So cliche, but, WOW, does time pass quickly! Here we are beginning a brand new year 2018. Now is the time that many of us reflect back on the past year: What were we thankful for? What were our disappointments, frustrations, missed opportunities and worries? And, what do we hope for the new year?
This past December, we contemplated these very questions in my yoga classes. We celebrated the Winter Solstice giving thanks for the wonderful things that happened during 2017 then began thinking about what was not quite right in our lives this past year and why. My personal reasons why 2017 was not quite what I hoped? Same as everyone else: Not enough time or money, too many distractions.
When I was preparing for my yoga certifications, I was required to read The Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar. I use this book as a reference so much that it is dog eared and falling apart. I really love this book! One chapter refers to Perception and Action. The book states "An important concept from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras has to do with the way we perceive things, and it explains that our perception or "misperception" is the reason we have difficulties in life. If we create such problems, that we can also learn to free ourselves from these problems." Avidya is incorrect comprehension while Vidya is correct understanding. This philosophy teaches that, over time, we accumulate so much Avidya (through habit mostly) that our vision is clouded, foggy. We do not see life and life's situations as they really are. Our perception has lost clarity.
This hit home for me as I thought about 2017 and my disappointments. I confess that I have allowed, through habit, influences to cloud my vision, my perception. Social media has played a big roll in fogging up my world. As a result, I wasted time & emotional energy on things that frustrated and angered me. In not being clear in my perception, I squandered away valuable time, energy and opportunities.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?...
If so, join me in taking decisive steps to clear away the fog of misperception!
1. No need to delete your social media accounts. They can be a source of fun and enjoyment. However, take some time to scroll through your feeds. If a post is negative (whether it is confirmational bias or not), un-follow it. If it does not bring you joy, peace and make your heart smile, un-follow it. If it tears down another human, un-follow it. Limit your time on social media. Copy & paste these links on ideas on how help limit unproductive screen time: https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykarcz/2017/06/14/how-to-break-your-social-media-addiction-with-the-binky-app/#2325380321c7, https://blogs.systweak.com/2017/11/5-best-apps-that-track-social-media-usage-app-to-limit-social-media-use/, https://blogs.systweak.com/2017/11/5-best-apps-to-fight-social-media-addiction/
2. This makes me sound old, but, back in my day...the news came on maybe two times a day and was never called "fake". Now we are inundated with "information & misinformation" 24/7. Let's be responsible for what, how often and when we decide to bring in outside info. Make wise decisions and do our homework. Make sure what we are absorbing is Vidya, correct understanding. Limit your time watching the news.
3. Soul search. Ask yourself: Is what I watch & listen to, or do the people with whom I decide to surround myself make me happy? Does it or do they agree to build a strong, diverse community for the greater good of us all, not just those with our skin color, political affiliations or religious beliefs? Does it or do they inspire me to be better, happy, productive and compassionate? Does the media I watch or the people I am around support clear perception or wallow in Avidya?
4. Read more books!!
I am down for a clear 2018!! Anyone joining me?
Shannon is Co-Owner of Aura Aerial & Yoga, mother of 3 and (almost) 53 year old movement teacher. She enjoys the happiness, sorrows and lessons of living a full and messy life. Join her at Aura Aerial & Yoga for yoga, aerial yoga, pole fitness and conditioning classes.
Last year I competed for the very first time. The experience was so positive I wrote “You Had the Power All Along”. In that blog, I stated I wasn’t one to push competing. I am forced to retract that statement. Normally I stand by my word. Integrity ranks high in my personality chart so it’s important for me to lay out the reasons for my retraction.
When I entered in that first pole competition, it was to prove to myself, who is introverted and sometimes socially awkward, that I could face my fear and perform on stage. What I wasn’t prepared for was how welcomed I was into the competition community. The crowd applause was just as loud and supportive for the beginners as it was for the professionals. It was then that I became hooked.
When the organization sent out opportunities to become an ambassador this year, I jumped on it without hesitation. The reason I was so drawn to this competition organization specifically is that their mission ran quite parallel to our studio’s mission statement. Pole Sport Organization’s motto is, “Anyone can have a chance on stage”. No video submission and no judgement in entering. Sound familiar? Even though I don’t really receive anything monetarily for this role, I am passionate about seeing others overcome their fears and experience the benefits of pole performance.
