Belly Dance Moving Across the Floor (I)- Technique, Playlists, and YouTube Links

Classic New York-Style Belly Dance with Veil (I): Class Notes, Playlists, and YouTube Links

Step-Touch (Linear Walk), Step-Ball-Ball, and Rocking Rhumba

First step is opening up and getting our connection flowing again.

Music

Warm-Ups (In-Place)

  • Simple drop-down-and-reach-up, with veil (use music Diaspora from Spain, see link above),
  • Simple in-place gyrations – emphasize whole-body movement – with veil (same music as above).

Techniques

YouTube Vids for Reference

A more complex walk, the “Turkish Walk,” to do later: Learn to belly dance: the Turkish walk .

Related Blog Posts

Master Class Study

Preps for Turns and Spins


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Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) for personal growth and healing!

Yours in dance –

Alay'nya - author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Unveiling-The-Inner-Journey-Alaynya/dp/0982901305/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368123419&sr=8-1&keywords=unveiling+the+inner+journey">Unveiling: The Inner Journey</a>
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Alay’nya
Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook

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Alay’nya, Unveiling: The Inner Journey

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Winter Quarter Studies, 2017

Dear All – We had a great kick-off class on Saturday, Dec. 3rd!

Here are some links to help you start your at-home practice, as an adjunct to what we will be doing this Winter Quarter:

Winter is the Season of Pentacles; it deals with the element of Earth. So, during Winter, we do grounding and anchoring types of things. We work with solid, percussive rhythms that help us connect with our Earth-Mother. We work with zills and complex rhythms. We do drum solos.

Here are some posts-from-the-past on these topics:

And since this site is getting a total overhaul and update, why not begin at the beginning? The very first blog post – from 2003:

Belly Dance for Sex Energy Transmutation

Check out this Youtube clip on the gnostic teachings regarding sexual alchemy:
Gnostic Sexual Alchemy

I’ll fill in more about this soon.

In the meantime, a couple of good YouTube vids:

Using Belly Dance to Heal Deepest Emotional Wounds – Part 2

Part 1, Chapter One: Woundology and the Healing Fire

Section on “Your ‘Cellular Bank Account’,” which continues from the previous post:
After Basic Emotional Healing: What Next?

“Each of us has hundreds of circuits of energy connecting to us, energy that different cultures have named in different ways as the Divine breath of life that animates each of us. What the Indians call prana and the Chinese call ch’i, Christians refer to as grace or the Holy S;pirit, and secularists might call vitality or simply life-force. ” (p. 16)

“Althought the life-force is equally available to all of us and flows into us whether or not we are aware of it … it’s possible to maximize our intake and use of it. In fact, consciousness means awareness of the flow of life-force inot us and the ability to direct it into certain areas of the body, without unknowingly releasing it from other areas of the body.”

“Imagine this flow of energy as a financial allowance … positive investments will earn you positive returns… Negative investments, on the other hand, will create debt.” (p. 16)

“The other source of additional energetic cash is the energetic resources held in your own cell tissue. … Keeping your physical body energized consequently feeds your creativity, your relationships, and your vital need for optimism. But when too much energetic cash is drawn out of your cell bank account, you become debt-ridden. The greater the debt becomes, the weaker your cell tissue grows. If you do not reverse this pattern by paying off our debt with your daily allowance, then you will become vulnerable to the development of disease.” (p. 17, earlier)

“Holding on to the negative events of our histories is expensive – prohibitively so. It is like trying to keep the dead alive, and it takes an enormous amount of energy. When we experience a trauma, Nature supplies us with extra financing, so to speak, to protect us during the draining period of crisis, but that loan’ has a time limit on it. … the signal that thet loan is coming due is that we begin to sense that time has come to a standstill and our lives are not moving forward.” (p. 17)

“The only way to release the pattern into which we have locked ourselves is to release the weight of the past – to get out of the enegy debt we can no longer afford to carry. Forgiveness is one sure way out of deb. Forgiving does not mean saying that what happened to you doesn’t matter, or that it is all right for someone to have violated you. It simply means releasing the negative feeligns you have about that event and the person or persons involved.” (p. 18)

“The process of retrieving this energy from the past begins by making a shift in awareness and vocabulary; simply put, you have to outrun your past. Learn to become conscious, as often as possible, of what you are thinking about and where your energy is.” (p. 26)

“Refusing to let go of past event, whether postibe or negative, means throwing away some part of your daily energy budget. If you start losing energy and don’t do anything aout it, you will invetiably develop a weakness in your physical body. … If you continue to lose energy without taking action, those minor upsets can develop into major illnesses. … An ‘accident-prone’ person is actually energetically in debt.” (p. 19)

Audio Collection:

http://alaynyastudio.com/2010/06/18/its-about-healing/


Alay'nya - author of "Unveiling: The Inner Journey"
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) to bring youthful vitality, movement, and expressiveness into your life!

