The Slow Path is the Best Way

One of my favorite mantras, or quotes that I live by is, “The slow path is the best way.” For me, this speaks to the value of doing things consistently over time for lasting, optimal results. I see the slow path as a lifestyle; a commitment to staying on course rather than expecting immediate results. 

The slow path (evolution) takes time. 

It took me a while to appreciate the slow path. When I started on this journey over twenty years ago, I was attracted to physically demanding dance, yoga, and martial arts practices.

I didn’t have much patience and the thought of meditating made me nervous. I could only manage to meditate for a few minutes after I’d exhausted myself in a power yoga class. Occasionally, I injured myself due to a lack of awareness of my body and improper form.

In 2004 I moved from New York to Boulder, Colorado. Even though I didn’t know anyone there, I just felt that this move was important for my evolution. I began studying Tai Chi which became my formal introduction to the slow path. 

In the movie The Matrix there are different scenes where time slows down. Learning Tai Chi was a similar experience, as it felt like everything slowed down. I became aware of every single pedestrian movement and layers of body armor started to melt away. 

I had no idea how much stress I was holding until I slowed down.

Studying Tai Chi helped me discover new ways of tuning into my body. While I still enjoyed pushing myself physically, my internal awareness increased significantly. For the first time I was able to settle into meditation. 

A few years later I was awarded a modeling scholarship by the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration. Rolfing is a form of intensive bodywork that involves manipulating the body’s deep connective tissues for enhanced structural alignment. It’s a form of non-invasive reconstructive surgery.

Since I was actively involved in yoga community, the Rolfing school was interested to see how I would respond to the Ten Series. The Ten Series consists of ten, 2-hour long sessions that focus on freeing restrictions or holding patterns in particular regions of the body.

Rolfing is incredibly intense work, and I would leave each session feeling so exhausted that I would have to lie down for an hour afterwards. The work was targeting various imbalances in my body due to a mild scoliosis, many of which I had never been aware of.  

Much like the effect of Tai Chi, everything slowed down. 

Experiencing the Ten Series showed me how the scoliosis had affected various parts of my body. As I walked through the grocery store after having my feet worked on, I realized that my right foot had been always been partially supinated (when your foot rolls out). 

It felt like I was learning how to walk all over again.

By the end of the series my posture had improved and I even grew a little taller. My yoga practice slowed down and I was able to tune in on what was happening in each pose with greater clarity. Forward bends like Downward Dog became increasingly therapeutic.

This experience opened the door for me to establish my Qigong practice. In 2014 I moved back to New York where I began learning this form of internal martial arts. Standing qigong involves holding postures for 30-60 minutes at a time.

Through consistent practice, I’m able to use this technique for maintaining my spinal imbalances. It took a lot of patience to get to this point. It also helped me navigate the challenges I faced when I moved back to Colorado.

I am very excited to share the next evolution of my journey on the slow path. The best way to stay up-to-date about these new developments is to join my newsletter.

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Master’s Thesis – Kaleidoscopic Katas

Short form of the Wudang Five Animals Qigong

Master’s Thesis – Kaleidoscopic Katas: An Intercultural Somatic Curriculum for Holistic Health

I am overjoyed to announce that my thesis has been approved by the University of Northern Colorado. I have been working towards my Master’s in Dance Education for the past two and a half years. Here is the link to the online publication:

Kaleidoscopic Katas: An Intercultural Somatic Curriculum for Holistic Health

I don’t expect that many people will read all ninety-nine pages of my thesis, but you may find parts of it interesting. Attempting to complete this rigorous program during COVID has been one of the most challenging things that I’ve ever done. I could not have accomplished this goal without the help of the people who I’ve listed on the Acknowledgements page.

The YouTube video is from the final class of the Zoom teaching research workshop.

Abstract

The intent of this research study was to combine three African and Eastern somatic movement practices into a modern dance curriculum. Few studies have investigated the therapeutic value of subtle body awareness in a dance class context. This integrative study combined psychological, physiological, and contemplative pedagogical approaches, which led to the development of a comprehensive five-part workshop with five adult participants. This ten-hour online class series involved learning a traditional Afro-Haitian serpent dance called the Yanvalou, the Tantric practice of Chakra Yoga, and the Five Animals qigong. The original curricular goal was to combine these three modalities into five sequential katas. Due to numerous COVID-related setbacks, the researcher modified the curriculum and examined the relationships within this trinity of movement forms. The following qualitative instruments were used in this multimethod research study: reflective journal entries, participant commentary, a post-study rubric, video documentation, and the researcher’s observations. Pre- and post-surveys were used for quantitative data collection and were cross-referenced for the purpose of identifying emergent themes. The combined result of this data provided evidence of holistic health enhancement, personal empowerment, and altered states of consciousness. This study advanced the somatic application of the Yanvalou by exploring its relationship to the chakras and qigong meditation techniques. It also informed the continued development of a contemplative curriculum that could be utilized by post-secondary institutions.

Five Animals Qigong Online Class Series

In this 3 min video I share a little of the history of the Five Animals and play with the first animal form ~ Dragon

Registration is now open for this lively 5-part series of adult martial arts classes. The Five Animals is a dance-like form of medical qigong. Qigong translates as qi (life force energy) and gong (cultivation practices). The purpose of the Five Animals is to enhance health and longevity. These low-impact movements increase strength, flexibility, and balance. Each class will focus on learning one of the animal forms.

Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Cost: $25 for the series
Minimum 3 people/Max 10
When: Mondays, Nov 15 – Dec 13
Time: 4pm PST/5pm MST/7pm EST (40 minutes)
Where: Zoom

What to Bring: Water bottle. Athletic wear. Tennis shoes or yoga mat. Insight Timer App installed on your phone.

Pre-registration is required and ends on November 14. Contact Emily to discuss payment options.

I reserve the right to cancel if less than 3 people sign up.

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Kaleidoscopic Katas – 2021

Kaleidoscopic Katas – 2021

Dance your way to wellness in this experimental research study. Kaleidoscopic Katas is an innovative fusion form that combines somatic elements of Afro-Modern, Yoga, and Qigong. In this 5-part workshop you will learn five sequences (katas) for holistic health enhancement. This study is inspired by twenty years of the teacher/researcher’s lived experience, interest in the sacred geometry of the body, and curiosity about cultivating longevity through spinal health.

Dates: July 27 – Aug 13

Time: Tuesdays and Fridays 5-7pm MST (no class on Aug 6th)

Place: Zoom

Total Cost: $30

What to Bring: Athletic wear, water bottle, journal, and pen or pencil.

Level: This workshop is for adults (ages 18-64) who feel comfortable participating in 90-minute low-impact classes for strength, flexibility and balance.

Emily Seymour Yanvalou
Teacher/Researcher: Emily Seymour is from Camden, Maine. She has been teaching dance, yoga, and martial arts for seventeen years. She has a BA in Traditional Eastern Arts and a 1000-hour Yoga Teacher certification. She is currently working on her Masters degree in Dance Education through the University of Northern Colorado.
Kaleidoscopic Katas: Kundalini
Kaleidoscopic Katas: Yoga
Kaleidoscopic Katas: Five Animal Frolic
Kaleidoscopic Katas: Qigong

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