Because I had placed the first year, rules stated I had to move up a level. Logically I understood the rule but that meant I had to move up into the dreaded two point of contact inversion tricks. Handsprings and Ayeshas always scared the bejesus out of me and I refused to practice them…… until I was forced to. Once I acknowledged I had to progress beyond my comfort zone to improve, it became just another goal to work towards. Now I can bust out an elbow grip Ayesha with ease but that darn handspring still has me hard at work!
We can easily get stuck in our own studio bubble so it’s beneficial to receive exposure to different styles and levels. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a performer do a trick or transition that I’ve never seen before or wouldn’t have thought to try. The pole sport is constantly evolving so it’s important we stay tuned into new things. When I competed in Seattle, I was completely blown away by the skill level and artistic ability in that region. I immediately wanted to take those inspirations home and apply to both my pole growth and teaching plans.
We are all human and want to place and perform well but the mutual support for each other is very present. Seeing your competitors support you is very encouraging and calming. Continued relationships are built because you experienced that anxiety, fear, and success together. In Orlando, I got to hang backstage with my previous competitor from Atlanta, JBeck. We had maintained contact through social media and although we were competing in different divisions, we ended up backstage together cheering each other on as if we were old gal pals. The same is true for the vast majority of other performers. I’m always amazed at how humble even some of the pros are. Watching them perform is like having a seat at the Olympics. Despite these Polympians (as I call them) being advanced athletes, most are quite approachable and extend support to even the most beginner of polers.
The downside of being a performer over a spectator is that you miss some beautiful and creative pieces getting ready for your own performance. That said, I make it a point to devote time both before my event and after to watch as many performances as my schedule will allow. They inspire me so much! No matter how experienced, it takes so much courage and vulnerability to get up there. We put so much dedication into a piece and pray it translates. That’s someone’s heart up there dancing, and their performance is a gift to us as the audience. My latest piece, was a tribute to my partner’s parents who passed. I loved them dearly and wanted to celebrate their memory, honor their passing into the next life, and hopefully lead the audience on a journey under the narrative that death isn’t the end.
My boss at my day job is a great mentor and career developer. One of the areas he’s always coaching me through is confidence. I’m either a nervous talker or don’t speak at all. One day he said to me, “Dawn, you can do flips on a pole but where is that confidence on a conference call?” Touché, Mr. Bossman. Competing taught me to stand tall in life no matter the circumstances with dignity just like we do on stage. Everyone has a value and sometimes you just have to overcome a scary or intimidating situation to realize yours.
There’s so many other benefits to competing than I’ve listed but one thing is for certain. It is life changing and I recommend everyone to give it a try. Everyone should have a chance on stage and a time to shine!
Dawn began her journey to fitness and well being through pole dance in 2013. After quitting smoking for over 17 years and recovering from a digestive disorder, she was ready to take charge of her health! Finding mainstream gyms to be boring and unmotivating she decided to give pole dance fitness a try. Her life changed forever! She was immediately hooked on how fun and challenging pole fitness was and excited to see the changes in her body, strength, stamina and most especially her self-confidence! So much so, she became an AFAA Certified Instructor and loves sharing the amazing benefits of pole dance fitness!
(Tonia Phillips takes group exercise class with Shannon Burbridge. She is married with two grown sons. She has had several careers, a social worker, sales person and finally a school bus driver for special needs preschoolers.
She has yoyo dieted for most of her life and never exercised until until two years ago. Now she loves the "new" her and hopes to inspire others, regardless of age, size or fitness level, to take control & get healthy and fit!)
Here is her story...
I retired to Ponte Vedra Beach two years ago and decided to join a gym to get healthy. I started with three classes a week and soon increased to five times a week. Still, after one year I had not lost any weight. What was the missing link?
Last November I went to a new doctor, and I told her I wanted to lose weight. She provided a weight loss package plan for me. I thought it was cute that she believed me. The plan included the same old same old, diet and exercise. What caught my eye was an app called Lose It. I downloaded it and entered all the required info. I entered how much I wanted to lose per week ( 2 pounds was the max). It lets you know how many calories you can eat per day and when you will reach your goal. I was really excited that I could lose 62 pounds by July! Totally doable.
