Sunday, 31 August 2014

Dancing through your Chakras

“We do not heal the past by dwelling there; we heal the past by living fully in the present.” Marianne Williamson

Whenever I get caught up in the stresses and throes of daily life, I remind myself that if I
take a step back, breathe, let myself go and dance, I allow myself to appreciate and live fully in the present moment.  Dance is what Martha Graham describes is “the hidden language of the soul.”  It does not matter how technical or perfect my dancing is – it helps free my mind, body and spirit to simply rise, flow and feel liberated.

The ancient Indian Sanskrit word “chakra” means wheel of light, which we refer to as an energy centre within our bodies. Michael J Tamura beautifully describes the chakras as “revolving doors of creativity and communication between spirit and the world.”  There are 7 main chakra centres in which energy flows through and forms part of the subtle energy system surrounding the human body. 

I realised long ago, that by healing my chakras through dance, I could bring light and perspective to my ancestry and could strive towards living a purposeful and fulfilling life in the here and now.  By consciously journeying through the chakras, I discovered how dance balanced my chakra energy, centred the frequency and raised my vibrations.  Here’s how:

Step 1) Grounding the Root Chakra
Located at the base of your spine, the root is your sense of security and connection to Mother Earth.  The most effective spiritual person is grounded.  Whilst dancing, visualise light coming from your root chakra down your legs and into your feet.  Feel your feet rooted to the ground like invisible tree roots going deep anchoring you down. You are still able to move freely, but with a sense of connectedness to all that is real.  Dance moves for the root chakra include African Stomping; clapping to the beat as you move your feet from side to side; or Tap Dancing, all whilst visualising your entire body centred and connected to the earth. 

Step 2) Creating bliss with the Sacral Chakra
Located just below the navel, the sacral chakra is related to creativity, sensuality, passions, emotions and the divine feminine essence within. “To be creative, means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty” - Osho.  Whilst dancing, visualise yourself loving life as a Goddess (if you are a man, and this does not resonate with you, connect to the feelings of passion and creativity) with beautiful energies enveloping your entire being, filling you with bliss, vitality and beauty.  Dance moves for this chakra include: vibrant Latin dancing, belly dancing and any other form of dance that loosens your hips and deepens your sense of creative sensuality.  

Step 3) Empowering the Solar Plexus Chakra
Located just above your navel, the solar plexus is about your sense of power, confidence, personal boundaries and your inner warrior.  Free your spirit and dance in front of mirror to reflect back just how powerful and fabulous you really are.  By owning your power you will attract more of what you want into your life and feel self-assured.  Visualise yourself as a strong proud warrior taking command of the dance floor. Street Dancing and Zumba are great ways to ignite your sense of inner confidence and power.  Alternatively, if you want to try something different for your solar plexus, the ancient tribal warrior dance ‘Maori Haka’, uniquely expresses releases your inner and outer warrior. 

Step 4) Loving the Heart Chakra
“Where there is love, there is life” - Gandhi.  Located in the centre of your chest, the heart chakra is connected to unconditional love, forgiveness and compassion.  Love every part of you and aim to let go of anything no longer serving you, so life can flow beautifully with an abundance of love.  Whilst dancing, visualise yourself surrounded in pink light and then place both hands in the middle of your chest.  Feel the sacred LOVE for the dancer in you as your hands rise whenever you breathe in and lower every time you breathe out.  Absorb the love and softness pulsating from your heart.  No matter what form of dance you are doing, just embrace and feel love coming from within enabling your soul energy to come alive.  

Step 5) Expressing truth with the Throat Chakra
The throat chakra is connected to your verbal and non-verbal expression. It’s about communicating truthfully with clarity.  Through clear communication, your interactions with yourself and others become smoother.  A great way to balance the throat chakra is to chant a sacred chant, sing or hum along to the music you are dancing to.  Be sure to vocalise your sounds with truth and meaning as if you are living and vibrating every lyrical word or chant from every pore as you harmonise this chakra.  

Step 6) Trusting your intuitive Brow Chakra
Your brow or third eye is found in the centre of your forehead in between your eye brows.  This chakra symbolises psychic insight and trusting that inner knowing: your intuition. Thoreau once said “it's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.” The art of going within and trusting your inner guidance before projecting your visions onto the outside world is empowering.  When dancing, close your physical eyes and listen to any music you enjoy, as this allows you to go within into a meditative state, shutting off from the material world, tapping into divine intuition and clarity from spirit.  Once you feel relaxed with your eyes closed, loosely move your body to the rhythm of the music, which may feel strange, but is a great way to feel the music, feed your soul and inspire inner visions.  

Step 7) Feeling awesome with your Crown Chakra
Lingering closely above the top of your head is the crown chakra.  This resonates with connecting to your higher consciousness of love, peace, energy, beauty, wisdom, clarity and that we are all one coming from one infinite source.  Dance styles for the crown chakra include Ballet, 5Rhythms and Ecstatic Dance.  Twist and turn your body, raise your hands above your head as if you are calling for a beautiful ray of starlight energy to pass through your crown chakra, opening the portal to one infinite source for enlightenment. Do as Terri Guillemets says: “when you dance to your own rhythm, life taps its toes to your beat.”

