Too Cold to Get Out of Bed?

Belly Dance When It’s Just TOO COLD!

Sometimes, it's too cold to get out of bed.
Sometimes, it’s too cold to get out of bed.

Sometimes, it’s just too damn cold.

A self-respecting cat will just stay under the covers.

But with the cold – and for many of us, the snow-shoveling – our lower backs get tight.

More than not fun, this actually gets a little dangerous.

Risk of pulled muscles, all that.

So what’s a cat to do?

Stay under the covers and stretch!


Yes, Sometimes We’re Amazon Warriors

Robert Fusaro Sensei, 8th-Dan, Shotokan Karate, <a href="">Midwest Karate Association</a>.
Robert Fusaro Sensei, 8th-Dan, Shotokan Karate, Midwest Karate Association. (Photo from

Years ago, I studied Shotokan karate with world-renowned Robert Fusaro Sensei. (He’s now Eighth-Dan; that is – 8th-degree black belt – first and only Caucasian to reach that rank, I believe.) He still teaches in Minneapolis, MN, where it is even colder than it is here in the Mid-Atlantic this week.

Fusaro Sensei has brought many of his students to a high level, including several women who have reached 4th and 5th-Dan (4th and 5th-degree black belts).

Fusaro Sensei has always shown great respect for the dance art, and has particularly complimented Cassandra, who teaches Oriental dance in Minneapolis. (At one point, Fusaro Sensei and Cassandra shared studio space. Not the same classes, mind you!)

Here’s an Unveiling excerpt about studying with Fusaro Sensei:

One winter morning, with the temperature about 15 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit), I showed up with other students for the 6:30 AM class. The furnace had gone out over night, and they were awaiting repairs. The top floor dojo was icy cold. Harsh, northwest winds buffeted the exterior walls, stripping away the meager warmth provided by kerosene heaters. Our feet cringed against the frigid floor as we donned our karate gi’s. Leading us slowly and carefully through warm-up stretches, Fusaro Sensei gazed at us firmly. “This is Bushido [“way of the warrior”] training,” he said. Fusaro Sensei taught us to take all of our life experiences as part of our training and overall development – including an early-morning cold dojo!

From Unveiling: The Inner Journey, Chapter 23: “In Praise of a Few Good Men,” p. 324.

Bushido training appeals to us when we’re in our Amazon Warrior mode.

But sometimes, we want to be in Hathor mode; accessing our inner goddess of sensuality and pleasure.

So what do we do when our backs are tight, and when there’s still more snow to shovel?

We do The Most Luscious, Nurturing, Feel-Good Thing You Can Do. Yes, this is my post from this time, last year. And if you’re going to read just one post from me – read this one. (Hint – it’s about figure-eights – and their connection with our vital energy> – and you can practice in bed!)


Raising Our Internal Energy (When We Don’t Feel Like Moving)


Sometimes, before we even change into dance clothes, or do warm-ups, we need to get our energy going first. Then we can get the physical body into action.

Check out this lovely Energy-Raising YouTube with energy healer Carol Tuttle. The clip itself is only about six minutes, and once you’ve learned the energy-raising techniques, you can do them in about a minute. You can do this while waiting for coffee to brew, while microwaving a quick breakfast, or even to take a break at your desk. (Not that obtrusive, and you don’t need special clothes.) Check it out – I just did, this is fun!


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

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






Copyright (c) 2014, Alay’nya. All rights reserved.

Related Posts: Winter Dancing

Related Posts: Winter – Esoteric Energy Dance for the Season of Pentacles (Metaphysical Element of Earth)

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:

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 –

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.



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.






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

Related Posts: Creating a Youthful Presence Through Belly Dance

The Single Biggest Challenge that Women Face Today

Psychic Splitting – The Single Biggest Challenge for Women

Sometimes, a tree can be so damaged by some environmental influence or natural catastrophe that it splits down its center.

A split  tree can sometimes be repaired - and the same holds for our psyches.
A split tree can sometimes be repaired – and the same holds for our psyches. Photo courtesy Chris, from the

Many women today are like this tree.

A dear friend of mine – let’s call her Jess – had a wonderful affair with an exciting man some years ago. He brought out her sensual, playful, pleasure-loving aspect – her inner Hathor (one of the core power archetypes that each of us has).

She felt free to be laughing and playful with his masculine strength encircling her.

When the man left her, she was devastated. She also went through some financially scary times, as her company downsized and she found herself without a job. Although she had a bequest tiding her over, she was in a very uncomfortable, scary situation.

What she did was to call – almost exclusively – on her inner Emperor (the strongest of her masculine archetypes) in moving forward.

All this makes enormously good sense. In essence, she became her own man.

Many of us adopt this strategy.

