The Lurking Demon

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Why I Must Yell At You To Dance

By Rita Lazar

The reason I have to spread the message of dance is because it’s really all you need for exercise, stress relief, and sometimes even muscle toning. BUT – not, I repeat, NOT the kind of body-punishing dance you see on competition shows on TV or at the ballet. People think of dance as something either silly and ineffective OR the complete opposite: extremely difficult and impossible for them to do. That’s why no one does it and they miss out on the MANY disease-preventing, disease-healing, body-improving, mind-boosting effects of it.

Please, please, please dance a little bit everyday!

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“50 Ways to Use Dance to Lose Weight, Love Your Body, and Love Life!”

The list is here!

happy_healthy_woman
I will give you a copy of my highly-acclaimed and highly-helpful “50 Ways To Use Dance To Lose Weight, Love Your Body, and Love Life!”. This simply-written list offers profound insights, insights that I have gained from teaching dance for the past four years. These tips have helped people lose the shame associated with being overweight, find and be able stick to a form of exercise they love, increase their mood, improve their health, and lose weight. It helped me lose FIFTY pounds, that’s why I’m sharing it with you now.
I recommend you print out a few copies of the list, keep one in your handbag, at work, and at home! These is definitely the kind of information you will want to keep handy.
Please remember to visit and join my page on Facebook – search “Soul Blossom Dance”! I can’t wait to hear how much you love the list, and more importantly, how much it’s helped you! 
Instructions: Send $20 via PayPal to email: RLazar319@gmail.com You will receive it in the same day. I’m also on Facebook.com/soulblossomdance if you have any questions. 
 
I will be sending a PDF document. Make sure I know which email address to send it to.
Thank you! 
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Why Everyone Everywhere Should Dance All the Time

Hello! I absolutely must give you an introduction for this. I am giving to you, in one gigantic post, ALL of the content I ever posted on this blog and on the Facebook page about dance over the course of almost three years. It’s messy, it’s jumbled, but you’ll understand.

Also, there may be some repetition of content, some marketing material, some writing that sounds very amateur, some typos, and some crazy-sounding ideas, but – the purpose of it all is to motivate you to dance and I believe it will fulfill this purpose.

I took all the posts down recently because I wanted to turn the content into a book, but I realized how painstakingly laborious it would be to fix everything and convert it into a more substantial body of information so it could be a book. I think however, it is substantial enough. You will see that when you read it, because it is my job in this lifetime to encourage you to dance, because dance heals ALL diseases of the body and mind.

Dance is the most evolved and sophisticated form of human movement, as it utilizes almost every muscle and bone unlike most other movement, and it combines this complete physical movement with physical creativity and it engages and uplifts the emotions. Nothing else can do this for you.

So, the following is my homage to dance, and my plea with you to do it regularly. At home, at a friend’s house, in your backyard, on a rooftop, it doesn’t matter. There is NOTHING like dance – nothing can do for your mind, soul, and body what it does for you.

I love you so much. I wouldn’t have written this for you if I didn’t.

And, oh! Posts/chapters are separated by a dotted line.

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Please note that the preceding and following are all written by Rita Lazar, no other person can claim any of this content as theirs.

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By Rita Lazar – Hips, Hip scarves, and everything in between

I first started Belly Dancing around 2002. I fell in love instantly. It was so intoxicating with the drums, the flutes, the melody, the way I looked so snakey in the mirror, and the feeling of all of it put together. The music was the first thing to enchant me, and to intoxicate and possess my body, but what equally threw me into my Belly Dance craze was the hip scarf I had tied on.

I became a different person when I put one on. All awkwardness, all lethargy, and all doubts of my femininity quickly vanished as I tied on my first one: a black chiffon piece with dangling silver beads that made the yummiest noise with my slightest move.

That first time, I shimmied, hip-lifted, and hip-dropped my way through my bedroom, the living room, the kitchen, and just about every square foot of our house. I danced for two hours and didn’t even know (or care) that that much time had passed. I didn’t just put my hip scarf on, it was more like it was something I stepped into.

I think it’s always important for us to feel dressy and glamorous (and shiny and sparkly) when we’re dancing. It brings our dance to a new, higher level. That’s what hip scarves do for us…they’re so much more than just a piece of fabric and coins and beads that make a lot of noise.

In fact, I started realizing how much hip scarves symbolize, outside of the context of Belly Dance. I know, it sounds like I’m giving them way too much meaning, but bear with me. Think about the area on the female body that the hip scarf covers. Yes, obviously it’s over the hips, but beyond that – deeper than that. This is the area that for hundreds of years has been controlled and conditioned by society – by men. The hip scarf celebrates this area. The hip scarf decorates it, adorns it, and makes it musical. Not only does it not exploit nor shame this area, but it elevates it into the important status it deserves.

This is a big step forward for the human race. To celebrate something that for so long has been thought of as dirty and wrong. The hip scarf, or the consciousness that the hip scarf came from, was in tune with the knowledge that this area is a place to celebrate and a place itself of celebration. It is, after all, where we all come from as humankind, and where we will all continue from. The place that gives physical birth to the future should be adorned and coronated with a see-through crown that ties on the side.

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There’s Enough Light To Dance In The Dark

By Rita Lazar

One of the hardest things about putting together dance classes is finding the perfect studio. With all the different things to consider like location, size, price, availability, it makes it a very cumbersome and bothersome task. In my situation though, I’ve had to add one more requirement to the list: the studio cannot have any mirrors.

Renting a mirror-less dance studio must sound extremely odd, but it’s actually on top of my list in terms of importance. You’re probably wondering how the heck that happened….

I used to teach Belly Dance somewhere that wasn’t meant for dance. It was a space regularly rented out for classes and demonstrations, classes about Feng Shui, Reiki demonstrations – that sort of thing. I was probably the first one to teach dance there.  There was one full-length mirror that we found, and I’d pull it out of the back room for our class, and people were encouraged to use it if they needed to see themselves.

Very soon I started noticing a strange thing; people were dancing without the usual inhibition and timidity that beginning dance students usually have. This was a result of there not being any mirrors in front of them. This is what happens when you’re not concerned with what you look like. Your brain gets taken away from the equation when you’re not looking at something, and usually when we look at ourselves it’s with a very judgmental microscopic lens.

Not looking at yourself gets you out of your head and the only other place for you to go when you’re out of your head (that is, if you’re alive) is your body. When I say “out of your head”, what I’m referring to is being overly cerebral and overly mentally active – thinking too much, wondering too much. When our brains are this highly active our bodies are not at their full physical potential of movement. People dance much differently, much more freely, without a mirror, because their brain activity has been slightly reduced by not having their bodies to look at. This creates a very free and relaxed form of movement. This is how all movement should be. It is with relaxation and freedom that our bodies really release the tension they’ve been holding onto.

With the same intention in mind of getting people out of their heads and into their bodies, I also started dimming the lights. This, not surprisingly, started adding to the effect. Now, not only were people dancing more freely because they weren’t looking at themselves, but also because they felt they weren’t being looked at by others. It also made for a much more cozy and dance-inducing ambiance.

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Soul Blossom Belly Dance

You’ve probably taken dance classes where you felt overwhelmed and unable to do the moves, or uncomfortable because the atmosphere and instructor were too rigid and serious, or just extremely bored when you thought you were going to be having fun.

That’s why I created this dance program. I’ve taken many dance classes over the years and I saw that not a lot of the participants stayed for the duration of the program, mostly because of the reasons I listed.

In this class you will learn how to Belly Dance the way people who have grown up in the Middle East learned – by seeing it and being immersed in it.

I’ve been Belly Dancing for 8 years, and teaching for the past 2. All of my students doubted their ability to do the moves I proposed because they had taken Belly Dance classes before that were too complicated, too hard, and they were too overwhelmed. However, with the teaching method I’ve developed, they were all doing very sophisticated Belly Dance moves by the end of the first class. I’ve seen it happen many times!  And the best part was they had fun the whole time!

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“Rita is a wonderful teacher, very patient, always encouraging and making sure that everybody has fun . This class is perfect to release any stress after a long week at work!” – Marie Quanquin, The Path, Redondo Beach

“Rita’s Belly Dancing Class is wonderful, relaxing, fun and freeing…I can not wait to go to class again!” – Jennifer Lawson, Los Angeles

“Fun! A great way to break out of your routine and learn something new.” – Anna Pianalto, Loan Officer, Hermosa Beach

“I had a great time. Rita is fun and energetic!” – Isela London, Carson

“Can’t wait to attend again.” – Amber Friend, Homemaker, Carson

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Why do you need to dance? Here’s a very short list of benefits you will be experiencing:

Reduced stress

Improved condition of the heart and lungs

Stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis

Improved mental functioning

Better social skills

Greater self-confidence and self-esteem

Improved posture and balance

Increased stamina and flexibility

And the most important reasons – it’s fun and relaxing!

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“To dance is to be yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power on earth and it is yours for the taking.” -Agnes DeMille

“Any problem in the world can be solved by dancing.” -James Brown

“To touch, to move, to inspire. This is the true gift of dance.” -Aubrey Lynch

“While I dance I can not judge, I can not hate, I can not separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole. This is why I dance.” -Hans Bos

“Dance is the song of the body. Where ever a dancer stands is holy ground” -Martha Graham

“Thousands of emotions well up inside me through out the day. They are released when I dance.” -Abraham Lincony

“Learning to walk sets you free. Learning to dance gives you the greatest freedom of all: to express with your whole self the person you are.” -Melissa Hayden

“Dance is a little insanity that does us all a lot of good.” -Edward Demby
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Belly Dance has been described as “the complete form of dance expression” by professional dancers. Bellydance is incorrectly described as sensual, although it is, it is also much more than that, and it has a special and very unique ability to be whatever you need it to be, whether it’s relaxing, fun, exciting..the list on!
You’ll be doing advanced dance moves by the end of the first class, and every week your experience in your body will have gotten much more joyous, which in turn will make all that you do in your day to day life more of a joy.

Class will be in Redondo Beach! Sorry gents, ladies only!!!

Find “Soul Blossom Dance” on Facebook to join our family!

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To Zumba or not to Zumba – that should be your question

Yesterday, a good friend of mine and I were talking about Zumba, about classes, benefits, dvds, a bunch of random stuff. To be honest, I have a bit of a rebellious streak and I tend to go against the flow when a big trend hits. For example, I have still never seen the movie “Titanic”, and I still don’t own an iPod.

I decided to look up Zumba class videos on YouTube. I was a bit surprised and not surprised – at the same time. I really thought it was going to be something much more different than a regular aerobics class. Although, it did come across to me as more different, but it wasn’t different enough to warrant such hype, in my humblest of opinions.

I won’t say I hated what I saw, but I was definitely not impressed. I think the only thing good about Zumba is the use of a bunch of different kinds of dance. When I was watching the intro on one of the videos when they were saying there would be Merengue, Salsa, Reggaeton, Cumbia, and African music I was THRILLED. I thought “oh my God, this is the best thing ever! I’m gonna do this everyday!” Then I saw the actual routines, it’s just same old aerobics stuff from the 80’s, with different music in the background.

Don’t get me wrong! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with aerobics, but I think Zumba marketing has us believe that we’re going to be dancing some awesome Salsa moves and African combinations and whatnot, but the routine seems to be, like I said, mostly aerobics with just a bit of an ethnic twist. Definitely not enough of a twist for me. And the FORMAT, more importantly, is extremely aerobic – meaning: you do one  move many times…over and over again, until you go on to the next move that you do many times over and over. I don’t care how rowdy it looks, that kind of stuff always bores me after 5 minutes.

In conclusion (finally), I’m going to suggest Zumba to those that like workout routines that don’t have much frills, that are pretty basic, and repetitive. The moves seem all really simple, the music is great. So, if you like that sort of thing go to Zumba’s website to find a class!

However, if you’re looking for something a little bit more unpredictable (which is more exciting for your brain AND your muscles), join us for belly dancing! One of the reasons I fell in love with belly dance was because there was so much room for individual and unique expression. I’ve been Belly Dancing for about nine years, and it always feels new because it’s always going to be different.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder and Dance

Hi there!

The fall is pretty much upon us now, and I hope your summer was great! I actually love the coziness of the fall, but I like to balance out the cold and greyness of the cold seasons with Latin music. Latin music is very summery and fiery, and it’s also very happy, helping the many people that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or just the plain old grey sky blues :)

Do Not Fear the Darkness – Rest in it

Do not fear the darkness. There is a reason we came to be in this existence with “negative” emotions. If you do not fight your anger and rage, and give them room instead, you will see that they are trying to tell you something very important and extremely healing. And you will be released of their hold once you accept their existence in you, after you have learned they lesson they were there to teach.

“Our shadow is what lets us know the sun is out”

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There are not many things that Can Do All That Dance Does

There are not too many things that can: move your mind into different thoughts, your feelings into different emotions, and your body into different action – and all at the same time. Music is wonderful and powerful way beyond our realization.

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Not Dancing To Music

Besides dancing, it is also nice to once in a while just sit quietly with your eyes closed while listening to a song you love, no matter how upbeat, and sit in a still body and feel your heart dance.

Things move around in this way too. Our bodies our not only are transporters, but they are also the containers of our emotions. Think about every time your feel an emotion – there is a physical reaction that lets you know what it is you’re feeling – a sensation in your head when you’re angry, an uneasy feeling in your stomach when you’re nervous, a lightness in your chest when you’re happy. This container is moved around and cleansed when you dance.

There are few things in the world as beautiful as good music. The songs that we love are like kisses on the forehead from God.

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Dancing In A Circle

True story: One night I dreamt that I was dancing in a circle, and I was very happy, it was a deep-felt joy, a joy so intense I was overwhelmed by it, I felt it tingle all throughout my bones and nerves, I had an endless smile on my face, and a lightness in my heart.

The next day, for my daily dance practice/exercise, instead of dancing randomly about the space, I danced in a circle, like in my dream. I definitely got my heart pumping more and I worked up more of a sweat, but the really amazing thing was that it did wonders for my creativity. Making my body move forward in a circle while dancing pulled out different expressions and movements from me, and because of this the euphoria that is usually caused by dancing was greatly increased.

This must be one of the reasons most of the ancient cultures dance in a circle. I hope you try this the next time you dance. And I especially hope you’re dancing regularly! :)

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There Is So Much To Celebrate In Life, Much More Than There Is To Mourn

Not only is there a bright side to every unfortunate thing that happens, but the bright side is most often brighter than the dark side is dark.

I’ve gone through some “interesting” things in life, I’ve seen sadness of loved ones, and experienced it with them. But I was just thinking; when I look at the big picture, all the sad things that happened really brought tremendous blessings to the lives of all those affected.

