It’s February…Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Time to celebrate love, relationships, and feminine beauty. It’s so easy to dim out and ignore this aspect of ourselves performing the usual tasks of everyday life. So, this month’s self-love task is to light it up and radiate your diva self. The mind and body need connection to joy to feel alive and passionate. One sure way to ignite that spark is adding a sensual movement practice to your exercise schedule. Taking my own advice, I decided to turn up the heat and explore something completely outside the box for me. I headed to a local aerial arts studio that offers pole dancing to satisfy my curiosity and learn some of those seductive awe inspiring anti-gravity moves.
Last week, I took the Wednesday morning 10: 00 a.m. class with some local women and mom friends who were already way more advanced at the physical conditioning and graceful movements of pole dancing. But novice me hung in there and even managed an inversion. Afterwards, I stayed to interview Instructor/ Owner & Director of Studio Air, Linda Tsuei, about the background and benefits of freestyle sensual dance to unveil the mystique and stereotypes about pole dancing.
INTERVIEW WITH LINDA
Heidi: Can you give me a brief history of pole fitness and its evolution into pole dancing as we know it today?
Linda: Pole originated as a fitness practice in ancient Indian and Chinese cultures as a physical training for men’s grappling sports such as wrestling and sparring to condition the body for grips, pivots and kicks. It also has associations with the pagan Beltane ritual of celebrating spring’s arrival and fertility on May Day, dating back to the Middle Ages.
Heidi: When did it evolve into female burlesque performance art?
Linda: In western culture during the 1920’s, when traveling fairs and circuses were popular, it was adapted to acro entertainment and aerial performance such as Lyra, aerial silks, and trapeze where the athleticism and dance were combined. Women also performed burlesque acts on circus tent poles. These exotic dance moves became known as the “Hootchie Cootchie” which was like sexually provocative belly dancing. During the 70’s and 80’s pole dancing made its way into men’s strip clubs.
Heidi : It goes without saying that there’s a lot of stigma attached to pole dancing from both genders. It’s the old double standard of obsession with sex , but shaming women who own their sexuality. Today, I want to keep it about women’s wellness for radiance and self-care.
UNLEASH YOUR CREATIVE ENERGY
Heidi: What do you think the benefits are for a woman’s overall well-being to dance sensually, not only for physical fitness, but on a subtle level?
Linda: It’s activating and awakening the lower chakras (energy centers of the subtle body) where creative energy a.k.a. Shakti (divine power, strength, capability, creation) in yoga terms originates from. Energetically when doing the goddess movements of hip rolls opening the base of lower chakras you awaken that stagnant energy so it can flow freely up through the body. There’s a correlation between 2nd chakra (reproductive organs, hips, abdomen area) and creativity. Also, there’s a lot of self- learning that happens in the process of freestyle dance. It facilitates letting go and feeling joyful. It clears blocked energy and awakens creativity and intuition. When you dance freely uninhibited you’re pulling from mind, body and soul, you’re learning you without judgment. It’s a gateway to self-discovery.
WOMEN UPLIFTING WOMEN
Heidi: Another benefit I feel from having a regular feminine movement practice is being surrounded by the community of women and making friends. I remember growing up taking dance and enjoying the social aspect of being with girls only and the freedom of wearing tights and leotards without feeling self-conscious. Do you notice that as a studio owner?
Linda: Yes definitely. The studio environment gives women and young girls a space of their own to embody their feminine movement and sensuality in a safe non-judgmental space and express their physical creative energy freely. I love providing a space for that. Whether it’s younger teens taking Lyra & Acrobatics, or women working from home, or mothers taking an aerial silks or pole dancing class, there’s something so bonding about a community of women doing physical work together. Women really do need other women to get through the isolation of mothering whether working mom or not, people don’t realize the seclusion of that role. Exercise and movement classes fill a void for socializing for many women. It’s a private setting to work through the emotions of being wife, mother, caretaker, nurturer, and it becomes a place to care for ourselves, our desires, and imagination… the creative self.
Heidi: There’s a chemical reaction that results from sensual movement that boosts confidence, and mood. According to neuroscience brain chemicals dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins are released. It’s like mind/body hacking your system. Let’s talk about how that looks in real life stepping out into the world.
Linda: It’s transformative when a woman steps up and owns her personal power. It changes her whole projection…the way she walks, her posture, communication, and even her unique personal style. Many other great things can manifest in a woman’s life who is in ownership of her feminine sexuality because of that direct link between sexual energy and creative energy..better relationships, career growth, business success, artistic expression. There’s a confidence to being sexy and loving your body and celebrating it as it is, dressing how you feel, and standing tall in yourself.
GET YOUR SEXY ON
After taking my first pole dancing class, I felt strong and empowered from going outside my comfort zone and grappling with the pole to catch air..or shall I say, “Grip & Fly” the Studio Air motto. It’s a challenging mind/body workout and it gave me huge respect for the aerial artists who perform this amazing feat of strength and beauty and make it look so easy. If you’re feeling shy about the risqué-ness of pole dancing, believe me, I get it. I was apprehensive myself not because it’s sensual movement, but because it looked impossible , and I thought….”I can’t do that” which is exactly why I had to try it. Today, there’s so many fun dance inspired workouts for women getting popular like Bar Method, Qoya, Zumba, Belly Dancing, Nia Fitness, Ballet Beautiful, Physique 57, Shakti Dance to name a few. Sensual dance movement really does wake up your passion for life, love, creativity, and self- expression. So, get fired up this February and get your sexy on with some goddess dance moves.
DO IT FOR YOU and STAY SASSY!