Week 4: Body Mind Centering, PNF, yoga and meditation…


This week we will explore the introductory concepts of Body Mind Centering, the work of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. I encourage you to read her book ‘Sensing, Feeling and Action’.

Additionally, we will touch upon PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation), sen lines and meridians. Oh and once in a while we will meditate – so that we can work specifically with the mind.


http://www.ipnfa.org/index.php?id=113 (a history of PNF)

http://tuberose.com/meridians.html (meridians)


20 thoughts on “Week 4: Body Mind Centering, PNF, yoga and meditation…

  1. I was introduced to BMC by Mark Taylor the former Artistic Director of Dance Alloy in Pittsburgh many years ago. I remember tracing our meridians using a toothbrush handle on a partner’s skin. I wasn’t able to work on my foot today because of my pregnancy. I wonder if anyone felt a difference dancing today after tracing these pathways?

  2. I have enjoyed this week’s informational cross-pollination. The P.N.F. patterning creates this strange and exciting neural tingling. Several years ago we were including some of the cross body work in the warm-up for our company and I remember it felt like an instant brain warm-up. I will now re-introduce it!
    It is so interesting to layer this cognitive engagement with the body systems work and meditation practices. I have been working this summer on inhibiting some of my New York dancer tendencies – and this week’s combination of elements feels like a little ticket back to a less affected time in my dancing life.

    • Sarah, I enjoyed the overlap as well. I love how Meridians looks at the big picture of what is going on in the body as a whole. The complexity of the brain and it’s relationship to the body is so fascinating. I wonder if younger dancers who incorporate meditation practices and somatics into their training feel more connected, and I wonder how these living tradition of PNF patterning, LMA, BMC, etc will thrive and change over time.

      • We will have to ask the undergrads! They are getting all this conceptual information much earlier than I did.

  3. I love the idea of thinking about the meridian cycle while dancing. The idea that the meridian flow is one continuous cycle particularly resonates with me. It is such an organic way to feel a connection through the entire body.
    Also, the P.N.F patterning is challenging mentally and it gets my body extremely warm and moving as a cohesive unit. I am especially surprised how good my hip has felt this week. After my surgery, my range has been limited and it has be difficult to get the hip joint lubricated. However, The PNF work has done this!! Yay!

  4. One thing I noticed this week was that I felt more relaxed and connected as a whole while dancing, specifically toward the end of class. I found that my nervous system was a bit more calm as a result of the meditation and PNF work in the beginning of class. At the end of class, I felt less stressed about being perfect during the phrase. I could trust that my body knew what to do and I got out of my cognitive brain a little bit. This was such a relief during a very busy and otherwise stressful week.

  5. Yesterday’s class was a challenge for me as I tried to approach each combination with the focus on my standing leg. I found that I do tend to move quickly through a phrase because I am not fully stable and connected from the ground up, and by moving quickly I can just pass through those moments without giving them much thought. I thought of the half full water bottle rolling across the floor during Tuesday’s class, and that image stayed with me as I tried to fill up each movement and send attention to parts of my body I typically overlook. It felt weird, slow, awkward, and off balance, but I figured that meant I was doing something right or at least exploring new possibilities.

  6. I found it interesting that for such a personally emotional week for myself that we focused on the connectivity of the body and mind. It was hard to meditate and come back to the breathe but it is such a reminder that the breathe is the beginning of all movement. I want to hold my emotions in by not fully breathing and it is a challenge sometimes to allow the breathe to open up those emotions.
    I really enjoyed watching the combination although found it difficult to integrate in my body. It was nice to see breathe bringing a group together in their timing.

  7. I really appreciated that you brought Eastern thought into the class.

    This week, I enjoyed approaching the movement while thinking of Chi and the balance of Yin and Yang. At times, in the effort to “get” a phrase, my movement became flat or 2 dimensional, but when I thought of Yin and Yang as well as Chi, it helped me to sense all sides of my body. On the day we worked with pressing the meridians on both the feet and hands, the tension in my body released and my joints seemed more open.

    The meditation at the beginning of class brought me to a calmer place and I felt more at ease with movements that were challenging to learn.

    When you brought out the water bottle, it reminded me of the Butoh classes I took in NY this spring. In the classes we were asked to imagine the body as an empty bag or bottle that gets filled with water (or any substance) and it is that water or substance that dictates your movement. It is not “you” moving but the bag with the water. This concept has been liberating.

  8. There was a question this week about the idea of instant embodiment. About three seconds later, you reminded us to really “look”. I realized that those two things are disconnected concepts for me. Generally, once I start looking, I leave my body and vice versa. I spent the rest of the week playing with negotiating the balance of those two ideas. I found I could “look”, without trying to “capture”, and then stayed more embodied. I also found my head and neck felt freer and more connected to the overall movements.

  9. I loved the conversations about musical timing this week. I need reminding that speed and fulfilling time are not the same thing. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the movement for the sake of moving forward, and it’s wonderful to remember to take a breath and consider time as fluid with lots of nooks and crannies that can be filled with those marvelous moments in between. When I allow myself to think in this way (and get out of the panic of trying to figure out what’s coming up next) miraculously there is plenty of time, and on occasion I find myself less deeply in my head reaching for movement. At this point for me, the habit of retaining movement not made through my own body is somewhat forgotten and therefore challenging, and although I don’t think my response to not meeting the challenge can be honestly equated with “anger”, I do feel disappointed, which can be just as debilitating. When those moments happen where I’m not feeling the pressure (self imposed) to get the heck on to the next move, the space is created for plenty of time to get there. The Cartesian circle biting me in the behind once again. The meditation in the beginning of class helped me to clear out the anticipation of disappointment, and I found myself returning to that feeling of calm acceptance often during the classes.