Hiding in Our “Emperor-Clothing” – Our Psychic Survival Strategy

When we are stressed, when we are fearful about our survival, we become our own man. We put on masculine “armor” and masculine ways-of-thinking.

Mother Henna writes about her experience of seeing her "pain body" as separate from her "light body."
Mother Henna writes about her experience of seeing her “pain body” as separate from her “light body.”

We may even, as my friend Jess did, take a job that has us dominantly in a masculine role. In Jess’s case, the kind of job that she sought – and the one that she finally took – was an Emperor-style job. It was all about facts and figures, projects and timelines, deliverables and task completions.

For Jess, as for many of us, being an Emperor is being in our “safe” mode.

Many of us remember the childhood fairy tale about the Emperor who was deceived (by his own ego, along with some willing tricksters) into believing that he was fully clothed, when in fact he was naked.

We do something similar, but different.

Instead of going about wearing nothing at all, we clothe ourselves in our Emperor-role. We don this to such an extent that we almost believe that this is who and what we are.

We banish the feminine aspects of ourselves to a deep, dark closet, from whence they are not allowed to emerge.

We think that we are protecting ourselves.

Instead, we create an internal “psychic split” that can be profoundly self-destructive.

The Psychic Split Is the Most Devastating Thing That Women Do to Themselves

I did this psychic split myself, beginning when I was about twelve years old.

{More story will follow.}

Healing Our Split Psyches

Chris, who writes the the Gardening Blog from which the first picture used in this post was taken, describes how to repair the split within a tree. Essentially, he forced the two split parts to join together.

… [after] severe pruning to reduce the weight load of the branch… I temporarily tied the branch up with twine. [Then,] I got out my power drill and bored a hole through the tree at the site of the split. Then I … found some large brass bolts, these were perfect. I put a large bolt through the hole and secured it.

I then drilled another hole a few inches above the split and put a longer bolt through there, … and I used a wrench to tighten nuts on both.

So what do we do to heal the psychic split in ourselves?

Obviously, we can’t just bore a hole in our psyches and use a couple of brass bolts and nuts to force our “feminine selves” and “masculine selves” back together.

But let’s look at Chris’s three steps.

  • Lighten the load. Way too often, we make huge demands on ourselves; on our time, our energy, our resources. Our first step in healing is to lighten the load as much as possible; at home, at work, at outside commitments, and even in our expectations of ourselves. Healing is hard work. It will require our own time and energy.
  • Make a temporary fix.
  • Force the two “selves” to come together.

Kabbalistic Wisdom for Healing Our Inner Psychic Wounds

It might be no surprise to realize that for millenia, both men and women have been dealing with this issue.

In fact, the Kabbalah teaches us that on our personal evolution, we go through three major journeys. In the first of these, we encounter and develop each of our six core power archetypes. Each of these is very strong; each wants to have the “deciding voice” in governing our lives.

How do we handle this?

Nike, the Winged Goddess of Victory.
Nike, the Winged Goddess of Victory.

We invoke (cultivate, and develop) a sort of “super-archetype” – the Winged Goddess.

{more on the Winged Goddess to follow}





The Chariot (Major Arcana Card VII) refers not just to victory, but to uniting opposing forces.
The Chariot (Major Arcana Card VII) refers not just to victory, but to uniting opposing forces.

Belly Dance – A Physical Pathway to Promote Inner Healing

Oriental dance (aka belly dance) is a valuable means by which we women can encourage our own inner healing.

{more on dance as a healing and integration pathway to follow}

There are just three physical practices devoted to mind/body healing and integration: yoga (literally meaning “union”), T’ai Ch’i Chuan, and Oriental dance. And while T’ai Ch’i is a wonderful art, it is fundamentally a martial art – appealing to those who are oriented towards Mars, the god of war.

For a more feminine orientation, we need a more feminine art. This is the role of Oriental dance, or belly dance, for many women today.

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 heal and integrate all aspects of who you are!

Yours in dance –

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. What can you read that will help you understand yourself more?

Julie Marie Rahm, America’s Mindset Mechanic

Check out Julie Marie Rahm!

Julie Marie Rahm, America’s Mindset Mechanic and author of Handle Everything: Eight Tools You Need to Live Well and Prosper and also Military Kids Speak (great for parents, teachers, and coaches of military kids) uses a great technique that can help you clear energy blockages, ranging from those from this life through the influence of your ancestral karma. Connect with Julie at info (at) americasmindsetmechanic (dot) com to learn more about how she can help you.

Books by Julie Marie Rahm, America’s Mindset Mechanic



Julie Marie Rahm, aka America’s Mindset Mechanic on Unveiling: The Inner Journey

What does Julie Rahm, America’s Mindset Mechanic and author of Handle Everything: Eight Tools You Need to Live Well and Prosper have to say about Unveiling: The Inner Journey?

