1. Dance to songs sung in a different language
The songs you listen to must be sung in a language you don't understand. The
language has to be mostly un-understandable, but knowing a few words is fine.
The reason the language has to be one you don't understand is because
listening to songs with words we do understand makes our brains very active. In
order for the benefits of free-dancing to be reaped by the dancer, the brain has
to be as inactive as possible. When the body dances to songs with
understandable lyrics it dances with less energy than when the lyrics aren't
understandable. The human brain is a complex creation; it processes everything
in its path. Listening to understandable speech will make it work more and the
body work less. This is what I've noticed from my classes, several times. The
less the brain has to process the more the body moves.
The body also freezes up a lot more when those understandable lyrics remind
us of something annoying from our day, or something exciting, or something
heartbreaking from our past. Try this with a song that you love, that even has a
beat and melody that you love dancing to. Whether the lyrics are about going
out and getting drunk, falling in love, or a pet hamster, they'll still remind you of
something sad from your past, or something stressful from your day, etc. You
may not outright notice the emotion or outright participate in it, but it exists
enough to dull down your free-dancing.
So, everything from neutral words we understand, to words that stir us
emotionally, they are all detrimental when we are free-dancing. You might then
wonder why not just listen to songs that are only instrumental, with no words at
all? This also does not help us, because the un-understandable language keeps
our brains distracted and processing just enough so that our minds don't wander
with our own thinking. The un-understandable language keeps our minds busy
and distracted so that our bodies move enough to the music for us to reap the
physical, emotional, and psychological benefits of free-dancing.
2. Dance in a designated direction
I realized the potency of dancing in a direction one night after watching my
cousin's wedding video. In my culture, the traditional dance is done with
everyone holding hands and moving in a big circle. It is the same in many
Middle Eastern, Eastern European, and Balkan cultures. After watching that long
wedding video, I went to sleep and dreamt I was dancing in a circle, except I
was by myself. As I danced and travelled to the right in this dream, I felt
very free, very happy - with a tremendous joy that I felt in my chest. I felt like I was
dancing on a cloud, or in heaven itself. I woke up still feeling that ecstasy while
wondering what it had to do with dancing in a circle. I was very curious and had
a very strong urge to dance so I could try this out. I'd never danced in a circle
before, aside from the traditional Assyrian dance at relatives' weddings, so I had to figure
out how I'd go about it. I decided I'd do my usual free-dancing but while traveling
in a circle at the same time. I gave myself a restriction that I'd do it continuously
for ten minutes without stopping. I discovered that it made my dance more
continuous and flowing more smoothly. Lots of times during my free-dance,
because it was free, I would get frozen because I didn't know which way to
move my body. I'd pace back and forth without much focus, or I'd get frozen in
my lower body and move only in my upper body, greatly minimizing my
self-expression as well as the potency of my free-dancing. With my new tool of going
in a circle, I took away the confusion of what to do with my lower body, which
freed up my mind and brought out so much more creativity, which in turn made
my dance a lot more potent. I even worked up a bigger sweat.
When I implemented the circle tactic with my students I noticed it helped a lot of
the beginners move around with less hesitation and confusion. Again, when your
feet know what to do with themselves, the rest of you can really let loose.
You can choose any sort of direction to dance in, it doesn't have to be only a
circle. In fact, in smaller spaces it's better to ditch the circle – because dancing
in a small circle can make you dizzy, so please don't do that. I learned that the
hard way! You can dance in a straight line instead, with a designated spot being
where you end the line and turn back around. Depending upon the dance space
you're working with, you can use any shape for your direction. You might do a
long, thin oval, or you might do a diagonal line, it's up to you.
3. Dance without seeing yourself
I came upon this discovery when I first started teaching. In the beginning years it
was very hard for me to find a dance studio to rent and teach my classes in.
