I love it when I get to travel to new places. Okay, so I love it when I get to travel to pretty much anywhere, but there is indeed something about discovering a new city that really makes me feel alive. And the last weekend in June, I got to visit Richmond, Virginia, for the first time ever. I’ve been to Virginia, sort of, many times in the past (if you can count the government offices around DC as visiting Virginia). But I’d never really seen the state itself, and I must say that I am impressed with what I encountered. Of course, travel companions and activities can also contribute to an impression one gets of a particular place, so I must confess that my feelings about Richmond are going to be skewed towards the positive, as the people I was traveling with were just so much fun. But, lovely travel accompaniment aside, the city was indeed a beautiful place.
I must note that this trip was a bit of a departure from my typical travel modus operandi; usually, I go with my family and occasionally I go completely alone. This time, however, I traveled with a couple of other women in order to attend a retreat centered around movement therapies- not something I would typically do. However, I have been taking a class at a local dance studio for the past year and a half called Stretch and Alignment, which is based on a system known as EBAS (Elemental Body Alignment System), and learning this method of self-care and healing has been life-changing for me. So, when I got the opportunity to travel with my instructor in order to work with the man who originally created this system, I jumped at it.
I am so glad that I did. The classes themselves were wonderful; we began our first morning with a 10 am stretch class on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, in the studios of their dance department where the EBAS creator teaches. It was, I must confess, a bit intimidating for me. I am not a dancer, and there I was in a dance studio being taught by a man who has been a professional ballet dancer and looks like a professional dancer in every possible way, surrounded by women who are also obviously dancers… and yet, once class began, I felt myself relax into the system that I’ve come to know and enjoy so much (there in my spot as far back as I could get!). Now, let me talk a little about the EBAS method here: I am a person who has gotten stress headaches for as long as I can remember. I could perhaps be described as a little high-strung, and I certainly carry my tension in my shoulders and neck, the source of my headaches. I’ve done yoga for years trying to counteract my tendency towards pulling my shoulders as close to my ears as I can get them, but yoga, as good as it can be, has had nothing on EBAS for really helping me to pay attention to how I am carrying my body. It has helped me be more IN my body, and has improved my flexibility considerably, as well as my posture, and I’m happy to report that I get headaches much, much less often. So yes, I was willing to get out of my comfort zone to attend a class taught by a gorgeous, perfect, slightly intimidating ballet dancer if he’s the one who has made it possible for me to feel so much better. I’ve linked to his page above, and if you have the issues that I do, I suggest you check it out. Seriously. He has a video. I’m buying it myself as soon as possible.
As for Richmond itself, naturally I didn’t see as much of it as I would have if I were alone, not taking classes, and just touring the city, but what I did see was beautiful. We stayed right on Monument Avenue, in one of those old houses that you see and dream about living in (or is that just me?) It was a Spanish style house, with thick, plastered walls and arched doorways, and so many beautiful details that it was difficult to take them all in, though I did my best. Indeed, every single room was so beautiful that it was a difficult decision where to sit and drink my coffee in the mornings and my glass of wine in the evenings. However, the sunroom was typically the winner in my spare moments as I love open, airy rooms with lots of natural light coming in. Add in a view of a lovely, historic, urban setting and some beautiful furnishings and well, I’m not going to want to leave.
We did not, however, do a lot of sitting around on this trip. In addition to our classes, we did a lot of walking along Monument Avenue and around the city itself; we spent one very warm afternoon exploring Hollywood Cemetery, as well as Maymont, a beautiful historic house that I would definitely put on my list of must-sees. And there was so much more that we didn’t even come close to seeing- museums and architecture and battlefields and walks along the canal! I wouldn’t mind a bit getting the chance to go back to Richmond some day to explore a little more. Of course, I’d probably want to stay in “my” house again, and it would be awfully nice to work off the stiffness of airplane travel with a wonderful, rejuvenating EBAS stretch class. Guess I’d better get busy and get that video ordered…
But when I do visit again, maybe I’ll spend the time and explore more of Virginia as well, while I’m at it. Turns out there is so much to see past the limits of DC, and now that I’ve gotten a little taste, I’m ready for more.