Mindful Movement

What is Mindful Movement or Conscious Dance?

In the 1970’s, Gabrielle Roth created 5Rhythms.  Music moved people through what she called “The Wave” of Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness. She offered this 1-2 hour practice as a means for all people no matter their size, shape, ability or age to awaken what was on the inside and to move it out, freely and mindfully.

Gabrielle Roth
Gabrielle Roth

“There is a dance only you can do, that exists only in you, here and now, always changing, always true. Are you willing to listen with fascination? If you are, it will deliver you unto the self you have always dreamed you could be. This is a promise.”  ~G. Roth

From her pioneering work came forth a variety of movement schools.  Open Floor in Marin, California is my school of focus though I draw teachings from many other mindful practices. Open Floor describes movement like this:  “…a lively meditation practice that builds muscular and emotional intelligence.  It is a dance floor discovery zone where we move and include: good days and tough ones…There are no steps to learn and no way to do it wrong.”

Who practices Mindful Movement?

Everybody! Men, women… and there are classes throughout the Bay for children/teens also. All body types, abilities, mobilities and ages are welcome. People who are looking for connection, awareness, meditation, freedom, expression, exploration, resonance, sweat and fun. Mindful Movement connects the body to the breath while using your body’s intuition to guide you how to move. We will teach you how to tap into that source.

What do I need to do before class?

Given this is a moving meditation:

  1. Bring water with you.
  2. Wear really comfortable clothing: stretchy or loose fitting.
  3. Remove your shoes and socks for class. If you need foot support, then wear dance shoes or shoes that are for indoor use only that do not squeak or stick to the floor.
  4. Once you are on the dance floor, there is no talking.
  5. Be accepting of your self and others. This is a class for everyone, no matter shape, size, ability, age or experience.

How does class start?

I will guide you through a warm up . The music will go through a variety of tempos and rhythms.

Mindful movement floor

What happens after the warm-up?

In each class, we explore a different embodiment theme. Every class will have its musical soundscape that I dj.

Can you give me some tips?

Sure! Just as in yoga, your teacher is your guide. Please always:

  1. Go at your own pace.
  2. Be responsible for your own body (stay aware of your injuries and limitations).
  3. Keep your eyes open as much as possible to stay aware of others’ moving around you.
  4. Dance barefoot or in dance shoes only – no socks on the floor. (Too slippery.)
  5. Move how you choose, be inspired by others if that looks fun and stay open to changing your movements or even repeating the same movement over and over until it feels complete.
  6. Know that everything that is alive has a dance and your only task is to find the expression of yours.
  7. Enjoy yourself! Let your essence flow out through mindful movements.

How can there be no instruction/choreography on HOW to move?

This is an amazing space to experience absolute freedom of your body’s ability to move, however big or small that may be for you. You are experimenting with movement and the breath, with rhythms and the feelings that the music stirs up for you. We are using music to connect with your emotions and to move those through your very own dance (there’s lots of science behind brain and body movement synergy with music, creating lots of healing). We want you to experiment with your unique conscious “dance”.

This is dynamic movement: you will become stronger, heighten your body and mind awareness, connect your breath and your heart’s desires to movement. It is a meditation because you are staying with your body, quietening your mind and allowing the breath to flow easily. Each movement is in this present moment, expressing what is real for you in that very moment. “The primary teaching of this work is: If you put the psyche in motion, it will heal itself.”

Is it hard? Aerobic? Easy? Can I take a break? What if I get tired? How fit do I need to be? What if I want a challenge?

Because this is self-paced, you can work up the biggest sweat and let your lungs burn OR you can rest in the music OR you can do both. You will absolutely see both happening and everything in between. There is such big acceptance on this open floor. You are encouraged to move as much as feels good to you. Similar to any practice, after a while of coming to class, your mind will let go and relax and the body will move to the music without any thought or judgement about it. We say: “We go from self-conscious to simply conscious!” There are chairs and spots to rest, but even if you are using them, you will be participating: finger and toe tapping or holding space for others. It’s a time for being consciously in the now and in this  space and with the community.

What kind of music is going to be played?

Every tempo, genre, some known, some not… It’s an amazing array of sounds.

What if I feel self-conscious in front of others?

Yes, this was my thought too in my very first class. Isn’t that how we all feel when we are beginning any activity with others? All the “What if I….??!!” So I will offer this: Like any meditation, when you have constant chitter chatter of the mind, the active monkey-mind jumping from one negative thought to the next: keep coming to your breath AND in mindful movement we add: Keep coming to your feet. Ground your self and simply walk the room. Soon, you will drop out of your busy head; your breath will ease into the movement. You’ll be carried and held by the music. Put all your thoughts and feelings into your movement. Music will move you and you will be moved by the music.

I already take dance/aerobic classes. Why would I take a “Mindful Movement Class”?

Me too! I have had local gym/class memberships over the years, I teach/take yoga classes and what I have found for me personally is: I always come back to the classes that get my heart going AND that lift my Spirit AND that make me stronger AND classes where I have fun AND places where I can connect with others. In Mindful Movement classes, I’m free to move any way I want – not linear, not up and down, not like the teacher is doing, but how I can that day and how I really really want to in any given moment. No class offers me that freedom except this one.

I have no rhythm!

That is so not true!! If you breathe – you have rhythm!! That negative belief comes from society’s un-accepting view. See just like your voice, your eyes and your fingerprint, just like the way you walk, write and sing, you have your own rhythm and way of moving. We don’t need to look any particular way at all when we move on the open floor. It is all accepting, very much like a yoga mat should be. You simply keep moving whatever can move, and slowly more and more will unfold. This I know for sure.

Seriously… do men really take this class?  


What other questions do you have? Please contact me. Otherwise, I’ll see you in class! Here are the details to register.

Other resources:

http://openfloor.org/ – This is the international organization based in Marin with whom I’ve been studying. New and seasoned dancers gather to explore all that is within us that can be moved outside of us to the Open Floor every day of the week. You can look to youtube clips with Andrea Juhan, one of the founders, to understand the principles.

http://www.amazon.com/Sweat-Your-Prayers-Gabrielle-Roth/dp/0874779596  is a piece of Gabrielle Roth’s whole conscious dance process. There are also many youtubes of her teachings as well as books that she wrote. She died in 2012 of cancer.

http://www.5rhythms.com/ – Gabrielle Roth created this dance. There are many teachers here in the Bay Area who are phenomenal.

http://barefootboogie.net/ – A dance held in Berkeley for everyone, children to adults.