Tag Archives: dance

Perfect Moment Monday: Hoe down

We moved from the east coast to Colorado between my 3rd and 4th grade years. Of my early school life in New Jersey, I remember just a few things:

  • that our principal’s name was Mr. Schank (but he was really nice in spite of his unfortunate moniker).
  • that all the other kids went to either Catechism or Hebrew School and I was left out (I am still surprised that Protestantism isn’t considered a minority religion in this country, based on my early template).
  • that Dad helped me bring up a low grade in “shows initiative” by doing an extra assignment that involved soaking a chicken bone in vinegar to make it rubbery.
  • that we used to square dance in gym class.

I loved square dancing in gym class. It was the only thing I loved about gym class. After we moved to a school district that didn’t have square dancing in its curriculum, I didn’t square dance for 40+ more years (except for one of the first dates Roger and I had — a wedding reception for his British friend who married a Kentucky girl and that included high tea and square dancing).

This month our CSA closed its inaugural season with a harvest festival. My sister Tami and I took our kids to pick up our last share of veggies and to take part in the kids crafts and farm tour.

Little did I know I was in for live music, a Caller, and………..square dancing!

Fall square dancing

Son, Nephew, Daughter and I do-si-doing

As the bluegrass band started pickin’, the Caller rallied dancers of all ages. Not many grownups took him up on the offer, but I sprang right up from my hay bale as soon as I realized I was going to have the chance to re-create fond memories from my early childhood — with my children.

The Caller did not disappoint. He went on for more than an hour and covered a broad repertoire. Early on, I realized I was having a moment and mouthed “PERFECT MOMENT” to Tami, still with her baby daughter and husband on the hay bale, who, through sister shorthand, knew exactly what I wanted her to do.

Snap pictures.

I learned anew how to honor my partner, promenade, right-hand star, allemande left, do the Virginia Reel and Cumberland Reel, do-si-do and circle left.

In the still-warm early fall air and the soft pre-dusk light, there with my past and my future, I had a moment of perfectly square-shaped bliss.

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Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.

To participate in Perfect Moment Monday:

  • Follow Write Mind Open Heart.
  • Write up your own Perfect Moment and post for September.
  • Use LinkyTools below to enter your name (or blog name), the URL of your Perfect Moment post, and a thumbnail image if desired.
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Once you make a Perfect Moment post , you may place this button on your blog.What Perfect Moment have you recently been aware of? Visit these moments of others and share your comment love.

The next Perfect Moment Monday event will begin November 26.

(Cross-posted on BlogHer.)


Perfect Moment Monday: It’s fun to play at the YMCA

Sometimes a perfect moment is a breezy, gradual unfoldment that lands on my shoulder like a butterfly.

And sometimes a perfect moment is a whoosh of bliss, gushing through my entire being, shot directly from the Universe.

This month I got to combine some favorites in many categories: activity, music and people.

The activity was Nia, a a fusion of three each of the dance arts (jazz, modern, Duncan), the healing arts (yoga, Feldenkrais, Alexander) and the martial arts (tae kwan do, tai chi, aikido). I love this graceful, expansive dance class because it’s less about doing it “right” than about simply the joy of movement.

The person was Ethel, the gentle and wise mystic whom I have known for 20 years. Her presence has transformed my life in all the important ways — I have found romance, I have reclaimed my health, I became a mother (twice) I live more mindfully than I used to. I am taking a year-long class with Ethel, and we decided, this March evening, to check in with each other at the YMCA over tea and Nia.

The music was by Loreena McKennitt. Nia classes are known for their world music, and Celtic-influenced The Mummer’s Dance came on late in the session, right before cool-down. We were spinning and lilting to this ethereal tune, expanding our arms as we opened our hearts. It wasn’t meant to be a trance-dance, but all of a sudden the blast of bliss hit me. Every cell in my body was dancing for joy, full of gratitude for having this body, this life, these connections, these senses, this moment.

With my arms and eyes raised to the heavens (or ceiling panels) I sobbed joyously. The light was dim enough and the music was loud enough, though, that no one noticed. I was both fully experiencing my bliss also observing myself experiencing bliss.

I wish I could choreograph these moments on command. But stumbling on them will do, for now.

Image: Freepik.com

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Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

On the 4th Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join. The next Perfect Moment Monday event will be on April 23.