Shortly after I downloaded the app, my son told me he was going to ask his girlfriend to marry him. This was the final push I needed! I started looking at mother of the groom dresses and I knew everything I saw would not look the same in a plus size. I decided I was going to to lose weight for the wedding.
I began my new eating habit right after Thanksgiving and didn't weigh myself until Christmas Day. I thought if I weighed myself too soon I might get discouraged. I cut my portion sizes in half and was amazed that I still felt full after meals. I was relentless! In less than 1 month I lost 7 pounds! I never thought it would be possible to eat a cup of pasta instead of a half pound or a sandwich made with one slice of bread instead of two, but that has become my new normal. I didn't give up any particular food or eat anything special. I ate everything I used to, just less of it. I even could drink alcohol but I realized it would be better for me to have an apple than a glass of wine so I chose wisely.
By May I had lost 40 pounds. My doctor slowly lowered my my blood pressure medicine and I now am medication free. What an unexpected benefit!
I finally reached that goal (67 pounds in 293 days) this past weekend!
I have 10 more months to go until the wedding. I have given away some of my clothes that no longer fit and plan to go shopping for that dress!
Side note from Shannon: This woman has such a joyful smile and beautiful energy. I was so inspired by her story and her commitment. I hope her story inspires everyone to take control of their health and well-being!
Merriam-Webster defines happenstance as: a circumstance especially that is due to chance They came together by mere happenstance.
Sometimes the best things in life, happen by chance…
I have practiced yoga off and on for much of my life. Only recently have I begun to practice on a regular basis. Upon entering the Theater Program at the University of Central Florida, I attended a few yoga classes looking for something to do and to stay active. Something just clicked. I began to really get hooked on yoga. I connected with a few teachers that I really enjoyed and soon I was practicing three to four times a week and began my own personal practice. Since I began practicing yoga seriously, the benefits have been overwhelming. I noticed time and time again the positive changes in my acting abilities, and my metal and physical health.
The acting programs at UCF place a huge importance on breathe. Professors instill in students that breath holds the key to emotional life. I learned about breath energy (different breathing for different emotional states), how to grow your capacity for larger, fuller breathes and even how to breathe through your lower back (I know, crazy to think about). As my yoga practice grew so did my acting abilites. I noticed a link between the two. Yoga became a way to practice the breathing techniques I learned in my acting class. It became a place to focus on breath but also to focus on emotional health. This created a better understanding of myself that, inadvertently, helped me as an actor.
Later in my training, both as an actor and a yogi, I noticed benefits to practicing yoga in relation to acting that I had not even realized would happen. I began to notice how yoga helped me become more in tune with my emotional self. I became able to have a real dialogue with myself and could more accurately understand the emotions living within me. I am beginning to understand what I am feeling and why I am feeling it. It is becoming easier to connect, emotionally to the work, because of my personal yoga practice. As well, I am better able to control my nervousness and be more at peace and content when acting and in every day stressful situations. I am able to transition into a character’s life easier. In contrast, after taking on the personality of a character, yoga helps me shed the negative emotional qualities taken on during a scene. For example, during a recent scene, I played a rape victim. I found it exhausting and unhealthy to carry that emotional energy with me throughout the day. By practicing a grounding flow and meditating, I was able to shed the character and proceed with my life in a healthy way.
One day I hope to obtain my yoga instructor certification. In the meantime I will continue to take yoga classes, grow my practice. I look forward to seeing where yoga and acting take me, by happenstance.
For more information about the benefits of a regular yoga practice go to https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit
Carmen Burbridge is the daughter of Shannon Burbridge (Co-Owner of Aura Aerial & Yoga.) She has studied acting and theater since the age of 10. She began her theater journey at Players By The Sea in Jacksonville Beach FL and progressed to the acting program at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville FL. She is currently studying theater at Shenandoah University, continues your yoga journey and is excited to see where both of your passions take her.
It happens every time I go back home: I open the car door, smell that wonderful, sweet air, step out onto the mountain...my soul settles, well-being fills me, I can breath! There is something so special about going home to the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains. I just don't experience the same sense of belonging, healing and peace anywhere else. Every cell in my body knows this is home. Interesting as well, my children, who were born and raised in Florida, feel the same way! My youngest, Abby, always says, "Mom, there is just something about those mountains! I love it!"