One of these events for me, for example, is the handicapped situation of my father, which started about ten years ago. My heart is always broken for him, but it very recently dawned on me that our entire family has been much closer and has spent much more time together as a result. So much more love has been shared and spread, and at the end of the day, and at the end of the “day” of our whole lives, that is what’s most important.

There is so much to celebrate in life, much more than to mourn.

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Overeating Because We Don’t Enjoy Food Enough

I used to think overeating was caused by enjoying your food too much, I’m coming to the realization that it’s actually the opposite, it’s caused by NOT enjoying your food enough, therefore you keep going back for more so you can feel that you’ve hit the spot. How many of you feel this way?

And I talk about food because after meeting and dancing with many of you, I know that food is an “issue” for you too :) But I’m learning that it stops being an issue when you use it for pleasure, instead of punishment and deprivation.

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Boredom As The Cause Of Addiction

The amount you overeat and over-Facebook are directly proportionate to how bored you are in your life. Something to think about!

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The Best Way To Take Care of Others Is To Take Care Of Yourself

The best way to take care of others, is to take care of yourself :)

(have you danced today?)

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The Divine Union of Music and Dancer

Music is not complete until it is heard, and it has not done its job until it has moved the spirit enough to make the body move.

And dance is the consummation of the union between you and music, a union most joyous and divine.

Happy Friday, dancers. May you enjoy this union whether you’re at home, a bar, or a club ;)

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Divine Inspirations

“Though hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; though hast took off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy” – Psalm 30:11

Heaven Quote

~ We know what Heaven feels like by knowing what music sounds like ~

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My Experience

Dance was what helped me lose (and keep off) almost 50 pounds a few years ago. It wasn’t just because I got a great cardio and strengthening workout from it (although that did help a lot, of course :)), but it was more because dance enabled me to love being in my body. It took me out of “battle mode” with it. I was ENJOYING it and getting great pleasure from it, instead of fighting it the way the weight loss industry has conditioned us to do.

You hear people say “you have to love your body” all the time now, but you can’t just tell yourself you love it and be done with it, you have to ACT in love, and DO something that demonstrates that love, and that is what dance is.

Dance yourself into pleasure and love, and all the grief and drama associated with your body will steadily dissipate.

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Dance For Children

From my experience with dance, it is a discipline with multiple benefits, just like martial arts. We are encouraged to sign our children up for Karate so that they can learn self-discipline, teamwork, self-confidence, focus, and concentration, but really and truly, dance classes offer all of these as well, and dance is definitely much more gentler. It’s a shame and a huge loss to our society that young boys are not encouraged to take dance.

Shake It All Off

Many negative things carried within us can be danced away, I promise you that :) Happy Monday, everyone!

It’s like your shaking it all off of you.

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No Pain, No Gain”

So many things in today’s society have taken away our right to feel pleasure and joy from/in our bodies. Part of that is the “no pain, no gain” mentality of exercise. In my experience, pleasure begets more pleasure, and suffering begets more suffering. When we do one thing that is enjoyable, such as dance, a domino effect is begun leading us to a better and more whole experience in our bodies. We take care of our bodies better when we enjoy being in them more.

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Seeps Through The Pores Of My Soul

I love the way music takes over my mind and body. How it always seeps through what seems to be the pores of my soul.

To me music is one of the very few, if not only thing that can do that. Most pleasures are enjoyed through one organ or sense, music seems to go through every part of you to get to your core (music is vibrational and physical after all)

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Dancing The World

All dances of the world are to be danced by everyone in the world. Music is for us all, not just for one kind of us. It is in this way that music is like art, that music is like love.

Maybe that’s why the world created YouTube, why YouTube happened…so we can enjoy to divine creative fruits of those places who’s divinity we cannot see in person. Because as I’ve mentioned before, creativity is divinity. For something to come out of nowhere, something that was not there before, that is divine process.

When there is a big feast being prepared, like Thanksgiving for example. Let’s say your sisters and brothers in law all came over to cook a little bit of something, each one came to create the dish they were known for. Your aunt makes a mean sweet potato pie so that was left to her. Your cousin makes the best green bean casserole in the world, so he’s in charge of that. When everything is cooked and ready to be eaten at the table, all the places are set, everything is in place, and everyone is sitting at their places, does your cousin only eat his casserole? Does your aunt only eat her sweet potato pie, and puts slice after slice on her plate refusing to eat the turkey, ham, or corn there is? No. That would be silly.

The world is a feast, a banquet, a celebration. We are all here to enjoy the fruits of each others labor and expressions of divine abundance.

And speaking of eating – we all happily eat foods from other cultures. Especially but not limited to North America. In fact, I’d even venture to say that Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Indian, Mexican, Argentinian, Middle Eastern etc food are even more popular than American food. So popular that they’ve probably changed the meaning of “American food”.

So why is it then that we are so ready to eat the foods of these cultures, but we seldom know what’s going on in their politics, what their religion is about, or what day to day life is like for these folks? And I’m not criticizing, this is of course a result of our overly busy and overburdened lives. But a good way to start understanding, and as a result having a bigger and more open heart, is by appreciating their arts and dance. Dance is a great statement on politics and culture. It sums up a group’s beliefs, traditions, interaction, mentality, and sense of morality.

As I mentioned, this opens our hearts, which I believe, is more than enough reason and inspiration. but many other effects come about as well. Along with our hearts, our personal worlds broaden, because we see how many different expressions of being human there are in the world, and it reminds us that our individual souls are also big.

Another wonderful effect is that we see how much in common we have with other cultures, and how much more we are similar than different. In a world based on division and segregation, this is very very healing for the collective soul of the world, as well as for, and maybe even more, for the individual soul.

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For The Lightness of the Heart/Earth

One of the reasons I fell in love with dance because it’s one of the quickest ways to take away the heaviness of the heart. I hope you dance today, and I hope your heart is always light.

-It’s like you’re dancing it all off of you. When something that’s not supposed to be there, like a fly or a leaf, is on your body, what do you do when you discover it, you shake yourself until it’s gone away. Music is the same action and has the same effect, just on a deeper level.

There is something that is to me, quite magical that happens when I dance. I have so much fun, and I work myself up into such a frenzy that I don’t feel like I’m doing cardiovascular exercise, or any kind of exercise, for that matter. As a result of this, I keep moving and shaking and shimmying and jumping, and I start releasing these deep breaths. The breaths are deep, and heavy. I feel like I’m expelling so much out of me. It feels like it’s a deep breath that comes from my depth. The depth where sadness, fear, anger, regret, guilt, and all those other icky things we push to our bottom because we don’t want to deal with them live. I feel like with dance the music goes on an excavation to this depth, and once it reaches the depth it removes it, and it happens because my mind is turned off.

If my mind was turned on and I was thinking about what was happening, it wouldn’t happen. I lose myself in the dance. I have come to believe that in losing myself, my mind is distracted while my soul does the work it needs to do in my body. Just like how a surgeon needs to anesthesize someone completely in order to extract the issue or fix what’s broken. However, in the case of dance, music is both the anesthesia and the surgeon. The mind turns off, allowing the music to get into the body and soul, the body dances, allowing everything to be let go into the extractive light of music, and we are improved. This is teamwork between body, mind, soul, and music.

We are using our minds to read this now, yes. But that will not affect you in the dance. You must surrender yourself slowly, and sometimes it needs practice but you’ll get there. You will get to that point where your mind turns off because there’s too much good feeling to feel in your body to think it away. It happens all the time and it is so wonderful.

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There Is A Difference Between Entertainment and Joy

There is a difference between entertainment and joy, and we have all gotten the two very mixed up. Entertainment amuses and distracts us, but joy opens our closed hearts and lifts and heals all that needs healing. And the more we let go of entertainment, the closer we get to realizing what truly brings us joy.

Listening to music while you’re driving is entertainment; dancing to it in a wide open space is joy.

What can you think of that you do is entertainment that can be converted to joy? Try to remember that if it’s mind-numbing and distracting it’s probably entertainment.  If it makes you smile and gives you a wide open sensation in your chest then it is joy.

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Nothing Cools a Burning Soul Like Music (Slow Music Heals Too)

Nothing cools a burning soul like music.

Both “up” (anything fast and makes you move fast) music and “down” (jazz, symphony – anything that is mellow) music lead to you to cool off. Sound impossible?

With up music you can work yourself into that sweaty, glorious frenzy that dance gives us, and we become tired and calmed.

When you’re angry, anxious, or fearful, down music can take your fire into a different direction, and cool you off.

Music, when used correctly, neutralizes us. This is very crucial because the ideal place to be in life is in the middle, this is balance, this is peace.

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The Slash Between Mind/Body is A Mirror

Your body and mind have an amazing ability of mirroring each other’s states. If your mind is healthy and happy, your body follows. And also, if your body is feeling good (since all emotions are felt physically) then your mind will follow.

And I would like to leave it at that and let it swim in your heads, but you might need an anchor :)

Your mind is affected by your body

There are countless books out now on how the human brain, its chemistry, and therefore your mood, are affected by your diet and exercise.  Even many years ago before alternative medicine became the “thing” doctors knew that stress is very unhealthy.

Many years ago, I told my doctor I was having anxiety attacks. I asked if I should be on medication, and he said that I should exercise it out of me, then we’ll think about medication. I ended up doing a lot of research on anxiety and he was right. I implemented his advice, exercised a lot more and I felt much better.

Your body is affected by your mind

We need to think a certain way to get our bodies to do what we need them to do in order for our minds to think better, MORE. So, is it a catch-22? Or do we just do a little bit of both, good thinking, and good moving, for an equal benefit to our body and mind? Yes. We need both, just like how we need the sun and moon to make one day.

…and how it takes two to tango ;)

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Dancing When You’re Not In The Mood

We all know about the numerous psychological and physical benefits of dance, but how do you dance when you’re not in the mood? You just stand there and let it slowly happen on its own. Release all expectations of what you think you should be doing and your body will start moving exactly as it should.

Dance slow..even dancing slow will bring your down mood to a more neutral and balanced place. Because when we are not in the mood and very down, even dancing slowly is a place of higher emotional frequency. Do not begin to dance expecting to be worked up into an exciting frenzy like with fast Latin or Bollywood music, for example. Begin your dance with the intention of getting half a notch higher on the scale of emotion.

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To Heal And Prevent Disease

What other activities as fun and freeing as dance can you think of that are known to deter diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, as well as many other diseases? Not that many :o)

Whatever heals the body is what the body needs and wants, and disease is its way of crying out for it. (note for something else – like healthy food..it has so many more benefits than healing disease, like elevating mood and giving energy)

Our bodies, as I’ve mentioned many times before and will probably mention many times again after this, have 700 muscles and 200 bones. We’re constantly doing the same mechanical things over and over again. You don’t think that when an animal has 700 muscles in it that it isn’t designed to be very physically expressive? Of course it is!

The beautiful thing about dance is that it lets us create stories and movements with our bodies. to scream, laugh, and smile with our bodies, and it is so good for the emotions, but the great thing is that it is also good for us on a physical level.

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Our Bodies: Places of Pleasure

In order for our bodies to become more of what we want them to be in terms of health and appearance, we have to enjoy being in them more so we can be more compelled to take better care of them. This is definitely a journey I’ve been on, and I’m trying to ease into a place of more pleasure instead of suffering when it comes to my body. And yes, you guessed it… dance definitely helps us do this.

If you have to constantly worry about what you have to eat, and what you look like, and how sluggish you feel, or soreness from over-exercising, or pain from overeating, or hunger from under-eating, you’re going to associate your body with feeling bad. It will become a source of misery for you. This source of misery will become something you will not want to take care of. Why would you want to look after a person who has been bad to you? Same thing with the body. If it causes you suffering, you won’t care what happens to it. This is being human.

You have to get into a place of pleasure with your body. Not just for the sake of feeling good, but for the very important and crucial sake of getting into a good relationship with it, so you can have a healthy give and take with each other; you receive pleasure from it, so you give it back care.

We are not saints, we cannot be selfless and not receive pleasure, and receive torture from something instead, and still take care of it to boot. We are human, so we have to be in a very human-like relationship with our human bodies. If a marriage was all you giving and not receiving, it would probably be a very unhappy one, and it probably wouldn’t even last, or a friendship, or any other kind of relationship with two people involved.

The thing with our bodies though, they are designed to be pleasurable and to give us pleasure, WE are the ones who do not accept pleasure from them. Whether it be because of the kind of stiff and rigid upbringing we had, or some kind of trauma we experienced, or any other reason we’ve blocked ourself from receiving pleasure. We have to practice feeling good in our bodies if we are the type that has learned to numb our bodies for the reasons I just mentioned. The best way to un-numb and un-suffer our physical experience in our bodies is to find joy in them.

Notice I just switched the word “pleasure” with the word “joy”. Because those of us who do have issues with feeling good in our bodies have strong and uncomfortable feelings when it comes to that word. But pleasure is a good thing, it is joyous, it is God-created and God-given, so I will call it “joy”, too. It is one in the same for me.

Ways to turn your bodies from places of suffering to places of pleasure:

Dance is a great way to undo suffering. Music creates such happiness, and dance expresses that happiness and lets it move around in the body. It is my strong belief that this sensation created by dance can heal all things in the body, mind, and spirit. Music lets you lose yourself, and become physical, as you were meant to be in this creation. Music is joy, joy, joy, and it turns your body into an instrument of joy.

Not counting calories

 I was going to say “not dieting” but counting calories is probably one of the worst aspects. It’s actually not bad in the beginning when you have to get used to a new way of eating. Think of it as training wheels. You’re not always going to need to count calories. In fact, you will be very surprised to find that the days you don’t count calories you end up eating less than when you do. Because when you do count calories you’re looking to fit any little crumb and bite into your calorie allotment.

Wearing beautiful clothes

 People usually save doing this for when they’re going somewhere really fancy. Or for when they’ve reached their weight loss goal, or for when they think they’ve earned it. I have news for you, you’re never going to earn it by depriving yourself of it. You’ve earned it once you’ve realized you’ve always earned it and have always been entitled to it. There’s something magical about putting on a favorite outfit, wearing a dress in a color that looks fabulous on you, or wearing a nice pair of earrings. Our soul from the inside sees what we are doing on the outside, and the abandoned child that resides in all of us feels like it’s being taken to Disneyland. Our subconscious is hearing that “I am worthy”, and this reverberates throughout the brain and creates a chain reaction of positivity and lightness that keeps gaining momentum, and the momentum it gains translates as new good habits that we introduce in our lives to ourselves, and for the sake of ourselves.