Yours in dance –

Alay’nya
Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook


P.S. Learning the sexiest walk in the world involves lengthening our lower back, strengthening and using our abdominal core, and generating your movement from within.

As a side benefit from doing this, you will automatically begin to strengthen your pelvic floor.

There are additional health benefits from doing this. Dr. Christiane Northrup, New York Times best-selling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause, tells us that developing a strong pelvic floor is necessary for our overall health – including mitigating urinary incontinence.

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Dr. Christiane Northrup on Unveiling: The Inner Journey

What Does Dr. Christiane Northrup, New York Times best-selling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause, have to say about Unveiling: The Inner Journey?

Dr. Northrup notes:
“Alay’nya brings divine sensuality to women in the ancient forum of dance. This book is delightful.” Read this and more reviews of Unveiling: The Inner Journey.

 

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Copyright (c) 2013, Alay’nya. All rights reserved.

Related Posts: Creating a Youthful Presence Through Belly Dance

Dancer’s Archives: Classic Drum Solos (DVD & YouTube)

Dancer’s Archives: Classic Drum Solos (DVD & YouTube)

Morocco in Bahlam Beek & Drum Solo – the drum solo starts at minute 7; a solid 3 1/2 minutes.

One of the most fascinating things about watching the really great dancers is their sense of humor – something missing from some of the younger ones.

Morocco accompanies the drummer throughout on this piece with expertly-played zills (at a tempo and with patterns that few dancers today can match). Generally, playing zills during the drum solo is a “no-no.” The idea is that the only musician playing during a musical “solo” is – indeed – the solo musician. Zills are a musical instrument, hence, the dancer should not compete (musically) with the drummer.

However, great dancers can break all the rules.

This one is worth watching.

Dalie Carella opens an improvisation with a drum solo.

Mid-East Darbouka Drum Rhythms

Five drum rhythms: baladi, ayube, masmoudi, malfouf, & karsilama

Malfuf rhythm

Top ten drum rhythms: Maqsoum, Baladi, Ayub, Malfuf, Saidi, Masmoudi, Chiftetelli, Fellahi, Khaleegy, Wahda

Four Ways to Play the Maqsoum, posted Dec. 10, 2016, 7PM.

Preparing for Winter Dance Classes – Percussives, Zills, and Drum Solos

Winter Dance Classes (the Season of Earth) – Grounding Energies – Percussives, Zills, and Drum Solos

Even though it’s mid-autumn now, this is a great time to start preparing for winter drum solo choreographies.

Each season, we select a different featured instructional DVD to be part of our class curriculum.

This winter, we’re using Tribal Drum Solo Choreography by Zoe Jakes> and Issam Houshan.

Three Good Reasons (Start Conditioning and Doing Technique Practice Now for Your Winter Drum Solo)

There are three good reasons to work with this DVD – even in preparation for winter! These hold whether or not you do tribal-style belly dance.

  1. Excellent and sufficiently-long warm-up sequence – the warm-ups and basic technique practice here is a bit over 20 minutes. That’s just right for getting the body stretched out before heading out for work on a winter’s morning.
  2. Really good focus on hand and wrist release and stretching – we all tend to be a bit stiffer in the joints come winter, and our fingers and wrists may be a bit more susceptible to stress. We also need to stretch our shoulders, neck, and back a bit more, since we’re often more sedentary during winter months. I particularly love the time that Zoe puts on these areas during her warm-ups and technique section. .
  3. Different and fun technique combinations – since I’m not a tribal dancer, Zoe’s combinations are new and different for me – a little mental and physical stimulation to keep both mind and body energized for winter!

Recommended DVD for Winter Dance Classes – Tribal Drum Solo Choreography

Tribal Drum Solo Choreography by Zoe Jakes and Issam Houshan.