For the past 2 years, I have been studying Ayurveda yoga. During a course I attended with Matthew Remski, a wonderful yoga and Ayurveda teacher and consultant, he discussed the deep, almost cellular connection we all have with our home land. That region or area where we grew up and generations of our ancestors settled. I FEEL that connection when I go home to my mountains. For more about Matthew, copy and paste this link: http://matthewremski.com/wordpress/about/
Connecting with our roots is not so easy in the world we live in today. Our society has transitioned away from clans, tribes and extended families living close by. We are very transient. Our lifestyles and jobs require us to move far from our birth home and to move often. I believe commercialism has contributed to this transient trend. We are conditioned to always want more, better and bigger. If only we had a bigger home or fancy car, then we will be happy and content.
As a result, connecting to that sense of home, contentment and peace is a challenge. We are left feeling anxious, un-grounded, confused with a sense of not belonging. So, how do we connect to our roots even if we are miles and miles away from home?
Understanding why we feel disconnected and up-rooted is the first step. Any life change can make us feel this way. A job change, relationship changes, children growing up and moving away, any shift in our regular lives can make us feel confused and anxious. Acknowledging why we are feeling this way is key.
Begin a healing movement practice that helps you connect with your root chakra and the nurturing energy of the earth. Go to https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-25826/6-yoga-poses-to-ground-your-root-chakra.html to learn a few yoga poses to help you feel grounded on those anxious days.
In May, I attended an instructor training course called Flow Movement created by Marlo Fisken. This was a 4 day training with A LOT of movement involved. I expected to return home from this training sore and barely able to move. However, I left feeling wonderful! This training is based on low to the ground and floor movement transitions that left me feeling whole, grounded, healed and peaceful. If ever there is a program that connects you to the earth, your sense of stability and home within yourself...this is it!
Below, check out this short flow I created using a few Floor Flow movements with yoga poses.
So when you feel anxious, spacey, un-grounded, reconnect with your internal roots, your sense of personal stability, who you really are deep inside.
Shannon is co-owner of Aura Aerial & Yoga. She was born and raised in North Carolina where generations of her mothers family settled and grew the Boone and Cline families. She teaches yoga, aerial yoga, pole fitness and many other genres at Aura Aerial & Yoga.
THIS is what it’s like to be a part of the pole fitness community. The fitness, fun, and friendships began when I started poling at VIP Studio in Jacksonville Beach, then on to Vertical Fitness in Jacksonville Beach, and since February 2015, at Aura Aerial and Yoga Studio in Atlantic Beach.
I have always worked out: running, biking, dancing, yoga, Pilates, weightlifting, various fitness classes, and more. But I had never heard of pole fitness. Until my fitness instructor started talking about her own pole fitness experience. When she invited a group of us to take an introductory class, I went with great curiosity and wondered if it would be for me. I was literally and figuratively - hooked. I immediately began taking classes 3 times a week. I loved it! The classes were fun and progressive. You can learn a new trick and then learn another one. There is constant progression. It is not a boring old work out. Each trick, more challenging than the next. I love to tell new polers, "pole fitness is the hardest work out you’ll ever love! And it is the most fun you’ll ever have."
At first, I did not think too much about the overall benefits. I was enjoying the physical challenge and the joy of learning something new. But soon, I also realized the connection, joy and comradery of the women I poled with was even more beneficial! Cheering each other on as we learned new tricks. High five-ing when we learned a new spin. Really connecting with these women I exercised with!
The women I pole with make the experience even more awesome. We are bonded together by the art and athleticism of pole. It is a special “club” where all are welcome, but few join. There is room for everyone, and yet right now it is still considered an alternative fitness option or a new fitness trend. We are here because we want to work out, get fit, feel beautiful, lift each other up, encourage each other, and engage in a wonderful amazing work out. We are there to connect, be healthy and awesome.
The women I work out with are unique, with different religions, political views, and family lives. It does not matter. We are inclusive. We hug each other and laugh with each other. We cheer each other on as we learn new tricks. We even cry with each other, when life has knocked us down. It is a sisterhood of beautiful, confident women enjoying the amazing joy of pole dancing that keeps us climbing to new heights (pun intended!) I love poling for so many reasons: the blend of dance and strength, weightlifting and poise, sexiness and athleticism, and especially friendships formed.
