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How To Begin A Movement Therapy Practice : 101 Dance Activity : Ava Madison

The practice of free flow dancing saved my life, it gave me my power back, and is how I save myself over and over again – it’s very liberating. 

Dance is a beautiful and fun way to stay both physically and mentally healthy.

I am deeply honored to have inspired so many people to begin pole dancing. I also receive messages and comments from people expressing their desire to begin a movement practice of their own but have no idea where to start. It’s natural when starting something new to feel overwhelmed, scared, and even unworthy.


If beginning a movement practice of any sort intrigues you I’m here to tell you that YOU can do it, that it is very easy to start, and that if you continue and make movement a practice, it will change your life in the most astounding ways.


I’m here to tell you
You don’t need to be:
in touch with your body
a champion
an elitist
or any other base requirement
to begin a movement practice.


If you’ve thought about or even expressed your desire to begin dance, a yoga practice, or pole dancing (anything really), and have paired it with apprehension don’t feel bad about this – it’s scary to try new things! But the continued immobilization blocks energy and hinders growth so if you’re waiting until you’re ready you’re wasting precious time – the time is now.


There is only one thing you need to bring to the floor – authenticity.


I’m going to dive right in here for the purpose of this article but some background and stage setting may be useful for anyone just beginning this practice. If you have time take a quick read of my article ‘Guide To Becoming Woman & A Reconnection With The Feminine Divine’ to help muse you deeper into your movement practice.

How to begin a movement (therapy) practice.

Movement can absolutely be used for physical and/or mental benefits. Movement is healing. In addition to physical benefits, movement can be used for the purpose of healing trauma, self-discovery, and developing a deeper and more authentic bodily connection.

First, I’d like you to acknowledge how you are feeling right now.

Take a moment…

Do you feel excited, sad, angry, frustrated, sensual, tired, or joyous? Are your knees bothering you, does your back ache? Maybe you’re feeling really in touch with your body right now, or maybe very disconnected. No matter what you’re feeling, in a moment, I’m going to ask you to embrace your feelings and lean in to those sensations. (? This is that authenticity thing I’m going to encourage you to start tugging at during your practice.)

Anything and everything you are feeling right now is right and okay, purposeful, and necessary. Whatever you’re feeling right now has the power to transmute and transcend, and can bring you peace, pleasure, and power. This too takes a little training.

Harnessing the healing properties of ‘feelings’ (the good ones and the bad ones) involves learning to move through physical sensations and mental chatter – that is absorb them. Acknowledge your feelings. Open the door, welcome them in, feed them lunch, and kick their booty out the door if they’re asshats. The practice is learning to move through your emotional states absorbing the ‘nutrients’ and leaving behind ’the waste’. This may sound a bit ‘digestive’… and it is – all of your experiences are. You choose, based on your mental and physical reactions what you carry and what you discard from your life. Having a healthy mind-body balance is key to wellness and incorporating a movement practice into your life can help you achieve that balance.

Back to your feelings. Now is when I’m going to ask you to embrace those feelings. In fact, eventually, I want you to feel them so fully that you’re connecting with those emotions with every fiber of your being. 


I’d like you to go put on some music that represents or connects you to your current mental and physical state. Choose something your feelings (your bodily sensations and mental state) react to. This song will be different from day to day and from moment to moment so no need to plan ahead here. Take this, and all your movement journeys, as you arrive at the practice. 

Find a comfortable and suitable space for you to move around in.

If you’ve never done this before, or this practice sounds scary or intimidating to you, begin here: 

Start on your hands and knees.

(On a yoga mat or a carpeted area preferably. Use folded towels, crumpled teeshirts, kneepads, or even get up on your bed if you only have access to hard floors. The key is to get comfortable. If this position is uncomfortable or impossible for you for any reason, change your positioning. Come down onto your forearms, etc… make adjustments. This practice is about YOU. Remember everyone’s journey is uniquely personal. This is about discovering YOUR authenticity and the way YOU move.)

Here, in a hands-and-knees position, you don’t have to worry or think too much about what to do with your hands, your feet, or your legs. You are in connection with the earth, you can get centered, grounded, rooted, and from here you can begin working from the inside, out.

We all have a sort of double, a twin, a mirror self – the one on the inside and the one on the outside. From the center of your psyche to the skin of your flesh resides a complicated relationship of communication resulting in movement. The controlled movement between the two is our creative force and where our power resides. The idea of this type of movement practice is to cross the bridge between darkness and light – to join or bridge the inner and outer worlds of our being. The movements we impart and imprints we create along the course of our journey impacts the trajectory of the future. The communication of the soul to your outer vessel is an imperative and beautiful relationship to develop.


When you’re ready and ONLY when you’re ready, begin to move. Don’t start too soon. Remain still in your starting position for as long as you need to whether that’s for five seconds or five minutes. Take some time to FEEL the places where your body meets the ground. Close your eyes. Get rooted. Sink deep. Take a deep breath and hang your head. Don’t start until you have a compulsion or impulse to move. Wait until you are ready – your body will tell you – you will know. As I said, this may take several minutes or just a few seconds, either is perfect.

