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)

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.

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:

Lineage – in Martial Arts, Yoga, Zen – and Belly Dance!

Our “Master Teachers” in Oriental Dance

Recently, I took a workshop with Anahid Sofian, where the day’s classes were taught by her protege, the internationally-renowned Eva Cernik. Among the attendees was Nourhan Sharif, and others who were remarkable for their intelligence (one had her Ph.D. in biochemistry), devotion to the art (most were long-standing students), and overall high level of knowledge about dance, art, and life.

I overheard Nourhan and another dancer, where the question that one of them posed was: Which other leading dancers do you like – and respect – the most? (The context was with historical figures – the luminaries of films, etc.)

Somehow, the conversation swung around to how we – as students, practitioners, and often teachers – show how we respect our own teachers. And someone (here I’m airbrushing just a bit) commented on one dancer who left a well-known teacher to form her own studio. She had been a teacher in the master dance teacher’s studio, and took the students – who were in class with her – when she left to set up her own “establishment.”

This wasn’t just a burst of ego. It was a show of disrespect, and – in simple business terms – an undercutting.

I had the same thing happen to me, and write about it in Unveiling: The Inner Journey. (see the opening for Chapter 15, “Softening: Beginning to Break Through,” beginning page 199.

I recall a conversation with another leading dancer, one with whom I’ve studied and whom I respect a great deal. I asked her how I could honor her in my work. She said, “Simply recognize me in your bio. Say that you’ve studied with me.”

That seems easy enough. Surprisingly, though, there are dancers – those who want to “establish” themselves – who think that the best way to do this is to disregard (and even disrespect) their connections with their teachers and – when they find them – their “master teachers.”

We in the Oriental dance world seek to claim legitimacy for our art form. We want respect. We demand, and the rigor and beauty of our art form demands, a high level of respect.

But to get respect, we have to give it.

Look at the great traditions in the world; the ones where personal teaching is necessary. Martial artists, the world over, acknowledge their teachers. Lineage is exceptionally important.

Lineage is important in ballet, modern dance, and other dance forms. It is important in all branches of yoga.

In Zen meditation, one of the practices is that the disciples recite the names of their master teachers, going up through their entire lineage, and thanking and acknowledging them.

We have a profoundly beautiful, moving, and exquisite art form. We also have lineage. It’s time for us to respect our “master teachers.”

In Unveiling: The Inner Journey, I identify my “master teachers” – in dance, in martial arts, and in body/mind/psyche/energy integration. If I’ve studied with them, and if there is enough of a relationship so that they can pick me out of a lineup, they’re mentioned. I tell stories about them – the kind of “student/teacher” stories that highlight their role as teachers.

Right now, more and more of us are writing. (Morocco’s book is coming out soon, Nourhan Sharif has one underway.) We put together websites. We have videos. In addition to teaching classes and performing, we have numerous venues available to us – through the web, digital media, and print – in which we can honor our “master teachers.”

We want respect? Let’s start by giving it.

Getting "Inner Balance" with T’ai Chi, Chi Kung, and "Push Hands"

Peter Ralston – Martial Arts Master – and an “Unveiling” Master Teacher

Yesterday morning, when the power came back on after Hurrican Irene passed through, I went down to my dance studio for my morning yoga practice. And after my body “woke up” a bit, the yoga became a bit of free-form T’ai Chi, then a bit of Chi Kung, with some of the Silk Weaving exercises mixed in. And within short order, I was back to basic – very elementary – dance movements. Really more the essentials – Anchoring and Grounding, and weight shifting. I began attending to Principles that Peter Ralston had elucidated very clearly when I was studying with him.

Peter Ralston, a martial arts Master Teacher, taught T’ai Chi and other “internal” martial arts. He was – and still is – a very effective fighter. He also based his teachings on certain core body-alignment and energetic Principles. He is one of the Master Teachers whom I reference frequently in Unveiling: The Inner Journey.

Peter has several books published, but one that got a very good review is Re-Thinking Cheng Hsin.