Julie writes:

Alay’nya takes readers on an adventure of the body, mind, and spirit from the inside out, strengthening each independently from the other and aligning all three in support of each other. And then, the adventure continues as readers learn how to create the physical environment that supports and reflects the body, mind and spirit, from personal style to the home and office. Each chapter finishes with Personal Pathworking exercises. When readers choose to stop and do the exercises, opportunities for instant positive changes result.

Read this and more reviews of Unveiling: The Inner Journey.





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

Related Posts: Emotional Healing Through Belly Dance

Autumn Lesson 3: Unifying Our Energies

Autumn Lesson 3 in The Season of Cups: Unifying Three Essential Types of Vital Energy

In autumn, we focus on cultivating our intrinsic vital energy, or ch’i. The suite of Cups (from the Minor Arcana) is associated with autumn, and with the metaphysical element of water. Thus, when we put our attention on Cups (water) energy, we are really seeking to develop our internal cup, or energy basin.

Stephen Covey, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, identifies the second habit as: Begin with the end in mind.



We previously saw a visual depiction of our goal: Being able to bring our energy up and have it “fountain” or “flow” down around us. We saw this in the classic Rider-Waite interpretation of this card.

Our desire to “fountain” our energy is a normal and natural one, especially once we gain some proficiency with energy work. I learned about this energetic practice from Medea, my first teacher in Oriental dance.

“Medea had studied yoga. Her lover was also her guru. He had, she explained, taught her to bring up her energy during love-making – and to give it to him! Then they broke up. What, she wondered, was she going to do with her energy, if she wasn’t going to give it over to a man? She finally figured it out. As she told us, ‘Instead of giving it to him, I’ve learned to bring it up, and then to “fountain” it back down and take it in again!'” [Unveiling: The Inner Journey, pp. 402-403]

In last week’s class, we got more specific. We began our energy-study in earnest, with an etude (study piece) cultivate the two vital energy streams that come up on either side of our primary energy pathway in our spine. That is, we focused on the Ida/Pingala energy channels. We saw these two energy channels symbolized by the picture for the Two of Cups.

In this Two of Cups picture set, we see a consistent theme – a man and a woman come together to share their energy.

In the central picture, we see that the man and the woman each are holding a cup, and are each extending their cup towards each other. We connect this to the first step of the Ida/Pingala energy raising. We note that the two persons seem just a bit tentative; this is their first experience of bringing their unique energies to “cross over” and join with the other. This is where Ida (left) and Pingala (right) cross over at the base of the spine, at the root chakra.

Now, “begin[ning] with the end in mind,” we take a look at the final card for the Suite of Cups. The Ten of Cups similarly shows a man and a woman, and again each holds a cup.

The big differences? Their wrists wrap around each other, and their cups are upraised. There is energy flowing into and out of their cups (the rainbow). The signs of “cups” are all about them; the union of these two energies has resulted in a happy, positive overflowing abundance – complete success!

This is our end-goal for our Ida/Pingala energy-raising exercise, and in fact, for the entire Autumn Quarter, when we focus on Cups.

Keep in mind that when we look at imagery such as this – strictly in terms of how these images represent steps and challenges (and overcoming challenges) in our personal growth and mastery – that each person or being represents an aspect of ourselves. In the pictures showing a man and a woman, they represent our masculine and feminine psychological poles, and/or our different energies – in this case, specifically the Ida/Pingala energy channels, or nadis.

In this context – of knowing our overall goal for the quarter – we look at the Three of Cups.

Images for the Three of Cups traditionally show three woman, often dancing together. The middle image here shows them bringing their cups (energies) towards each other, and intertwining their arms.

This brings to mind what we learned last week; the Ida and Pingala are on either side of the primary energy channel, the Sushumna. This week, we remind ourselves that our deeper goal is not just to bring energy up the Pingala and Ida channels, but also bring up our primary energy (up the Sushumna channel); this becomes a kundalini awakening – a very advanced step. In our classes, we focus on prerequisites – on the “beginner steps” towards this very advanced goal.

One of the most basic, and important, practices for energy cultivation is pranayama. We introduced a “baby pranayama” exercise together with energy raising in the etude that we have set to Rasa’s Gayatri Mantra. (Hereafter, for simplicity, we’ll refer to this as the Gayatri Mantra energy-raising etude, or simply the Gayatri Mantra etude.)

In this Gayatri Mantra etude, we do three things:

  • Bring energy up our spines, where we anchor (drop our body weight) and allow our hands to come up each time we “bring up our energy,”
  • Coordinate the energy-raising with specific mudras (hand gestures) and with vibrating the words that go with each mudra, and
  • Coordinate all of this with a simple (baby-level) pranayama breathing pattern.