You can get a peek at Zoe’s technique style by watching Zoe Jakes’ Belly Dance Flow Drills on Datura Online.

For a nice, long (nearly 8-minute) drum solo with Issam, listen to Bellydance Music: Issam Houshan-Drum Solo.

DVD

Choreography


Veil Dancing – A Beautiful Instructional YouTube Clip

Belly Dance Veil Instructional YouTube Vid by Imei Hsu Shows Softness, Sensitivity, Technique

Too many of us in Oriental dance have performances that are heavy on the glitz and glamour – all brightly-colored, sequined and beaded costumes, big smiles – and not enough sensitivity and depth of emotional feeling.

One of the best ways to enrich our emotional repertoire is by dancing with a veil.

Anahid Sofian, Master Teacher of Oriental dance.
Anahid Sofian, Master Teacher of Oriental dance.

Veil dancing gives us mystery and depth.

I learned this from two of my master teachers in Oriental dance, Anahid Sofian and Elena Lentini.

Both of these teachers were renowned for their flowing and expressive veil movements.

In Chapter 4 of Unveiling: The Inner Journey, I describe one of Anahid’s favorite veil drapes, the “Turkish turtleneck.”

In Unveiling’s Chapter 26: Selective Revelation, I share a powerful lesson that Anahid taught me.


Unveiling: The Inner Journey currently has twenty 5-star reviews. It includes many vignettes of studies with leading teachers of Oriental dance.
Unveiling: The Inner Journey currently has twenty 5-star reviews. It includes many vignettes of studies with leading teachers of Oriental dance.

From Unveiling: The Inner Journey:

What was it that Anahid had, and that I had totally forgotten?

Simply, it was the power of holding something back.

In my dance, I had started the way that many dancers start these days; holding my veil behind me, and using it to frame myself as I moved across the floor. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, if the music is very active and dynamic, theis can be a great dance opening! However (and this is important), this approach lacks the power of mystery and suggestion.

In the dance that Anahid showed me, she started by staying in one place, with the veil wrapped around herself. She held the veil edges in such a way that her hands were covered. She held her hands high enough so that, with the veil wrapped around her from behind, it covered her face as well. [pp. 359-360]


Where Can We Learn Good Veil Techniques on YouTube?

Imei Hsu does Veil Bellydance for Emotional Performance as a YouTube video clip.
Imei Hsu does Veil Bellydance for Emotional Performance as a YouTube video clip.

In last week’s Alay’nya Studio blog, I shared one of my favorite recent finds – a YouTube vid veil performance by Imei Hsu: Bellydance Veil for Emotional Performance.

Today – in preparation for this week’s class, and for those of you who are studying with me “virtually” – let me recommend two of Imei’s instructional vids.

Basic Veil Openings and Movements

If you are just beginning your veil work, start with: Imei Hsu’s How-To Veil Basics. Although she starts even beginners with a 3 1/2 yard veil (and recommends 4 yards for taller students), her techniques are very accessible; within a short time, even a beginner can be using these techniques and looking very good.

Soft, Graceful, and Emotionally-Rich Veil Openings and Movements

Melina, of Daughters of Rhea, teaches Greco-Turkish Oriental dance.
Melina, of Daughters of Rhea, teaches Greco-Turkish Oriental dance. Photo by Najmat.

Imei has a second, slightly more advanced tutorial: Imei’s Advanced Belly Dance with Veil YouTube Instructional Vid.

If you have problems loading this clip by clicking on the link above (YouTube is being just a tad bit tetchy today), then open a browser in YouTube, and enter the key words:
Imei Hsu Belly Dance Seattle Classes How To Dance With a Veil – you’re looking for a vid clip that is 8 minutes 14 seconds long. That should get you there.

Once again, here’s the link to Imei’s Advanced Belly Dance with Veil YouTube Instructional Vid.

I like this clip because it breaks down several of the techniques taught to me by Anahid and Elena. Imei credits Melina (of Daughters of Rhea) with some of her techniques.

