When I awoke this morning I could tell I had danced last night. Some soreness in the muscles, yes, but the clarity and expansive feeling in my body – that’s the true, morning after reward. I try to dance some most days , but yesterday was a push beyond my usual. At the invitation of Lynn Coghill, members of our troupe danced at the 2nd Annual Gospel Liturgical Dance Festival at the Community College of Allegheny County – North Shore. We experienced an exercise regime called “Praisemoves” which involves stretching and holding poses while the instructor recites verses from the bible. It was quite a bit more challenging than it looked, which I was about to find out in the middle of the night.
A few hours after falling asleep, I awoke with muscle spasms in my legs. They were happening in both legs at once, though each leg had its own pattern. I learned on Medicinenet.com that muscle cramps or spasms occur when large muscles are overstretched or held in the same position for prolonged periods of time. They also report that the cause may be an imbalance in the elements that muscle cells require; water, glucose, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. That’s probably why, when I came downstairs and ate some banana and drank a bit of milk, (something I remembered Lynn telling me she does when this happens) the spasms went away.
We met a liturgical dancer in her 50s and heard her inspiring story of how she has met the challenge of being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in her mid 20s. Though there are moves she cannot do, she is a beautiful dancer, and dancing her prayers has kept her living an energetic and embodied life.
And while I was reflecting on how continuing to dance into my later years has kept me in touch with my body and feeling good, a friend sent me the Science Friday video about babies and birds matching movements with rhythm. It seems the impulse to respond to rhythm is innate. And though we don’t yet understand why, science demonstrates what we dancers know – moving to rhythm makes us feel good and gives us the experience of joy. And dancing ones prayers is the greatest joy of all.