There were several dance studios in my area that advertised themselves as
being available for rent but when I'd talk to the owner I'd learn the hours on the
schedule were mostly taken, except for very early in the morning or too late in
the evening – times I knew my students couldn't attend. After experiencing the
same disappointment studio after studio, I got very discouraged. Some
suggestions were made about non-studios I could rent, but they were places I
wouldn't feel comfortable teaching in, like gyms and spas. Finally, a friend of
mine who owned a metaphysical bookstore told me she rented out her store for
several kinds of classes, like for Astrology, Reiki, Tarot readings, etc. I was not
too keen on the idea, especially since I viewed Belly Dance as such a practical
modality, I didn't want to give people the impression that it was anything too
hokey or spiritual (although Belly Dance and all dance could very well be
spiritual if that's the intention the dancer practices it with). I reluctantly agreed
even though I was so hesitant. I was desperate, and I desperately wanted to
teach Belly Dance.
Of course, because this wasn't a dance studio and didn't have any mirrors all
around like a dance studio would, I realized I'd have to make some adjustments.
The specific space of the bookstore that was designated for classes looked like a
living room, with a long, round couch making a circle for discussion
on one side, and a carpeted area on the other side with bookshelves all
around.The owner of the store allowed meto use anything in her storage room,
and that's where I found one single mirror.
This was a full-length mirror big enough for only one person to see themselves in and
small enough to be carried out at the beginning of class and back in at the end. I
was, by now, fully intent on improvising as best I could for the sake of spreading
the power of Belly Dance to others, so I went with it. I very happily brought out
that mirror at the beginning of every dance class I taught. But here's a funny
twist: this little mirror I dragged out for my makeshift dance studio ended up
rewarding me greatly – with very helpful knowledge and insight. This knowledge
made me understand and truly see the human experience a lot deeper. I
experienced this knowledge in the context of dance, but it was knowledge that
made me understand human nature and human frailty in an all-encompassing
way. I had taken several dance classes as a student at this point, and I had
become very familiar with dance students and their general behavior. It was my
noticing of my fellow classmates' boredom that had initially propelled me into
becoming an instructor, after all.
But now, in my makeshift dance studio, there was something else I noticed. This
one-person mirror I had brought out was put on the side of our class area. I had
the students focus on watching me do the moves while doing the moves
themselves, sort of like we were mirroring each other. Compared to students in
a conventional dance studio watching themselves in a mirror for the duration
of the class, these students were far more uninhibited. They moved more, their
arms stretched out further, their hips swayed deeper, they smiled more, and they
were more sure of themselves, which caused them to pick up the moves
But one day I had to ask the students to take turns looking into the
mirror, as the moves I was teaching that day were more challenging than we'd
had so far. I thought looking into the mirror would help them “get it”. I was terribly
wrong. It ended up confusing them more, causing them to freeze up. It
crippled them to the point that even after they stopped looking into it they were
still frozen. Watching themselves attempt the moves made them feel so much
more self-conscious and it stayed with them the duration of the class.
I learned then and there that I would no longer use a mirror. I put that one-person,
floor-length, trouble-making mirror back into the storage room and never
brought it out for class again.
Even though you won't be in a class learning dance moves when you do your
free-dance, you'll also need the benefits of dancing without a mirror. There are
three reasons why dancing without a mirror will benefit you greatly:
1) Not watching ourselves in the mirror decreases mental input which will
increase physical movement. As previously mentioned, the less our minds
process during our free-dance, the more our bodies move. Not looking at
ourselves greatly reduces our mental activity, making our bodies pick up in
2) Without a mirror, you won't be distracted away from your free-dance when
noticing things in your reflection. “Is that a pimple?” “I think I have less cellulite,
right? Let me look closer to make sure.” “I think my hair looks better in different
lighting.” And so on and so on. Of course, there's nothing wrong with preening
and figuring out how to present yourself, but when you're dancing there's a good
chance you'll be pulled away by the mirror's distractions and stop dancing
Our reflection is a very hypnotic thing. Maybe this is why mirrors
were considered very powerful magic in older times.
3) Not having a mirror in front of you takes away destructive self-consciousness.