This is only complicated until it’s not.

By the end of this quarter, we should be proficient with:

  • Bringing energy up to each of seven different chakra-levels (actually, six nadis on the spine and then our crown chakra),
  • Coordinating this with seven different mudras and their respective “intonations,” along with the ability to do some baby-level pranayama, and
  • Some awareness of our Ida/Pingala energy channels, which interweave about our spinal column.

Also, by the end of the quarter, we should be much better at:

  • “Containing” our energy in our pelvic “energy cauldron,” as opposed to spilling it out,
  • Minimizing “holes” in our “energy cauldron” (making it a “cauldron” and not a “sieve” or a “colander”), and
  • Protecting our energy boundaries (yes, “setting boundaries,”) so that we don’t unintentionally give away all this lovely energy that we’re cultivating.

The end result is that we should approach winter solstice with a strong, vibrant energy – ready to share at our discretion as we spend time connecting with friends, family, and colleagues. We should be energetically “insulated” against winter, and be strong for the next aspect of our inner journey.

Most of all, we should be feeling “juicy.” As in, downright fabulously “delish”! Here’s to a great autumn season for all of us!

Namaste! – Alay’nya

Stretching Our Arms Upwards – How This Impacts Our Dance and Our Bodies

Stretching Our Arms Upwards – Surprising Health Benefits (Along with a Beautiful Dancer’s Pose!)

For the longest time, I’ve had this “gut feeling” that Oriental dance (belly dance) was for women the corollary to what the martial arts have traditionally been for men – a pathway for body/mind/psyche/energy integration. And just as T’ai Ch’i Chuan (“Grand Ultimate Fist”) is the premiere “internal” martial art, there is an analogue within Oriental dance.

One of the most important things about an “internal” art is that instead of superimposing the movements on ourselves, we generate them from inside. That means (despite the practice and study involved) that essentially the movements sort of “do themselves.” Minimal effort.

Of course, it takes years of practice so that we can do any moves with “minimal effort.” That, in fact, is one of the characteristics of a real master. But that’s also a subject for a different day.

Today’s subject is one that I’ve never heard addressed – in either martial arts or dance circles. (Doesn’t mean that someone hasn’t discussed this, just that I haven’t come across the discussion yet.)

The particular topic is: What happens when we raise our arms over our heads? What’s the psychological significance, or emotional meaning of this gesture? And how does it fit in with a “minimal effort” approach?

By way of comparison, when we do the opening moves in T’ai Ch’i, we drop our weight and let our arms rise up. This is natural and gentle. But our arms only raise up to about waist-level. So what goes on when we raise our arms over our heads? This is more than “minimal effort”!

Let’s look at the emotional language first. In the classic “belly dance pose,” the dancer has her arms raised over her head, wrists crossed, and palms flat against each other. This is, without question, one of most sensual poses in the dance. And it makes the dancer look gorgeous!

At an emotional-meaning level, though, what does this pose say? Is it just suggesting a little B&D? (For those who’ve been reading Fifty Shades, that might in itself prove exciting.) But really, when do we ever – in our normal lives – raise our arms over our heads?

Often, this is a moment of exultation. Think of the pose with the arms open and hands outstretched to the skies. It’s a “calling down the forces of nature” type of pose; a classic “strength” pose. It’s also a “hallelujah” pose – a moment of ecstasy.

This is a pose that is very exposed and vulnerable. Opening up our armpits and the tender flesh on the inside of our upper arms is not something we’d do if we were feeling threatened or insecure. Much as a cat or dog only rolls on its back and splays its paws (note the paw-splaying, this is more than just rolling on the back as a submissive gesture), this is only something done when the animal feels relaxed and safe, and actually rather joyful and happy.

When we dance, we connect with the Divine. This is a significant “connect with the Divine” gesture, and thus, we use it carefully and sparingly in our choreographies. This is the kind of move that we’d work towards in our dance, as a climax for a certain section of music.

How does this impact our bodies, though? This is really an important question, because when we are very “connected” during our dance – and our energy is really moving – then our audiences desire to experience what we’re experiencing; they want to map themselves onto us. So what we do in our bodies affects not only us, but our audience as well.

Many of us already know that certain leg stretches help stretch out the meridians in our legs, and are restful – this is why these “leg stretch” poses are good yoga moves to relax us before bed.

The “arms overhead” similarly stretches the meridians that go from the tips of our fingers to the core of our bodies, particularly those that go through our underarms.

From a description on the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach to understanding energy (ch’i) meridians:

The Small Intestine Meridian begins on the pinky, moves to the underside of the arm, up to the top of the shoulder blade, the neck, and ends on the front of the ear.

