Thursday, July 23, 2015

We Have Come to be Danced

We have come to be danced. 
by Jewel Mathieson

We have come to be danced
not the pretty dance
not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
but the claw our way back into the belly
of the sacred, sensual animal dance
the unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
the holding the precious moment in the palms
of our hands and feet dance

We have come to be danced
not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance
but the wring the sadness from our skin dance
the blow the chip off our shoulder dance
the slap the apology from our posture dance

We have come to be danced
not the monkey see, monkey do dance
one, two dance like you
one two three, dance like me dance
but the grave robber, tomb stalker
tearing scabs & scars open dance
the rub the rhythm raw against our souls dance

We have come to be danced
not the nice invisible, self conscious shuffle
but the matted hair flying, voodoo mama
shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance
the strip us from our casings, return our wings
sharpen our claws & tongues dance
the shed dead cells and slip into
the luminous skin of love dance

We have come to be danced
not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
but the meeting of the trinity: the body, breath & beat dance
the shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance
the mother may I?
yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance
the Olly Olly Oxen Free Free Free dance
the everyone can come to our heaven dance

We have come to be danced
where the kingdom’s collide
in the cathedral of flesh
to burn back into the light
to unravel, to play, to fly, to pray
to root in skin sanctuary
We have come to be danced

Every morning at camp (where I am working this summer when I am not teaching yoga) we dance.  From a mom of 3 boys, who understands that in the ALM (“Act-Like-A-Man”) world that we inhabit most of the time you don't dance, to see them out there shakin' it is huge.  It might actually be the best reason for sending my kids to camp, and for me to be there working – to see them dance freely, wildly, unselfconsciously, and with so much utter joy and presence in the moment.

My oldest son Zev is an anxious kid.  He worries about doing the right thing, about how he should look and how he should act, about what to wear and read and say, and in spite of that he gets by fine most of the time.  But the first day of Camp Ramah every summer I see his whole body exhale.  I see him, a child who would no sooner dance in public as he would hug his mom, front and center on the field where we dance, smiling away and dancing his heart out, even when no one else is doing it.  Never a physically affectionate or demonstrative guy, yet I see him walking with his arms around friends and counselors, and at home, there is so much less fighting, arguing, and attitude.  He becomes comfortable in his own skin, so much more at ease and peaceful.

A short clip of Zev dancing at camp - he is in the middle in the bright yellow/green hat

I see so much of me in him - my anxiety about how to fit into the world, trying to figure out how to dance when I really wanted to but it just didn't seem like the cool thing to do so I didn't and my heart aches for him. I wish I could pass down what 15 years of yoga has taught me, how he is worthy of feeling at ease and peaceful no matter what situation he finds himself in, but I know he has to figure it out for himself.  I am so grateful that he has a place to help him do that.

Watching Zev in his daily morning disco session has shown me how embodied practice in an environment where we feel safe, be it yoga in a studio or dancing at summer camp, can be life altering. Being able to be in your body and feel comfortable and safe and able to express yourself in a way that is authentic and real and accepted unconditionally by those around you helps you to find your voice and your truth and to live in a more comfortable and genuine way. I see it in every class I teach, students exhaling, softening, finding their way back to themselves and am grateful every day that I get to help facilitate that environment and opening. 

One of the Attributes of the Divine which Yoga practice awakens in us is called svatantrya in Sanskrit. It is one of the ways we experience our true nature, which is unbounded, absolute freedom. Asana practice gives us the opportunity to be in our bodies and our hearts, to show up without apology, however it looks, regardless of age or weight or size or health, and be wholly who we are: cat out of it's box, matted hair flying, voodoo mama, shaman shakin’ yogis.  To live in our luminous skin of love with all the radiance we can muster. When we practice without inhibition, being fully present in our bodies, our breath, our poses, our hearts, we ARE svatantrya.

Off the Mat: Have a dance party.  Turn up the music, do it with a friend or in a club or alone in your bedroom.  Listen to your body and move the way it wants to move. If you need some inspiration, check out this clip, one of my favorite movie scenes and break out your inner Kevin James:

On the Mat:  Backbends are the poses that feel the most free, even though they are ironically some of the most challenging poses for me.  In my classes this week we used dance as a warm up, and worked towards the mother of all backbends, urdhva dhanurasana, adding drop-backs in the more advances classes.

For the Anusara Junkies:
Open to Grace – Feel the Inner Body Bright with the fullness of your own dance.
Fill the inner body with the breath, with the Shakti that dances inside you, as you.

Muscular Energy – Firm your arms (in DD) and commit to the dance fully, the dance of you.
Firm your muscles and slip into the luminous skin of love.
Claw the fingers into the mat like you are clawing your way into the belly of the sacred, sensual animal dance.

Shoulder Loop – Move the head of the arm bones back and plug into the cathedral of flesh that is your sacred body.
Move the bottom tips of your shoulder blades into the back of the heart and slap the apology out of your posture.
Move the palate back, resting your head into the comfort of anyone in your life who allows you to feel completely yourself and completely free.

Inner Spiral - Move your sitbones back and apart and shout hallelujah from the top of your thighs.
Outer Spiral – Root your tailbone in the sanctuary of your skin.

Organic Energy – Make this the Olly Olly Oxen Free Free Free pose