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Kinesthetic Inspiration from my Yoga Mat

tango feet swirling
Although I dreamt of becoming a ballerina, our family’s move to an island 30 miles at sea put the kibash on my beloved ballet classes. Those were the days when I lived in my hand-me-down, oversized leotard, tights (they might have been oversized and previously worn as well) and a pair of Capezio ballet slippers with the elastic band safety-pinned rather stitched in place. You get the picture! Passion for moving my body through space while maintaining an elegant form (well, at the age of 8 it was simply a matter of trying to look elegant and swanlike), becoming one with the dreamy melodies of the classics, was all-encompassing. If I wore “the outfit”, I felt the part, all day long. Unfortunately, there were no dance teachers or schools on the island. My dancing dream came to a screeching halt and I lost track of my ballerina-in-training attire.
vintage children's booksThe book stacks in the children’s library were my new refuge. During that first year on the island, I made my way through an entire collection of biographies-of-famous-and-important-people for children, the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series, the Happy Hollisters and the Bobsey Twins. I had become a bookworm; I could read for hours without moving and in fact, remember reading some gripping story through the night, under the bed covers, by flashlight — on a school night!
Years and decades later, long after leaving the island, I have reclaimed my love for dance. Thus the tango photo at the top of this post. I’ve spent time at the ballet barre, on the ballroom dance floor perfecting both smooth and rhythm dance styles, and now I’m learning to photograph dancers in motion, too. So where does the “yoga mat”, as referenced in the title, come into play?
Last year, while I was working through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I recognized that after a dance lesson I would have a surge of creative inspiration. And I wondered what would happen if I really shook up my muscle memory and tried different types of body movement. Something new. Break out of a familiar routine, as it were. I have yet to make it to Boston for the African dance class that would be a real stretch from anything I’ve yet tried. But in the past couple of months I’ve been attending a Yogalates class.
As it’s taught at my gym, this blend of yoga and pilates movements is done to fabulous music and invites me to reach for grace and beautiful form,  making my heart sing. There’s always a 5-minute cool-down, meditation-like segment at the very end, during which the instructor turns off all of the lights and speaks soothingly in muted tones to the class. After 50 minutes of intense, sweat-producing activity moving my body through all sorts of challenges within the perimeter of my yoga mat, it was during this 5-minute quiet time today that my mind shot to life. Flashing across my mind’s eye without reservation flowed all sorts of ideas for blog posts. As much as I would have liked to stay right there and see what else came to mind, I waited as long as possible before following the instructor’s suggestion to wiggle my toes, stretch my arms and legs, and come to a seated position. Namaste!

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  • Mat for Yoga November 30, 2011, 3:53 am

    Will surely recommend this site to some friends! Very interesting site and articles. Really thankful for sharing. Regards,

  • Melanie January 10, 2008, 9:25 pm

    A very interesting post and idea to ponder about ways to be inspired!

  • Lynda January 10, 2008, 4:00 pm

    Another thing we have in common, Lisa! I took ballet for years and wanted desperately to be a ballerina. Unlike you, I had the lessons but not the body. I still love to move to music and like the sound of the yogaletes class. Most of the time I just turn on the music and go! ~ Lynda xo

  • hopeshow January 10, 2008, 3:00 am

    I’ve never done yoga, but I hear it is very therapeutic. I think you have to be ginetecly inclined to do it though. For most, people are visual. I watch hopeshow.tv to get my inspiration.

  • cindratee January 9, 2008, 8:31 pm

    I would have loved reading on island. I created my own in the tall stacks at our local library which was a very old building. In addition to the Bobbsey Twins, I read all of the Oz books, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden! And just about every other book I could get hold of.
    I have visions of twirling dancers, but I cannot envision Yogalates. I love my pilates for the stretch and strength it provides. I will have to look into the combination. You make it sound divine.

  • kari & kijsa January 9, 2008, 6:36 pm

    Love the grown-up version of twirling and swirling, and then sweet calm! (truly nothing says little girl like a pair of capezios!!!!)

    kari & kijsa