The Triple Heater Meridian begins on the ring finger, moves up the back of the arm to the side of the neck, goes around the ear and ends of the eyebrow.

Beginner’s Lesson 1: Warm-Ups, Energy Work, Techniques, & Choreography

Beginner’s Lesson 1: Introduction to Esoteric Belly Dance with the Alay’nya Studio

Warm-Ups, Energy Work (the Cabbalistic Cross), Energy Circulation (Introduction), Principles (Anchoring), Basic Techniques, Introduction to Music and Rhythm, Introduction to Choreography

This is a study guide and reference serving three groups:

  • active members of the Alay’nya Studio,
  • those who are visiting from out-of-town, or coming in for an “introductory visit,”
  • those who wish to study with us “at a distance” – you can be living in any portion of the world, from Athens, Greece to Athens, TN.

Look throughout this blogpost for homework assignments; follow the links and be prepared to use what you’ve studied with the online materials when you come to class!


We typically use the same warm-up music each time; Cuts 1 – 7 (all or in part) of Beyond the Sky, by Omar Farouk Tekbilek and Brian Keane. We’ll have the same warm-up pattern each time. You’ll get detailed handouts in class (“Warming Up with Alay’nya”) until you’ve built up a notes collection for the entire warm-up sequence.

Energy Boundaries: The Cabbalistic Cross

Our first step with energy work is to define our space. We do this by setting a boundary – circumscribing the area in which we will work. To do this, one of our mainstay “practices” is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. (Please note: All words within this ritual are to focus our attention on aspects or emanations of G*d, or to invoke the protective presence of the archangels.

In the first class, we will learn and practice a dance version of the Cabbalistic Cross, which is the first part of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP). The words that you will learn and vibrate are:

(Those of you who are steeped in the Christian tradition of reciting the Lord’s Prayer, or in the similar Jewish tradition, will note that these phrases are drawn from those prayers.)

Our music for this etude will ultimately be Anahat on Zaman by Kairo by Night.

Energy Circulation and Breath Control: Drawing Energy (Ch’i) Up Your Spine

In the Beginner’s Series, we develop a number of energy-circulation movement patterns (or etudes). Our first one helps us to bring energy up our spines. We bring it to each of seven different “energetic way-stations.” (Later on, we’ll learn how to connect these to chakras.)

Our music for this etude is the beautiful Gayatri Mantra on Saffron Blue by Rasa.

As you listen to this music (do so online), you’ll note that the word-sequence or change is repeated seven times. We’ll ultimately use all seven; each for a different energy center.

In preparation for the first class, listen to the music, and read along using the translation.

While doing this, we’ll use a series of mudras, which are hand gestures that help open our energy centers, circulate energy, and encourage certain mental/emotional states. Specifically, we’re going to use two mudras that open our two lower chakra areas. Note that the two sounds that we’ll use are LAM and VAM, with the two respective mudras.

As we do this etude, we will also incorporate a breathing pattern – a very simple aspect of pranayama. We use only a very simple three-part breathing pranayama for this etude. We will have a pause (or retention of breath) after each inhalation and exhalation. We’ll use the four phrases of the Gayatri Mantra to cue our inhalation, retention, exhalation, and pause.

First Principle: Anchoring

We take a Principles-based approach to learning the dance movements. Each Principle gives us a kinesthetic and internal-image “cue” or “trigger” that helps us to align or move our body in a certain way. There are seven basic, or Static (non-moving) Principles that we’ll seek to learn during the Beginner’s Introductory Classes. The first Principle that we’ll learn is Anchoring. This is discussed in Unveiling: The Inner Journey, in Chapter 22: “Looking Like a Dancer (Even If You’re Not).”

Techniques: Hip Drops and Hip Thrusts

When we use the first Principle of Anchoring to align our pelvis, then all our pelvic and hip techniques come about automatically. We simply “discover” that they are there, waiting to be used! Over the first several weeks of the Beginner’s Introductory Classes, we’ll learn an etude that lets us practice lots of different hip movement techniques, particularly hip thrusts and hip drops, together with transitions, step patterns, pelvic circles, and other moves. Our music for this will be The Magic in Your Eyes (Cut #1) on Hossam Ramzy’s Source of Fire.

Music Analysis

We will start our musical analysis with the opening portions of Hossam Ramzy’s Source of Fire. There will be a take-home worksheet for this.


Dream Dancer

Time permitting, we will start two or three mini-choreographies. Specifically, we’ll focus on creating “choreographic units” – small sections that we can match onto a section of different pieces of music.

Cool-Down & Meditation

We’ll close the class with a cool-down section. We often use Beautiful Friend on Dream Dancer by Light Rain as a gentle and beautiful cool-down. This is something that we can develop later for arm and hand work, along with undulations and some turns and rhumba movements.

