Hi fam, this movement exercise I developed as part of my own art practice. It combines somatic therapy practices & gay dance expression. I find movement to be one great way of taking care of my mind, body, & spirit. I hope you will find something useful here!
*Important disclosure: I am NOT a trained dancer, therapist, or medical professional.
I came to dance from gay clubs (a bit from Greek school). So my ethos is: there are no rules in movement & ‘know thyself’. I also experience variable physical disability from chronic illness. So I want to emphasize: There is no right way to move or dance. ‘Small’ movements count just as much as ‘big’ ones. For some folks, movement is going to be a finger, for others from the waist up, for some it’s your chest moving up and down from breathing. Your movement ability is not just valid, it’s sacred.
For folks struggling with disassociation & disembodiment from unresolved trauma, I feel you! From my experience working with my own trauma, I suggest starting slow and finding movement that brings you a sense of safety or is soothing. If that’s relatively easy for you, jump into the first couple steps. If you are under-resourced around caring for your trauma, cycling close to overwhelm already, or if it happened recently, I suggest practicing small poses or movements that make you feel safe, soothed, or ‘good’.
Adapt this practice as you need. Experiment!
Our bodies hold so so so much information, please listen to your own. Your body is the expert on itself. If at any time you feel emotionally triggered, lightheaded, overwhelmed, or tired, drop whatever movements you are doing, and tend to your body’s needs immediately. Sit or lay down, take deep breaths in your nose and out your mouth, sip water, splash ice water on your face. Consider wrapping yourself in a blanket if it feels good. Wrap a big book in a blanket and place it on your chest. Look around the room and describe out loud everything you see (or hear). Reach out to people you trust as you need.
To start: find a place that feels safe for you to move around in without fear of injury or embarrassment :P If you are sensitive to your surroundings (like me!), I also encourage you to ‘dress’ the space for you. That might mean making your bed. That might mean altering the lighting. Might mean opening a window.
I often move to whatever music I am feeling. Sometimes house, sometimes pop, sometimes recorded nature sounds, sometimes binaural tones, sometimes nothing.
Choose your own adventure.
These days, I don’t have a need to set a timer on my movement practice. I do things for as long as they are interesting to me. If you are new to movement practice and it feels good to have a time container, by all means do that. Time dancing can sometimes speed up, sometimes slow down. I’d try playing with these instructions using 7 min increments for each section. See how that feels and then scale up or down depending on what suits you best.
I take breaks as needed and I encourage you to do the same.
I’m presenting this practice as one practice, but also, each part works well independently. I suggest trying it out as one practice in the order I’ve described to start.
After some experience, pick it apart and find your own rhythm.
Note: I am happy to receive and respond to questions or comments about the offering. Please email me at dia at diadear dot com.
Happy moving <3
Begin by swaying back & forth. Find your most tense body parts, and sway into them more. If you can’t do that, visualize your most tense body parts releasing. If it’s useful, find a phrase to repeat to your self or image to hold in your mind that invokes “letting go”. From my study of Alexander Technique, I learned the phrase “I allow my neck to be free, so that my head can move forward and up” and that phrase works for me. When I am more focused, something as short as “neck free” also does the trick for me. Experiment with words that work for you.
Locate a place in your body where movement is very easy. Investigate the whole movement. Indulge in the ease. Notice the sensations of ease. What lets your body know what easy is? Investigate and when you find what feels easiest and enjoyable, repeat those movements. What feels easy may change the more you move, invite yourself to change and expand your ‘easy’ movements. Take in the simple joy of a part of your body moving at its optimum, easy.
Find movements that are joyful. They may be movements that make you laugh or smile. They may be movements with an entirely different physicality to the movements you’ve been doing up to this point. They may be more energetic movements. They may be loud. They may be vocal. They may be soft and small. Maybe just a gesture. Let them out! Go with it.
Find places on your body to play with tension. Take what you have learned so far about ease and joy in your movements, and keep ease and joy as the ground to return to. Approach your tension with gentleness and curiosity. Maybe you feel most tension when you squeeze your fist? Maybe your eyes? Maybe your thighs? Can they include your face? Your jaw? Your butthole? :P Explore by activating the tense area you are working with by either giving that area a light squeeze. Squeeze. Release. Squeeze. Release. Only work with one tense area through movement at a time. If at any time the exploration is too much, transition to easy and / or joyful movements until the overwhelm from exploring tension subsides. (If you are feeling triggered by the suggestion of releasing type movement, it’s not time for you to go there. Trust your gut.)
Return slowly to the first easeful movement practice. Take in the room you are in, in all its detail. Take in the fact that in this moment, in this room, doing these easeful movements, you are safe. Right now you are safe. Repeat these phrases in your head or out loud.
Find your way to laying down (if you aren’t already). On the floor with a little support under your head is good. On your bed or in a reclining chair is good too. Make note of what brought you more ease, joy, or release in your body. Allow your body and mind to rest here for 7 min (or more!).