Eating food you love

Most people think they will immediately gain weight if they start indulging in food. They believe that the reason they’re out of shape is because they’ve over-indulged. Wrong. It is because you’ve under-indulged. When you really eat ONLY the food you love, without settling for what’s in the kitchen or what’s in the fast food place around the corner, you do not overeat. Overeating comes as a result of not enjoying food enough. That is why you keep going back for more, because you’re not eating something you really love, so it never hits the spot.

Recap: 1) Get out of the trap of being miserable in your body, 2) do things in it that give you joy, 3) so that you can take better care of it because you will not want to take care of something that makes you miserable. 4) You can do things like dress nicely, eat only food you love, not obsess over your diet (which will make you lose more weight), and dance in order to bring more pleasure to your body experience.

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Times Are Changing, and Dance Changes Us

Times are changing so much faster than they used to. The world is so much more different now than it was only 20 years ago. Because of this, we must change too. We must change by letting go of all that does not serve us, be it a miserable soul-killing job, an unfulfilled relationship, unhealthy habits, or a crippling addiction.

In my experience, and as I’ve seen with many people in my life whether it was friends, family, or clients, when we do not commit to changing ourselves for the better, change gets thrust upon us by some outside force. This is because change is the way of life.

Whether it is because we have decided to change or if it’s because change happened to us, humankind is changing for the better as well. We are all more intelligent, more aware, and more vocal of injustice. We see this through all the revolutions, protests, and exposés happening throughout the world.

Because of this, we need to be involved with more things that help us on the inevitable path of change. This is why I believe so much in the arts, and how it affects us positively, especially dance.

Dance helps us change in so many ways – in all the necessary ways – in mind, body, and emotion. Gone are the days of dance being used for show, or to abuse our bodies with to the point of shame or injury, or for punishment. Dance, like all art, is of a higher plane, and should be treated as such.

Please keep in mind that by “change” and “transformation” I do not mean fixing our “flaws”, as I do not believe in the notion that we have flaws. What is meant here by change and transformation, is the letting go of all that is extra and unnecessary.

It is now time to use dance for all its benefits, to tap into its healing and transformative powers, and to let the abandoned child within us play once again.

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Punishment Vs. Reward

Let’s think about how much we punish ourselves when it comes to our health. We do this with highly restrictive diets, with gruelingly hard workouts, and by berating ourselves when we can’t keep up these unrealistic things. How about we start focusing more on reward than on punishment? Because the two really can’t coexist. If we stop punishing ourselves, we will have more ability to reward ourselves with a more healthy and happy way of being. Long-term results definitely happen when we come from a place of reward and self-love. And yes, you guessed it…dance definitely helps us do this :)

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Watch Lots of Dance

Here’s a secret for you: the most important thing when learning a new dance is to WATCH it, lots of it, because learning happens in the mind before it happens in the body. Most Belly Dance teachers don’t tell you this until after you’ve signed up for their class. You can learn Belly Dance on YouTube even, in fact, I suggest you do! Because I’m not “selling” Belly Dance instruction, the class I teach offers much more than that.

It’s also great to see a woman who doesn’t have any shame or body hangups as she moves around. The human mental condition is very “monkey see monkey do”, and our subconscious tries to mimic all that we see a lot of. You will “learn” shamelessness and pride if you watch it enough along with practicing.

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Reaching Our God-Given Physical Potential

Those who have taken my classes have heard me say this many times: Our bodies often repeat the same movements day in and day out – laying in bed, sitting at a desk or in the car, driving, walking, or the few things we do at the gym. The human body is designed to be more expressive than that. We have around 700 muscles and 200 bones, but we only move about 10 different ways.

Dance is one of the best ways we can use our bodies for the expression they are designed to express. Dance is what brings our bodies to life, which in turn brings our entire being to life.

Dust your bones and muscles off from all the dust they’ve collected from the same few actions (or inactions).  Who we are is comprised of what we do, so BE different today, something you may like might come out of you, something that you will choose to keep.

There are so many movements to be made, so many different expressions your body is yearning to create.

Intricacy

Variety

Muscle strength

New brain activity

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Dancing The Fear Away

Today I’d like to talk about the fear-based relationship we have with our bodies. Think about it, we constantly get reminders to “check” something: our breasts for breast cancer, our skin for skin cancer, our thyroid to see if it’s working properly, our heart to see if it’s pumping properly, our arteries to see if they’re clogged, our vision to see if it’s deteriorating, our colons for any polyps, our uteruses (uteri?) for anything that’s not supposed to be there, our cervixes to see if there’s anything that’s not supposed to be there, our weight to see if we’ve been “bad” and have been eating too much… the list goes on and on.

We’re inundated even by the very things we turn to in order to relax, like TV with all those commercials for medications with the endless lists of side effects that seem worse than the actual disease, or fashion magazines with all those articles and charts about different diseases and conditions that “you may have”.

It’s gotten ridiculous, because all these messages to “get checked” are actually messages telling us that our bodies are something to be monitored, controlled, and suppressed, something to worry about – or fear. I’m not saying we should ignore suggestions to get medical tests done…not at all! I know tests can save lives, what I am saying is that something needs to balance out the fear and stress we have in relation to our bodies. We can balance out this negativity by enjoying a positive experience with our bodies. We do this by getting pleasure from our bodies. Doing this reconnects us with the knowledge that our bodies are amazing creations that we should be in awe of. Creations that take care of us much more than we can take care of them.

I weighed 250 pounds when the only physical pleasure I knew was eating. I had let my physical experience be so overrun by negativity and fear that I was too frozen to do anything with my body that involved more than my mouth. But it was music that got me moving, it was dance that got me to stop fearing my body, it was dance that got me to love and deeply enjoy everything about my body, and it was dance that got me to heal myself from my overeating. This newly improved relationship with my body helped me lose 70 pounds (and counting).

If you’re tired, bored, restless, depressed, stressed, anxious, ashamed, embarrassed, overweight, or if you’re overwhelmed by how you’re supposed to take care of yourself, don’t worry, it’s not your fault! We live in a society that has made us feel like our bodies are our burdens, but I’m here to remind you that they are not, because our bodies are our divine homes – our bodies are US. And luckily, our bodies and our lives can be very enriched by dance. So, my job is to get you to experience joy in your body, so you can move around, cheer up, lose weight if you’d like to, look great, and live a beautiful life. So please…take some time out to dance a little today and everyday!

Yours in dance, Rita

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Strengthening Your Joy Muscle

Joy (or happiness, contentment, or peace…whatever you like to call it) is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes and the easier it becomes to use it.Being miserable is horrible, but for many people it’s a lot easier than being happy, because they stopped using their joy muscle and slowly get to a point where they completely forget how to use it, so their misery muscle becomes very strong,  and it eventually becomes the dominant muscle.

Of course, this joy “muscle” is used by doing things you love. So, make sure you get your “exercise” today! Alright…I’m practicing what I preach tonight by reading some silly Janet Evanovich, watching Golden Girls reruns, and of course..last but definitely not least, dancing my butt off to some Indian and Latin music tonight…for at least an hour!!!

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Our Bodies Were Designed To Want Pleasure

Our bodies want pleasure, and denying our bodies pleasure is what causes a lot of problems, like addiction, and bingeing on food, drugs, and sex.

Dance gives us immense pleasure, the kind of pleasure that allows the tension in our bodies to release. When tension is released, our vitality is renewed. And our bodies relax and let go of the need to be “filled”.

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Imperfect Is The Perfect Way To Do It

A couple of weeks ago I told the students that if they’re worried about doing it perfectly they’ll never even do it all.

The reason we want to be perfect is because a lot of us have taken dance classes where the instructor was rigid and instilled a sense of “wrong” and “right” about the moves, but they mostly did that to create an image for themselves – an image of “expert” – so that they would have more credibility and their business would be more lucrative. Sure, we all need to be credible in our fields, but when dance instructors do this by being snooty and giving you too much criticism, it makes the inner dancer in you shut off, and you won’t be able to dance at all, let alone dance perfectly per the instructor’s desires.

I have a friend who used to give Reiki sessions at a place I used to teach. Her sessions with her clients used to end right around the time my classes would start. I would always invite her to join us, and she would meekly decline. After repeating this a few times, she finally told me why she couldn’t join. Around twenty years ago, she was a highly-acclaimed ballerina. She showed me pictures of her in her ballerina costumes and poses. I was in awe, because I have always admired ballet dancers for their self-discipline and grace. But my friend told me that her body was so “jangled” from years of ballet that she couldn’t ever imagine being able to enjoy dancing. She joked about how walking was as active as she could get, but there was seriousness underneath her humor.

In this case, perfection not only shut the inner dancer off, it injured its physical body. This was very sad to me, and very eye-opening. This art form that I had admired and revered had, in a way, crippled this friend of mine. To be at a point where your body has changed so much that you can no longer enjoy dance is a very heartbreaking thing, because dance should be the physical embodiment of joy. But, I suspect, in my friend’s case there were also a lot of mental blocks present that were truly preventing her from dancing that were caused by the experience of pain she had from ballet, so she now associates dance with pain, and is afraid to dance.

One of the many reasons this is so sad is because joy is such a huge aspect of dance; I think it is the joy in it that heals you on so many levels. So when a dance discipline doesn’t make room for joy, the spirit of the dance changes immensely – into something dark.

If any of you have experienced too much criticism about your movements, and have experienced a lot of emotional or physical pain having to do with any kind of physical activity, I’d like for you to know that you can move again without any of that “stuff” holding you back. You can ease back into joyous movement. This is very important because movement and joy are very healing. And you don’t have to worry about doing it perfectly, because no one has ever done it perfectly the first time.

If you’re moving, you’re already doing great, but wanting to do it perfectly will hold you back.  And as we’ve learned from my ballerina friend’s story, “perfect” is highly overrated.

So, get moving “imperfectly”, and be wonderful, and be happy, and let great things happen in your body and spirit!

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Finally Falling In Love With Your Body

How many times have you heard the phrase “love your body” from a nutritionist, personal trainer, or fitness guru? We’ve all heard this so many times that we’ve accepted it as something we must definitely do if we want to change our relationship with our bodies into an improved and healthy, nourishing relationship instead of a destructive one.

These people have always told you what happens as a result of loving your body – you eat healthier, you exercise more, etc., but no one really tells you how to love your body.

Well, I’ve got a little secret for you! You cannot just wake up one day and “love your body” and magically start doing things that are good for it just because you decided to “love your body”.

You have to do something that will make you *fall in love* with your body. And that is exactly what happens when you dance.

When you dance and feel that pleasure the music is giving you and you see your body moving beautifully, you will instantly fall in love with your body. Dance is so powerful and healing because of this. To feel joy in your body and to create art with your body will make you realize instantly how lovable your body really is, and your relationship will change for the better, and it will keep getting better and better the more you do it.

I promise you you’ll fall in love with your body in this class, because I have designed it to be so. As you may have already heard, this class does not have the same format as most dance classes, it is based more on action and dancing than on instruction and repetition. I do it this way because I know this is the true path to body-love, because I know that body-love is one of the most important elements of self-improvement.

Join us and fall in love with your body.  It’s happened to me, it happens to my students, and it will happen to you.

In the meantime, I hope you all, as I keep suggesting(!), dance a little bit everyday, no matter what kind of dance, no matter what kind of music, and no matter how short or how long. Dance to relieve physical and emotional stress, and to fall in love!

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Belly Dance Playlist

Hello!

I’ve been wanting to put together a playlist to make it easier for those of you who have taken my class (or for those of you who just want good music to dance to) to have easy access to a few great songs.

I don’t want to disrespect any of the artists by uploading the songs myself, so I will just be linking you to YouTube.

I also urge you to support these artists by purchasing their tracks or albums from iTunes.

These songs are very dear to me as I have been listening and practicing to them for the past 10+ years.

Have a great time, everyone!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NRziNpKECQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8T6662bpjqE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9F1mBYxki8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtVvza-ex2s&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaDd4KObgv8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRy4bGgMvOU&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVnmAmc7uOk&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp2oRCf5xlo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9d7P9uXbhY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt346NC1OmM

Alright, folks! That gives you about 40 minutes, you can do some great dancing with that! And remember, you can also explore the suggested videos on the right.

Have fun!

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Dance: A True and Everlasting Joy

*Mini introduction: everything I describe below is something that I myself have done many times!*

Have you ever signed up for a fitness class or bought a fitness DVD because it looked fun? If you’re not sure if you’ve done this or not, try to remember if the class/DVD was marketed using images of people with wide, smiling, hyper-happy faces. If so, then chances are you *did* buy/sign up for one of these things because you thought you would have had lots of fun. Well, that’s totally okay! Between work, home, school, traffic, bills, etc., we all have a lot of boring and sometimes stressful repetition in our lives, so we all need to let loose and have fun. So, when exercise, something that we should do anyway, is sold to us as “fun”, how can we resist?

Also, you signed up for this “super fun” class, or you popped in the “super fun” DVD, and it really was entertaining the first few times. But then, what happened? It got old. It became boring. You stopped doing it regularly, and you thought it was because you don’t have any willpower.

The truth is, though, that it has nothing to do with your willpower. You stopped having interest because you were given unreal expectations about having nonstop fun. And as you’ve realized, nothing that is pre-packaged and routine can be fun forever – it will always get boring.

The reason dance is never boring is because it is not pre-packaged, it is not routine, and it will never be the same. Whenever you dance, you will always experience different expressions created by different urges, unless you’re doing choreography of course, which we will not be doing in class.

This nature of dance that makes it different all the time is the same thing that will give you all-over muscle toning, as well as fat-burning, and cardiovascular conditioning. The body needs for movement to be varied, and dance provides this variety effortlessly.

All dance is wonderful in this way; it is always new, it is always exciting, it is always exhilarating. And in the Organic Belly Dance classes and workshops, you will not be taught to repeat moves like a robot, or to memorize moves like a machine, you will be shown how to come alive to the music, and you will be able to take that with you so you can practice it on your own and come alive everyday.

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The Story of The Amazing Human Body

I have become convinced that most people do not know how much physical potential they have. I have learned this from teaching dance for the past three years. Most participants doubt their ability when being taught a new move. When the move is shown to them they sometimes get a nervous look on their face, get intimidated and start slowing down, or make a joke at their own expense. That’s why part of my teaching method is to “trick” people into doing the moves.

One of the reasons we doubt ourselves when it comes to physical movement is because we’re not expected to do much in society. I’d like for you all to think about what we do on a regular basis. This is very important, because this has to do with every single one of us and how our bodies experience life on a daily basis. Everyday, we mostly do the same things, day in and day out: we wake up and do our daily morning run-around, we sit in the car and drive, we sit at our desks at work, or we stand around at work, we sit at desks at school, we sit in our cars again when we leave work, we meet up with our friends for dinner or drinks and again we’re sitting for that, we go home and sit on the couch and maybe watch some TV, maybe do some cleaning around the house, maybe some cooking, maybe we’ll go to the gym and do the same overly-repetitive things there for thirty minutes to an hour. 

