Becoming Brave: 10 Life Lessons I learned from Dance

September 8, 2012

The reason I started coming to Hipline Dance Studio was because of a disastrous ending to a relationship that nearly broke my heart. While it took several attempts for my friend to convince me to come to this mysterious place, my friend’s assertion of, “The class is called Shimmy Pop! How can it not be fun?” got me to take the first step towards the studio that proudly displayed gold, black & pink.  Little did I know that walking into my first class with one of the owners & teachers, Samar, 4 years ago (not knowing how to, or being able to, undulate or shimmy, by the way), my life was about to be changed in the most beautiful & profound ways.

While Hipline was recently named “Most Subversive Exercise Routine” by the East Bay Express due to our unique approach to fitness (yay!);  I would say that what we do goes way beyond exercise.  Hipline is a Movement.  It is a community of phenomenal women with whom we get to learn amazing life lessons from this art form we lovingly call Shimmy Pop.  While the lessons you learn may be different than mine, I wanted to share my personal Top 10, which all have to do with becoming brave:

1. Love your body. Whether that means taking it to whatever your 100% is for that particular day or giving your booty a little playful smack during a cowgirl move in class, always show love & r-e-s-p-e-c-t for your amazing body that serves you in countless ways.  For me, this also means rubbing my tootsies at night, taking a delicious salt-water bath when I’m shimmy pooped, fueling my body-lisciousness, drinking enough H20 & getting enough zzz’s at night.

2. Let go of perfection. “Messing up” is “perfectly” alright, especially when you smile & realize that it really does not matter, as long as you are having fun!  Life can be too serious sometimes, so let go of how you think you “should be,” follow along the best you can & freestyle with flair & confidence when in doubt.  It’s about loving yourself even more in those moments when you feel out of sync.  This valuable lesson of being patient, forgiving & loving yourself with all your perfect imperfections is one to hold in your mind & heart as you move through life.

3. Connect.
Chit-chat with ladies around you before & after class.  Give yourself permission to make eye contact with yourself & others.  Maybe even give yourself a wink in the mirror while you’re at it!  Don’t be afraid to show your emotions & your heart.  Life is about connection to yourself & those around you.  I guarantee you will feel more grounded & happy when you do!  I have recently taking up meditating in the mornings as a new form of connecting with myself more deeply.  It’s amazing what 5 minutes of breathing will do before you venture into the world.

4. Sing out-loud.
It is truly a freeing experience.  I am no Adele or Jessie J., but as most of y’all know, I sure do love to belt out the tunes!  Plus, chances are, if you start singing, you will inspire someone be bold & do the same.  My mantra is:  If your singing in your head, you might as well let it out! If you are in public & singing is not appropriate in that moment, play the song in your head as you turn your walk into a sassy strut ;)

5. Take up space.
As women, we are often taught to be small, whether or not we are aware of it.   At Hipline, we encourage you to be bold, reach higher, go ‘round the room with a big smile.  For me, this has translated into areas outside of the studio, like not sitting with my legs crossed &  smiling (rather than apologizing) if there is an impasse on the sidewalk.  You can be courageous to let go of what does not serve youyou are deserving of doing this.

6. Move through challenges. There are certain songs that you can directly channel your issues into (say, Katy Perry, Hot ‘N Cold, for example).  Allowing yourself to be brave to work through things in your body & find release in your movements is so beneficial.  I also find this to be true when I go for a walk to  contemplate or work through something that is on repeat in my head like a broken record.  I believe that movement encourages things to move things along when you feel stuck.  Move on through the challenging parts with movement, y’all!

7. Breathe
.  I think out of all the things I hollar when teaching, ‘BREATHE’ is probably the most frequently used.  It’s interesting that in the hardest moments in class & in life, we often times will hold our breath.  Breath is life.  It’s what we can count on as a constant.  So, in those tough moments (and, in the soft moments, too), come back to your breath.  Regain your groundedness & confidence by deepening your breathing.  Be brave enough to try breathing with a smile & encourage yourself to find many moments of deserved happiness.

8. Kegel.
Y’all know I couldn’t leave out the infamous Kegel!  It’s pretty awesome to use it as a verb, too!  ; ) What does a Kegel have to do with becoming brave, you ask?  Well, ladies, it’s about getting strong in a womanly way & about getting in touch with your femininity.  Also, I’d say Kegeling in front of a group of women is pretty ballsy–whooops! wrong word–pretty bold.  So, in your vida loca-ish, whether it’s at a stoplight or during a meeting where you want to multitask, know that it’s always ok to throw aKegel in it.  ; )

9. Spread positivity.  This is the journey in Shimmy Pop, feeling the joy, love & positivity of dance.  It is also the final spin & pose at the end of class, when we focus our energy from deep within our hearts &  then shift the focus to take that love & spread it to the world outside that is so desperately in need of our positivity.  We are so lucky to be a part of such an amazing community that believes in & practices this.

10.  Slow down.
Life happens so rapidly; my dad tells me that it feels like it just keeps going faster with time.  Just as we start & end classes with a slower song to warm-up and stretch, we must also find ways in our lives to slow down & find balance in our lives.  It’s about the little things you do along the way.  Perhaps it’s to take your lunch break outside to see the sky; maybe it’s about taking a 20-minute nap before moving on to your next venture; or, reading a book for a few minutes before you sleep.  Whatever slowing down & being mindful means to you, be sure to create those moment to enjoy fully.

In each class & in every day, find ways to be authentically yourself: to be brave, to get lost, to flirt, to have some ‘theraputic moments,’ to show your sassy attitude, to toot your own horn, to be however you need it to be in the most beautiful, bold & courageous ways.  Allow dance to be a platform to change your life. Come dance with me!

Live Lusciously & Bravely, my Beautiful People!
In peace, health & happiness, Heather

Heather is a proud Hipliner & is appreciative of all the ladies who make it what it is.  She gets a kick out of telling people she used to be really, really shy, as they can’t believe it now.  She went from being a person who dipped her big toe in the pool of life, & now loves to cannonball right on in!  She can’t wait to dance with you in class, where she can share her journey with you.  You can find more body-love information & inspiration on how to Live Lusciously through her website,

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