Here are some special points to note:

  • Longer-than-average veil allows more flexibility with dance opening moves. Imei favors a 3 1/2 yard veil. Most veils today come in 2 1/2 yard and 3 yard sizes. When you go to a 3 1/2 yard veil, it is a bit more difficult (especially for shorter dancers), but the increased vocabulary range makes it worthwhile.
  • Emotionally-compelling dances often begin by keeping yourself fully veiled from view. Imei shows two lovely variations on how to enter covered with your veil, where one of the long ends is tucked into your hip belt. The veil can be draped so it covers your head and torso, either coming up from the front, or swooshed to the back and draping down over your front. Both are lovely and give a subtle sense of mystery and drama to your opening moves.
  • Your longer veil gives you more options for framing and partial draping. Imei shows how you can frame yourself from behind, or throw your veil over one shoulder and arm – while still keeping the tail end tucked in your sash. There’s a lot of choreographic and expressive flexibility with these moves.
  • Lovely way to frame your hips for shimmies. Imei shows a very pretty and useful way to have the veil close-held and yet frame your hips, about 3 min, 40 seconds into this clip.
  • Beautiful “Z” movements – can be combined with turns. This section is very reminiscent of some of Elena Lentini’s movements; about 5 minutes into this clip. A dramatic flip-up, followed by “double-Z’s” is very reminiscent of what I’ve learned from Elena! (About 5 min, 40 seconds in.)
  • Veil work – with back to audience – can be a lovely lead-in to shimmies. See a section about 6 minutes in. Imei shows the same movement she just did previously, with back to you (the audience; the camera), followed by a little in-place shimmy. Delightful!
  • Play with your veil as though it were your dance partner. Imei’s concluding technique demonstrations – starting about 6 1/2 minutes in – show a beautiful veil change-of-pattern embedded into an in-place turn; this was new to me and very worth learning. She follows with a segment on holding the veil (more or less) steady in front while doing a turn – I prefer to hold the veil more taut for this. (Petite Jamilla shows this beautifully on her DVD, Unveiled.) Her concluding techniques are both lovely and dramatic, and well worth mastering.

If you are studying with me – either in-person or virtually – please review both of these YouTube clips before class on Sunday.

Right after Sunday’s class, I’ll post a very quick little “class review notes” blog. It will cover techniques and micro-choreographies that will be our homework for the coming week.

Whether you’re with me in person or at a distance, please do chime in with your comments as we move through Autumn Quarter, devoted to emotionally-expressive movements in Oriental dance!

Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) for expressing those aspects of yourself that come out only when you dance!

Yours in dance –


Alay'nya - author of "Unveiling: The Inner Journey"
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Alay’nya
Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook



 

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Related Posts: Veil Dancing

Related Posts: Autumn – Esoteric Energy Dance for the Season of Cups (Metaphysical Element of Water)

Invoking Hathor: Emotional Expression Using Mid-Eastern Dance (Belly Dance)

Using Mid-Eastern Dance (Oriental Dance or Belly Dance) to Invoke Your Inner Goddess of Love, Pleasure, Romance, and Sensuality

Yesterday’s class was held on the first day of autumn. We shifted our attention and energy to emotional expression using Mid-Eastern dance. We’ve entered the Season of Cups: the metaphysical Element of Water that governs autumn.

For the next six weeks, our focus is especially on using Oriental dance to access our inner Hathor: our governing archetype for love, pleasure, romance, sensuality, and everything that makes life juicy, sweet, and delicious.

We think now of harvesting the grapes that have been ripening during summer’s heat; of drinking the first wines of the season.

Recommended YouTube Video Study for Autumn – Lesson 1: Emotional Belly Dance with Veil by Imei Hsu

Throughout our long existence – we are coming on a twenty-year anniversary for the Alay’nya Studio – we’ve included watching videos as part of our classes and our recommended practice-at-home support curriculum. We’ve selected and encouraged first videos, then DVDs, and now YouTube clips; on topics ranging from “core conditioning” and various technique and practice vids to performances by various artists.

Imei Hsu does Veil Bellydance for Emotional Performance as a YouTube video clip.
Imei Hsu does Bellydance Veil for Emotional Performance as a YouTube video clip.

Yesterday, we kicked off the autumn season by watching a very lovely YouTube vid posted by Imei Hsu, a dancer based in Seattle.

Imei showed lovely lyrical sensibility and a great softness and depth in her emotional expression with a veil choreography. Her beautiful work magnificently combines movement across the floor with turns and spins, a variety of well-known and classic veil moves (all beautifully executed), and a great sensitivity to nuance and expression.

