If you know me you will be sick of hearing me banging on about how wonderful Nia is, but if not strap yourselves in for the boogie of a lifetime!
I have been a devotee of yoga for many years, (still can’t touch my toes but I love it) I have also been a devotee of sleeping in, reading books, lazing around, eating chocolate and avoiding exercise at all costs!!
I just find it all so tedious and painful. I know once I do it I always feel better but I only seem to be able to maintain something for a few weeks before I get bored, (anyone who has ever bought a gym membership or treadmill will know what I’m talkin about).
So it was with absolute JOY that I stumbled across Nia at a retreat I was running in Yamba a few years back. The lovely masseuse for our retreat Amanda Brightwell was telling me about this technique whilst she was giving me a massage, (I know hard job right) and I said why don’t you do a two-hour workshop with the girls during the retreat they would love it. And the venue we were staying at had the most amazing space for it, a large empty church with stained glass windows. We had been using this space for chanting the Gayatri mantra every day and the acoustics were superb.
So Amanda set up her speakers and off we went on a journey through the nine movement forms of Nia: Tai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Jazz, Modern Dance, Duncan Dance, Yoga, the Alexander Technique and the work of Moshe Feldenkrais® Afterwards I remember everyone looking at each other with big smiles of JOY on their faces, I could see we were all thinking the same thing, why haven’t we come across this before!
So what is Nia exactly? “Created as an alternative to the “no pain, no gain” attitude to fitness, Nia is designed to nourish and nurture your body now and in the future.
Based on the intelligent design of the body, a classic Nia class is a barefoot, sensory-based, cardio movement class to music.
Some of the many benefits of Nia include cardiovascular health, alleviation of stress and anxiety, hormonal stability and an increase in wellbeing, leaving you feeling energised, alive, mentally clear and emotionally balanced.
This unique blend allows the body to move in fun and free ways that bring health and vitality to every part.
Crafted using 52 moves and the core element of self-expression, classes are adaptable for all ages and bodies.
Listening and dancing to an eclectic mix of global music, Nia teaches you to feel at home in your body, mind, emotions and spirit and to live with joy.
A Nia class, event or training opens a pathway towards conscious living, vibrant health and community. Through Nia’s sustainable movement you are able to tap into your body’s wisdom and connect to an inner sense of self, creativity and confidence.
The Nia practice provides tools to weave these powerful teachings into the fabric and rhythm of your everyday life.” http://www.niaaustralia.com.au/what-it-is/
In November 2015 I undertook the Nia White belt training with Sophie Marsh the genius who brought Nia to Australia, (yes it is graded like the martial arts belts and I can’t wait to come across someone in a dark alley and dance the shit out of them!) But what I like most about Nia is the pure JOY I feel whilst doing this practice. When I was undertaking the teacher training I had a teary moment when I realised that I stopped dancing when I stopped drinking 15 years ago and hadn’t really danced since. How sad this made me feel. It wasn’t a conscious thing I think I just thought that dancing was reserved only for the Greenbank RSL club on a Friday night after several bourbon and cokes.
How liberating to find this healing practice and the best thing ….. its camouflaged exercise! Yay I don’t even realise that I am doing exercise. But truly I am amazed by the healing potential of this scrummy practice, throw away your anti-depressants this is the cure! (not really please consult your medical practitioner first).
Now I literally dance through life, in the car, in the shops, walking down the street, doing the dishes, I’m moving my body in a way that feels good. Note, this does not look like something you see on “So you think you can dance”. It looks like my body moving in my way using my 13 joints and the 52 moves of Nia, (probably more like Elaine from Seinfeld, remember her moves) Another bonus, Nia is partly free dance and partly choreographed but is structured so that each move is repeated enough so you actually get it, unlike some other movement practices that leave me stumbling around the back of the room trying not to bump into people.
So if you want to give it a go search the Nia Australia website for a local class, or buy a video and do it at home or join me on one of my retreats where I always manage to fit in a class or two, some much needed R & R, with a side of camouflaged exercise and lots of JOY!