Where Everybody Knows Your Name Lyrics by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo
Author Carol Cullen
During a recent Aerial Yoga class, my instructor challenged us to trust each other enough to support each other in aerial partner yoga poses. This was a challenge for some of us. We worried, "Will I hurt this person if I stand on them?" "Will they be able to support me if I perform a pose on them?" The facial expressions and body language screamed uncertainty.
However, as we began to try these poses, we were so pleasantly surprised that, number one, how much fun they were, and number 2, how amazing it felt to trust another person enough to support us as well as trust ourselves enough to be a support! The grins, laughs and genuine warm sense of community filled the room!
Why did we all feel so good when we performed these poses together and succeeded?
I began thinking about what it means to truly trust another person. Not only to support my physical body, but with my heart and mind. To be vulnerable, actually to be strong enough to allow myself to be vulnerable and let another person support me.
I realized, Trust is a gift. It is given, earned, received and honored. In order to trust another we must be willing to become vulnerable. Vulnerability is not weakness, it takes courage and strength to trust and ask for help and support.
When we have been entrusted with someone's secrets, emotions and burdens we feel honored and privileged to have been chosen. We rise up to the challenge. We except them as they are and love them. Being trusted is empowering.
The giving and receiving of trust is the creation of community. To share our struggles, joys and vulnerability will release us from caring the entire weight alone. The bonds we create are powerful.
So as women of the Aura family, don't be afraid to let someone be your base so you can climb. Allow your sisters to spot and support you. So you can grow and learn.
Julie Nelson Morgan
Julie is a mother of 2 young boys and wife to one. Thanks to my sister-in-law Hadley Nelson I have been practicing aerial yoga for almost a year. After 38 years of never working out or finding the right fit I couldn't be happier and now stronger than ever!.
My discovery of pole fitness and my pole studio community is what I can only describe to be complete and total, sweet serendipity. It has been a game changer in so many aspects of my life and only solidifies in my mind that the universe has a much larger (and better) plan for us than we have for ourselves, if we just let go, think positive, trust, remain patient and accept that things will not always look or go the way we think they should. Ironically, my pole journey is a constant reminder of these very important life concepts and so many more.
I stumbled upon pole fitness or rather it found me during sort of a dark, uncomfortable time when I was feeling a little lost and unsure of my path and next step in life. I had gone through some challenging times the year prior and some things were not panning out as I had thought they would. While I had accomplished most of what I had set out to do with my life, I felt a general lack of passion and almost like something was missing but I really was not sure what. I was at a place where I needed to let go, re-evaluate and do some soul searching on what I really wanted and what was healthy and best for me. During this time, an advertisement for pole fitness classes randomly came up on my Facebook news feed. I was immediately intrigued and just in total awe of the beauty, strength and confidence I saw in the dancers. To me, it embodied all things feminine and it was just the spark I needed to light the fire and get me into a studio to try it out. I tried it once and was completely hooked. I listened to my heart and knew this was going to be a huge part of my life so I set out to find the right studio for me.
As if by perfect chance and timing, Aura Aerial and Yoga had just opened its doors a month earlier. Feeling a bit nervous and out of my comfort zone, I visited the studio for a Pole Teaser class. Upon arriving, any nerves I had quickly dissipated as I received a warm welcome and the overall energy and vibe at the studio was just so comforting. The class was so much fun and the instructor was so positive and encouraging I didn’t want it to end. I left knowing this was the perfect studio for me. This was back in February and now eight months later I am even more in love with pole fitness and the studio. Not only have I seen positive changes in myself physically but my mental and emotional health has reaped the benefits as well. I have an overall feeling of strength and confidence in all areas and I love how pole also allows me to tap into my creative side. Pole fitness is definitely one of the most self loving things I have ever done for myself. I leave the studio after a class and always feel wonderful and those positive feelings remain in place and play a role in other areas of my life as well. It’s become a passion to me and that in itself feels like the real accomplishment because for quite some time that was lacking in my life and I didn’t even totally realize it.
