In late summer, my friend Victoria and I followed an ad in the Ann Arbor Observer for “yoga trance dance”. It brought us to an unfamiliar yoga studio on a Saturday night. No one was there, but the door was open, so we let ourselves in. Excited and unsure, we and another stranger waited in vain. Turns out the Observer had the wrong date, and the eventÂ had been the previous evening.
Well, after many months of either being out of town, otherwise committed, or forgetful, I finally went last night. The event has switched to Saturday evenings and changed host studios to A2YogaWorks, but it was good to finally act on my long-dormant intention, only maybe 5 months later!
I have to say that I was apprehensive. IÂ just may be the most self-conscious person on the planet,Â so the imageÂ of myself free-form dancing with a roomful of strangers wasÂ somewhat uncomfortable.Â Worse, my partner-in-crime Victoria wasn’t available. So I was on my own.
I’m happy to say that the room was dark, the mirrors were mostly hidden, and Jo, one of trance dance’sÂ teacher/leaders, laughed sweetly at myÂ fearful shyness and welcomed me with a warm hug.Â In theÂ new space, there were many first-time trance-dancers,Â so that was good.
I noticed all my usualÂ yoga mind-trips: self-criticism “I’m too tall”,Â judgment of others “my neighbor is too close”, fear “I will hit her” (I actually did), longing “boy, I wish I had room to spread my arms”, more longing “gosh I wish I was over thereÂ near the door where theyÂ have more room”, and jealousy “wow, look, that woman got her guy to come too, what’s wrong with my relationship that I’m here without mine?”. These judgments and complaints passed, and I got into theÂ thumping music, the feeling of freedomÂ in my scoliotic back and tight hips, the feeling of play,Â and the flow of it despite my chattering, judging mind.Â
I had a great time. I’m mildly sore in weird places, and I was a big sweatball when I left, so it was a good workout and some good stretching. But the most important thing was the feeling of it. It reinforced to me how the wayÂ I act influences the wayÂ I feel. Moving joyfully fosters a feeling of joy. I have been feeling more free and open today, both physically and otherwise. It’s nice.
And, it connected me very strongly to similar experiences. Over the bridge of manyÂ years, I vividly recalledÂ dancing to theÂ jukeboxÂ in the basement of Charter in college withÂ Dina, who may be the mostÂ vital person I know,Â and Betty, moreÂ contained like me, but with aÂ subtle spark and a spunk I’ve always admired. I remembered dancing withÂ my sweetly earnest college boyfriend Mark, who avoided it, but who saw my joy in it and pushed himself to join me. After many years, and after the inevitable hardÂ feelings following our breakup, that touched me again, his reaching out.
The dancingÂ reconnected me to my 21-year-old self, to cherished friendships that span long distances, and to aÂ joyfulÂ vitality that comes to me through movement.Â I wondered why I hadn’t been dancing more.Â A2YogaWorks hosts one the first Saturday of each month.