I particularly like her opening – a classic study of expansion/contraction using the veil. For her opening alone, I recommend this vid to all dancers who want to bring greater emotional richness and depth to their dance.

Imei Hsu’s YouTube vid is Bellydance Veil for Emotional Performance.

Music for Autumn: Dancing with Your Veil

There are three pieces that I love and recommend for emotionally-expressive veil dance:

  • Sweet Demure by Beats Antique on their Collide album,
  • Sweet Trouble by Brian Keane and Omar Farouk Tekbelik on Beyond the Sky, and
  • Misirlou – there are many performances of this; I like the one on Gaia: Earth Goddess by Desert Wind.

Here are links for both YouTube recordings and MP3 downloads for each piece.

Sweet Demure

You can listen to the entire song Sweet Demure on YouTube.

MP3 Download

CD

You can also order the songs from Collide from Apple’s iTunes store.


Sweet Trouble – on Beyond the Sky by Brian Keane and Omar Farouk Tekbilek

You can listen to the entire song Sweet Trouble on YouTube.

MP3 Download

CD

Beyond the Sky by Brian Keane and Omar Farouk Tekbilek.
Click here to order the CD for Beyond the Sky by Brian Keane and Omar Farouk Tekbilek.

You can also order the CD songs from Beyond the Sky from Apple’s iTunes store.


Misirlou on Gaia: Earth Goddess by Adam Bachman and Desert Wind

Listen to the first 30 seconds of Miserlou on Rhapsody.

You can listen to the same Miserlou track on CD Baby, and download the MP3 version directly from them.

MP3 Download

Miserlou on Desert Wind's Gaia: Earth Goddess.
Click here to download the MP3 Miserlou track from CD Baby.

CD

You can also order the songs from Gaia: Earth Goddess from Apple’s iTunes store.


Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) for personal growth and healing!

Yours in dance –


Alay'nya - author of "Unveiling: The Inner Journey"
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Alay’nya
Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook



 

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Copyright (c) 2013, Alay’nya. All rights reserved.

Related Posts: Veil Dancing

Related Posts: Autumn – Esoteric Energy Dance for the Season of Cups (Metaphysical Element of Water)

After Basic Emotional Healing – What Next?

The Next Stage in Personal Evolution

Maybe We’re ALL Autistic – to Some Extent

Albert Einstein.
Albert Einstein reportedly quipped, ‘Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.’

In last week’s post, I asked you (my readers) the question: Are you autistic?

I’d assumed (erroneously) that most of you would say something like: Me? Of course not!

I was wrong.

I got an email back from one of my readers, Yes, I am autistic, and dance helps my symptoms.

What Is It Like to Use Belly Dance for Personal Healing?

I know the woman who wrote back to me; she’s actually very well integrated – she has a strong role in society, is a valuable member of several groups, and is overall an absolute dear and delight.

I was surprised that she labeled herself autistic, although that I knew she used belly dance strongly as a healing modality.

I also knew, though, that she attended strongly to the beat of a “different drum” – she listened more to her inner self than to the external world.

Belly dance has been important for her as a means of tapping into her body’s secret storehouse of knowledge. For her, as for many of us, belly dance (Oriental dance), truly is an integration pathway.

As I reflected on what she wrote, I thought: I’ve used belly dance for healing myself, just as she has. And many, many of my students have said the same.

In fact, probably most of the women who come to me (and yes, like attracts like), have come less because they want to put on the glitzy costume and perform on stage. They come because they want to tap into who they are in a deeper way.

That, and do some serious healing and integration.

And for some of us, of course, performances and other stage opportunities do ensue. (This in fact may be part of the healing process.)

We Heal Ourselves from Being Emotionally and Energetically Fractured

In that sense, maybe we’re all dealing – to at least some extent – with the challenge of having various aspects of who-we-are fractured, and our conscious awareness sometimes not fully tied into either our surroundings or our bodies.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about How Belly Dance Healed My Life.

From the stories that I hear; I suspect that I’m just one among many.

We may not all use the term autistic to describe ourselves, but many of us – due to a range of factors – may feel that it is difficult to be present in this world. Co-opting the title of one of Robert Heinlein’s most famous science fiction novels, many of us feel that we are a Stranger in a Strange Land.


Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”

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Meaning from Movement Applies to Our Dance

One of the things that I love most about Oriental dance is that it allows us to both access and express the full range of who we are.