As an added benefit and what I didn’t realize when getting involved in pole, is the amazing community of women I would be meeting. Starting with the talented instructors and business owners at this studio, who amaze me every day with their abilities not just in pole dancing (which is incredible in itself), but in being able to effectively teach and mentor women of all ages, shapes, sizes to bring out their inner goddess and be the amazing, confident, strong, empowered women we are meant to be. I am so inspired by these women and even now have aspirations to teach one day due to their influence. In addition, I have met so many women in the classes and have formed a tight knit support group. I like to refer to the women I take classes with as pole sisters – because it truly is a sisterhood. Everyone is so diverse with different backgrounds and stories, yet we’re all women striving to be our best in this not so always easy world, lifting each other up and bonded by this pole journey we are all on together.
As I write this, I smile at the place I am in right now. I’m approaching the age of 40 which quite honestly has always been scary and less than desirable to me, but now that I am here I realize I couldn’t be happier. I am more fit, focused and confident than ever and pole fitness has played a major role in getting me to this point. The journey has only just begun and so far has been nothing short of amazing. I am so very excited for what lies ahead and can think of no better group than the pole community to have by my side along the way!
Christie Loesch is a dedicated Pole Fitness student at Aura Aerial & Yoga and an aspiring Pole dancing goddess. When not at the pole studio, she spends her time working as a PMP certified Technology Project Manager, traveling, enjoying the beach and taking Pure Barre classes. One of her favorite quotes: “The universe is always speaking to us...sending us little messages, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around, to believe in something else, something more. -Nancy Thayer”
Tribalism. We see it in religions, workplaces, sports, even local communities. And good Lord, we saw it this election season. It’s human nature. Offend our tribe and we attack. Women are certainly no exception. Tori Amos said in an interview, “Women have no need for barbaric weapons. Our tongues are sharper than any blade man ever made.” That’s a painful truth. We as humans, and as women, often refuse to see any perspective other than our own.
In September of this year, Feminist Now recently posted the article “Whether you like it or not, pole dancing perpetuates sexism”
Many studios and pole dance professionals have sent open letters and emails to the author in response to her radical claims and rightfully so. It was a poor depiction of pole dancers from those whom ironically identify themselves as feminists. It was clear she never took a class and only based her article on a false perception. Although the tribal part of me would enjoy giving her a piece of my mind, I’m certain it wouldn’t be effective. She would just adamantly reinforce her point and thus perpetuate the cycle of negativity and anger. I dismissed the article as inaccurate rhetoric but was hurt by the downright nasty comments between women. Slurs were thrown by the same women who condemn men for using those exact words. The two tribes were sadly in a full cyber war against one another.
Somehow the initial issue of human trafficking in the article was overshadowed with petty and false accusations between these groups of women. We all overwhelmingly agree that trafficking is evil, but associating pole dance fitness in the current world with trafficking and sexism is just completely false. Women are innately sexy and feminine. There should never be a crime against celebrating or fostering that. Whatever style we pole dancers choose is not an endorsement for sexism. Our bodies and how they move are not the problem. Cast the blame where it belongs...on the sexists, not the women.
The one thing the author was correct on was that pole dancing was born in the strip club. That’s a fact. We need to give these pioneer women our respect and admiration. We can’t hijack an entire industry, turn it into a socially accepted sport yet deny them history because we want to remove the stigma surrounding our dancing apparatus. That is selfish and unfair. I too was guilty in the early stages of my pole journey. If it wasn’t for the exotic dancers we wouldn’t be where we are today, enjoying a growing, multifaceted art form that so many female and male athletes, designers, artists have evolved. The women that started this industry took those skills from the club and replaced a room full of lusty men with dance studios full of women getting fit and supporting each other; building confidence while keeping the clothes on and the movement appropriate. Legitimate businesses were created and studios have opened all over the globe where human souls of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds could dance and be supported. The sisterhood of beautiful pole dancers was born. This sisterhood is what renewed my faith in female relationships that have repeatedly let me down in the past.
We encourage each other. We place a huge amount of trust on one another while spotting difficult moves. I’ve never been in a place women built each other up as fiercely as I've witnessed in the pole community. Even in a situation where politics are at play or disagreements come up, there is still an immense support for one another. Our goal is the same. Increase awareness, expand this awesome pole community…And maybe nail a trick or two too. :)
When I’m in the studio I don’t see stigmatized apparatuses with a prior history of stripping. I see beautiful women tricking out on poles and realizing what their bodies are capable of. I see both physical and emotional transformations. I see a space full of laughter and love. The type of love that gives an embrace to one of our own who loses a job, is going through a divorce, has a family member pass away, or is even just struggling with a stressful day. Our members bring all that energy into our studio and we do our very best to meet them with compassion and non-judgement regardless of fitness level, age, ethnicity, or size. Our studio mission was built on those values and as an instructor, I get a front row seat to witness this with awe and amazement.