“I'm doing the move wrong, I'm never going to get it right.” “I look so fat.” “I
should never dance in public.” Please remember that we look at ourselves as
though through a very strong, judgemental microscope. Our own eyes
exaggerate the negative in us. We panic at the sight of anything displeasing,
even though it's usually an imagined displeasing thing.
Or we want to do the moves perfectly. Maybe because we've watched all of
those competition dance shows on TV, where everyone dancing is a seasoned
athlete that has been training since they were very young. Or maybe because
we've taken dance classes taught by a very rigid instructor that imparted an
intimidating sense of wrong and right in the execution of the moves.
No matter how convincing it is when you see something you think is horrible
about yourself, it is not true. And just as importantly: it's just a distraction.
Everything you see in the mirror is a distraction.
4. Dance in adornments
We joke about the good old retro moms who told us to "just put on some lipstick
and you'll feel better" as advice when we were feeling down. Warning: this rule
might remind you a little bit of those words. But not to worry - we're going to go
deeper here. As I learned from my first time dancing, wearing certain things
helps you come alive during dance.
This realization came to me when I first started Belly Dancing several years ago.
When I did, I fell in love instantly. It was so intoxicating to hear the drums, the
flutes, the melody, and at the same time seeing my body looking so snaky in the
mirror. The music was the first thing to enchant and possess my body, but what
equally threw me into my Belly Dance craze was the hip scarf I had tied on. If
you've never seen one, it's a piece of Belly Dance costuming that is often also
worn during practice. It's usually a long rectangular sash made of chiffon or
velvet, and has several very noisy beads and gold or silver coins dangling from
it. You wrap it around your hips and tie it on usually at the front or side. Every
time you move in the slightest way those hundreds of beads and coins turn your
body into a musical instrument. As you're probably imagining, it's tons of fun just
having one on.
I became a different person when I put on my hip scarf for the first time. All
awkwardness, all lethargy, and all doubts of my femininity quickly vanished as I
tied on my first one: a black chiffon sash with rows of dangling silver beads that
made the yummiest noise with my slightest move.
That first time I shimmied, hip-lifted, and hip-dropped my way through my
bedroom, the living room, the kitchen, and just about every square foot of the
house. I danced for two hours and didn't even know (or care) that that much
time had passed. I didn't just put my hip scarf on, it was more like a different role
I stepped into.
I think it's always important for us to feel dressed up and glamorous (and shiny
and sparkly) when we're dancing. It brings our dance to a new, higher level.
That's what hip scarves do for us. They're so much more than just a piece of
fabric and coins and beads that make a lot of noise.
In fact, just in writing about my first encounter with a hip scarf I started realizing
just how much they symbolize and how important they are, even outside the
context of Belly Dance. I know, it sounds like I'm giving them way too much
meaning, but bear with me. Think about the area on the female body that the hip
scarf adorns. Yes, obviously it's over the hips, but beyond that - deeper than that.
This is the area that for hundreds of years has been controlled and conditioned
by society - by men, and the rigid systems men have put into place. This is the
place that women have been told their entire worth as a person is tied to. This is
the place that up until recently we were taught to be ashamed of. But the hip
scarf takes this area out of hiding and celebrates it. The hip scarf
decorates it, ornaments it, and makes it musical. Not only does it not exploit nor
shame this area, but it elevates it into the important status it deserves. This
elevation is extremely healing for us all – women as well as men.
This is a big step forward for humankind. To celebrate something that for so long
has been thought of as dirty and wrong. The hip scarf, or the consciousness that
the hip scarf came from, was in tune with the knowledge that this area is a place
to celebrate and a place itself of celebration. It is, after all, where we all come
from as humankind, and where we will all continue from. The place that gives
physical birth to the future should be adorned and coronated with a see-through
crown that ties on the side.
