Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Opening Your Mind is the Key to Your Passion

Pole dancing began like any other relationship in my life. Initially the beginning stages were filled with infatuation and moments where I couldn't get enough. I spent hours tirelessly watching pole dance videos online striving for any and all information I could possibly get. There were brief moments where other things in life got in the way, but when I was once reunited with my love, the affair was a full on engagement. Pole dancing has consumed me at times. It's forced me to find a balance in my life with work and other relationships. As the years have pressed on and my devotion to pole dancing has remained strong, I find myself needing to liven up my dance passion by exploring other forms of dance. I have learned this type of thought process holds true for any relationship we encounter in life. With our partners or spouses, finding something to fuel interest and introduce adventure into a relationship helps keep the relationship nurtured for continual growth. It should come as no surprise that I've even implemented dance into my relationship with my husband. We both thoroughly enjoyed taking ballroom dancing lessons together pre-wedding and have found ourselves a year later revisiting our lessons merely as a means of a pastime together. I'm a firm believer that once a dancer, always a dancer. I can appreciate the art of dance in all of it's forms now. When I began my love affair with pole dancing, I was closed to the idea of being interested in any other form of dance. I didn't want to know anything about ballet, ballroom dancing, belly dance, hoop dance, or burlesque. These forms of dance held no appeal to me. As I got deeper into my devotion to pole dancing as my chosen path of dance, I have discovered those other forms of dance have had their share of influences on pole dancing and what it has become. I'm learning through my own journey that exploring these other forms of the art are important for my own personal growth as a performer, student, and teacher. The lesson I have learned and would like to pass along is, never limit your knowledge. Allow yourself to maintain an open mind. You never know what piece of knowledge will hold the key to your passion.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sensuous Flow & Flexibility Workshop at Studio Venus

Yesterday was my first workshop at Studio Venus in Merrillville, Indiana.  The workshop went very well.  A total of nine ladies participated.  I began the workshop with my trademark sensual dance warmup.  I've learned through my teaching experiences that depending on class size, sometimes my lessons have to be catered to allow everyone the experience of the workout.  Instead of utilizing the poles due to the student to pole ratio exceeding the number of poles, I incorporated simple floor work moves that got everyone's muscles warmed up in order to avoid stretching cold muscles.  The ladies appeared to really enjoy learning some of the simple floor work moves.  I wanted to make sure with every move we were doing as a workout, that I pointed out to them that these moves can also be used as dance moves while dancing with the pole.  I try to make my workouts useful in the actual workout as well as serve as a pole fitness lesson.

Once we completed the sensual dance warmup- which lasted the duration of one song length, we began the relaxation and flexibility portion of the workshop.  Studio Venus has pink ambient lighting installed which helped set the mood of the workshop.  With a pink dimly lit room and relaxing music courtesy of Peter Kater's Element Series and a mix of Massive Attack, I began guiding the ladies through a series of stretches working from head to toe.  The group was very comfortable in sharing what they felt during the flexibility routine- many said that the routine hurt because of the tight muscles in the areas we were stretching but all agreed that even though it hurt, it still felt good to be doing the stretch.  I tried to incorporate props within the routine and explain to the ladies the beneficial uses of the props to assist in stretching and how they can use them at home in their own stretching regimen.

During the flexibility routine, I was posed a question that I had never considered before.  A student asked if during my stretching routine if I ever felt my body being detoxified.  I'd never actually taken time to process how my stretching routine made me feel.  I knew it was deeper stretching and a routine I compared to a form of Yoga, however my stretches were all catered specifically to increase flexibility for pole dancing. By focusing on areas I've learned from experience and research I was able to form the flexibility routine dancers desired for beautiful clean lines during various pole poses and maneuvers.  After considering the question for a moment (actually while in a downward dog pose) I admitted that I did feel rejuvenated after my classes or post stretching at home.  This rejuvenated feeling, as I have come to research further now while sitting in front of my computer, is what was meant by the term of "detoxification."

Detox is often thought of as ridding the body of unwanted waste or toxins.  To achieve a detoxifying effect within the body with stretching, as you stretch and move your body into different poses and deep breathing, your blood is moving and carrying essential nutrients and oxygen throughout your body to organs and muscles.  Your organs and muscles are fed by the nutrients and oxygen.  The experience of detoxifying the body ultimately leads to the feeling of rejuvenation post workout.  Any literature out there regarding yoga will explain detoxifying effects of the exercise.  The rejuvenated feeling is a welcoming feeling that is enjoyed.  Anything that is enjoyed we want to repeat because it makes us feel good.