  10. I really appreciated the meditation this week. I never take the time to simply just “be.” My mind is usually racing, which translates into my body rushing and pushing to get things done. Meditating at the beginning of class gave me the opportunity to let everything go and focus on the breath, the source of our existence. Initially it was very difficult, especially with my eyes closed, trying to release the fluttering thoughts continuously flashing in and out of my mind. However, when I opened my eyes and and maintained a consistent low gaze, I began to relax into the breath releasing the stress of thinking.

    I also found that this was helpful when doing the combinations. I was able to find moments of “not thinking,” focusing more on the breath and how it initiated the movement. This, to me, was relative to meditation.

  11. Pressing on to the feet made my brain tinkle, meditate as the beginning of class made my whole body go “quiet”. When doing physical exercises interweaving hand stands and floor work I notice this “quietness” between body, mind and contact with floor. This seems to be the most gentle start of a dance class, and it feels very human to me. If time allows I would start most of my classes like this. There is so much anticipation when going in to a studio for a dance class, that starting from the very bottom of quietness and build the class from there reasons with me.

  12. I must admit that I have issues meditating while I’m at home, for one reason or another, and during class this week I was able to feel centered and calm during those few minutes. I felt connected afterwards, and throughout class I experienced a bit more balance compared to the last couple of weeks.
    It was great to get a reminder to breathe and to let the movement sink in during our floor combination because it’s something that I struggle with consistently. I find that I understand a phrase and it feels good to let my body work without too much thought, but then I’m seven counts ahead of my peers. I have to remember to watch, listen, breathe, and feel the connection to the movement.

    • I agree with you Hickey; the few times I have attempted to meditate at home I find my brain wondering a lot more than when doing a “guided meditation” in class. This week was the first time since the Spring that I was able to actually quiet my mind for maybe a minute. Considering my brain is always on hyper-speed, a minute was a great accomplishment!

      I like keeping in mind that whatever is going on in my brain is just “thinking” and then to let it go. I tend to overanalyze things, but this acknowledgment of my brain activity and then realeasing it helped me relish in the movement instead of overthinking what it should look or feel like.

  13. I don’t have much to say about technique class last week. I’m sitting here trying to think of things, and nothing is coming. Maybe that is nice. Maybe now that we are getting to this point in the summer where lots of papers are due and comp projects are supposed to be at the stage where we know something about them and can verbalize that, maybe now I need to rely on some embodied knowledge a little. Maybe now, just for a week, I need to have existed in that studio fully with nothing to verbalize or put into text, with the faith of the experience held somewhere that will get sifted out sometime. I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the little products that we are all being asked to produce in these six weeks. Maybe I’m taking this opportunity to remember to have experiences without product. Or maybe I’m just copping out, who knows.

  14. Within class this week, I tried to give a little extra attention to my focus. So often I find myself glazing over my eyesight as I move through patterns. My focus has a tendency to be very internal. As I moved through the end phrase, I named things in the room (internal monologue that is) that I looked at. This seemed to take me more out of my body and really embodying the movement more. My balance seemed to be more stable and I felt connected throughout my body. It reminded me to “let go”, stop over analyzing and concentrating so hard, and just “be”. I also found myself relaxing in my body, as opposed to muscling through everything.

  15. I really like how our class is so related to what we’re learning in LMA. Lately I wonder if you and EJ secretly create your classes together so they are interrelated. Working with a lot of cross-lateral and homo-lateral movement has really inspired me into further investigation and has given me a lot of movement investigation ideas for my senior project in the fall. I almost feel like a whole new way of moving was brought to my attention and I have so many new ways to move my body that it’s very exciting. I had a more difficult time picking up the final center combination than I did in the earlier weeks, which further employs me to look more deeply into this connectivity.

  16. The work this past week was somewhat hard for me. I’m not sure why…maybe because I have a ton of things to think about this week, but my mind and body haven’t been connecting very easily.

    I loved the reflexology work we did. It made my hands and feet feel like there were beams of energy and light coming out of them.

    I also enjoy the aspect of class that everything we do relates to everything else we do in class, from the floor to the tendus, to the combinations across the floor. Even when we explore the different “techniques” or applications each week, I feel as though everything we learned the week before is still being implemented.

  17. Unfortunately I had to observe class for most of this week. But in hindsight, it was the best week to do this. Because we were focusing on the body and mind, I experienced that even though my body was not healthy, my mind could really experience the material.

    Meditating is something I have always struggled with. It’s a challenge for me to allow my mind to quiet. I even have to sleep with a pad and pen next to me so I can write things down when I wake up at night. However, meditating in class this week with focus on the breath really quieted my mind. I am excited to continue with this practice.

    Because I have been observing the class this week I have really seen a connection to the distinction between technique, style and individual embodiment of the material we are given in class. It’s been fascinating to watch each dancer process the technique in their own way and I feel that I have seen each persons individual self through their dancing. It’s been beautiful to watch.

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