FEEL what you are actually feeling, lean in, and when you are ready to move, move.

Abandon expectations.

Don’t think about how you look. Don’t think about ‘dancing’. Don’t think about emulating yoga poses or movements you’ve seen or practiced in the past. In fact, don’t think at all – FEEL – and let your feelings, your inner churnings, dictate your movements.

Conjure authentic energies.

When you feel that spark of desire to move, begin by taking up space. You’re creating space in which to explore. Explore your emotions, bodily sensations, your environment, and anything that arises. Lean in. Work on drawing up from that inner psyche self, physical bodily movements.

If you’re still feeling lost, picture an undulating ocean of waves. Imagine you are floating, suspended just under the surface, your body moving naturally with the ebb and flow of the swelling and contracting waters. Tap into that shifting motion and begin to move. Once you get comfortable with the movement, allow your waters to churn – that is, add circles to your linear movement.

Embrace what arises.

It’s okay if your feelings or movements change – that’s good! That’s you beginning to tap into a flow state. Move through anything that arises both physically and mentally.

When ready, expand. Add locomotion to your head, your hips, hands, arms, legs, and feet. Take up even more space. Continue to draw from your internal ocean and move from that space of authenticity. Our traumas, loves, losses, failures, and accomplishments are some of our best muses and if listened to can be one of our best teachers.

No one can tell you how to dance. They can teach you how to perform a movement or sequence of movements but they can’t tell you HOW. That ‘how’ is 100% derived from your experiences, your authenticity, your life force, conjured and delivered to the dance floor. I believe as dancers, we are also actresses/actors. Acting isn’t ‘putting on a mask’. Acting is being. As dancers we are actors and so we must BE. We have to FEEL and conjure every layer we apply on top of the teachings we’ve dedicated our time to learning and we have to do so authentically and without fear. 

The shell must break for the bird to fly…

Break through that shell (that outer protective layer that resides between flesh and psyche). Explore and bridge the region between the inner and outer worlds of your being. Dance from your heart, draw from the well of your experiences (the good AND the bad), strip down to the rawness of what created you, and embrace what you discover. Let it all out and most importantly give no fucks – EVERYONE will notice.

It’s more than animation – it’s living.

Congratulations, you’re practicing moving meditation! You’re healing, connecting, growing, creating, taking up space, and consciously co-creating with the creator. The more you show up, the more you practice, the more you will learn; about yourself, your world, your desires, your life, your abilities, your capabilities, your lines, and your limits in limitless possibility.

Practicing moving in this manner will also help you return to a state of center where your movements and reactions are birthed from a place of intuitive intention; a thought-out, well-reasoned, and appropriate reaction as opposed to an unconscious, emotionally driven, un-reasoned, unnecessary, and perhaps even damaging reaction. 

We get to choose how we react. 

Dancing (moving with our bodies) creates an amazing space in which to not only lose yourself but to find yourself as well. It offers an environment where you can train, explore, and take ownership of yourself – your inner and outer happenings – your path. Dance and artistic creation can assuage your depressive states, ease anxiety, heal traumas, quell pain, and lead you toward joy and a strong, loving, compassionate understanding of the fluid nature of being. Freestyle dance is how I save myself over and over and it’s very liberating. 

Congratulations on beginning your very own movement practice.

See you again tomorrow.

Tips for maintaining your practice:

Create a space.

Choose a corner in your living space, pick a rug, and get yourself a yoga mat – dedicate a space that is to be used for your movement practice.

Decorate it if you can. Place a few items you love in your space: light a candle, burn incense, place a picture, stone, statue, or anything that helps you feel connected, inspired, and at peace. Yes, you can practice anywhere, anytime, but when first beginning it helps to ritualize your movements until they become a natural part of your lifestyle. Seeing your space will help inspire, connect, and remind you to continue stewarding yourself.

Practice every day.

A short, daily practice is better than one long practice once a week. “A dance a day keeps the doctor away.”

Starting a new journey requires work and dedication. Little steps lead to big transformations. Ask your body and mind to provide for you in a new way. Commit to one small move a day towards the enrichment of yourself and your goals. 

Gift yourself time.

Recovery is not a race. We all heal and grow at different rates. For the really painful stuff sometimes you have to do it again and again, over and over, for years and years to quell and sort through those emotions. Repeat the process as many times as it takes. By doing so in mindfulness your progressions will become evident. This is your part of regaining your power.

Reclaim your power.

In time and with practice you can make cohesive statements of body and mind through your movements. You can heal wounds, quell negative emotions, assuage depressive states and anxiety, and build a peaceful interchange between cognition and mentality through this type of movement practice.

You can explore, transmute, and tame some of that wilderness lurking inside by harnessing and honing your energies to vibrate at frequencies that alter your reality in positive and beneficial ways. When we create a union of the physical to the abstract in which to express and create we make cohesive statements of body and mind. A union of the physical and the abstract, and the controlled movement between the two, is our creative force and where our power resides.

Much love and happy dancing!

💜 Ava

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