That is the beauty of pole dancing and pole dancing for flexibility routines.  They make us feel good thus posing a discipline within us to continue the regimen.  I sincerely hope that my class awakened that feeling of rejuvenation within my students.  I encourage them all to proceed down the path of exploration within pole dancing in hopes that they too find a healthier being and the benefits of pole dancing as a discipline within their lives.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My First Aerial Yoga Experience

Today I attended my first aerial yoga class.  I have always been one to advocate exploring the endless possibilities of supplemental workouts-(supplemental as in regards to pole dancing being your primary workout.) Pole dancing is a total body workout.  It's important to explore other workouts to integrate a specific focus in order to condition your body's muscles differently and introduce new movements.  With supplemental workouts, you get the opportunity to work on strengthening areas you may feel are your weaknesses as well as give you a break from the pole and allowing you to awaken a fresh creative dance energy.  Adding a new supplemental workout also teaches you something new to incorporate into your routines.  Pole dancing is a not only a workout, it's a journey of constant learning.  Learning about yourself mentally and physically.

I got to attend a free hula hooping workshop a couple weeks ago and when I walked into the studio where the hooping event was taking place, I discovered silk rigging suspended from the ceiling.  This peaked my interest and a week later I signed up for my first aerial yoga class. The rigging used is what is known as a silk hammock.  The hammock acts as a cocoon to your body in certain maneuvers.  I found the class to range from being easy to strenuous, depending on your level of experience with other forms of working out.  The workout was focused on upper body and core strength.  There were moments where my muscles were shaking as I felt comfortable enough to allow myself to push my limits.  (I'd always been told shaking muscles are good so I figure I must have gotten a great workout!)  I thoroughly enjoyed taking my normal stretches and suspending them in the air for more intense variations of the stretches.  I even got to invert and utilize the silks for handstands or just hanging upside down in an inverted straddle.  My lesson was one on one due to last minute cancellations so I got a lot out of my class time.  This allowed me to fully explore the silks and concentrate on properly executing the various positions.  Overall, I'd highly recommend trying aerial yoga.  I felt like it brought my flexibility training to a different level and I look forward to attending future classes.

-Photo Courtesy of Mindful Movement Studio in Indianapolis, Indiana. The above image is the hammock rigging utilized during my class at Mindful Movement Studio

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Beginning of a Journey Through Words

I began Pole Harmony when I was at a cross roads in my life.  I'd left my first pole instructor teaching job due to personal reasons and was developing a relationship with another existing studio.  My options seemed distant at that moment but offered promise only in time.  My desire to teach and continue my journey as a dancer in the art of pole fitness was much stronger than my patience, therefore I created Pole Harmony Studio.  Pole Harmony was more about the prospect of continuing my passion- whether I'd actually teach students or not, the concept of having a beautiful home studio to call my own was much more pleasing and gratifying than whether or not I'd even be a success.  Pole Harmony became my solace, my place to just be.  To be in the moment and dance.  A romance once again rekindled after a devastating decision forced a momentary disconnect.  I went into the decision of creating this place within the comforts of my own home knowing I'd always have an open door for my friends who also wanted to dance through this wonderful journey of pole dancing with me.  I must say, it was one of the best decisions I've made.  So many opportunities have been presented since I created Pole Harmony.  Not only am I enjoying teaching my friends all the benefits of pole dancing for fitness, but I have found a new pole studio to continue to teach others within the community.  I feel as though I am truly at home amongst my new found pole sisters who are exquisite and beautiful dancers  within their own styles that reflect their wonderful personalities through their passion.  I couldn't have asked for a better path to have been led down in my pole journey.  I find myself evolving each day with the exploration of many different types of dance that I have been exposed to since I began working for the new studio.  With every bit of information I obtain, I have found great techniques to incorporate into my teachings.  I currently teach my trademark class Sensuous Flow & Flexibility at the local studio.  Sensuous Flow & Flexibility is a class I created that consists of stretching routines to focus on specific areas of the body to increase flexibility for pole dance performances.  Sensuous Flow & Flexibility also focuses on creating fluidity and flow within dance performances by incorporating a sensual dance warmup that consists of techniques that allow students to discover their flow.  After attending a workshop in the Chicago area at a pole studio close to my hometown, I was invited to come teach my Sensuous Flow & Flexibility class as a workshop.  I'm very excited to be sharing my class with my hometown studio and look forward to the workshop on September 24th.  I have also incorporated Sensuous Flow & Flexibility into my Pole Harmony services which are available via Skype.  I am very pleased with the progress of Pole Harmony in less than three months since I began business.  I look forward to many more opportunities as doors continue to open and hope you will join me as I continue to write about my experiences as my small business Pole Harmony Fitness evolves.