not easy!), it may get cut in favour of the more active asana. Definitely for me, during times that feel hectic in life, that “dont just do something, sit there” is an apt sign post along the path of the contemplative practices.

So the next step, now that I have an awareness that I’d unconsciously relegated savasana to a second class pose, is to reintegrate it, bring it back to its rightful place.

I spend a lot of time alone doing yoga alone, in a daily home practice. For those of you who also practice solo, have you faced anything similar? What have you found to be the most challenging aspects of home/solo yoga practice?

Like reading about bodies and how to be nicer to them? You might like this post, too:

We Are (not) The Robots

Wintertime Wellness Workshops

I’m pleased to be a part of this fundraiser on Sat Dec 7th. All of the teachers/facilitators are volunteering and all proceeds will go directly to the family of a young woman whose life ended after a long struggle with alcohol addiction.

featured artistsI will be leading a gentle yoga classes suitable for all levels and I welcome all bodies to come practice (please let the organizers know if you require accommodations).

As December approaches, so to do the pressures of consumerism tighten. Perhaps there are family pressures or loneliness. Moving your body in a welcoming environment can be a way to move through these kinds of challenging emotions. These workshops are a great way to prepare your inner resources for the wintertime, would you like to join us?

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Waves! Spirals! Shimmies…oh my!

Join me at Boomerang Pilates on October 21st for an exploration of deliciously wavy movement –aka Bellydance!
In this workshop you will learn some of the fundamental movements of bellydance –including the illusive SHIMMY –and learn how to string them together so it feels like you’re dancing. But don’t worry, this workshop is for everyone so no dance experience required, just curiousity and a desire to flow through some juicy new movements! *All genders welcome*
When: Sunday October 21st 12:30-2:30pm

Where: Boomerang Pilates

240 Roncesvalles Ave.

Cost: $40 in advance, $45 at the door (cash, check or etransfer)

Coupe de couer at Tribal Momentum

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The momentum is real in Montreal. It it was pretty awesome to have a little taste of the delicious fusion happenings in this city last weekend. I hadn’t been in years and the last bellydance-related thing i went to there was (Mardi Love) close to ten years ago!

Planning this trip with the troupe was exciting, particularly since this was the first year in a long while I didn’t go to Cues and Tattoos. We also hadn’t gone to a Canadian tribal festival and were excited to learn from the instructors and share what we do in the closing show. I was also in seventh heaven because BOTH Serpentina and House of Shimmy were all on a road trip together –half of my brain was eating up the info for group improv and the other half was focused on duet combos.

I’ve been following Cult of Yes online and love the dynamic of a creative duo that draws an audience into their individual characters and synergistic flow. So of course I signed up immediately for their Danger Zone workshop. It was a number that was to be performed a the closing show and I was feeling a little down that time didn’t allow me to get onstage for this. Serpentina North Ensemble was also in the show and it was cutting it too close getting ready between workshops and the show. Next time!

It’s always fun when the whole troupe travels together, we stayed at a great Air bnb, a short walk from the studio and show venue. We chilled on the balcony, talked dance, rehearsed and together digested the material from the workshops.

 

 

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We learned a Balkan inspired choreography from Inga Petermann the first day, and some new Unmata style ITS combos from Marina D. Ray. Day 2 was Layer Lasagna with Nawal Doucette and was so pleased with her organic organized teaching style with focus on clean technique and JUICE…I look forward to learning more from her at some point. Then we were onto the much anticipated Danger Zone with Cult of Yes! There was a strong Ontario contingent at the festival: Invoketress (Mary Wyga and Ishra), Stacie Noel, Revolve Bellydance and Heather Labonte and of course a few members of Serpentina’s student troupe, Snakebite!

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The weekend wrapped up with a closing show and Serpentina shared a newer kathak fusion choreography, which we’ve showcased at Glitter in Hamilton and two Dragonfly events in Toronto. Bringing worlds together through fusion is one of our troupe specialties! We learned a saying from an audience member after our show: coupe de couer. Our movement, our expression had touched her heart she told us, pondering the right words to properly transmit the meaning from French. If ever a dancer touches my heart, I do my best to let them know. When people move you, let them know you are moved!

Thank you to the whole Tribal Momentum crew, I’m already looking forward to next year!

Bazaar of the Bizarre –this Sunday!

Once again the highly anticipated, impeccably-curated Bazaar of the Bizarre runs this long weekend, on Sunday in the Parkdale area. Serpentina North Ensemble will be providing some dancing entertainment for bazaar-goers. We always enjoy performing at this event, animating the space alongside stilt-walkers, DJ’s and an array of ultra creative and skilled artisans from in and around Toronto. Have you seen the vendor list yet? You can follow the bazaar on Instagram and facebook to prepare your wallet for all the amazing things you’ll want to buy!

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Winter home practice

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We’re in the thick of it beautiful people, early March in Toronto. It will be ok, the seasons change –and we’re already in March! With the urge to hibernate strong, I have made sure my home practice is also  strong.

Morning is always meditation and asana. Usually I will do about half an hour of varied asana depending on my mood. Some days its more of a yoga like dance improv.

Once evening hits, I’ll do some yoga to work out the physical and mental kinks of the day. Then if I haven’t already gone to a class or rehearsal I will do some drills.

There are so many options for online classes and while I prefer in person any day, there are some really juicy teachings being offered up online with teachers in other areas. Datura Online, created by Rachel Brice is my favourite as anyone can learn from such an array of tribal fusion pioneers (many of whom I can say I’ve had the opportunity to learn from in person!). There is so much to wade through…lately I have been into drills and combos with Henna, cardio/strength training/drills with Ashley Lopez and of course Datura technique with Rachel Brice.

The other online resource I’ve been using is Integrative Anatomy for Dancers by Deb Rubin. This is a series of videos discussing fascia, anatomy and  injury prevention in yoga asana and tribal fusion bellydance. Deb is so knowledgeable about anatomy and movement, with the goal of wellness and longevity for dancers as part of her Dance Therapeutics program.

Bellydancers and yogi(nis), what online resources are getting YOU through this winter???

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