The hip scarf helped me in three ways, and it, or any other adornment or
accessory of your choice, can help you in the same ways:
1) It helps you get into the role of dancer. To put on a dancing accessory such
as a hip scarf or jingly anklets changes your frame of mind instantly. This
especially happens when we give ourselves some time to spend with the
accessory before we start dancing. When we adorn ourselves as dancers our
bodies start moving like dancers, we're more energized, and it becomes more
fun - ensuring that we stay with our dance as long as possible during that free-dance session
as well as ensures we come back to it the next day and every day after.
2) Dance accessories help you release any shame you might have. When I
put on my first hip scarf at 250 pounds, I remember not feeling as embarrassed
and ashamed of my body as I usually did. Chiffon and jingly coins will do that to
you. On top of that instantaneous effect, having this feeling of shame suspended every
day for an hour made it eventually decrease down to nothing even when I didn't
have a hip scarf on. In the beginning my mind saw not just a fat person, but a fat
person that was also a beautiful dancer, until eventually my mind just saw a
3) To be dressed up helps elevate our moods. This is a nod to that retro mom
advice of putting lipstick on to feel better, but it is legitimately helpful advice. To
see ourselves dressed up and decorated tells us we're important and that what
we're doing is important, and that is crucial when we're dancing,
because dancing is so extremely important, and it helps us keep coming back for more.
5. Dance only to music you love
This one sounds like mere common sense, but it's not. There are songs that
we like, that we have in our music libraries, that we even listen to regularly,
whose singers we see in concert, but they are merely songs that we like - not
love. The songs you love are the ones that, the second you hear them, whether
it's the first time or thousandth time, your entire being is taken over by them.
Whether you're in a fitting room, restaurant, or driving, you forget everything
around you and dance and sing along to it. It makes you come
completely alive. You feel a strong urge to move your body, you can't help but to
shout the words out, and you feel a deep happiness that's felt even viscerally –
usually as a tingling sensation or a lifting in your chest. Your being is engaged in
every way possible. When you search for your free-dance music, it will make it
that much easier to build your music library, because you will know right away
when hearing a song whether you love it or not.
I know that not all of the songs in your collection will be songs you love with all
of your being, but try to stay as close to that as possible. Keep in mind that
because you also have the requirements from the other rules to follow when
building your music collection, finding songs you love will
be that much easier. For example, the rule of listening only to music in a
language you don't understand opens you up to literally a whole new world of
music, expanding the possibilities infinitely. This will ensure you hear more
songs that will turn on your body and soul the way this rule requires.
6. Dance only to new music
Just as how listening to understandable lyrics makes our minds too active with
old memories while crippling our bodies away from movement, listening to
anything familiar, even if it's in a language you don't understand, and even if it
meets the requirements of all the other rules, will still hinder you and your free-dancing.
Familiar music from your past will stir your emotions. In free-dance we have to
minimize the number of emotions as much as possible, with the exception of the emotions of
elation and excitement. The benefits provided by free-dance can be reaped with
neutral emotions or positive emotions. This is because only in these two states
are we energized enough to sustain our free-dancing as long as possible.
For the sake of fulfilling this rule, start your free-dancing journey with new,
never-before-heard songs. This will definitely add to the time and effort you put
into your music search, but it is well worth it.
This new music will become not-so-new and more familiar as time passes, but it
will still be new enough for you to effectively free-dance to, because it's not from
your past. If you put in a good amount of effort into your music search in the
beginning, you won't have to update your collection for a long time, at least not
for another eight months to a year. Especially with things like Soundcloud and
YouTube, where new music suggestions are being provided to us regularly.
7. Dance without distractions
We are all extremely busy. We work hard at our jobs, for our careers, for our
education, our children, our spouses, our parents, our communities. Lots of us
find it very hard to sit down and enjoy a quiet cup of tea for ten minutes, let
alone for anything more such as free-dance. But we have to keep reminding
ourselves of the benefits like improved mood, better health, lower cholesterol,
lower blood pressure, healthier joints, stronger muscles, and the tremendous
reduction in risk of Alzheimer's and dementia, and so many more. We have to
remember that the only way to be amazing in our careers, in our studies, and as
parents, is to first be amazing - and dancing everyday gets us there. We have to
remove all our other roles from ourselves for just a few minutes a day in order to
give ourselves adequate dance nourishment. For this, you must remove as
many distractions as possible. It's best to play your music on a device
specifically for playing music but if you have to use a laptop or desktop
computer then log out of your email and any websites that gives you alerts, such
as social media sites.