This is important, because most of us – in our day-to-day lives – find that we access only a limited part of our emotional range.

Through movement, we express ourselves through a much more complex emotional vocabulary.

In that sense, the phrase coined by autism researcher Dr. Geoffrey Waldon, Meaning [comes] from movement, is useful for all of us.

What’s the Next Step after Basic Emotional Healing?

Our emotional healing progresses throughout our entire lives. Most of us – unless we are a very advanced soul – will not finish in this lifetime.

However, we do move on to progressively deeper – and more refined – aspects of inner healing.

Specifically, we start to work more with our full energetic being.

Carolyn Myss, in her book Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, writes (in Section One on “Your ‘Cellular Bank Account'”):

Each of us has hundreds of circuits of energy connecting to us, energy that different cultures have named in different ways as the Divine breath of life that animates each of us. What the Indians call prana and the Chinese call ch’i, Christians refer to as grace or the Holy Spirit, and secularists might call vitality or simply life-force. [p. 16]

Although the life-force is equally available to all of us and flows into us whether or not we are aware of it … it’s possible to maximize our intake and use of it. In fact, consciousness means awareness of the flow of life-force into us and the ability to direct it into certain areas of the body, without unknowingly releasing it from other areas of the body.

Imagine this flow of energy as a financial allowance … positive investments will earn you positive returns… Negative investments, on the other hand, will create debt. [p. 16]

The only way to release the pattern into which we have locked ourselves is to release the weight of the past – to get out of the energy debt we can no longer afford to carry. Forgiveness is one sure way out of debt. Forgiving does not mean saying that what happened to you doesn’t matter, or that it is all right for someone to have violated you. It simply means releasing the negative feelings you have about that event and the person or persons involved.[p. 18]


Dr. Carolyn Myss, “Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can”

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What Caroline Myss teaches gives us an important and valuable connection:

To use belly dance as a sacred pathway for body/mind/psyche/energy healing and integration, we also have to do some spiritual work. Most especially, we have to learn forgiveness.

First, we start forgiving ourselves. Then, we also forgive others.

The Course in Miracles also teaches forgiveness as a basic principle.

We’re going to be working with this – and with other spiritual principles (gratitude, giving love, and taking responsibility for our thoughts) over the next months.

For today, it may be sufficient to simply start being gentle with yourself.

First step: Ease up on the judging.

We are much harsher with ourselves than we are with anyone else.

Cultivate – to the best extent that you can, just for today – the art of gentleness. (You do this, and I’ll try to do this also.)

How Being Gentle with Ourselves Is the Key to Our Next Stage of Personal Growth

Belly dance gives us the means to be with our bodies, and our feelings. It helps us access our inner feminine core, and express the feminine aspects of ourselves.

There is one more step that we can take, though.

If you’ve been following me on the Unveiling blog, you’ll know that we’ve been working towards the goal of core archetype integration. This is often typified by the seventh card in the Tarot’s Major Arcana; the Chariot. (For those of you familiar with the Tarot, this sounds like a masculine archetype, right? Read Unveiling’s Chapter 7: “A Real Woman’s Path (Really Does Exist!),” to learn the original meaning for this card. It started off as a feminine archetype: the Winged Goddess.)

Beyond the Chariot or Winged Goddess stage, where we literally force our archetypal polar opposites to work together, we open up a brand new stage of learning.

We introduce this with the notion of Strength, Major Arcana Card VIII.

The Tarot card <em>Strength</em> (Major Arcana Card VIII) shows us that after we have strong and firm control over our inner selves, we can begin gentling and taming our inner beast.
The Tarot card Strength (Major Arcana Card VIII) shows us that after we have strong and firm control over our inner selves, we can begin gentling and taming our inner beast.

Have a look at the figure to the left.

It shows us the Tarot card Strength (Major Arcana Card VIII). This is the first card in the second series of major life journeys.

Notice how the woman is easing her “inner beast” to the ground; she’s subduing it not with force, but with gentleness.

In most of my Unveiling blog, and in my book, Unveiling: The Inner Journey, I focus on the first major life journey: getting to access, understand, and integrate our eight core power archetypes.

I briefly mention the second and third journeys adult life journeys. The second journey deals with accessing our inner Fountain of Youth – our intrinsic personal energy.