See you in class. Namaste – Alay’nya

Rejuvenation Secret #1: Improved Mood, Increased Energy, and Better Stress Resistance

Disaster Recovery – Using the Ancient Chinese Silk-Weaving Exercises

This last week, like so many of us in the Mid-Atlantic area, I was without power for several days. As with many of you, I carried through the actual power-outage itself well enough. Adrenaline kicks in, and our survival instincts take over. We solve problems, come up with creative fixes, and simply deal.

It’s the aftermath that is toughest.

The adrenaline surge fades away, and we’re left with clean-up. Messy, nasty fridges and freezers. Things strewn all over the house. More dirt and grime, wear and tear. This is when – all too often – it seems overwhelming.

Like many of you, I’ve had a post-power-outage personal energy and power drop. This morning, I was barely able to do a yogic downward dog. What makes this even more challenging? When we’re stressed, we tighten up. That takes a further toll, and it’s even harder to do those “stretch and release” things that we know will help us feel better.

Rebooting our personal power and energy is like rebooting any system. We do the simplest and smallest things first.

My personal “power-up” sequence uses a special movement/energy/breathing sequence: the silk-weaving exercises. These are essentially a “pre-kung-fu” movement series – not as full-fledged as T’ai Chi, but movement-and-breathing-oriented. Sort of like a martial arts version of yoga warm-ups. Very powerful and effective.

A good video preview showing extracts of these silk-weaving exercises. Another good web resource gives detailed instructions for the Eight Pieces of Brocade, which is another term for the silk-weaving exercises. Here is one more YouTube demonstration video for the Eight Pieces of Brocade.

My results:

  • Better energy (I was indeed able to get into some yoga and other stretches),
  • Improved mood, and
  • Reduced stress along with a better attitude about dealing with the post-power-outage clean-ups.

Overall, a really big impact from just 40-60 minutes of silk-weaving exercises, followed by yoga and a Western esoteric energy-practice called circulating the body of light. (See Donald Micheal Kraig’s book, Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts, referenced in my previous blogpost, Creating Personal Energy.

Michael Minick’s The Kung-Fu Exercise Book: Health Secrets of Ancient China is the book that I used many years ago to teach myself the basic silk-weaving exercise patterns. Since then, having studied T’ai Chi and Oriental dance for many years, I’ve been able to decipher the secrets that were NOT put into the book. That has made my technique more powerful and effective. Minick’s book is now (sadly) out of print; used copies are available through

For information on circulating the body of light, read Donald Michael Kraig’s excellent book: Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts


Best wishes, and more power to you!

Related blogposts:

Releasing Neck Tension (and Minimizing the Dreaded "Dowager’s Hump")

Looking Younger – by Releasing Neck Tension

One of my dear friends exercises regularly. I see her often getting up in the morning, putting together a blender-full of a healthy protein and fruit smoothie, and heading out to the gym before she goes to work each day. She’s resumed her “healthy lifestyle,” and she’s getting fitter and trimmer.

As we women get older, we are likely to get <a href="
As we women get older, we are likely to get osteoporosis, resulting in the dreaded ‘dowager’s hump.

Nevertheless, I keep seeing a persistent hunch-over in her shoulders and neck. It’s the emerging dreaded “dowager’s hump”!

Far too many of us are getting this “hunched over” look; partly because so many of our activities – from working at the computer to driving a car – induce this posture. They all bring our arms forward and “hunch” our necks downwards.

If You Can’t Be a Good Example, Then Be a Horrible Lesson

I see my friend, and get a pointed reminder of how I don’t want to look!

Just like her – and possibly just like you – I spend most of my days at the computer. Occasionally, I’m driving about town. These two activities take up the bulk of my time.

Seeing how I don’t want to look is a powerful reminder to include “dowager’s-hump-fighting-strategies” into my life.

But – just like you – I get absorbed in my work, sometimes for hours at a time.

What can we do?

Proactive Steps to Minimize a Dowager’s Hump

As we get older, we can’t simply rely on exercise alone to keep osteoporosis (and the dowager’s hump) at bay. We need to think about a more integrated strategy, including:

  • Diet, including dark leafy greens – possibly with vegetable juicing, together with with good calcium/magnesium supplements,
  • Targeted exercise, focusing on a complete core-strengthening regime, and
  • Specific stretches to open up our neck, upper back, and shoulder/pectoral areas.

Dr. Natalie Cordova, a Chiropractor and posture expert, gives us some ideas on what we can do to strengthen our backs and reduce the likelihood of a dowager’s hump.

Jim Evans also suggests some exercises to help deal with a dowager’s hump.