What I want you to realize is that for most of us, sitting around is a large part of our lives. But even when we do get some movement, like from tending to chores or going to the gym, we still don’t get much physical variety, because there is a lot of repetition involved in both of those activities. 

 

Now, I’d like to share something very important with you: in our bodies, we all have 650 to 850 muscles (depending on who you ask), and about 200 bones. Let’s say for the sake of convenience that there are 700 muscles in the body. Seven hundred! That is a tremendous number. Of course, some muscles are very tiny, and some are massive, but knowing this number makes us realize just how much ability for physical variety we have. 

 

Think about what your body does on a daily basis, and think about how often you move, and how varied your movement is. Do you feel like that is the movement a body with 700 muscles was designed for? Your answer is probably “no”, and I completely relate. This is why I love dance so much, because I feel like I’m really utilizing my body as it was intended to be utilized. Dancing is a great way to use the body to its full potential. 

 

I’d also like you to think about all the different things different people do with their bodies, to remind you how much the human body can do, so you can see how versatile it is and how much fun you can have with yours: a human body can be a football player, runner, dancer, actress, golfer, sprinter, gardener, painter, climber, yogi, swimmer, jump rope champion, dog walker, diver, martial artist, the list is endless. If you think that you are too different to be compared to any of these things, remember that this is the story of the same human body, and these things are all accomplished with the same body that you have.

 

So, please remember all these things that your human body is capable of the next time you doubt what your body can do! Tell yourself that with 700 muscles and 200 bones your body is not only able to do anything you want it to do, it was designed to. In fact, I want you to put “700 muscles and 200 bones” on stick-it notes wherever you often find yourself lounging around for too long. I want you to see that note and remember that your body really does not want to sit around, it wants to move, live and be in use, that is its purpose. 

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Turning Off the Mind to Turn on The Joy

I have become convinced that most people do not know how much physical potential they have. I have learned this from teaching dance for the past three years. Most participants doubt their ability when being taught a new move. When the move is shown to them they sometimes get a nervous look on their face, get intimidated and start slowing down, or make a joke at their own expense. That’s why part of my teaching method is to “trick” people into doing the moves.

One of the reasons we doubt ourselves when it comes to physical movement is because we’re not expected to do much in society. I’d like for you all to think about what we do on a regular basis. This is very important, because this has to do with every single one of us and how our bodies experience life on a daily basis. Everyday, we mostly do the same things, day in and day out: we wake up and do our daily morning run-around, we sit in the car and drive, we sit at our desks at work, or we stand around at work, we sit at desks at school, we sit in our cars again when we leave work, we meet up with our friends for dinner or drinks and again we’re sitting for that, we go home and sit on the couch and maybe watch some TV, maybe do some cleaning around the house, maybe some cooking, maybe we’ll go to the gym and do the same overly-repetitive things there for thirty minutes to an hour. 

 

What I want you to realize is that for most of us, sitting around is a large part of our lives. But even when we do get some movement, like from tending to chores or going to the gym, we still don’t get much physical variety, because there is a lot of repetition involved in both of those activities. 

 

Now, I’d like to share something very important with you: in our bodies, we all have 650 to 850 muscles (depending on who you ask), and about 200 bones. Let’s say for the sake of convenience that there are 700 muscles in the body. Seven hundred! That is a tremendous number. Of course, some muscles are very tiny, and some are massive, but knowing this number makes us realize just how much ability for physical variety we have. 

 

Think about what your body does on a daily basis, and think about how often you move, and how varied your movement is. Do you feel like that is the movement a body with 700 muscles was designed for? Your answer is probably “no”, and I completely relate. This is why I love dance so much, because I feel like I’m really utilizing my body as it was intended to be utilized. Dancing is a great way to use the body to its full potential. 

 

I’d also like you to think about all the different things different people do with their bodies, to remind you how much the human body can do, so you can see how versatile it is and how much fun you can have with yours: a human body can be a football player, runner, dancer, actress, golfer, sprinter, gardener, painter, climber, yogi, swimmer, jump rope champion, dog walker, diver, martial artist, the list is endless. If you think that you are too different to be compared to any of these things, remember that this is the story of the same human body, and these things are all accomplished with the same body that you have.

 

So, please remember all these things that your human body is capable of the next time you doubt what your body can do! Tell yourself that with 700 muscles and 200 bones your body is not only able to do anything you want it to do, it was designed to. In fact, I want you to put “700 muscles and 200 bones” on stick-it notes wherever you often find yourself lounging around for too long. I want you to see that note and remember that your body really does not want to sit around, it wants to move, live and be in use, that is its purpose. 

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Dancing Without Obligation

When I first started dancing a little over a decade ago I was so excited to have found something I both enjoyed and that was so good for me.  But classes became very boring for me because, as I’ve talked about many times before, I had to be instructed, or I had to repeat choreographies – there was no actual dancing.

 

I eventually got so bored with this dance class format I stopped taking classes. I danced at home everyday instead, and watched all of my favorite Belly Dancers on video or online over and over again. These two things were what really took my dancing ability as well as my weight loss to the next level.  

 

People who knew I loved to dance would ask me why I didn’t join a dance troupe. Even one of my favorite teachers asked me to perform with her troupe. 

 

“Rita, you would be great!”  

 

“Rita, dance with us just one time and see how you like it!”

 

Of course I was very happy to be hearing this from my dance teacher. Being as overweight as I was, it gave me a much needed boost in my self-esteem to hear that she wanted me to represent her by being a part of her troupe. But something about it turned me off. At first I thought I was being self-conscious but I loved dancing in front of others, so that couldn’t have been it. 

 

Something about the actual troupe turned me off. They were all wonderful, beautiful dancers, and it was a compliment to be asked to join them. But something – I did not know what at the time – turned me off to the whole thing. 

 

 

A few weeks later I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who was trying to figure out which career direction he wanted to take after college. He said he’d gotten a lot of compliments on his writing, and that he’d love to become a writer, but he didn’t want to hang out with other writers all the time. I wondered why that made sense to me, then he explained himself. He said that as much as he loved writing he didn’t want to be a part of the “writer’s world”. He didn’t want to have to go to events where all the other people were going to be “stuffy” and want to talk about their latest book that you didn’t care about, or go to writer’s groups and workshops all the time. He had done the research and felt confident that he would be obligated to constantly interact with other writers. He wanted to be a writer, but he didn’t want the lifestyle of a writer. So, he decided to do it as a hobby instead of as a career. 

 

As he was telling me all of this I nodded throughout because I “got it”. What he said about being obligated to live a different lifestyle made me think of the dance troupe I refused to become a part of. 

 

I really loved Belly Dancing, but I didn’t want to be burdened with rehearsals, costumes, performances, making friends and family buy tickets to shows, and all of the other stuff that comes along with being in a dance troupe. On top of all of the non-dancing time I’d have to put in, dancing would also become work  and it would stop being fun, and I knew if it stopped being fun I would stop doing it, and I loved it too much to let that happen. 

 

There was also another element to my non-interest in joining a troupe: I would have to spend lots of time with these other troupe members, and frankly, I wasn’t sure if I liked them enough to want to do so. Plus, it seemed to me that they all would hang out together after rehearsals and performances – they had become friends. Like most groups of friends, they all dressed kind of the same, talked about the same things, went to the same kinds of places – it was a clique, and I did not feel like I fit in. 

 

I know that dance troupes often provide a very warm community for a lot of women. Many of you who are reading are part of or have been part of a troupe. The community of the dance troupe can be very healing and wonderful, but I did not want to be part of a community,  or circle, because I already had my own. I just wanted to dance, and I have seen that there are many women who badly want to dance but don’t join dance groups because they think their lifestyle is going to change drastically. That’s why when I started teaching I made my classes a comfortable, no-pressure place only to learn, exercise, and have fun. I designed the classes in a way that has made them very non-intrusive in people’s lives. Now you can dance without having to have a dancer’s complex and busy lifestyle. 

 

This way we can all benefit from dance, without having to live lives that are too different from what we want them to be. 

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Latin Dance, Shame, and Liberation

As many of you already know, I teach Belly Dance, but I am very interested in all kinds of world music, and I often preach about the benefits of listening to music from different parts of the world. In my exploration of world music I have noticed that different kinds of music provide different kinds of benefits to the mind and body. Because of this, I have decided to give music of different sections of the globe their own blog post; today’s will be about Latin dance music.

 

I mentioned in an older post how Latin dance music is so cheerful and fiery it tends to balance out the greyness during the colder months of the year. I’ve known many people who experience considerable dips in their moods as we approach the fall. To remedy this, I find (once again!) that dance is very helpful. Latin dance music, like Salsa or Merengue, seems to be very balancing during this time when people are generally more lethargic, need more energy, or feel generally more sad and depressed. There is something very energizing and uplifting about the Latin beat. 

 

 

Another way in which I find Latin music to be very healing is in situations where a person has a lot of physical shame – the kind of shame that is brought on by verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, or from having grown up in an environment where sex and the female body were considered “dirty” or “sinful”.  As both a person who does bodywork as well as teaches Belly Dance, I have encountered many women who carry this burden. I’ve seen over and over again that the woman who has gone through one or several of these things without having worked through her issues tends to be very “frozen” in her body. She doesn’t dance much, she doesn’t exercise much – if she does it’s usually not for long, she doesn’t partake in pleasure of any kind – if she does it’s usually in short spurts and she feels guilty afterwards. As you may recall from an earlier post, I mention how the human body, with its 700 muscles and 200 bones, was designed for movement – shame, because of its tendency to tremendously impede a person, does not belong anywhere in the human body. 

 

I have found that Latin dance, with its fun and lighthearted take on sex tends to be very therapeutic for this kind of shame. There is an innocence expressed in the sexuality of this dance. I think this is because everyone has to be very open with their bodies while dancing – there is no shame whatsoever as people use their hips and pelvises so actively and joyfully. In Salsa and Merengue the hips have to be engaged in order to make the feet do what they must – this helps people come out of the frozenness their shame has caused. 

 

Another reason Latin dance helps release shame is because when we’re dancing we’re borrowing the attitude of the people of Latin countries.  Sexual liberation is far more common in the countries that gave us Salsa and Merengue, so because of this we take on that sexually liberated attitude when we dance these dances, and this attitude can become very healing and comforting to those of us who have shame, and it helps bring balance to our physical experience. 

 

Those of you who do experience this kind of shame, I urge you to listen to Latin music, watch people dance to it, and copy them. Some of you may feel very uncomfortable, or it may bring up some unwanted feelings or memories, keep a journal to log these feelings as they arise, and go about the process slowly and patiently. Over time, you will climb the mountain of shame and reach the peak of renewal.  Use dance to gauge how frozen you are. Use dance to know yourself and heal yourself, and you will eventually come to realize the truth that there is nothing wrong or dirty about you.  

Music can help you heal if you work with it, and if you let it. 

 

Please keep in mind that if the body-shame or depression you feel is overwhelming or becomes debilitating I urge you to look for ways to improve, like by speaking with a professional. 

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A Pleasure That Heals

How many times have you overindulged?  In sugar, fat, starch, sex, chocolate, cheese, wine, reality television, shopping, gossiping, lounging, or whatever else it is that you may indulge in? 

We all do it, some of us do it a little bit, and some of us do it a lot, to the point that it becomes a guilt-ridden burden that is too hard to release. But no matter the degree of severity, we all do it. 

 

I’d like you to think about whatever it is that you may indulge in, and think about how much pleasure you actually receive from your overindulging. I was an overeater for a long time (which was largely caused by my starvation dieting), so my overindulgence/addiction of choice was food. I remember when I started becoming a bit more body-wise and paying attention to my eating (or rather, my non-eating and overeating), I noticed that when I let myself “go” and happily shoved my face in a bag of chips or pint (or two) of ice cream that I wasn’t really enjoying it. What I was enjoying was the letting go – letting go of counting every single calorie I put in my mouth, letting go of looking up how many calories I burned during my workout, letting go of weighing myself everyday. I was enjoying the letting go of rigidity and over-control. 

 

By paying attention I saw that the activity I was using to let go with – the eating – was actually not as enjoyable as I always assumed it to be. I realized that there was never really any pleasure, just temporary relief from control during the zombie-like state I was in while I was doing it, and lots of guilt afterwards. 

 

I imagine that the over-indulging of many people is the same way. It is the “being good” that gets exhausting and creates a need for release, not a lack of will power, that leads us to overdo it.   

Dance gave me this release when I was overeating. It gave me release, as well as gave me exercise so I was able to undo the physical effects of my overeating, and from dance I was getting real pleasure, the kind I was seeking and not finding from my overindulgence. 

When I started regularly letting music into my body through dance, I no longer needed to fill it with extra food in order to feel good

By dancing I got pleasure, which was what my body was really after, and I slowly dropped my unhealthy habits. Dance satisfied all of my urges, and fed all of my real cravings. 

 

This is because the kind of pleasure you get from dance is so deep and satisfying, because you’re feeling the music in your body, and the music swishes around in you as you move, and this pleasurable sensation increases with every move you make. Also, this is a pleasure you feel without feeling guilty afterwards, without gaining weight, without damaging your body in any way. 

Dance is one of the few physical pleasures that is very healthy and improves our bodies and minds in many ways. 

 

I’d like you all to examine which overindulgence(s) you find yourself regretting, and really pay attention to how you feel while you’re overindulging. Think about how much pleasure you’re really getting. If you feel like you need a better substitute for your indulgence, I urge you to find a better way to give yourself stress-relief and pleasure. Of course, my mission in life is to promote dance and music for healing, so naturally I’m going to suggest you start dancing to give yourself the joy you need. 

I invite you to bring this pleasure into your life, and see how treating your body and mind to dance will help bring you back to balance. 

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Dance As A Window Inside

As much as I promote the many benefits dance has for the mind and body, there have been many times that even I did not feel like dancing. 

A few years ago, every time I had a disappointment with a man I could not dance. My feet were too heavy with heartbreak to be able to move. I used to try to remedy this by listening to slow music, and dancing slowly. I did this thinking that since I was so weighed down by my heartache it would serve me better to try to move with something that was also “weighed down”, that by doing this I would not have to try to catch up and feel even heavier when I could not keep up. This did help a little bit because I was tricking myself into movement, because the slowness of the music helped me ease into movement, with no pressure. 