Chakra dancing or not, by letting go and moving to rhythmic beats, it makes me feel good about myself.  And if YOU think you can’t dance, remember Martha Graham's saying: “great dancers are great because of their passion”, not for being perfect.  Go forth with creativity, passion and connection to every part of you through your chakras.  To dance is to be authentic.  To dance is to come alive. 

Shimmy ON!


Monday, 21 April 2014

Just saying…

I love it when I hear how uplifting, fun and inspiring dancing can be for people from all
walks of life.  For me, dance frees the spirit and takes me to a whole new level beyond words.

Whilst writing a recent article, I searched for inspiring dance quotes to support my ideas.  I was surprised at what I found and thought I’d share a select few of the delights from the vast amount of quotes around.  Granted, dance is not everyone’s cup of tea, but these quotes really made me think about how far I have come with my own dancing, where I want to be and the path I intend to follow in order to get there.  Enjoy!
  • “Dance. Smile. Giggle. Marvel. TRUST. HOPE. LOVE. WISH. BELIEVE. Most of all, enjoy every moment of the journey and appreciate where you are at this moment instead of always focussing on how far you have to go.” Mandy Hale
  • “Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” - Martha Graham
  • “By letting go, you get everything. The real winner is the one who lets go.” - Lao Tzu
  • “The only thing we have to fear is of fear itself.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • “The body is a sacred garment and the spine is the tree of life. Respect it!” - Martha Graham
  • “Dance is spirit and energy. Our inner personalities always show while we dance. Be yourself, be free, enjoy what you do and share with pride.” - Nawarra Dancer
  • “The body says what words cannot.” - Martha Graham
  • “Opportunity dances with those who are ready for the dance floor.” - Jackson Browne
  • “Dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening. And live like it’s heaven on earth.” - William W. Purkey
  • “Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance when you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” - Rumi 
  • “Nobody cares if you can’t dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.” - Martha Graham 
  • “Life is the dancer and you are the dance.” - Eckhart Tolle 
  • “To be creative means to be in love with life. You can only be creative if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” – Osho

Now putting the spotlight on you... From dancing, writing and painting, to hiking, sewing, and baking; GO FORTH, do what ignites your spirit and makes you come alive.  You never know, there may just be a group of others who feel just like you about your passion, and end up quoting about it to inspire people for lifetimes to come. It may even be you!

Shimmy ON!


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter!

This photo is of the Easter display in my classroom.  It was the last day of term before the Easter holidays - a great day with a party vibe in the air.  The kids decorated the area with bunny masks then went on to make greeting cards, paper chicks and baskets, which we filled with yummy treats.  The golden chocolate bunnies are courtesy of yours truly (I couldn't resist). 

Today is Easter Sunday, a time when we commemorate the rebirth of Christ and the freshness of springtime.  Seeing how far the children in my class have come since the start of term, this image above brings to me good memories of creativity, determination, team work, transformation and fun fun fun times.   

Happy Easter everybody - have a great day!


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Spring into Shimmy!

It's been a lovely sunny day in London town and Spring has officially sprung.  I find this time of year not only refreshing, but a great time for reflections and creating new beginnings; the two sub-headers of this post.

1. Reflections...
Its been a busy but lovely few weeks at my primary school and one of the highlights was arranging for a group of children to attend a dance festival for kids with special needs.  It was one of the most heart warming experiences I've felt and I was SO proud to see the children take centre stage, face their fears and bring their dance moves alive in front of a supportive crowd. The power of what dancing can do for a young person's confidence and self-esteem, goes without saying!  The children had no expectations, simply went with the flow, as they danced to Pharell Williams's "Happy" and despite their initial apprehension, trusted that everything would be okay.  Well it was better an okay in the end, they were AMAZING, as were all the kids from the other special schools at the festival. 

The whole experience of the children's dance festival got me thinking about how dance uplifts my own sense of self and enhances my well-being.  Last weekend at Shimmy by the Sea (SBTS), certainly put a spring into my inner dance diva.  SBTS is a bellydance weekender with dance workshops from experienced professional dancers, a hafla (aka Arabic party and showcase) and a SOUK to buy sparkly Egyptian costumes and bits in. For me, SBTS was a weekend full cheeky laughs, pushing myself to experience new things, creating dance memories with old and new friends, and lapping up some beautiful sea breeze and scenery. My first experience of SBTS was a lovely way to physically unwind, learn from others and DANCE just like the kids at the dance festival.  

2. Creating new beginnings...
Well the sun is out and change is coming.  Rather than blindly rushing ahead and creating new beginnings for the sake of it, I've chosen to purposely digest what I have learnt from all of my amazing teachers, students and inspirations so far, including all the lovely hafla dance performances I get to see.  This time round though, I plan to continue simply enjoying and feeling the beauty and sensuality of bellydance; but with a new perspective: if something is out of my comfort zone, face the fear and go with the flow until it becomes automatic! Pushing the dance boundaries (well for me anyway!) this season, I will pursue a Bellydance Performer's Course and workshops with live Arabic musicians - exciting stuff!  It will be a balancing act with the day job, but as dance is what feeds my soul, its SO worth putting in the extra effort for.