Martial arts masters – especially of the internal martial arts (T’ai Ch’i Chuan being a premier example) use their internal energy, or ch’i, as part of their practice.

In our second adult life journey, we learn to do the same. (Read Unveiling’s Chapter 29, Pragmatic Esoterics, for a start on this.)

Forgiveness Leads to Gentleness; Gentleness Leads to Tension Release, Tension Release Leads to Better Dance

For a practical start, as you do your belly dance exercises this week, focus on softening your body. Use the force of gravity to help you align, not muscular tension. See how much you can release tension throughout your body.

Saint Francis de Sales, practical and wise (1567-1622)
Saint Francis de Sales, practical and wise (1567-1622)

We’re beginning to learn effectiveness while staying soft, relaxed, and gentle.

As Saint Frances de Sales is credited with saying:

Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.

Let’s try putting this into action together, shall we?

And we’ll check in with each other next week.

Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) for personal growth and healing!

Yours in dance –


Alay'nya - author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Unveiling-The-Inner-Journey-Alaynya/dp/0982901305/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368123419&sr=8-1&keywords=unveiling+the+inner+journey">Unveiling: The Inner Journey</a>
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Alay’nya
Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
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Oriental Dancer Nimeera on Unveiling: The Inner Journey

What does Oriental dancer Nimeera have to say about Unveiling: The Inner Journey?

NImeera Nazmine performing with a shamadan (candle headdress); photo courtesy Washington Post.
NImeera Nazmine performing with a shamadan (candle headdress); photo courtesy Washington Post.

This is a wonderful book! Unlike so much of the fluff out there, this one is by no means an “casual read” to read in the little stolen moments of the day. Rather, it is something with many layers of depth to be explored in meditation and contemplation, with a cup of tea, away from the demands of children and husbands. And then not to read all at once, but section by section with time for reflection between readings… It has resonated with me and given me validation for the things I feel and do that don’t always fit with society’s expectations for me, and given me ideas for how to further mold my life path to my greatest satisfaction.

Nimeera Nazmine performs in North Virginia (Fairfax and Woodbridge), as well as in Washington D.C. She also teaches classes in both belly dance and Bollywood-style Indian dance.

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Alay’nya, Unveiling: The Inner Journey

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Copyright (c) 2013, Alay’nya. All rights reserved.

Related Posts: Using Belly Dance for Emotional Healing and Personal Healing

Belly Dance Breakthrough – from Autism Research?

Some researchers speculate that Albert Einstein was autistic.
Some researchers speculate that Albert Einstein was autistic.

Are you autistic?

Very likely, you’re not.

You are – most likely – professionally successful, emotionally mature, socially well-integrated, and a fully responsive and responsible member of society.

Also – very likely – you are performance-driven; a high-achiever in every respect.

This may be the problem.

We May As Well Have Been Giving Powerpoint(TM) Presentations

Is your dance as exciting as a Powerpoint(TM) presentation?
Is your dance as exciting as a Powerpoint(TM) presentation?

In a recent dance show, one of several put on by leading teachers here in Northern Virginia, I thought sadly to myself, “We may as well have been giving Powerpoint(TM) presentations.”

What was going on?

Well, each dancer was delivering her choreography step-perfect. She did the right moves, right sequence, right timing and tempo.

There were even some efforts towards the higher aspects of choreography; tempo variations, level changes, technique combinations and different kinds of movement across the stage, and good use of props.

Yet I was bored. I felt stilted and stultified. And, I suspect, many of the dancers themselves felt stilted and stultified.

Probably way too many of them felt as though they were stuck in a box – and had no idea of how to get out.

But “getting out of the box” is – most likely – precisely why they first started their passionate study of Oriental dance, or – as we often call it – belly dance.

They wanted to be in touch with that luscious, passionate, emotionally-expressive creature that they knew lurked inside their corporate suit.

Yet here they each were – counting out the steps, and trying desperately to remember what step came next.

What Do We Really Want When We Study Oriental Dance?

Years ago, my dear friend Stella Grey described Oriental dance:

I believe that the dance is at its best when it is a spontaneous three-way conversation … among the musicians, the dancer and audience. The dancer makes the music visible to the audience, the audience’s appreciation is heightened and feeds back to the musicians. [from a blog series originally published by Stella Grey, and now removed from the internet; this quote was captured and reproduced in Unveiling: The Inner Journey, p. 178.]