Peter’s teachings have had a profound impact on my dance. I particularly credit him with helping me define my first Principles, beginning with Anchoring. I spent a fair bit of time yesterday, not only in physical practice, but re-thinking how to connect the Principles with how to teach, both for beginner and advanced students. Another element underlying all of Peter’s teachings is that our practice, whether martial arts or any other area, should be “effortless.” (Now I’ll confess that my practice yesterday, during which I focused on releasing tension and having proper alignment, was pretty hard work!)

In Unveiling, I write:

This principle – that of being “effortless” – holds true for us as well. If we are seeking to cultivate our Hathor essence, then we need to create it in a way that is effortless, natural, and easy. Similarly, if we wish to access the deep wisdom of our inner High Priestess, this must especially come about in a soft and gentle manner! In part, because this is the characteristic of real power. And in part, also, this is the only way that things will work most effectively in our lives. (Unveiling: The Inner Journey, p. 165)

You can read more Unveiling excerpts at: Unveiling: The Inner Journey.

Rebuilding Personal Energy (Ch’i)

Building Personal Energy (Ch’i)

Over the past few days, my personal energy levels had dropped down a bit. I was a bit more tired in the afternoons, and craving carbohydrates and sugars. These were tell-tale signs that my energy and balance were off.

To start rebuilding my personal energy, or ch’i, I prepared with a short and easy yoga session (mostly to stretch out the leg meridians; these help with sleep and relaxation), and took a nap. (Always a good choice.)

When I woke up, I found a good action movie on TV that was just getting started, and did a two-hour yoga/core/resistance/stretch session. Just the basics, nothing new and certainly nothing fancy. But I felt hugely better afterwards.

Then I did some juicing with the last of the “juicing greens and veggies” that I had stored in a special kitchenette where I keep the juicer (and a garbage disposal for handling waste, even though I compost most of it). A dedicated area helps, as a week’s worth of juicing veggies and greens takes up a lot of room. Also, since this is “raw foods,” it’s best to keep it from meats and other food types. My ingredients were: a whole small beet, a whole large carrot and a whole Granny Smith apple, a small handful of parsley, a small handful of cress, and a few stalks of celery (including the leafy parts at the top, and the “celery root” area below the stalks). This was one of the best combos I’d ever made, it was great!

By this time, my energy was perking up. I wound up doing this in the middle of the night, so my goal now is to calm down and go back to bed. However, the combination of yoga and exercise, together with the nutrients from the freshly-squeezed greens and veggies, has my energy flowing again.

It is from this slightly more energized state that I started doing some basic T’ai Chi, and the silk-weaving exercises.

I’ve looked online for vids of the silk-weaving exercises as described in Michael Minik’s book (referenced in a previous post), and couldn’t find any good, “basic” ones. I’m sure that chi kung training is similar, but at some point I’ll try to do a simple little silk-weaving vid, and post on YouTube. This is a great energizing practice, especially when used in conjunction with the basic things that get our bodies moving and our energy flowing.

P.S. – I’m still winding down and getting ready to go back to bed. Herbal tea – I use Celestial Seasoning’s “Sleepytime Extra,” the valerian helps induce sleep, and stir in a little GABA. Also have a chug of the Calcium/Magnesium components of the two-part liquid vitamins that I get from Dr. Sievers at Care Plus in Fairfax, VA.

It’s only when I’ve done a good bit of yoga and stretching to warm up and get my lower back released, and core work to get my abdominal muscles engaged, that I feel ready to fully take advantage of T’ai Chi. And then, only after all of that do I feel that my body is really ready to work with dance. The elements of Oriental dance involve so much stretching and flexing of our spines, our pelvic girdle, and diaphragms – and so much core strength if we are to do it right – that we can have a really good dance workout if half our time (or even more) is spent with warm-ups and preps, getting our body ready to move in the right way. Then the dance techniques flow from internal strength and connection, rather than from being “imposed.”

And we have a much better chance of doing energy circulation work in dance if we’ve prepared properly.