Releasing Neck and Back Tension Will Help Minimize a Dowager’s Hump

Most of us have desk jobs. Between sitting at our desks, sitting in the car (with our shoulders brought forward as we grasp the wheel), and then sitting at home in the evenings, we are all too often in a posture that tightens our neck and hunches our shoulders forward. Even in our “leisure moments,” we’re reinforcing this posture. (Feel the posture that you’re in while watching TV, doing texts and emails, and other digitally-based activities.)

One of the most notable signs of aging is our posture. Actually, it’s a combination of posture and muscular/joint stiffness. “Limberness” is a sign of youth. Being hunched over, with a tight, drawn in neck, with rounded shoulders is a sign of both stress and aging. And when we get “fixated” in this kind of posture, we start looking like a turtle – one that is very reluctantly sticking its head out of its shell! That’s the “dowager’s hump” stage.

Surprisingly, not many fitness coaches and anti-aging gurus focus on this. But a tight neck, and tight shoulders, are not only absolute give-aways about aging, they also feel awful! It’s hard to feel vigorous, lighthearted, and happy when our posture says that we’re hunching over to avoide the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”!

Perhaps even more surprisingly, the key to unlocking neck and shoulder tension (and releasing a “dowager’s hump”) starts not at our neck, but in our hips, pelvis, and lower back. As we release these areas, we begin to “mobilize” our spine. Once we do that, we can start releasing tension up and down our spines – reaching up into our neck. This is how we create a youthful, vibrant body!

I’ve just come back from a week at a client site. There were task-filled days, often be-bopping from one place to another, with the “to-do list” always on my mind. While I could do some stretch-outs, some yoga, and some walking while at my client’s, it just wasn’t ideal for my early-morning “sun salutation” yoga workout. And now, returning to home base, in the midst of unpacking and taking care of everyone’s physical (and emotional) needs, I’m noticing a tight neck. And also, a tight back, and a very tight lower back and hip area. The secret? A combination of yoga and “belly dance basics” – a series of stretching and releasing exercises that are actually best done in bed, or on a soft and yielding surface. I’ve been combining that with deliberate breathing, opening up my diaphragms. And without even getting to my neck area, I’m already getting some release.

Our yoga practice doesn’t have to be fancy, and we don’t need to do lots of advanced poses. But just getting some “downward dog” and “sun salutations” in helps tremendously to release tension in our hips, lower back, and sacral area. And all of this is necessary before any form of dance can begin.

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

Yours in dance –

Alay'nya - author of <a href="">Unveiling: The Inner Journey</a>
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

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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P.S. Want a couple of good DVDs to help strengthen your core and minimize dowager’s hump tendencies? Check out the two below!





Gerson Kuhr, aka The Fitness Pharaoh on Unveiling: The Inner Journey

What does the Fitness Pharaoh, producer of the highly-acclaimed Core Training for Belly Dancers, have to say about Unveiling: The Inner Journey?

Gerson writes:
“Masterfully written. This is one of the most inspiring books that I have come across in a long, long time. It is “must reading” for any woman who wants to get in touch with her “inner diva” and realize her full potential as a dancer and human being. It’s empowering for men as well. The resources alone (mentioned throughout the book) are well worth the purchase price.”

Read this and more reviews of Unveiling: The Inner Journey.



Alay’nya, Unveiling: The Inner Journey





Copyright (c) 2012; revised 2013, Alay’nya. All rights reserved.

Related Posts: Creating a Youthful Presence Through Belly Dance

Using Breathing to Heal

Breathing, Belly Dance, and Breakthroughs – Part II

A week ago, I was enjoying a fabulous breakthrough. Something had shifted for me emotionally. (Still am not sure what.) My body released, some tension patterns had all but disappeared, I was happy, joyful, and confident. What’s more, my energy surged. On Sunday of a week ago, I could barely get through the day, no matter how much B12 and ginseng I took in. The next day, all but forgetting about supplements, I breezed through the day and worked hard into the late evening, enjoying every moment.

And I had three more days just like that.

Until, Thursday evening, I felt this funny little warning “hotness” in my throat. I knew instinctively what it was, and recognized that my body was craving Vitamin C. I still went out to a meeting that night.

The next morning, my throat was red, raw, and painful. There was no longer any doubt or question. Whether strep throat or simply one of the worst colds of my life, it had landed!

So I stayed (more or less) calm throughout the weekend. I pulled back from all human contact, and let friends know that I wouldn’t be at some events – even those which we’d been anticipating for months. I even minimized phone time.

By Sunday, my energy was low, and I spent most of the day in bed, alternating naps with listening to a book on CD.

So what caused this magnificent “fall from grace”? Was the breakthrough not real? (Well, actually, yes it was. I knew that the tension release, the freedom in movement, and the increased energy were all very real.)