As we continue trying to make sense of this human experience, let’s try to withhold judgement of one another. Not just in reference to pole dancing but in all areas of life. So, before we anxiously attempt to present our argument, remember to use the Four Gates of Speech:
Don’t stop having healthy dialogues. These conversations are necessary for growth and understanding but resist the urge to attack using harsh words. It isn’t easy by any means and it’s certainly something that I’m working through for my own personal growth. We as a sisterhood of women can work towards a better understanding of our differences through the right communication.
Dawn Hansen began her journey to fitness and well being through pole dance in 2013 after recovering from a digestive disorder. She was immediately hooked on how fun and challenging pole fitness was and excited to see the changes in her body, strength, stamina and most especially her self-confidence. So much so, she became an AFAA Certified Instructor and loves sharing the amazing benefits of pole dance fitness. When not teaching, she works as a data analyst for a leading medical supply distributor.
My typical Tuesday afternoon: 10 Year old Abby yelling, "Mom, I need help with my science project!" My 15 year old son, "Mom, I am starving, what do we have to eat?" My 19 year old, Carmen, calls me from college,
Mom, I am applying for student aid, how much did you make last year?" Me, "I have not filed yet." Carmen, "What??? Why! I need this now!" Three loads of unfolded laundry, making dinner, talking on the phone, helping Abby, telling Charlie to find a snack, creating the newsletter for the studio, doorbell rings, Abby's art teacher arrives, dog barks, Abby yells, I drag the dog to garage...CHAOS!!! My brain looks like a martini that has been violently shaken!
In our world today, most of us live in an almost constant sympathetic nervous system state. Fight or Flight. High stress jobs with few breaks, responsibilities at home and the current chaotic state of our world causes us to be in a perpetual fight or flight state where the adrenal system is activated, causing the body to become tense, on high alert, and ready to fight or run. Functions that are not immediately essential (like the immune & digestive systems) are slowed down to save energy. Our bodies, minds and souls are not designed to be in a constant sympathetic nervous system state. So, it is no wonder we are all sick and tired most of the time! Health issues that stem from chronic stress include cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure, and immune system suppression. Other issues may include digestive issues, cold sores, jitteriness, and anxiety. Long term high stress can also lead to chronically low energy levels, respiratory problems, sexual dysfunction and much more.
So, how do we deal with all the chaos and stress? After 19 years of practicing, teaching and educating myself about the benefits of yoga, I can attest to the fact that yoga is why I can still function at a fairly sane level. Through the practice of deep breathing, simple movement, mantras and music, I am slowing learning to cultivate equanimity - evenness of mind especially under stress (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equanimity). I call this a mom time out. I go into my room, close the door, lay on the floor, move in a healing way, breathe and listen to my favorite mantra. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOlZlXn0KT8&t=581s
It does not take long, about 10 minutes, and I can go back to my kids and responsibilities with relative calmness in the chaos: Equanimity.
Taking a moment to calm yourself is essential to well-being and good health. Allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in, creating a state of rest and digest. This allows the body to return to calmness and peace and gives it a chance to relax and repair. The parasympathetic system is the state we should be in most of the time, using the sympathetic system only rarely.
For a brief overview of the sympathetic vs. parasympathetic nervous systems go to: https://adrenalfatiguesolution.com/fight-or-flight-vs-rest-and-digest/
Take time everyday to turn off the noise, find and practice whatever helps you restore your parasympathetic nervous system, weather it be a yoga practice, a song, a prayer, a moment of quiet outside, anything that stills your mind and quiets your soul.
Cultivate equanimity and your world can be like a martini expertly mixed...stirred not shaken. The world can stir around you but you are not shaken.
Shannon Burbridge is Co-Owner of Aura Aerial & Yoga, teaching various group classes including yoga and aerial yoga. She holds 200 hour certification through Body Balance School of Yoga Therapy with training in Anusara Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Hatha yoga and more. She lives in Jacksonville Beach with her children, her loving boyfriend Chris and Avalanche their dog. Visit auraaerialandyoga.com to view the class schedule.