If you're a parent of small children like infants and toddlers, I know and
appreciate how hectic life is for you. In that situation it's best to save your free-dance
time for when they're asleep.
Also, I recommend not using your free-dance time to multitask. Don't put on a
facial mask, or leave-in treatment for your hair, or whitening strips on your teeth,
etc. Unless it's something that truly won't distract you and you can forget about it
during your free-dance time, like laundry. If it's something very routine that will definitely
take much longer than your usual free-dance session, then go for it.
Obviously, don't engage with anything else while you're dancing. No texting, no
recording, no having the TV on in the background. You will suspend all of your
regular habits and engagements during your sacred free-dance time.
I must really stress the importance of only playing audio
music. Don't use music videos for your free-dance. Videos are so powerfully
distracting that they can change the effect of the song. When you hear a song
by itself you truly hear it, whereas when you watch the video you're not taking in
the sounds as much. Try this just to get a feel for what I'm talking about: look up
a new song you've never heard before on YouTube, and first listen only to the
audio version, then play the music video. It will feel like a completely different
The difference between the two versions is something that will also affect how
much potency your free-dance session will have. When you are taking in the
visuals of the music video, the listening aspect is greatly diminished. Our free-dance is
most effective when our listening is at its maximum, and it is at its
maximum when it is the only sense being used. If you absolutely must play a
music video for your free-dance music – because maybe a song you really love
that meets all of the 12 rule requirements is only available on a site like
YouTube - then feel free to play it, but minimize the screen and turn the laptop
away from you, so you're not tempted to look.
8. Dance by yourself
You might have family members or friends you can't wait to tell about this book,
or that you can't wait to dance with. I would love to tell you to gather up a bunch
of your friends and family and have a big free-dancing party together, but the truth is, this
kind of free-dancing is best done alone. When you dance with even one other
person you'll probably interact with each other, doing the same moves, laughing,
talking, and a bunch of other fun stuff. It's fun, but it won't help shut off your mind.
Even if you don't interact with each other, you might (or rather, probably will)
indirectly dance around each other. You'll move in such a way that you won't get
in the other person's way, or you may try to dance "better" than you are because
you think the other person is a better dancer than you, or you may dance in a
more dulled down way if you think the other person isn't dancing "as well as"
you. You might even fall into the same habit we all have when we're at the gym
on the treadmill next to someone who's running really fast, and dance "harder"
in order to get a harder workout out of it.
Being alone minimizes distraction, it takes away our inhibition, it takes away
self-diminishing habits, and it gives us more space to move around. The other
reason we must free-dance alone is because we must dance only to the music
we selected for ourselves, not anyone else's.
It is only by dancing alone that we can be free enough to physically come alive
enough for our dancing to be beneficial.