To participate in Perfect Moment Monday:

  1. Follow Write Mind Open Heart.
  2. Between the Sunday night before and the Sunday night after, write up your own Perfect Moment.
  3. Use LinkyTools below to enter your name (or your site/blog name) and the URL of your Perfect Moment.
  4. Visit the Perfect Moments of others and let the writers know you were there with some comment currency.

Once you make a Perfect Moment post , you may place this button on your blog.Perfect Moment MondayWhat Perfect Moment have you recently been aware of? Visit these moments of others and share your comment love.

Perfect Moment Monday: Flash mob!

I got to do something I’ve wanted to do ever since I saw this.

I went to a Zumba class at my gym on Saturday and found out that Zumbies from all over Denver were participating in a flash mob that afternoon.

So my 9 year-old videographer and I headed downtown, found a parking place and hustled our way down the pedestrian mall.  We got there just in time to join about 40 or so other mobbers.

Dancing with abandon in the winter sun felt exhilaratingly perfect.

Scratch one off the bucket list.

Video by Tessa

(Should you want to see from a grown-up’s vantage point, here is the flash mob video taken by my instructor’s husband. We flash mobbed three times along the mall, and this is the first dance, in which I still had a coat on. Tessa’s video is the second dance, where I had shed the coat and was down to a sweat jacket. By the third go-round (no video), I was down to a tank top. Good thing we ran out of mall.)

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Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

Once a week we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.

To participate in Perfect Moment Monday:

  1. Follow this blog.
  2. Between Sunday night and Tuesday night, write up your own Perfect Moment.
  3. Use LinkyTools below to enter your name (or your site/blog name) and the URL of your Perfect Moment.
  4. Visit the Perfect Moments of others and let the writers know you were there with some comment currency.

Once you make a Perfect Moment post , you may place this button on your blog.What Perfect Moment have you recently been aware of? Visit these moments of others and share your comment love.

LinkyTools is having some growing pains. If you’re not seeing a way to enter you link, shoot me an email and I’ll put it in for you the next time LinkyTools is available. 🙁

These Are a Few of My Favorite Gym Classes

Want the skinny?

Some of you have requested that I post a roundup of some of the classes that pulled me out of my slothful slump a few years ago. I’ve always been the bookish type, more content sitting on a couch with a good book and a pint of ice cream . I was able to get away with that most of my life by virtue of my ectomorphic body, but by the time I hit  my 40s, the weight and girth had begun to creep upward and my self-respect slid downward.

After our efforts of family building were finished and after I resolved a severe case of Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome, I turned to taking better care of myself. I joined my husband’s gym and tried fitness activities where I was the driver — mainly using weight machines and the elliptical (during which I could zone out to the overhead TV).

But I didn’t like deciding which weight machines to use and how much weight to put on each. I didn’t like counting reps and sets. I fell into ruts, not having much of a repertoire of exercises. I quickly discovered that I don’t do well being in the driver’s seat of my fitness activities. If it’s up to me, it may not be. I couldn’t afford a personal trainer for each workout, yet I could not be counted on to show up at the gym just whenever I felt like working out.

Because hey, I rarely felt like working out.

Then a friend had me try a yoga class. It stuck. Later on I ventured into a TurboKick class. And then the dance classes: Zumba, , Hip Hop, Nia, and Bhangara. For each there was a set time to be there. Or miss it. I didn’t want to miss it. Each of these classes gives me an hour where I don’t have to THINK about my workout; just DO it.

Here’s the skinny on each activity (click on the links to see more info on these classes, some with videos).

Yoga: Yoga meets all my fitness goals because it addresses strength, flexibility, balance and heart-health. I am NOT saying that you need to be strong, flexible, and able to stand on one leg while in a pretzel in order to enter a yoga class. You can go in exactly the way you are now.

Yoga means means “yoked,” referring to how you unite your mind and body mindfully with the breath. It’s a circular and repetitive dance between your inhale and your exhale, effort and ease, strength and stretch — mindfully with each breath. My teacher says, “try easy, don’t try hard,” meaning that we ease into the poses and allow our bodies to get into them more deeply, rather than forcing ourselves.

There are many different styles of yoga, but if you are just starting out, look for Hatha or Gentle or Beginning Yoga, or even All Levels Yoga. A good teacher will give modifications for differing ability levels as well as accommodations for injury or weak spots.

