For the last few months, my partner and co-teacher Vickie Saito and I have been selecting music and developing choreography for a brand new body of work we’re co-creating called “Ground“. Creating choreography is by far one of my FAVORITE things to do as it’s an immersive experience that’s equal parts fun and focus.
We developed all of the choreography around a central focus called GAP: get Grounded, pay Attention, and become Present. GAP is a concept developed by Yoga Therapist and Teacher Trainer Sarahjoy Marsh and is explained beautifully in her newest book called Hunger, Hope, and Healing. We were inspired by her mindfulness practice that teaches us how to remain grounded when life circumstances can take us far away from center. The following is an excerpt from Sarajoy’s recent blog called The Language of Yoga, which provides a brief overview of this concept:
“Get grounded on an actual experience in the present moment (not the narrative you are telling yourself about the present moment, nor the story you have running in your head about yourself as a person or a yoga teacher). This might be the feeling of your feet on the ground, or the sensations of your hand holding your phone as you read this blog, or the temperature of the air coming and going through your nostrils as your body breathes you.” – Sarahjoy Marsh
In late January, we were immersed in the process of developing choreography for Ground when our (third floor) washing machine spontaneously overflowed and flooded water through all three levels of our home.
Note: Water travels FAST, especially when gravity is helping.
In an instant, our entire home life got uprooted. From staying at a hotel for the first few weeks to moving back in and living in the house during a (messy) top to bottom reconstruction, we were presented with continual challenges that seemed to compound with time. There were countless choices we had to make on a daily basis related to how the reconstruction of the home was handled, and the only way to make each decision was to stay present and get as grounded as we could be.
When I realized the irony, I couldn’t help but laugh. Developing Ground while our home has been in massive reconstruction mode for the last 7 weeks has been a real test and lesson in how to get grounded amidst un-grounding circumstances. I quickly learned how vital it was that I created quiet space in each day (no matter where we were living), felt my feet on the ground, breathed deep, practiced yoga, and stayed present to what was happening in the moment. For me, feeling grounded meant being connected to myself and staying present to what was happening in the moment. Consequently, the entire experience has been like one giant teaching in mindfulness.
Co-creating Ground and bringing it to class has been medicine for my nervous system these last two months. Dancing through the reconstruction has helped me focus, stay light-hearted (most of the time) and reminded me that no matter what is going on around me, my body is the place I can ground into to find center and peace.
About Ground: This body of work features a variety of base movements that root you into the earth and consciously cultivate a connection with your foundation. Numerous songs offer challenging katas (sequences of moves) that build deep base strength and stability. There are also a ton of wild stepping patterns that can re-pattern movement tendencies, as well as arm motions that are creative, lively, and fun to express. Vickie and I consciously selected world music that features tribal base beats, some house and electro swing, and cool-down songs that evoke peacefulness as you bring your body to the floor.