Enjoy the sunnier climes and keep dancing!

Shimmy ON!


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Hello & Good Bye ♥

Its the first day of the year, and a new chapter has begun! Today is a day of mixed feelings because although its a fresh start for many, I have heard the sad news about the sudden unrelated endings of 2 precious lives. One of whom, was a 27 year old man with a heart of gold, a new career in teaching ahead of him and was a lovely person to be in the company of. A very sad wake up call, and my heart goes out to the families. Hearing and feeling this news today of all days, makes me determined to live life in 2014 like every day will be the last. 

With that, I'll be bringing the valuable lessons learnt, friendships and memorable experiences from 2013 into 2014 with me. And as for people, things and experiences I choose to leave behind, I thank them for opening my eyes and helping me grow, as I move on to a new phase and appreciate the good stuff I have going on in my life.

With nearly 2,000 people from across the globe reading this blog since its humble beginnings, I'm grateful to my readers for their interest and for trusting my own instincts to start writing this blog. In truth, I never expected any interest in a blog about school teaching, bellydancing and the randomness that goes on in my life, so thank you all!! I felt the need to write and express my creativity by starting a blog, because it's something I enjoy, and will continue to do. 

So hello to 2014! Let's be thankful we have the opportunity to experience a new cycle. Life is short and truly is what you make it so think big, treat everyone with kindness (including yourself), be humble and give authenticity in all that you do. Who knows what this year will bring, but I wish you well in whatever you set your sights upon. 

I plan to follow my own advice, live the dream and make this a good year in memory of anyone who will not be here to share 2014 with us.

Happy New Year! 


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Festive Dance

With only 3 days until crimbo, I'm feeling festive as I wind 2013 down, and begin planning ahead for 2014. It's been a busy year of settling into routine at my new school and becoming a fully fledged teacher, which has been fantastic but kind of diverted me from from the amount of dancing I used to do.  Now though, as the dust has settled, its high time I shake off that hip belt and get my belly dance turbo grove back ON and moving into 2014.  

Troupe smiles with our lovely teacher, Maelle Bellydance
I have seen so many dancers progress to new heights over the past year through sheer determination and challenging themselves to keep progressing day by day.  As with anything, the efforts you put in, you basically get back out again and see results from, if you have gone about them in the right way.  Some dancers I know have entered competitions, and in some cases, deservedly become finalists; increased their amount of professional dance jobs with hard work; broadened their mindsets to new dance forms; performed in stage productions; and even surprised themselves at their own success.  All very inspiring and great food for thought.  

So the plan for 2014 is more dancing so I can be a better dancer, more FUN and finding a good mix between the day job and shimmying at night. Dr Wayne Dyer always says: "don't die with your music still in you", basically encouraging anyone who has any doubt about going for what they want in life to stop with the excuses and go DO IT! My day job will always be hectic, so finding a good balance in 2014, will definitely mean there's no chance of having any regrets about not fulfilling my dance dreams.

After an immense amount of dancing last weekend, including attending Fantastia, London's biggest Arabic Dance Festival, I caught up with old friends and met new people, all with one common interest - belly dance; a dance that enables us to celebrate, embrace and unleash our inner passions; dress up in sparkly costumes and feel fabulous. At Fantasia, I performed a troupe dance in the Gala Show using fan veils, a prop I'd never danced with before, but plan to use a lot more often because I enjoyed the dance so much. 

Here follows a few happy photo mementos from the dance weekend!

Shimmy On!


Sunday, 6 October 2013

Love to Teach!

It's hard to believe that its October already. The sun is shining and its been a gorgeous weekend of catching up with friends, lapping up some fresh air and dancing. This time also marks 4 weeks from the date that I started my post as an SEN Teacher in London. The role is demanding and takes its toll at times but is also rewarding, FUN and incredibly inspiring in many ways.  It may be my name on the classroom door, but I have learnt more than I could ever have imagined from the children themselves and the people I work with. No two days are the same in school and I feel lucky to be there. 

Anyways, enough of my gushing! A couple of photos, sprung to mind when I started
writing this post, including the one on the right, which is of a display in my classroom. Friday will be our first class assembly in front of the whole school and parents, and I'm pleased to say that it will be on based Ancient Egypt. Along with lots of interesting Egyptian facts from the children in our assembly, I couldn't resist putting my own stamp on it, so yes, coin belts will be at the ready! I've been teaching some of the kids a short bellydance routine, whilst the rest of the class will be drumming. Fingers crossed our audience appreciate the kids' efforts, to dance and act like Egyptians. Wish us luck! 

The photo at the top of this post reminds us that regardless if you're a teacher or not, if you go about life genuinely loving what you do, you tend to attract loving experiences. I love teaching and learning new things from others, especially when subjects have been brought alive by someone who is passionate about what they are doing, because it makes me want to inspire others to enjoy learning from me, hopefully igniting their creativity every step of the way.

Shimmy On!

Nic ♥