 At first I was too unaware to realize the reason I couldn’t dance was because of my relationship woes. I would assume that I was too tired, or that I was too hungry, or too full.  But I finally made the obvious connection, and the way I figured out I couldn’t dance because of my heartbreak was the same way I learned other things about myself through dance. Some days I noticed that some parts were harder to move, some seemed to want to move a lot easier than others and reacted to music much more, sometimes my entire lower body was out of sorts and moved awkwardly, or sometimes I just felt like doing the same move over and over for half an hour. 

 

Some of the things I noticed were indicative of my mood that day, or that week, but others taught me deeper things about myself; things that had been present in my body for a long time. A major one was when I learned about how uncomfortable I was about sexuality and being a woman. I noticed that my lower body was a lot more awkward and slower than my upper body. Of course it is generally this way with most people, but I felt that it was a lot more pronounced with me. And I knew I wasn’t comparing myself to other dancers, this was me knowing whole-heartedly that there was unnecessary stagnancy in my body. 

This stagnancy was from having grown up in an environment with extremely rigid cultural and religious beliefs about the female body, as well as a lot of judgement being passed on a regular basis about women who showed the slightest indication that they did not have extremely conservative and rigid lifestyles. I also remember being constantly praised and showered with affection for being such a “good girl”. I must have at some point associated being a sexually expressive (and normal…and healthy) woman with no longer being this “good girl” and consequently no longer receiving this praise and affection.  

Because of this upbringing I lived form the waist up. I became very head-centered, very cerebral, developing a massively impressive vocabulary, reading books that were too intellectual for my own entertainment or enrichment, learning as much as I could, learning languages, getting anxiety from over-thinking, and getting more and more overweight from lack of movement.  

When I realized the extent of my shame-induced immobility, I had to start working to undo it. Just as I had eased myself into movement when I was heartbroken by listening to slow music, I was again going to be slow and gave myself a lot of time to slowly ease myself into unashamed and uninhibited dance. It ended up taking months to feel more lightness in my lower body, but it was worth it.

I did this not only because I enjoyed to dance so much, but because I knew that since my shame was hindering me physically it would also hinder me emotionally, and in all ways, because it is with our bodies we experience life, and I wanted to experience it as much as possible. 

There is, of course, a reason I am sharing this with you. I want you all to try this the next time you dance, which I hope will be soon! And you don’t have to be some sort of body guru to be able to do this for yourself. Everyone can use dance in this way to figure out where the physical or emotional imbalance lies. All you have to do is be slow and patient, pay attention to how you feel when you’re dancing, and let your body do what it wants to do. You will learn much and your life in your body will be made lighter and be enriched.

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The 30 Day Dance Challenge

Alright, folks! I know you’ve all heard of weight loss challenges, workout challenges, healthy eating challenges, or whatever other kind of good habit challenges, so I thought we’d add a dance challenge into the mix as well!

If you want to see improvements in your life in the areas of stamina, flexibility, weight loss, and better spirits, then you absolutely must partake in this challenge!

You must, for thirty consecutive days, dance for at the very least, ten minutes. You can do this in the morning before you go to work, around the house when you get home, out with friends, or even in your office or cubicle during a break – if you’re comfortable enough with your coworkers!

Ten minutes is all you need! That’s only about two songs!

I know you can do this.

Also, in my experience, I’ve noticed that when I set out to do something positive for myself, I get unexpected blessings in different areas in my life, like more “good luck”, if you will.

I will be posting everyday on the Facebook page to announce I’ve done my daily dance for the challenge, so make sure you’re connected there to get your reminders!

The 30 Day Dance Challenge will begin tomorrow, November 1st.

Remember, this will be very easy and tremendously good for you!

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To Uplift Instead of To Make Numb

Have you noticed all the positive messages you see when you log on to Facebook? It’s usually images of beautiful scenery with a quote over it about letting go of anger, forgiving, moving on, being thankful, etc. I’ve done my fair share of sharing these kinds of pictures too, both on my personal page as well as the Facebook page for Soul Blossom Dance. But have you noticed how you always feel a little better after reading them? That’s why they’re so popular and all over social media, because people always like them, and will always click “like”.

I want to point out, though, that not everything temporarily uplifting is good for you. In fact, it can be detrimental to your well-being. Sounds like a crazy statement, I know. But anger, sadness, and any form of discontentment can be very important indications; they can be signs to get yourself moving towards a big necessary change in your life; a change that will make you much happier than the temporary relief any uplifting message can make you.

Don’t use positivity to get yourself comfortable because being comfortable can hold you back.

If you’re constantly feeling any discontent for whatever reason, and constantly needing relief with quotes, uplifting books, and positive messages anywhere you can find them, then perhaps it’s time to put the positivity away, and time to get down in the “dirt” and start planting a new life.

There is a purpose and function for everything we experience, even the negative feelings we feel. These feelings can be the lighthouse in a storm, because they tell you which direction to move in your life and what to do to get yourself moving in that direction. So don’t be afraid If you’re constantly bogged down with sadness and anger, it just means that there is a big change needed in your life – maybe a different job, maybe a different city, or any different reason to get up in the morning, maybe right now you don’t have a reason at all to get up in the morning.

Sometimes we think there is something wrong with us, and we need to read self-help books to make us “better”. But that’s not what it is, it’s our lives that need to be better – not us. We are fine the way we are, we just need to implement our innate tools to make our lives more a reflection of our true and whole God-created nature. Yes, it is scary to make big changes, but always remember that big change is not even half as terrifying as staying in the same situation. And remember that all big changes can be taken in calm, small, steady action after action. It will only be overwhelming if you paint it that way in your mind, and the mind sure does like to paint things in overwhelming ways.

We must be careful not to numb ourselves with positivity to the point that we are complacent, but to uplift us to a point where we can make the changes necessary to live in truth and cheer. And remember, anything that makes us feel better can be detrimental to us in this way: jogging, venting to friends, sex, even dance (as dear as it is to me) can be misused to numb you instead of to uplift you.

Every week, I tie in (or try to tie in) dance with my message. This week I’m tying it in by telling you not to misuse dance, or not to misuse anything by using it to numb yourself when you should be angry, or sad, or just plain not feeling right, if it’s those feelings that you need to transform your life into something much better.

Of course, once you’re aware and certain that you are not using dance as a means of numbing entertainment, then it will benefit you tremendously, especially when you are trying to make big changes in your life. It does this because when we dance we use our bodies and the activity of our overactive brains is lessened, leaving us with more clear and balanced thoughts as opposed to ones of anxiety and worry. And dance also helps us shake off our stress like all exercise does, and it doesn’t even feel like exercise.

I always talk about how its benefits are numerous, but it especially helps those of us going through upheaval in our lives.

Dance through the chaos, and it’ll be easier to go through. That’s what dance is for.

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Dancing The Guilt Away

As many of you know I’m very interested in holistic health and medicine. I’m on the mailing lists of many acupuncturists, bodyworkers, holistic doctors, Reiki practitioners, weight loss coaches etc, and get lots of emails throughout the week. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot people talk about the effects of guilt on the body, particularly, guilt from having eaten too much.

 The belief is that the guilt you let yourself wallow in after having eaten an unnecessarily large meal is just as toxic, if not more, than whatever unhealthy food you ate. You already know that I firmly and whole-heartedly believe in the effects that emotions have on our physical body, so it’s no surprise that I fully believe this theory. 

 A long time ago, probably when we were very young, we associated the act of overeating with the emotion of guilt. These two things became forever side by side, like peanut butter and jelly! This is a man-made pairing though, an unnecessary one, one that we’ve taken on merely out of habit. And like many other habits we’ve picked up from society, it does not serve us. In fact, it hurts us.

Even if you look at it from a scientific point of view you will see how unhealthy for you guilt is. When  you are under stress, fat-storing hormones are released, making it that much more challenging to lose unwanted weight. (That’s all I know..please Google “cortisol” for more info!)

I want you to know too that there is absolutely no need to feel guilty for eating. Your body was designed in such a way that it needs food, and it enjoys eating it. Your desire of food is innate and natural, guilt is not. Guilt will actually complicate your relationship with food, in such a way that binds you with it more. This is because when we feel guilty about eating, we will always be drawn to and obsessed with it because we’re in search of that feeling of satisfaction and pleasure fulfilled, because when you eat with guilt you never let yourself eat with satisfaction, so you have to keep eating cause you’re on this endless search.

 When you release the feelings of guilt that you get from food, you will release the obsessive hold it has over you. Once you’ve developed a healthy, guilt-free relationship with food you will see the truth of food – that it is something that is pleasurable and healthy, and life-giving. You will also eat just as much as you need, and you will be nourished and free. But you will only get to this point by letting go of guilt. But guilt will bind you to it more and make you eat more..interesting, isn’t it? 

The next time you find yourself having overeaten (and you will, I will, we all will, because we’re human!), pay attention to how you feel. If you’re feeling any guilt, please turn the music on instead and dance. Dance the guilt away, and bring back that healthy carefree way of being that you were born with. Of course, you should wait about 40 minutes so you’ve properly digested your food! Once that’s done, get dancing –  easily, lightly, comfortably, to bring yourself back to balance.

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Dancing Yourself Out Of Depression

Around five years ago, I found myself with a very intense depression. It seemed to have crept up on me out of nowhere. I found myself not wanting to get out of bed, not wanting to work, not wanting to joke and laugh, and not going anywhere – literally and figuratively. I didn’t have energy or interest for anything. I never wanted to see my friends. I became very disinterested in life in general.  On the outside I looked bored, sometimes mopey perhaps, but on the inside it felt much deeper, and more permanent than the fleeting and temporary nature of boredom. 

 I also remember how I was so aware of how quickly and persistently life was still happening. That stuck out in my mind for some reason – how despite my not wanting to participate in life, life still went on without me. It made me feel even crummier, but what did I expect? The world had to still turn on its axis, the sun still rose in the morning, set at night and made way for the moon, the 405 was still packed with rushing people going to work, commercials were still running on my TV telling me what to buy, fashion magazines were still being printed and showing up in my mailbox, people were still going out, having fun, getting married, getting divorced, dying, and being born. There was so much excited and wonderful madness and it was all still going on all the time, and it would still go on no matter how much I didn’t get out of bed, no matter how much I didn’t care about jumping back into it.  

It finally hit me after many months of this. Life, in all it’s fast-moving excitement was so magical for having this ability: with all the horrible things happening in life – all the wars, crime, death, loss, and pain, life still chose to live itself. I craved to learn from this and mimic it. 

 

Movement was nature, and I wanted to be natural. I wanted to move and live again. I wanted to be full-force and live and be lived despite all the  things that tried to get in my way, I wanted to be like life itself. 

I remember hearing one time how dance is good for us because it teaches us to go with the rhythm of life, how by learning to go faster when the beat is faster, and slower when the beat is slower, we learn how to be in tune and in harmony with the ups and downs life gives us.  I remember this clicking for me: dance would get me back into the rhythm of life again, and that it would make me be alive the way I was supposed to be. 

Around the same time this happened, my mother, out of nowhere, gifted me with an Indian music CD. She had gone to Little India and decided to walk in to a film shop to buy me something, knowing how much I enjoy Indian movies and music. She’d never bought me music before, so it was quite odd, or rather,  quite perfect, as it ended up being exactly what I needed. 

Maybe I’m easily amused, or easily made happy, or maybe music really is that powerful, which is, (no surprise to you) precisely what I believe. The music on this CD was so upbeat, so fast, and such an amazing thing for my ears and and body to experience. The fastness of it was in great contrast to my slow and unmoving state brought on by my depression, and brought me back to balance. It made me so deeply happy to dance to these songs I started dancing to them everyday, and everyday I did a little bit more for myself than I did the day before, and over the course of a couple of months, I was back to my old self again. Well…maybe I wasn’t the exact same – I think I had become a teensy bit stronger and wiser. 

Many things can cause depression, but it’s usually a culmination of a lot of little things over time. One of these things is when you don’t give yourself permission to live the life you want, or when you don’t express yourself the way you want, either through how you want to live your life, or through anger that you haven’t expressed, or sometimes it could be because of something you haven’t gotten off your chest. Being true to yourself is hard, I know, but it’s easier going through the challenges and obstacles that doing this will provide, than to go through a life unlived and completely miserable. 

Again, dance helps us be in harmony with life, because dance is movement, and life is complete and constant movement. We have to be like life itself if we’re going to live ours properly – always in harmony, always moving, and always celebrating. 

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This Is How You Really “Let Go”

Today’s dance motivation message was inspired by yet another phrase we hear all the time:

“Let go”

In a previous post, I talked about how the phrase “love your body” is always thrown at us, and it sounds so wonderful and we nod and think “of course!” but we really have no idea what it means to love our bodies, or where to even begin doing so. 

 “Let go” is another one of those that sounds so magical, and at first it makes sense. It makes sense, that is, until we think about it more. We’ve all gone through terrible and heartbreaking events in our lives, and we’d all like to “let go”. Who wouldn’t? But HOW do you let go? Everyone talks about WHY you should do it, or all the good things that happen to you AFTER you do it, but no one tells you HOW to do it. I think it’s worse to tell someone how much better their life will be by doing something but NOT being able to tell them how to do it. Regardless, a lot of people still talk about “letting go” because it’s one of those instant popularity makers. No one will contest and disagree with anyone who says “let go”. 

I am going to tell you the big secret behind letting go; I’m going to tell you the big HOW behind letting go: you have to keep MOVING. The more you move, the more your heavy “stuff” releases itself of you on its own. You have to keep moving forward, and you must move forward in the figurative sense – by planning, setting goals, working on those goals, and accomplishing. When we do constant action of this kind – LIFE action – the more the old STUFF gets pushed out with the new. No action means stagnancy, and where there is stagnancy there is wallowing, wondering, and regretting, and it is these things that keep us holding on to the past so much that we are burdened by it. 

 And you must also move in the literal sense, through any kind of physical activity, and you must do this on a regular basis. I remember seeing a Nike ad one time, showing a vague outline of a woman jogging. As this outline-woman ran, from her was coming off all these things that had been attached to her, and they were shown as just words melting off, words like “fear”, “regret”, “pain”, “shame”, “anger”. I loved that ad so, so much. That’s how I feel when I’m dancing up a sweat. I feel like all of my heavy “stuff” gets pushed out with my deep exhalations, and like I’ve sweated out all physical and emotional toxins. I really believe with all of my being that this happens when we move. 

 Dance is thousands of years old, and is very powerful. When you do it you send out a very powerful message to the universe, and to your God. When you dance you are saying that despite anything that’s happened that’s tried to hold you back, you will still partake in the dance of life, and you will still partake in the celebration of life, because that is what dance symbolizes. Use this symbol to help yourself realize what a true celebration life is. 