Unveiling — the Permissions

Dear Ones —

Today, as I get up to write to you, it is early morning – a little after 4AM. The sky is still dark, the birds are still quiet, even the tree frogs ceased their chorus several hours ago. It is in these very quiet moments that I share with you, because one of the things that I (and many other creative persons) most like to hear is: What is the creative process like? What is it like to actually write a book; to go from concept to many rough drafts to final form to the final polish?

The creative process in others fascinates us, because we hope to learn something that we can use and apply to our own endeavors.

As soon as the sun rises, and the spell of quiet-time breaks, daylight energy starts surging in and I’m part of the “practical world” once again. And now that I am so close, so very close, to getting Unveiling to you, much of what I’ve put off over the past year is now on my desk. My daily “to-do” list crawls off the page, and – just as with you – even as I write down all the “to-do’s” and attempt prioritizing, I know that I’ll only do a small fraction of what’s on the list.

And the reason, of course, that I only get a fraction of the “other stuff” done is that I’m still massively allocating time to Unveiling.

A while ago – this is about a month or so back – I could sense the energetic “completeness” of Unveiling. At some level, it was already in final form. All the chapters were in place, all the necessary concepts and thoughts were there – even though I’ve continued to get guidance and inputs, and little things that make such a difference to the final outcome still come to me. (This is much like adding the final fresh, most tender, ingredients to a long-simmered stew, just before serving.)

As I said, energetically, Unveiling was complete.

Pragmatically – now that’s an entirely different story.

I spent most of yesterday, and will spend much time over the next few days, writing the Permissions letters. These are the ones in which the author contacts the publishers of other author’s works, asking for permission to include extracts of the others’ works in their own.

In my case, I have many, MANY extracts from other author’s works. About three dozen in all.

Why so many, you might ask? After all, isn’t Unveiling supposed to be my work – not just a compilation of ideas and insights from others?

And yes, truly, it is.

But the story goes back to the origin of Unveiling.

Many years ago, I began my own quest. I realized that I had stumbled, more or less, on a “path.” In fact, I had found the “path” that I was looking for – a body/mind/psyche/energy integration pathway for women. I had spent many years prior studying martial arts, and finally (and somewhat reluctantly) concluded that they were not right for me. All that block-kick-punch-strike — too masculine. While I loved the energy, the intensity, the total awareness and physical discipline of the martial arts, they were essentially masculine. Fundamentally, they were all about fighting. As a woman, I was less and less interested in fighting; less and less interested in the masculine path. I wanted one that was, at its core, intrinsically feminine.

When I found Oriental (belly) dance, I knew that I had “come home.” And for years, I was able to find extraordinary teachers in the dance arts, much as I’d earlier found extraordinary teachers in the martial arts. (I write about them in Unveiling, and in the Unveiling website – when it is itself “unveiled” – I’ll link to their sites.)

But even though I was getting fabulous dance training, crucial aspects – the “life-path-integration” aspects – were still missing.

I craved some sort of guidance. Specifically, I craved a book.

I looked high and low, and couldn’t find one. (This was some fifteen years ago.)

In response to my own need, I began writing. And of course, books – written by others – began to emerge. They played a crucial role in what I’ll be sharing with you.

So – right now, my job is to get those Permissions letters out, day by day, until all the publishers and authors have been contacted. Then, Unveiling can rightfully give you tiny little “snippets” of insights that others have provided, and you’ll be able to follow up on your own.

This is a long job – I’ve been at it for days, and more will come. But what is exciting is that years ago – when I first started writing to you – these materials (by and large) did not exist. Or I was unaware of them. Or even – if aware – I didn’t understand the role that they would play in the final manuscript. (Again, think of cooking — and being in a well-stocked kitchen. Sometimes, we don’t realize that we need a certain ingredient – like a bit of tomato paste as well as the fresh tomatoes – until we’re well underway with the cooking!)

Now, new and relevant books, articles, webzines and blogs are producing relevant insights, every single day. This means that many of us are holding the same thoughts, and asking the same questions.

Darlings, it is time to unveil Unveiling, and I can’t wait to share it with you!