“People dance like little kids here!”

That’s what my 12-year-old granddaughter said about Ecstatic Dance Austin this morning. We arrived during warmup. She sat in a corner and watched. I danced. The space was full.

She sounded surprised and delighted when she made this observation. I had to agree. We do dance like little kids at ecstatic dance. Only we have better rhythm and more grace, and maybe some of us feel a bit more stiffness until we get warmed up. From what I remember, little kids don’t need to warm up.

We definitely have the playfulness, the wholeheartedness, the joy, the abandon, and the presence of little kids when we’re on that dance floor.

We’ve gotten pretty good at connecting with each other and respecting boundaries, completely nonverbally.

We’ve gotten pretty good at keeping the space safe, of moving into the empty spaces instead of colliding. We keep our eyes open.

We’re pretty good at spontaneity and going with the flow.

You could say we dance like nobody’s watching, and that’s because no one is. They’re paying attention to their own dance, dancing with one or more partners, maybe even dancing with the whole room. We’re there to dance, not judge.

I had a blast today, making some sweet connections, and my pulled soleus muscle is working well. I did some jumping and leaping, and it felt strong and capable. It’s just a little stiff. I believe that in another week, the healing will be complete.

Hurray for healing my own injuries!

We also got the good news that the development project that was going to tear down our dance space at the Austin Yoga School on South Lamar has fallen through, and the tenants can stay in their spaces.

That news was very welcome.

And so she danced a dance with me. For one song, we boogied and swung and jumped and played and grinned and laughed and got silly together.

Life is good.

Ecstatic shaking dance

On Sunday morning, I was driving to Castle Hill and dancing in my car as I drove. On the way, I realized I didn’t want to do yoga — I wanted to dance. So I drove to the Austin Yoga School and danced with Ecstatic Dance of Austin.

It was a homecoming of sorts. I started doing ecstatic dance (Sweat Your Prayers, 5 rhythms, Gabrielle Roth) in 1995. That group evolved into Body Choir, whom I danced with, while continuing with 5 rhythms when available.

A few years ago (four? five?), I started feeling conflicted about going to dance, any kind of so-called ecstatic dance. When I went, my body didn’t want to dance, it wanted yoga! I felt some attachment to people in the community of dancers and kept going for a while, but my attendance tapered off. I felt less and less joy at dance and finally I stopped going. It felt unsafe, it was too crowded, and the community was too political. And my body really wanted yoga.

I entered into a peaceful time of pulling in my energy, a time of healing my body. I did more yoga, committed to a home practice, and later trained as a teacher. I began meditating. I did two rounds of NLP training. I began seeking and finding great healers — starting with Nina Davis doing cranio-sacral therapy and Patrice Sullivan doing acupuncture and myofascial release (plus Patrice’s unique magic!).

I had NUCCA chiropractic, which got my head straight on my spine, which unwound my scoliosis. That was awesome. Then because I was still having pain in my left sacro-iliac joint, I found Dr. Chandler Collins for applied kinesiology and Bo Boatwright, DC, another creative and effective bodyworker, and I began working with Fran Bell this year.

I learned that I had probably had a birth injury to my S2 nerve. Maybe that’s where the scoliosis came from. And the SI joint pain could be related to the IBS-like symptoms I had before I went gluten-free several years ago. It’s complicated.

Anyway, my body is feeling pretty good these days. I still have some aches and pains, but is that not common at age 58? I don’t know! I notice stiffness when I’ve been still for a while and then stand up and move. It takes longer to warm up and move fluidly than it used to. But I get there!

What’s new is that my left and right sides are more balanced than ever, in body and brain and energy field.

While I was away from dance, lots of change happened. Body Choir became Dancing Together, then Body Choir came back. (I’m not sure I have the story straight.) Then Ecstatic Dance of Austin started up, and when Lakshmi Jackman was telling me about it in Whole Foods, I started thinking about returning to dance. I got a “no” a couple of Sundays ago after meditating, but I knew a “yes” was coming.

It felt good to be back in a large dance studio with a sprung floor, plenty of space, and rhythmic music. Also, no puddles of sweat on the floor! It felt safe, and the energy felt really clean.

I had changed so much over the time I was gone, I needed to get acquainted with my dancing body again. I did some shaking (yes, I can shake while standing now and can induce shaking when I want to) and found that my dancing edge was surfing between voluntary and involuntary movements, letting the shaking arise where I needed to shake, and then surrendering to the beat in dance.

Several times I felt energetic rushes of pure ecstasy move from my center out! Chills, thrills, goosebumps, GUS (God Universe Spirit) bumps — totally that howling-at-the-moon feeling of abandoned joy.

It was a real breakthrough for me, a joy, a homecoming.

I’ll return.