*The more you celebrate life, the less your past will burden you. Keep celebrating, and you will no longer notice or feel the stuff you have to “let go”.*  

So, you have to MOVE away from the past, you have to ACTION away from the past. Without action, nothing will be different, nothing will happen. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, the world doesn’t stop existing, rotating on its axis, or revolving around the sun because of all the nasty things that’s happened to it through pollution, wars, and crime. It just keeps moving. Take a cue from this.

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The Blessing Disguised As The Curse

Most American women have grown up with the belief that our menstrual cycle is our curse. Our culture tells us that our period is something to be dreaded at worst and to be annoyed by at the very least. We see it in television and print ads too, where Mother Nature is portrayed as a sort of stuffy and rigid pest who won’t leave you alone and relentlessly tracks you down month after month. The way our culture handles menstruation is annoying, but the most annoying part to most women is experiencing the actual PMS, when we go through what feels like utter emotional chaos – sadness, anger, sensitivity – all mixed into one excruciating experience. 

What I’m about to say may be upsetting to some of you, especially those of you who get really bad PMS, but I believe this chaos that we go through is a gift from nature – not a curse. 

Shocking, I know, but I whole-heartedly believe that PMS is meant to help us. Humor me for a second: women are conditioned to be nurturers, to be sweet, and to be affectionate. These expectations persist no matter how much has been accomplished with women’s rights, and the message to be this way is still rampant in our culture. Now, the reason I think that PMS is a gift is because I believe that all the unpleasant things we feel and the unpleasant ways we act is Mother Nature bringing us back to balance; to give us a break from being that thinly-stretched caregiver during the rest of the month.

For those of you who get very moody during PMS, you have to look deeper into what it is that makes you react this way during this time. The things that make you lash out during PMS are more often than not, things that also bother you when you’re not pmsing.  Maybe you’re too nurturing during non-PMS times – and not nurturing enough of yourself, or maybe you’re too indifferent or too excusing of bothersome things around you, because maybe you gave in to society’s pressure to be nice and pleasant all the time instead of setting boundaries with the people in your life about what is the right or wrong way to treat you.  

I noticed this with myself, when I look back at my lash-outs during PMS it’s always in reaction to something excruciatingly annoying that I’d have to put up with from others all the time, things that I would silently excuse, but when I have PMS I become vocal about these things. I EXPRESS my discontent, and this is what I believe is the point of it all. 

Think about all the different things us women are expected to be: affectionate, tender, and authoritative with our children, on top of our game and excelling at work, a caring shoulder to cry on for our girlfriends, and sex sirens for our men. I say thank God for PMS. Thank God it makes us get mad, cry, and let it all out. Without that outlet I’m pretty sure we’d be completely miserable with all these different roles we have to juggle all the time. 

I understand that for some women certain diet changes, like removing sugar or animal products, can improve the mood swings of PMS, but this up and down cycle will and SHOULD always be there.

This is all, of course, just my theory and another part of this theory is that women who don’t suffer severe mood swings and emotional disturbances during PMS are that way because they already have the balance that I am proposing Mother Nature is gifting the rest of us with. 

I want you to be more understanding and easy on yourself for being a woman. Our ups and downs are a part of who we are; what makes us the tender creators we came here to be. I’d also like for you to examine yourself when that time of the month comes, and pay attention to what it is that upsets you. I’m pretty sure that if the same things arise for you every time you experience mood swings that you very likely need to be more vocal about your wants, pet peeves, and any and every thing that makes you growl on the inside all month long. No one will be destroyed by this. In fact, you could very well enhance your relationships by being more communicative. 

This is yet another reason why I love dance so very much: it helps me when I’m feeling more emotional during that time of the month, or whatever time for that matter. Dance is self-expression. It lets us express our sadness and rage, aside from the lighter and lovelier feelings. You sweat out a lot more than fluid when you dance yourself into a frenzy. Try this today and see what I’m talking about. Dance to the point that you’ve forgotten yourself, and do this regularly. 

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The Great Fade Away

Another thing you’re told to do all the time: confront people that have upset you, tell them how you feel. Well, this only works with people that are healthy for you and good for you to keep in your life – people you should want to maintain a relationship with.

When you sit someone down and tell them what’s bothering you about something they said or did or didn’t do, they will want to defend and uphold their image, and want to make up for whatever wrong they did. At least, MOST people will want to make up for it. This is because it is human nature to want to change a person’s mind when they’re feeling negatively about you.

Now that you’ve told them they upset you they’re going to make it up to you, but they’ll only do the bare minimum to right their wrong, just enough so you can’t say they didn’t do anything about it, but because they acknowledged and resolved your discontent (no matter how half-assed the resolution was) you are now obligated to remain in and maintain the friendship or relationship. If this person upsets you repeatedly, your confrontation with them has made you BIND yourself even further with someone you should have just simply walked away from. Now you feel you have no reason to leave because they “fixed” the problem and made it all “better”.

If a friend or significant other repeatedly drives you to confrontation the answer is not more confrontation – the answer is to walk away. The people in our lives who fill the roles of friend, best friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife are there to satisfy the emotional needs we have that are related to each of these roles. If you have to constantly tell someone that they upset you then the best this relationship will be is one of avoiding unhappiness, which is so painfully far from what the relationship should be – one of providing great happiness. You are not on the same wavelength with a person like this and you will very likely never be able to go from a situation of avoiding unhappiness to a situation of providing great happiness and it is best to end it.

When you are ready to end this relationship, again you can’t do it with confrontation for the same reasons. End it by gently fading away – steadily decrease the frequency of communication and move on. Doing it this way slowly loosens the emotional knot in which you’re tied together whereas confrontation tightens it.

If it’s a situation like a marriage or a very long-term relationship or friendship, calmly and gently let the person know that it’s time for you to part ways, that it’s not their fault and you don’t hold any anger towards them, and that you wish them well. Okay, that’s way too simple an approach, I know! But the point is: don’t come from a place of anger. Anger will create the same binding effect as confrontation.

My messages are usually tied into dance, but that’s not really the case this time! Well, except that maybe if you look at the fade away as a form of honoring yourself, and dance is another way in which you honor yourself…and these two forms of honoring yourself go well together….? Ok I admit, I got nothin’! But I did want to share this message with you and I hope it helped you!

Sending you well wishes as you begin your fade-aways, and remember that all will always end up well :)

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The Nature of Being Overweight

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m on the email lists of a lot of alternative health professionals and experts – like acupuncturists, Reiki practitioners, chakra healers, weight loss gurus, etc. I like getting their weekly emails because there’s usually lots of inspirational tidbits, and every now and then I’ll get some great info. 

One of the ladies I get emails from is none of the above-mentioned experts though, she’s a “life coach” and I don’t remember how I got on her list. I’m not going to knock the field of life coaching, because I know life coaches are able to bring great positive change into their clients’ lives, although that is rare. But I was getting a bad feeling about this particular life coach, mostly because of the quality of the message of her last few emails. This last email however, really took my doubt to the next level – the level of outright dislike. 

This particular life coach – let’s call her “Perky the Princess” – always talks in her emails about having been very overweight at one time in her life, and how she lost a lot of weight because she stopped thinking and obsessing over exercise and diet and decided instead to fully live and love life. I, believe it or not, will not knock this method, but I don’t have enough respect for the messenger because I get the feeling she simplifies things too much. 

The last email solidified my teetering dislike of her, because she said something very unfair. She was trying to get a message across, a message of how “unnatural” it is to be overweight. She said “if you search among the animals in the animal kingdom, you will not find any of them to be overweight – human beings are the only animals that get themselves overweight…” 

Oh, Miss Perky the Princess. Firstly, not all characteristics of the animal kingdom should be copied by human beings. Lots of birds, for example, leave their young the minute they learn to fly. Should we leave our children as soon as they learn how to walk?  Or should we hibernate all throughout the winter like bears? Or should we eat our babies like some spiders? 

Or Perky the Princess could also say, “you know, human beings are the only kind of animal that form words and sentences and communicate with each other that way. No other animal does that..so we should stop doing that too. We should squeal like dolphins, or chirp like sparrows.”

Weight gain is an ability of the natural human body which makes it a human and natural occurrence. If it wasn’t “natural” to be overweight then instead of getting bloated, storing fat, and increasing in volume after a period overeating… you would die instead. 

This mentality is very dangerous to people who are overweight and wish to lose weight, and it’s not just Perky the Princess spewing this stuff, a lot of people are using the “nature” angle. If you’re overweight and you feel like you have to lose weight because you’re convinced it’s “not natural”, then you’re just putting pressure on yourself, which is probably in addition to the ton of pressure you already have as an overweight person living in a society like this where people pay someone thousands of dollars who tells them “animals don’t get fat so if you’re fat you’re not normal”. You have to come from a place of calm to heal yourself of the need for emotional and physical cushioning. You have to have lots of silence, lots of rest, enough exercise, enough hydration, and a daily practice in acceptance. It will harm your efforts if you try to “fix” yourself, because your subconscious will sabotage your attempts at losing weight until you learn that there is nothing wrong with you that needs to be “fixed”. You are perfect just the way you are; and in your heart of hearts you already know this.

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Belly Dancers: Stop Singing!

A tip I am compelled to share with the ladies who aspire to be professional belly dancers: Try with all your might to fight the urge to sing/lip synch along to the song you’re performing to. This puts your focus into your head and away from your body and takes away from the quality of the performance, especially when you’re improvising. This is because when you’re singing or lip synching, your focus is on hearing and repeating/mouthing the lyrics (a cerebral/brain activity), which is the opposite from feeling the music with your body and reacting to it (dancing).

It’s also very distracting to the people in the audience, who have come to see you dance, not move your lips. I see lots of belly dancers do this. A little bit is okay, but watch out for how much you do it.

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Today Is Earth Day

Today is Earth Day!

The Earth gives us a ground to crawl on as babies, to stand on, to build our homes on, to play on, to dance on, and to fall in love on. We need to always show gratitude for this grand love under our feet. ~ Rita

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I Can’t Say This Enough

Music is such a profound healer. It soothes our pain the instant we hear it, and being with it gives us that pleasure that we are in endless pursuit of by way of vice, and if we let it, it can fill that void that led us to vice in the first place.

Whenever I have stood back and noticed imbalance in my life, it was when I didn’t make time to be with music.

And you truly have to “be” with music – that is: do not force yourself to work up a sweat, or force yourself to do it somewhere in public on a Friday night while looking sexy, or to be “perfect” about it in any way. Just be with beautiful music that your heart and body loves, and feel it in your body, and feel your body receive it and react to it. A little bit of this everyday goes a long, long way for your body, mind, and spirit.

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No Title

Sometimes we want something and in our minds leave it as that, with the label of want.

But slowly we realize that this want is really a need. I have come to realize that most of my wants are soul-needs, and when I listen to my inner voice and my heart long enough I learn why it is that those needs are there.

There may be things that you want, and you might think you don’t need need them. Maybe it’s a new bicycle, more plants in your home, or a new pair of shoes. You may tell yourself that money is a little tight at the moment and it’s not the right time, you have other bills to pay, etc. But the new bicycle will get you outside into nature, which is healing to the soul and great for the body, the plants can filter the air in your environment, and the shoes can be oh-so-yummy and heart-healing eye candy.

Please re-examine what you think are your “wants” and consider what true good they can do for you.

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Music, The Heavenly Healer

What forty-five minutes of excited dance done to my favorites songs does for my face outshines all face creams and cosmetic surgery procedures. And if it does this for my face, God only knows what it does for my soul.

This is because music is from Heaven, and in its heavenly way it permeates our bodies in the most gentle way and most easy way. Its entrance into our beings is easy because we are able to let go and let it in because it feels so wonderful. And once it’s in it moves all the dross around and out through our sweat, and makes us new.

I can never be thankful enough for being born in a time and place where I can enjoy this music, this Heavenly and healing Thing, anytime and anywhere.

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Tips To Get Yourself Moving

Ok, so by now we all know there are several emotional, psychological, and physical benefits to dancing, but sometimes we really need to get up the energy to do it.

Here are two tips:

1) Only, only, ONLY listen to music that you absolutely love. Don’t listen to music that you think you “should” dance to – meaning, when for example, you make yourself listen to Arabic Belly Dance music because you’re taking a Belly Dance class, or listening to Latin music because that’s what you’re used to, etc., or any other reason. Listen to the music that makes you come to life, the stuff that makes you so excited and overjoyed when you hear it played on the radio, the kind of music that makes you feel like you’re gonna burst out of your skin if you don’t dance to it soon!

2) Chair dance! Believe it or not, when we make ourselves sit in a chair when this good music is being played it makes us so antsy to finally get up and do it, antsier even than if we were to just start dancing normally from the beginning.

Happy dancing!

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The Divine: Way Up There Or Deep Inside?

For thousands of years the Divine (God) has been thought of as being up very high above us, and very recently the idea of the Divine being inside of us has spread quite vastly.

While the notion of the Divine being in a place up high does create the necessary feeling of awe and reverence for a being that is to be in awe of and to be revered, it can also create a sense of rift and disconnection in prayer.

The notion of the Divine being inside of us as the new spirituality proposes, is beautiful, but this can create confusion for many people, because there are also a lot of other things inside of us – messages from the media and society, emotional and physical hunger, pain, sadness, fear. For the average person the thought of the Divine on the inside can confuse and overwhelm.

These two ideas that are complete polar opposites of each other may not provide for you the necessary feeling of connection with the Divine, whether it’s in your meditation, prayer, or daily life-living.

Personally, I have come to love the idea of the Divine being right NEXT to me, so next to me that I’d have to just turn my head and see their shoulder next to mine. Not because I find myself to be worthy of equal status, but because this creates a warm and complete feeling of “side by side”, of the Divine being someone ready to assist me, as the holy books of many religions have said that the Divine is always ready to do. The Next To Me Divine is especially helpful in prayer, and I’m left feeling that I have definitely been heard, and that is another thing we are told by many of our religions – to know in our hearts that God has heard.

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The Me In The Myth

My dad loves to watch Jeopardy every night. He does like to forward through the part where Trebek awkwardly and unenthusiastically interviews the contestants, but it’s still entertaining enough for him, and that’s regardless of whether or not he gets the right answers when he attempts them.

I like to watch with him too whenever I can. I like hearing my father’s exasperated groan when Trebek begins the interviews, and I think it’s so cute when he gets excited every time I get a right answer, right before he gives me his obligatory “you really need to try out for this show someday!”