The key words are “spontaneous” and “conversation.”

A rehearsed set-piece is neither spontaneous nor conversational. No matter how brilliant in concept and execution, it is a monologue. And don’t we tend to avoid those who have much to say, but never an ear to hear?

What we really desire – when we do Oriental dance – goes even deeper as a conversation.

Ultimately, we desire to have this “conversation” with ourselves.

In particular, we’re seeking to give voice to that aspect of who-we-are whom we so often stifle, because our day-to-day survival considerations often require that we wrap our heads around Powerpoint(TM) presentations.

I’m joking.

No, I’m not.

We are collectively – especially those of us in Northern Virginia and the Metro DC area – way too involved with our cognitive, task-oriented, high-performance selves. We find it difficult to let go.

More than that, we find it difficult to find a pathway or mechanism by which we can let go.

Obviously, most of us are not doing it through dance – or at least not in the way in which we’re being taught to dance.

We envision any kind of performance as something that must be carefully scripted. Spontaneity – improvisation – seems terrifying. We apply the same control to our dance as we do to our professional presentations, and wonder why we’re not getting the emotional release that we truly desire.

That’s why the introductory sentence given by the author of a book about helping autistic children caught my attention so strongly.

Meaning from Movement

Dr. Geoffrey Waldon, famous for the Waldon Approach to helping autistic children develop fully functional and normal lives, has developed a protocol based around a core concept:

Meaning [comes] from movement.

In the Waldon Approach, an autistic child is guided by his or her therapist in an asocial manner. The therapist is behind the child, and moves the child’s limbs to help that child perform the kinds of movement patterns that lead to certain levels of cognitive development.

It works.

In “Autism and Understanding,” author Walter Solomon (along with co-authors Chris Holland and Mary Jo Middleton) vividly portrays the challenges – and the potential way forward – for helping an autistic child. This book was inspired when Mr. Solomon’s own autistic son, Robert, was significantly helped through the protocols developed by Dr. Geoffrey Waldon.

I was initially intrigued by the book’s intellectual premise, and then had an opportunity to hear both Walter and Robert speak at a book signing for Walter Solomon’s Autism and Understanding. Their story was moving and eloquent. Robert, in particular, was inspiring – he holds down a professional job and is happily married. His ability to lead a successful life in mainstream society bears tribute to the Waldon Approach’s effectiveness.

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The phrase, “meaning comes from movement,” is foundational to the Waldon Approach – and is now being found relevant to other forms of learning and creative expression. This premise also underlies the importance of early mother-child play; particularly play that involves moving with the child.

Waldon’s unique insight that motor facilitation should be “asocial” is pivotal to this entire approach; this is something that is a bit novel to those of us who think that talking something through or giving verbal and visual feedback are essential to learning. Instead, this offers a radically different – yet extremely effective – approach.

On a more personal note, I am excited about applying some insights gained from this book – very indirectly – to working with adult dance students. Although I have a long-term interest in the brain and in neurophysiology (my first book, the Handbook of Neural Computing Applications, Academic, 1981, built on that interest), it is not the research represented here that intrigues me as much as the potential for using these insights in a practical way with people who are already very functional – and typically highly-qualified professionals with full and active social lives. It is these people who may benefit from a more holistic approach to dance that helps them reconnect with early childhood experiences. This may potentially lead to a less intellectual, and more spontaneous and playful self-expression through dance.

If this proves to be useful at all, then Dr. Waldon’s work will have influenced far more than the community helping those afflicted with autism. Further, Mr. Solomon’s work, together with his co-authors, will have brought a great deal of insight and understanding – a possible avenue for greater personal integration and healing – to a wider audience.

Those of you who study with me throughout the coming year may find us doing unusual movements to help break through our usual cognitive mindsets, and access a more primitive (and possibly more playful and self-aware) aspect of ourselves.

If you’re a dance teacher and you’ve signed up to receive emails from me, I’ll share with you in these emails how these “experiments” are coming along – and pass on to you what works, and what doesn’t.

For all of us – one of the best things that we can do is to temporarily forego choreography, and seek to access the more feeling and expressive side of who we are – to take time to play with dance.

Which is why I’ll close with you for now, and go head off for some dance play!

yours in dance – Alay’nya