What happened was simply a big “word from the Universe” that it was time to settle down. I had taken on too much. (Have STILL taken on too much.) I was behind on almost every promised task.

Setbacks such as these – whether flu or colds, or something more serious – are often the way that our Higher Self pulls us out of our nearly compulsive “to-do” list – where our entire cognitive focus, our identify, and most certainly our attention and time – are wrapped up in our “things to do.”

So I’m doing all the expected and appropriate things. Fluids. Lots of rest. Vitamin C. More rest. Chicken soup. (And more rest.)

In short order, I’ll find my paperwork, and go see a doctor. And I’ll probably get a round of antibiotics. But healing doesn’t come from the anti-biotics, per se. (Not saying that they can’t be of great help.) Rather, the healing has to come from a shift from within, and it is to this that I’m giving my attention.

And oh yes – using “breathing to heal”? Yes, I’m doing that as well. Consciously circulating energy. Reaching out with my awareness, and catching little “energy waves”; bringing them in and moving this energy around my body. Doing the Silk-Weaving Exercises (a form of Chinese breathing and exercising exercises.

Breathing, Breakthroughs, and Belly Dance

Emotional Breakthroughs Show in Our Breathing, Body Movement, and Dance

Just yesterday, I had a breakthrough.

Now my life consists of “breakthroughs.” I have them intellectually. (This is what gives me ideas for everything from blogposts to patents. There are several “breakthroughs” in Unveiling alone.) And I’m used to having physical breakthroughs as well; these have made me an effective dancer.

But yesterday something happened that was a bit unexpected, and I want to share it with you while the memory is fresh.

For the previous few months – post-Unveiling-publication – I’d been having a lot of fatigue. Through being kind and gentle with myself, through rest and (not-too-strenuous) exercise, through better diet and supplements, I was slowly getting better. But this improvement was wobbly, and after almost three months, I still wasn’t back to full strength and power. In fact, just the day-before-yesterday, I’d had one of those days in which all the supplements in the world – all the vitamin B-12 and ginseng – were getting me off the launch pad but not quite into stable orbit.

And then, yesterday, several little things happened. I can’t quite put my finger on any single one. But somehow, in the midst of all these “little things” – a real breakthrough occured.

The “little things”? Working my daily exercise with the Course in Miracles, which I started about two months ago. (If there is anything that is life-changing, this is it. And I was in huge resistance about one of those exercises, but somehow, wound up adopting the premise that it offered – that may have been a “pivot point.”)

The “pivot point” may have been when Nimeera, another dancer with whom I met the day before, looked at me and said, “Breathe.” (I didn’t even know that I was holding my breath.)

It may have been waking up, realizing that I was holding tension in one of my favorite tension-holding places in my back, and then starting to use undulations to release that tension, and also releasing the “emotional issue” that I felt was linked to the tension spot.

It could have been any of these; all of them, or none. What I do know is that somehow, sometime, yesterday I began to move again.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’d been “moving” all these past few months. A fair bit of the daily yoga and core, stretch and resistance training. Renewed long walks. And lots and lots of housecleaning and other chores.

But I hadn’t been doing much dance.

I’d attributed this to having put all my energy into the Unveiling-publication.

But there was something else, a sadness that had been a part of my life over the last three years. And somehow, it released, and my body began to naturally do the “belly dance movements” once again.

That’s right, I started naturally and spontaneously moving – the undulations, the figure-eights (of all sorts). The stretches, the neck movements, everything.

And I realized, once again, that the beauty of Oriental dance as a body art (in comparision with other, equally good and very valid body arts such as yoga and T’ai Chi), is that the range of movements that it gives us are fabulously superb for releasing emotional tension. They are the best movements for real body/mind/psyche integration.

That’s because an Oriental dance technique, such as an undulation, corresponds to releasing tension up and down our spine. When we release emotional tension, we can release the physical. And vice versa.

So if we have even a glimmering of how the two are connected – some attention and awareness of how our bodies and our “emotional selves” work together – then when we get the slightest little release in one area, we can use the dance techniques to help us release just a little more. We use our body/mind/psyche integration pathway to leverage this release.

So, for example, a little emotional release – leads to an undulation. An undulation leads to a figure-eight. A figure-eight leads to paying attention to what we have “stuck” in our lower backs and pelvic area. And then we bring our attention to the emotional aspect, process it, and get a bit more release again physically.

And this is why I love this dance form so much!

P.S. I write about this in Chapters 14-16 of Unveiling: The Inner Journey. And in those chapters, I credit Diane Richardson, who is a Co-Founder of Relational Energetics (see I also suggest chiropractic and massage, and other healing modalities – Reiki is good, as are others.

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

Related Posts: Creating a Youthful Presence Through Belly Dance