I also like to watch because, oddly and sadly, it’s the only place I get to hear about something that deeply interests me – and it comes up as a category often enough on the show – mythology.

I never tire of reading anything mythology related. The stories are so exciting, so unpredictable, so wise, so colorful, and there’s so many of them there’s always something new popping up if you’re looking for it.

Apart from the constant entertainment though, what I truly love about the myths of the world is that you will always find a story among them, or several stories, are deeply familiar to you – stories that are maybe thousands of years old, but they’re about you.

We all may feel very different or that we’re in a very unique predicament in our lives, whether it’s good or bad. But when it’s bad it’s very comforting to know someone else has been there. This is what happens when you read the ancient stories – you will read your own. I believe this happens because there have been so many people alive on this earth, so many lives have been lived it’s inevitable that the life you’re living now has been lived before, maybe even many times, and it’s very nice to see how someone else went through what you’re going through. I think this was the first purpose of story-telling, to get this truth to people – that we are not alone in what happens to us in life.

There are a few stories as well as a few divine beings I feel a strong connection to. Some I felt a stronger connection to at a certain point in my life; others have been more constant.

By the way, I don’t like calling it “myth”ology. The word “myth” claims that it was not true. They are all true to me. They are true because they’ve happened in one way or another, to someone, somewhere. And the more “fantastic” the story is – with dragons, unicorns, and men giving birth – the more believable it is. Why be so close-minded? After all, it’s only relatively recent that we know about dinosaurs.

Here’s a great site to get you started if you’d like! This site has given me much joy – http://www.thaliatook.com

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The Twelve Tenets of Soul Blossom Dance

I believe wholeheartedly, with all my being, that music can move out anything “bad” that is in you (like shame, regret, guilt, fear, sadness, stress, grief, etc.).  If you dance, and you truly surrender yourself to the music, you will allow it to penetrate your being and move all of it out.

So, here you are, my grand twelve ways to help yourself utilize the gift of music for your healing and advancement. This is what I’ve learned and witnessed as an instructor for almost five years. – Rita Lazar

1. Don’t dance in front of a mirror.

 2. Dance to music in a language you don’t understand.

 3. Put on a hip scarf to celebrate your hips and make the dancer in you come to life.

 4. Don’t strive to do the move perfectly – strive to…”just do it.” Imperfect movement is better than no movement. 

5. Allow – don’t fight – expressions of your sexuality and femininity as you dance. Dance celebrates these things in a wholesome and pure way.

6. Don’t lip-synch or sing along. Doing so brings your energy/focus away from your dancing parts to your head  –  freezing your body as a result.

7. Begin your dance with the intention to let go of all your daily worries and stresses and you’ll sweat it all out. 

8. Don’t carry on conversations while you dance – even if it’s small talk. 

9. Dancing in a circle helps you keep moving when you don’t know what to do with your feet.  

10. Keep technology and other distractions away while you’re dancing.

11. If you’re dancing with others, dancing in a dimmed room may help you feel like you’re not being watched. 

12. Only dance to music you truly love listening to.  

If you’d like to share these, or anything else I’ve written, on your website or social media please add “by Rita Lazar” and link back to this site. 

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My Make-You-Fall-Asleep Trick

Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? I do – the nighttime is when my mind is the most active with ideas and thoughts. I do one little thing though that helps me fall asleep every time – but of course only when I remember to do it .

When you’re in bed and can’t fall asleep, cup your hands over your ears for about thirty seconds. Then put your hands over your eyes, covering them in a soothing way. Lastly, put your hands over your chest, gently stroke like you’re calming yourself down, and take a few breaths. Go back over the other spots if needed. These spots – the ears, eyes, and chest – are exhausted with receiving all day long – they’re inundated with sensation from everything we see, hear, and feel. The placing of the hands over them is extremely comforting and soothing. And it’ll knock you right out  Sweet dreams!

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Nice things said about Rita:

“Rita is a wonderful teacher, very patient, always encouraging and making sure that everybody has fun . This class is perfect to release any stress after a long week at work!” – Marie Q., Redondo Beach

“Rita’s Belly Dancing Class is wonderful, relaxing, fun and freeing…I can not wait to go to class again!” – Jennifer Lawson, Los Angeles

“Fun! A great way to break out of your routine and learn something new.” – Anna P.,  Hermosa Beach

“I had a great time. Rita is fun and energetic!” – Isela London, Carson

“Can’t wait to attend again.” – Amber Friend, Carson

“This is a graceful, go at your pace type of class without the pressure of having to learn complicated steps. The instructor has a wonderful disposition that provided a very relaxed atmosphere for experimentation.” – Laura, Chicago IL 

“Just finished my first private organic belly dance session with Rita, and I am AMAZED at the healing and happiness my body is already feeling and looking forward to! The loving kindness, the inspiration, the information that Rita shines and gives are all so effortlessly interwoven, and I – -who am rather lazy and dislike “working out” — am so desirous of doing my shimmies and shoulder shakes and waterfalls and such, because the moment I finished, I felt SO much more at one with my Woman Body. I do not exaggerate; Rita’s elixir of bellydancing as healing and attunement to womanhood is magic of the most profound kind. I cannot wait for session two!! 

~ with such gratitude and excitement, Suzie Plakson

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There are so many little random nuggets of inspiration and wisdom sporadically given to me by the universe about dance, that I sometimes forget a few, until I need them again. I just became re-familiarized with one of those nuggets – and oh, is it good:

Because I wholeheartedly believe that stagnant negative emotion is the cause of disease, I know that dance is a powerful healer – because dance, if done correctly, breathes out the stagnant-negative emotion, and you feel new after you’re done because you truly have become new. This especially happens when the music you listen/dance/breathe to is music you really love – the kind that makes your heart dance – that is the best music to dance to, as it makes your dance a potently powerful session of healing. – Rita

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“Thousands of emotions well up inside me through out the day. They are released when I dance.” A. Lincony

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“You become like the five people you spend the most time with” the famous quote says. It is true, because everything in life is contagious – happiness, misery, success, failure, peace, angst, and on and on. So, remember this and choose wisely the people you are regularly around, and remember that you are also contagious, so be positive for the ones that have chosen to be around you.

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It is a heavy world we live in, and if we don’t pay attention and do our part in making it light, we will find ourselves weighed down. Do your part by laughing, dancing, and having a good time. And remember that it’s even more important to do this when you’re down and not feeling like it, that’s when you really need the uplifting, more than ever.

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The DancePath (copyright!) implements knowledge of the chakras, the elements, and of my own personal experience as a bodyworker for over eight years, as well as my experience as a dance instructor. My inner eye delights in seeing through to the core of a person’s situation to pick up on where the imbalance lies. And your practice of the DancePath will dance you back into harmony and balance.

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I’ve said this often: we cannot expect to strive for a constant and unrealistic and inhuman perfection such as many of the new gurus instruct. We cannot always hold back our anger and rage and distract ourselves away from our sadness. We are given anger and sadness for a reason, and we must release -not suppress. To suppress is to ignore the transformation that your anger and sadness are there to serve you. And by constantly suppressing we implode. Illness, chronic depression, anxiety, and cancer – all forms of implosion.

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I’m very interested in the relationship between dance and disease, and I think it is far more complex than presently believed. I am working on different “dance paths” for different diseases and using the person’s chakra state as a compass. If you have a disease and are intrigued by this and would like my opinion please message me on this page. Kindly remember that I am not a doctor and will be solely using my intuition to provide only a perspective for your issue.

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How wisely-made the seasons are. We are taken from the blazing heat of the summer to the much needed cooling down of autumn. And the cool of autumn also helps prepare us for the freeze of winter, gently and gradually. Thank you, Autumn, for being our kind transitioner.

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You don’t need to take a class to reap the benefits of dance. You can dance in the privacy of your own home, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! It is the most convenient way to get in some exercise, stress-relief, and oxygen for your body. But as I always say, don’t do it in front of a mirror. The mirror is fine for performers who need to know exactly how they’re going to look in front of an audience, but for the rest of us it can be a problem, either because we’re self-conscious about the way we look, or we’re perfectionists that have to get it exactly right, or for whatever reason. The mirror can paralyze you. I cover mine with an oversized throw!

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What kind of music do you listen to? Have you tried listening to music that is very foreign to you, music from a country you’ve never been to or even heard of?

You would be surprised how enjoyable different music could be to you, how it can make you want to move in a way you’ve never moved before.

From my experience dancing and teaching dance, I’ve also learned that when dancing it is most beneficial to dance to songs that are sung in a language you don’t understand. This is because when we hear lyrics we understand it tends to slow us down and get us into our heads and out of our bodies, because they make our minds go – especially if the lyrics are displeasing in any way. You are much lighter on your feet when you don’t have to think – thinking can be a very freezing activity.

So, how about you go to youtube and think of the name of a random country, enter it and the words “dance music” and see what you get? I have found a lot of great music that way – music I love and can’t live without. – Rita

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Beautiful, breathtaking roses grow out of dirt.

Do you have “dirt” in your life? Look for ways to bring flowers out of the dirt.

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You will not find salvation or redemption in one thing – in a lover/soul mate, friend, or the perfect job you’ve been waiting for. Salvation is the Divine, and the Divine is all over – in laughter, in music, in tears of joy, in lighthearted moments with friends. The Divine is not one specific thing, so do not despair, because you will never have to find it, it is already all around.

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So I’ve been running around like a maniac the past week and it’s been very hectic and stressful and I haven’t been able to sit back and breathe fully and deeply, until now…thanks to my beloved Egyptian Shaabi music and my beloved Hakim, I just danced the stress away and had such deep, exhilarating, relieving, and relaxing breaths. Dance is the most potent elixir for stress!

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I’m a few years late for this commentary, but I just really heard this song, I mean really *heard* it. I’d only seen the video before, and like I always nag about this, the video takes away from the song so much – in this case with her dancing, the mountains, the flying or whatever else she does, there are too many distracting visuals. The more senses you use other than hearing to experience a song the less potent the song becomes. The best way is to just listen. This video unfortunately has the lyrics so that may pull you away from hearing it but try not to look, just listen. You’ll hear the beautiful melody, and her beautiful voice and singing.

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The reason dance is helping me with weight loss is not because it’s exercise, or rather, not ONLY because it’s exercise. It helps with weight loss because a lot of overweight people tend to feel a lot of shame in regards to their bodies – shame either that happened as a result of weight gain or shame that caused the weight gain, and dance helps us release this shame, because when we do it we see how capable and beautiful and UNshameful our bodies truly are.

Also, the music aspect is a huge facilitator of releasing shame, because music is a pure and good (and heavenly) thing, and when we dance our bodies become a vessel of this heavenly thing, and when we see our bodies as a vessel of this heavenly thing we know it can never be bad, and we slowly and steadily learn to stop hating it.

When the overweight dancer’s shame is released, other good health habits are taken on, and thus the weight loss occurs. – Rita

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What 45 minutes of excited dance done to my favorite songs does for my face outshines all skin creams and cosmetic surgery procedures. And if it does this for my face, God only knows what it does for my soul.

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Had to share with you a former student’s words about my Organic Belly Dance class:

Marija: “It awakens your sexuality and femininity in a WHOLESOME way.”

How wonderful is that?? Made me beam with happiness.

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Belly Dance is very good for you:

- It exercises your body gently and without taxing the joints

- The pelvic movements unique to Belly Dance are very therapeutic to the pelvis, lower back, and uterus

- It strengthens your bones

- It tones your muscles

- It strengthens your immune system

- It improves your mood, not only just temporarily

- It can burn up to 300 calories in an hour

You have every possible reason to learn this ancient and powerfully healing form of movement.

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Question: Is it just me or do men not dance anymore? If you look back on all the decades it seems like it was always socially acceptable for men to dance, except in this decade. In the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s men going out with friends to discos/clubs was the thing to do – not so much since 2000 and on.

Actually, from 2000 on, the only dancing that men partake in when they’re out is more of a sexual kind – so that doesn’t count. This is really unfortunate for men, because men need to dance just as much as women do.

Maybe it’s just me though, and I don’t go clubbing (not that there’s anything wrong with it) so please correct me if I’m wrong, I really do hope I’m wrong!

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Dance teaches us to celebrate. This is a very necessary thing to learn, because the more you celebrate, the more you see that there is a lot to celebrate in this wonderfully miraculous thing called life.

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You have reached a new day. Today is a gift to you for having gone through all your yesterdays. So, accept this gift and embrace the day, open your eyes and your heart to the endless good things that are around you. They are all there patiently waiting to be enjoyed by you.

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Dancing is letting music come into your body, and the more we let music into our bodies on a regular basis the less there will be sadness, anger, or fear in them. The more we dance the more we empty ourselves of all these things that weigh us down.

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To me, there is nothing more satisfying, relieving, and relaxing than all those deep exhalations I get from having danced like crazy for half an hour.

Commit to dancing everyday and you will see great things happen in your life!

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I wanted to share a thought with you today, something that eases my burden when I’m feeling down or overwhelmed:

*Just as you enter and exit your house from the same door, your troubles can exit your life with the same ease with which they entered. Anything that comes in has equal ability to go out.*

And I hope you will all dance a little bit today. Dancing definitely gives our troubles a helpful nudge out the door!

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Another message we got inundated with in society: You have to have a *good* reason to want to change an aspect in your life.

By good reason, I mean that pure, and noble kind of “good”:

You have to want to lose weight for health reasons. But what if “vain” reasons are the only things that motivate you? Maybe you’re not worried about your health so much but you want to look good, what’s wrong with that? Weight loss can be hard, so grab on to any motivation no matter what it is!

If you want to have children, have them for GOOD reasons, because you want to give someone a good life. Don’t have children to try to save a marriage, or because you’re bored. Now, this one has truth to it of course, but sometimes life happens and our desires become more powerful than us. In which case, it is completely fine, because a new LIFE has been born as a result, which is a tremendous blessing no matter what the “selfish” circumstances were.

If you want to make more money, it should be because you want more security, so your family is well taken care of, so you don’t have money worries etc. Those are valid reasons to want more money, yes. But what if you want to make more money because you want to buy a 1965 Corvette that you can only drive around on the weekends? That’s fine. If that’s what your soul is itching for then do it. If you have lived at least twenty years on this earth you are very likely to be aware of the dire consequences that come from not listening to the soul itch!

Let me share a little secret with you about life that some of you may have already figured out: When you’re not going up, you’re going down.

We spiral in either direction. It may be scary but it is human nature. So, you don’t have to have a “good” reason to want to improve your situation, because improvement is our purpose and is GOOD in and of itself without a reason.

And what does this have to do with dance? Everything! Because dance improves the state of the lungs and heart, strengthens muscles, helps the release of toxins, and improves your mood. And the most important one: it’s FUN and you deserve to have FUN!