9. Dance in alignment with your emotional state
Forcing ourselves to dance excitedly and energetically to very upbeat music
when we're feeling down could be the reason many of us end up abandoning a
daily free-dance practice. Sometimes somethings get us in a crabby mood: a hard time at work, an upset
with friends, or just a long exhausting day, which carry over into our evening. Or
maybe something has us very heartbroken: an end of a relationship, an ailing
family member, or anything else weighing heavily on the heart. Depending on
the degree of the down-feeling mood, we may begin to try to dance then stop
soon after because we're not up for it, or don't even try to start at
all. Our heartbreak might be caused by something so difficult that we might feel
it's inappropriate to dance, like when there's a serious illness or death in the
family. Though it may seem that there isn't enough energy for free-dancing,
there is - but only for the right kind of free-dancing you can do during those
And although it may seem that during those times it is inappropriate to dance, it
is more important and most beneficial to dance during those times. The trick is
to use the right kind of music, to modify your expectations, and to pay close
attention to your body and emotions. You must have slower, gentler music in
your library for these times. When I am in an agitated state due to anger and
conflict, jazz helps me tremendously. It's usually the smoother, low-tempo sort
of jazz, preferably with a dominating saxophone. For times I'm overwhelmed
with too many tasks I like a gentler sound that brings me back to my feelings,
like Chinese flute music, or any other gentle wind instrument music. During
times of great pain, I like gentler music that may only be just one instrument, like
a slow drum beat. You will have to play with and figure out what sort of
gentle music works best for you during your specific times of stress. Whatever
music it is that you do use, remember to start gently and keep being gentle with
yourself. Don't force yourself to feel better after a given amount of time, or to
dance a given duration either.
It's a bit more challenging to dance when you're feeling down. I know because
I've been there many times, and fortunately I can report that it is possible. I had
to figure a way out of it because I knew if I didn't dance every time I wasn't in the
mood I could really negatively impact my health in the long run.
When you begin, you can start to easily sway back and forth and let the music influence
your movement in a slow and easy way. After doing this for a few minutes you'll
notice you've got more of a desire to dance than when you first started, and
that's because you didn't pressure yourself into any big, hyper movement from
the start. Remember, even after you've built up some energy, keep your movement
slow and gentle. Even dancing slow will bring your low mood to a more neutral
and balanced place. This is because when we are not in the mood and very
down, even dancing slowly brings you slightly closer to a place of emotional
balance. Do not begin to dance expecting to be worked up into an exciting
frenzy like with fast Latin or Bollywood music, for example. Begin your dance
with the intention of getting half a notch higher on the scale of emotions.
Keep in mind that this is a very important rule but its purpose is solely for your
times of great stress. All other times, use your regular music that you love as
described in Rule #5.
10. Dance without old rules
You don't have to dance salsa to Latin music, you can dance Greek to Latin
music, or German folk to Arabic music. You can even Belly Dance to Merengue
music and Merengue dance to Flamenco music. It can also be House or Trance.
This can be a bit challenging for people, especially those that have studied a
certain kind of dance for many years, such as Ballet, but try to dance without all
the posture and positioning requirements of whichever dance you trained in. Of
course, if those postures and positions have become second nature to you then
please continue because fighting them will hinder your free-dance. But if it's
something you put a lot of effort for then let it go. Also, don't think that because
you spent a lot of money on those fill-in-the-blank classes you should revolve
your free-dance around that. Go where your body takes you, where you feel the
As far as which specific way to start free-dancing? That is completely up to you.
Or rather, it's completely up to your body. Your body will move however it will
want to move to the music. Let it. That may mean your arms will flail about, or
you'll stomp on the ground, or anything else you weren't expecting. Don't try
hard to look a specific way, or behave a certain way. Just dance. Free-dance is
done completely freely. This is the beauty of free-dancing – it lets your body
express itself the way it wants and needs to.
And if you've spent every day of the week doing your free-dance to Hip Hop and
now you think you should switch it up...why should you? If you still have that fire burning in
you for Hip Hop or whatever else has held your interest for several days please
keep dancing to it. And always be yourself.
11. Dance in dimmed lighting
A lot of the students I had in my Belly Dance class were very shy, reserved, and
not very comfortable expressing their true selves in front of others. I would dim
the lights so they could feel more comfortable, because dancing in dimmed
lights made them feel that they weren't as visible to the other students, which in
turn made them come alive as dancers more.
Since you'll be dancing alone you won't have to worry about being inhibited in
front of others, but you will need dimmed lights for other reasons.