I am amazed at how much stronger and more flexible my body is now than it was 4 years ago. I believe that all this weight-bearing and balance work will make me less susceptible to some of the hazards of aging — falls, osteoporosis, circulation problems. I plan to stick with yoga for the long haul.

Bonus: When I do yoga I live in my body, which makes me want to treat it well in other ways, like eating more healthfully (mojitos are healthy, right??).

TurboKickboxing: Within the first 10 minutes, you’ll know how to do a jab, a cross, hook and an uppercut. And you’ll know the difference between a side kick, a back kick, and a roundhouse kick. It doesn’t matter how well you do any of these (like everything else, you’ll continue to get better) but that you MOVE and get your heart rate up. Find a teacher who is fun, enthusiastic and engaged with the class.

Bonus: it feels incredibly empowering to punch and kick with wild abandon. Great for processing anger or frustration. (Even when dressed head-to-toe in pepto bismol pink.)

Zumba: This newish craze “combines Latin and international music with dance in an effort to make exercise fun.” Which it is! Ignore the hard bodies in the video and focus on the normal ones. And know that most of your classmates’ hips will not move the same way the instructor’s do. I’m a year into it and I still feel like I have 2D hips in a 3D world.

Bonus: with all that hip action, you leave class feeling quite sexy.

Hip Hop: Learn cool moves and shed your un-hipness while you sweat. When you’re having fun and concentrating on moving your body, class is over before you know it.

(If you click on the Hip Hop link and sign into your Facebook account, you can see what my amazing Hip Hop teacher did with our class in just 45 minutes of instruction last Halloween. It’s  a Thriller!)

Bonus: knowing the songs and being able to dance to them will give you street cred in the eyes of any young people in your life.

Nia: Nia stands for both Non-Impact Aerobics and Neuromuscular-Integrative Action. I enjoy it because it’s expressive  and flowing and it’s done to world music. It’s a fusion of thee each of the dance arts (jazz, modern, Duncan), the healing arts (Yoga, Feldenkrais and Alexander movement techniques) and the martial arts (Tae Kwan Do, Tai Chi, and Aikido). LOVE IT!

Bonus: While many of the other dance classes are about contracting muscles, this one adds in a lot of expansive movements as well.

Bhangara: Did you watch Slumdog Millionare and secretly wish you could dance on the train platform at the end? Then Bhangara dance is for you. It’s a dance of joy and abundance, done to celebrate harvests and marriages and other happy events. It’s not technically difficult — you do better at it when you just feel the music and let it take you over. It’s very energetic and is done as a group — think Deepak Chopra meets Achy-Breaky Heart.

This is a specialty offering that you may find only occasionally at yoga and dance studios.

Bonus: Bhangara dance is absolutely delicious for the mind, the body and the spirit.

General info for all dance classes

  • YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A DANCER TO ATTEND. “Real” dancers probably don’t take these classes, anyway.
  • The first 5-10 minutes of each class are spent instructing and warming up and the last 5-10 minutes are spent stretching or cooling down. That leaves only 40-50 minutes for the challenging part.
  • Music is counted in 8s, and the instructor will repeat 8-count patterns. So once you get the pattern, you’ll feel like you’re catching on. Patterns are repeated on the right and the left sides, and then new moves are introduced.
  • Expect to feel a little disoriented your first time, but know that it’s unlikely that anyone notices or cares how well you do. Just aim to get a little bit better each time. By the 3rd or 4th time, you’ll probably begin to feel comfortable in the class.
  • To find if there is a class near you, enter the class and your zip code into a search engine. For example, “turbo kick 60605” or “hip hop 80301”. Try the big chains, like 24 Hour Fitness or Bally Total Fitness, the YMCA, or a local rec center. Try independent fitness clubs as well as boutiques (yoga and dance studios). Many places will allow you to try them out for a week at no charge
  • Bring a water bottle and stay hydrated.
  • Commit to trying a class at least 3 times. Give your learning curve a chance to level off a bit before you pass judgment on the class.
  • If your muscles feel sore a day or two after your class, pat yourself on the back. The microscopic tears caused by using your muscles in a new way are a good thing. In repairing, your body will build even MORE muscle, which burns more calories. Win/win.
  • Allow the class to be fun. Don’t take it or yourself too seriously.

Find out at what’s available near you and let me know what gets you moving this year.

Viva 2011!