So, get dancing, for no “good” reason!

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I am convinced that by allowing music to go through you whether it be by dancing, singing, or playing an instrument on a regular basis, you heal yourself of any ailment you may have.

Crazy statement? Maybe. But remember, it’s a crazy world we live in

(try it)

When you’re dancing, the music has entered your body, and when music is in you, fear cannot be in you, sadness cannot be in you, worry cannot be in you, nothing dark can be in you. Music is a powerful manifestation of light, and when we dance to it we carry this light inside us and swish it around our bodies and it washes away and undoes the effects of the darkness we’ve had to carry.

Fitness says “improve your body”. Dance says “LOVE your body and it will ‘improve’ itself”.

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Because of the pressures of everyday life, music is used by many as a means of escape. We see this mostly with teenagers as that period of life is when pressure really begins, and for adults what usually happens is that they get lost in television. The arts are very hypnotic in this way, because through them we are given another reality, and with technology being the way that it is, this reality that enables us to run away can be accessed way too easily.

The purpose of art is not to run away from life with, but for us to be enriched so that we live more enriched and enriching lives.

Dance does this wonderfully. It exorcises our rage, lifts our moods, and transforms our apathy into passion.

I promise you that when you incorporate dance into your daily life, all aspects of your life will have improved, because your body and mind will have improved. There is a reason that dance has been around since the beginning of time, and this is it.

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I’ve talked before about the “joy muscle” and the “misery muscle”. The more you look at the bad, the more your misery muscle is strengthened, and when you look at the good your joy muscle is strengthened, and it becomes easier and easier to use it.

In all situations there is usually a lot more joy than misery, but we are conditioned to see misery much easier.

I’ve also come to the realization that there is also a love muscle and a BEING LOVED muscle. The love muscle is easier to use than the being loved muscle, because it is something you do, but with being loved it is more about NOT doing, but instead allowing love into you. It is used by doing the opposite of action; it is a surrender.

Music serves to heal the soul”

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Hello, dance lovers! Sit down and get comfy, because I have come to tell you a story, a story about love, passion, risk, ambition, survival…. and about eating like a pig

Food is one of the concepts covered in Soul Blossom Dance, because it has a lot to do with the soul, and with the heart, and peace.

A few years ago, I went to Chicago for a short trip, and one of my friends from LA (a brilliant photographer and set designer) was coincidentally going to pass through there with her boyfriend that same weekend on their way to Philadelphia. We met there and they invited me to their favorite deep dish pizza place. Those of you that know me, know that there is nothing in the world I love to chew on more than cheese and baked dough, and the combination of the two is something I will never be able to resist :o)

So, we get our order, and in seeing our pizza my friend’s boyfriend is reminded of how he used to eat nothing but deep dish pizza everyday when he used to live in Chicago after he “made it”.

Many years ago, he had gone there to be a theater actor, and was broke and hungry for a long time. His daily food budget was something like two dollars a day, so he’d have ramen noodles for breakfast and a 7-11 hot dog for dinner.

This, in some way, “paid off” because he finally did become successful performing the one-man show that he had written. He was handsomely compensated for his hit, and he had enough money to eat all the food he wanted – and he did. He gained about 40 pounds (which wasn’t too much considering he had become underweight before), and he was on a constant binge for a few months.

One day, as he was eating his seventh deep dish slice, he felt full for the first time in about a year. It finally hit him that he no longer needed to keep feeding himself, because he had now realized that he was ok, and that he wasn’t going to starve, and that he could take care of himself, that he could shelter, clothe, feed, and nurture himself. And that’s when he stopped bingeing.

His girlfriend added, jokingly, “it’s like the food finally made its way to his SOUL”. That story really affected me, and I didn’t understand why at the time. Then I learned years later that all things we do in excess are some kind of deep need to be fed, whether it’s by food, drugs, or sex. And dance, as I’ve said many times before, has a huge ability to feed that kind of hunger

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May every risk you take unite you with the truth that you are loved and protected by God.

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Dance is great for heartbreak too. When our hearts are broken for whatever reason and we are in pain, we close up and block ourselves off from the world until we are a little healed. In dance, we are opening our complete selves to the music, undoing the closing off caused by our heartbreak, which helps bring us back to life.

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I think everyone should be dancing a little everyday, it doesn’t matter where or how! It does WONDERS for you in many ways. Try it!!!

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“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”

~Billy Joel

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There are not too many things that can: move your mind into different thoughts, your feelings into different emotions, and your body into different action. Music is wonderful and powerful way beyond our realization.

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True story: One night I dreamt that I was dancing in a circle, and I was very happy, it was a deep-felt joy, a joy so intense I cannot describe it.

The next day, for my daily dance practice/exercise, instead of dancing randomly about the space, I danced in a circle, like in my dream. I definitely got my heart pumping more and I worked up more of a sweat, but the really amazing thing was that it did wonders for my creativity. Making my body move forward in a circle while dancing pulled out different expressions and movements from me, and because of this the euphoria that is usually caused by dancing was greatly increased.

This must be one of the reasons most of the ancient cultures dance in a circle. I hope you try this the next time you dance. And I especially hope you’re dancing regularly!

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Not only is there a bright side to every unfortunate thing that happens, but the bright side is most often brighter than the dark side is dark.

I’ve gone through some “interesting” (confusing, overwhelming, tough) things in life, I’ve seen sadness of loved ones, and experienced it with them. But I was just thinking; when I look at the big picture, all the sad things that happened really brought tremendous blessings to the lives of all those affected.

One of these events for me, for example, is the handicapped situation of my father, which started about ten years ago. My heart is always broken for him, but it very recently dawned on me that our entire family has been much closer and has spent much more time together as a result. So much more love has been shared and spread, and at the end of the day, and at the end of the “day” of our whole lives, that is what’s most important.

There is so much to celebrate in life, much more than to mourn.

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I used to think overeating was caused by enjoying your food too much, I’m coming to the realization that it’s actually the opposite, it’s caused by NOT enjoying your food enough, therefore you keep going back for more so you can feel that you’ve hit the spot. How many of you feel this way?

And I talk about food because after meeting and dancing with many of you, I know that food is an “issue” for you too But I’m learning that it stops being an issue when you use it for pleasure, instead of punishment and deprivation.

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The amount you overeat and over-Facebook are directly proportionate to how bored you are in your life. Something to think about!

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Music is not complete until it is heard, and it has not done its job until it has moved the spirit enough to make the body move.

And dance is the consummation of the union between you and music, a union most joyous and divine.

Happy Friday, dancers. May you enjoy this union whether you’re at home, a bar, or a club!

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Our bodies want pleasure, and denying our bodies pleasure is what causes a lot of problems, like addiction, and bingeing on food, drugs, and sex.

Dance gives us immense pleasure, the kind of pleasure that allows the tension in our body to release. When tension is released, our vitality and youth are renewed.

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Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; though hast took off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy” – Psalm 30:11

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Dance was what helped me lose (and keep off) almost 50 pounds a few years ago. It wasn’t just because I got a great cardio and strengthening workout from it (although that did help a lot, of course :)), but it was more because dance enabled me to love being in my body. It took me out of “battle mode” with it. I was ENJOYING it and getting great pleasure from it, instead of fighting it the way the weight loss industry has conditioned us to do.

You hear people say “you have to love your body” all the time now, but you can’t just tell yourself you love it and be done with it, you have to ACT in love, and DO something that demonstrates that love, and that is what dance is.

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Dance yourself into pleasure and love, and all the grief and drama associated with your body will steadily dissipate.

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When you move your body you instantly connect to your soul and creative life force. Moving your body releases energy that is blocking you. Moving allows new insight and creative ideas to naturally come to you. Moving your body connects you to your natural rhythm so you can move through life to the beat of your own drum.” – Karen Fagan

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The concept for Soul Blossom Dance was borne of my deepest sorrow, because it was there that I learned that for every ton of sorrow we carry we need only an ounce of joy to help us. May you always dance and may your ounces of joy become tons.

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Times are changing so much faster than they used to. The world is so much more different now than it was only 20 years ago. Because of this, we must change too. We must change by letting go of all that does not serve us, be it a miserable soul-killing job, an unfulfilled relationship, unhealthy habits, or a crippling addiction.

In my experience, and as I’ve seen with many people in my life whether it was friends, family, or clients, when we do not commit to changing ourselves for the better, change gets thrust upon us by some outside force. This is because change is the way of life.

Whether it is because we have decided to change or if it’s because change happened to us, humankind is changing for the better as well. We are all more intelligent, more aware, and more vocal of injustice. We see this through all the revolutions, protests, and exposés happening throughout the world.

Because of this, we need to be involved with more things that help us on the inevitable path of change. This is why I believe so much in the arts, and how it affects us positively, especially dance.

Dance helps us change in so many ways – in all the necessary ways – in mind, body, and emotion. Gone are the days of dance being used for show, or to abuse our bodies with to the point of shame or injury, or for punishment. Dance, like all art, is of a higher plane, and should be treated as such.

Please keep in mind that by “change” and “transformation” I do not mean fixing our “flaws”, as I do not believe in the notion that we have flaws. What is meant here by change and transformation, is the letting go of all that is extra and unnecessary.

It is now time to use dance for all its benefits, to tap into its healing and transformative powers, and to let the abandoned child within us play once again.

In order for our bodies to become more of what we want them to be in terms of health and appearance, we have to enjoy being in them more, so we can be more compelled to take better care of them. This is definitely a journey I’ve been on, and I’m trying to ease into a place of more pleasure instead of suffering when it comes to my body. And yes, you guessed it… dance definitely helps us do this

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Happy Friday! Continuing yesterday’s theme: Let’s think about how much we punish ourselves when it comes to our health. We do this with highly restrictive diets, with gruelingly hard workouts, and with berating ourselves when we can’t keep up these unrealistic things. How about we start focusing more on reward than on punishment? Because the two really can’t coexist. If we stop punishing ourselves, we will have more ability to reward ourselves with a more healthy and happy way of being. Long-term results definitely happen when we come from a place of reward and self-love. And yes, you guessed it…dance definitely helps us do this.

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Good morning, dance lovers! I decided I’d say something about suffering today, (not just because it’s Monday :)) and then I saw this quote. Remember that hardship usually is just something that comes up in order to show you how strong you are.

The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.”

  • Pliny the Elder

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Dance is a little insanity that does us all a lot of good.” -Edward Demby

I hope you’re all going a little insane this weekend. Have a good one!

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I just wanted to remind you all of the endless ways in which dance benefits us emotionally and physically. I don’t care who you do it with, how you do it, or when you do it, just make sure you dance a little everyday. If you do, you’ll notice a wholly different you in about 2-4 weeks.Your stress will have reduced, your mood will have lightened, and your body’s appearance and ability will have improved.

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Here’s a secret for you: the most important thing when learning a new dance is to WATCH it, lots of it, because learning happens in the mind before in the body. Most Belly Dance teachers don’t tell you this until after you’ve signed up for their class. You can learn Belly Dance on YouTube even, in fact, I suggest you do! Because I’m not “selling” Belly Dance instruction, the class I teach offers much more than that.

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Many negative things carried within us can be danced away, I promise you that.

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So many things in today’s society have taken away our right to feel pleasure and joy from/in our bodies. Part of that is the “no pain, no gain” mentality of exercise. In my experience, pleasure begets more pleasure, and suffering begets more suffering. When we do one thing that is enjoyable, such as dance, a domino effect is begun leading us to a better and more whole experience in our bodies. We take care of our bodies better when we enjoy being in it more.

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Dancers are athletes of God” – Albert Einstein

“…and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”~Anais Nin.

On Saturday I taught Belly Dance to a group of ladies at a friend’s birthday party. It’s always so exciting to see how amazed and hypnotized women become by the movements of their own bodies!

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One of the reasons I fell in love with dance because it’s one of the quickest ways to take away the heaviness of the heart. I hope you dance today, and I hope your heart is always light.

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I love the way music takes over my mind and body. How it always seeps through what seems to be the pores of my soul

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We all know about the numerous psychological and physical benefits of dance, but how do you dance when you’re not in the mood? You just stand there and let it slowly happen on its own. Release all expectations of what you think you should be doing and your body will start moving exactly as it should.

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All dances of the world are to be danced by everyone in the world. Music is for us all, not just for one kind of us. It is in this way that music is like art, that music is like love.

Written by Rita Lazar

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New Facebook Page!!!: The Divine Motivatress

Dear WordPress family,

I would absolutely love love love if you went ahead and “liked” my new page on Facebook.

I will post a different inspiring story of a female heroine or a goddess, stories both ancient and new, and from all over the world.

We need these stories in our lives. And you will see, as I have long ago, that these stories are our story. And in an almost eerie way they have the ability to see right through to our situation, and to guide us on which step to take next.

See you there :)

https://www.facebook.com/TheDivineMotivatress

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Phantom pain help for amputees

 

A little over ten years ago my father had to have both of his legs amputated from mid-calf down. I won’t get into details as to what led to this, or the details of the physical and emotional coping that came after, but I am writing this to share with anyone who may need it the things my family has learned about phantom pain.

When the amputation first happened, phantom pain was a regular and expected occurrence. As the years went by however, the phantom pain became much less frequent, to the point that if it did happen it was quite odd. After paying attention to my father’s diet and habits, we finally learned why the random attacks were happening, and how to stop them.

I’m writing this because I searched and searched the internet when my dad was experiencing the worst of his phantom pain, only to find the odd unhelpful pieces of advice, like the one about putting a mirror in front of the amputated limb, so your mind sees that there is no limb and knows to stop the pain – or something like that.

What helped my father was being careful of his diet. I noticed that he had a phantom pain attack when not even thirty minutes had passed after he ate a heavy meal filled with spicy food, simple carbs, and caffeine. These three things all have one thing in common: they are nervous system agitators.

I remember having his physician on the phone one time and telling him what I thought about the nerve-exciting foods, he said it had nothing to do with it. But we got my father off of spicy food, instant rice, and caffeinated sodas and his phantom pain was no more. I went to my acupuncturist and he said I was absolutely right. It makes sense of course, the nervous system plays a large part in phantom pain.

Then, it was my mother who noticed that when he put on his prostheses and walked around that would also help tremendously.

So, there you have it. Diet and exercise is the key to phantom pain prevention as well!

I also want to say, to anyone that is dealing with amputation: do NOT think of what is no longer there, but think of how much – and it’s a lot – that you still DO have. Use what you’ve got, move, walk as much as you can, listen to music, dance to music as much as you can. Whatever there no longer is, there is ten times more that there still is. Use it to love your blessed life as much as possible.

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