As you recall from an earlier rule, one of the reasons I took away the mirror
from you was so that you wouldn't be distracted by any new pimple or misplaced
hair. Because dimmed lights are annoying to the eyes, they'll encourage us to
keep our eyes working minimally, usually by just looking forward. But we definitely won't
be looking around a brightly-lit room where every nook, pillow, and curtain is highlighted, and where
we can be mentally excited and distracted by what we see around us. "That comforter
needs to be washed but ugh, I hate washing it." "Why did I pick this rug? It doesn't match anything."
"I should really finish knitting that scarf over there."
This may sound like a very exaggerated account of a highly distractable person,
but the truth is that this is all of us. We have several of these thoughts without
really noticing they're in our brains, and we even have the feelings that go along
with them. Granted, I don't want you dancing in a room that's so poorly lit you
end up hitting yourself on a piece of furniture or falling - please don't do that!
What this rule does suggest, however, is to create an ambiance with the
lighting that is conducive to calming down your sense of vision so it's not as
active. Creating a hazy light atmosphere is perfect for this, because in haziness
everything is blurred out a bit and becomes a lot less prominent and relevant in
the mind. You can dim your lights to achieve this, or use fake candles (the ones
with the flame that's really a light bulb). I say fake candles because most real
candles are toxic and you don't want their fumes in an enclosed place such as
your bedroom or whichever other room you designate as your free-dancing room.
Another reason why dancing in dimmed lighting is a rule is because it creates
ambiance. Creating a different environment for your free-dance helps you to
psychologically separate it from the other tasks you have to fulfill all day long,
and helps you focus and correctly complete it. After a few times, once you step
into that environment - your free-dancing room - your mind will immediately grasp
that it is now free-dancing time, which will make you mentally more at ease. This
will put you in a more receptive state, so you can receive the music more fully,
causing you to dance with more fervor.
Also, going out of your way to create ambiance makes you work harder. When
you work harder for something, you appreciate it more, which forces you to
honor it and be more devoted to doing it properly and following
all of the rules to a T. When you go out of your way and put in a lot of effort to
do something you will not want to waste that effort by doing it half-heartedly. This is
the same when you wake up with great difficulty at 5 AM to go jogging. You tend
to eat healthier and be more active all throughout the day, because you'll
want to not waste that energy getting out of bed early to run by eating unhealthy food
or being lazy all day long. Put some energy into the ambiance you create. Get a
dimmer switch if you don't already have one, or get those fake candles. If there are accessories
that are too bright and distracting, put them in another room.
12. Dance without breaks
When I first started my free-dance practice and before I had developed the
twelve rules, I would stop every few minutes and just lollygag about the room.
I didn't realize it at the time but this was because I was getting distracted by
other things going on in my brain. I'd stop and start again, and at the end of the
session it would all feel very disjointed. After I developed my free-dance rules it
became a lot easier for me to stick with continuous movement all throughout my
Another reason I was stopping was because I was getting very tired. Please
don't dance yourself to the point of exhaustion. This is not a workout, yet treating
it as such will cause not only for you to get so tired that you'll stop every few minutes, but
it may also exhaust you so much that you'll be discouraged from
continuing the next day and the day after. Seeing my own experience as well as
that of my students, I'm certain that treating dance as a workout is a big factor for those that
have not been able to maintain free-dance as a daily practice.
If you feel that you absolutely must stop because you're so tired, and you have
danced for at least five minutes continuously, then you have reached the end of
your free-dance session for the day.
Speaking of time limits, it would be best to get to a point where you can put in at
least twenty minutes of free-dancing every day.
To recap, if you're pausing in your free-dance you've either not followed the
other rules exactly (and you should re-read them and make sure you're properly
implementing them), or you've treated your free-dancing as a
workout and you've exhausted yourself.
Also remember that it's okay to dance slowly and without too much movement,
as long as you keep moving – however slight that movement is. If you're doing
this, it should be to prevent exhaustion. If you're already exhausted you must
stop. When you do have to slow down, I suggest stopping the movement of your
arms in order to save your energy for your legs and for dancing in your
designated direction as described in Rule #2.
Please consult with your doctor before starting this or any exercise program.