The “Chicken Soup” for my body and soul – an article about the “Beyond” Nia routine

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Blue Belt graduation in Hamburg. March 2014. With Ann Christiansen http://www.anniann.com

I always knew that one day I would write about the Nia routine ‘Beyond’. The routine has had such a profound impact on me that it’s quite difficult to ignore. Besides, my friends are always asking me why I dance it so often, so here’s why.

I recall dancing some parts of ‘Beyond’ in July 2011 during my White Belt Training in St. Gallen, Switzerland. I remember being confused about the short bars in the seventh song ‘Dougoulanta’ while we execute elbow strikes alternating sides. Shortly after completing my White Belt training I opened a class with a presentation of ‘Opal’ and ‘Earthsong’ – both amazing Nia routines that are on my favorites list as well. Then December came and I ordered the new routine ‘Beyond’ without even listening to the music. I remember coming home from my day job and being so impatient to watch the new routine crafted by my trainer on my DVD player. What happened afterwards was something I did not expect: I was totally overcome with emotion while dancing ‘Pirates’ – the first song. I danced the whole routine without even changing into my gym clothes, realizing that I had already danced this beautiful routine or at least parts of it. Dancing ‘Beyond’ that evening brought back memories from my White Belt training; of ‘getting in my body’, ‘knowing’ what I needed to do to bring dance back into my life, overcoming fears of ‘getting out of my box’ and becoming a trail blazer.

Needless to say, I wanted to teach this routine immediately. But it took a while to learn; as it contains certain hidden treasures left to the Nia teacher to uncover and an athletic component that needed to be worked on as well. Admittedly I was challenged a few times by both the movement and music elements. When I took a maternity leave from teaching Nia, ‘Beyond’ was once again my favorite. I danced it once a week throughout my whole pregnancy because it helped me to ease the swelling in my feet, gave me the opportunity to feel beautiful and sexy again, and encouraged movement exploration at a time when my mobility was diminishing. I especially appreciated the songs where I was able to tailor the moves according to my own Body’s Way. For example, in song number 5, ‘Ciew Mawele’, instead of walking in the square, I was doing squats while making a square.

So, what makes this routine so valuable to me? It’s the never- ending sense of discovery that this routine represents. I continue to explore ‘Beyond’ well beyond the surface. I chose this routine to be my MVR (Most Valuable Routine), which means I dance it whenever I need comfort for my body and soul, much like a warm and flavorsome chicken soup.

I’m curious to know your MVR. Would you like to share?

The Body’s Way: 5 Reasons to Dance Nia

This article was written for and originally appeared on http://www.HealthWise.ch 

In 2010, I realized something in my life was missing, but I couldn’t get a hold on what it was.

I stopped my usual workouts at the gym and started taking some serious Pilates classes in a small studio next to my office. Pilates training works great for me as my body craves exercise and loves discipline and physical effort. I was even considering becoming a Pilates teacher when my husband and I went to see the Merce Cunningham Legacy Tour concert in Wiesbaden, Germany in May 2011. I have a ballet background and have danced and practiced yoga most of my life and I was totally inspired by the dancers, their passion, their ability to express emotions, their incredible body control and physical presence. On the way back, I realized that, in fact, dance was what I was missing and I kept thinking of how I could bring it back into my life.

Then I remembered a ‘movement’ class called Nia that I had tried in California back in 2009. The originality, creativity and physical self-expression of the discipline had enthused me in much the same way. Once back home, I started research on how to become a Nia teacher and signed up for a Nia teacher training course two months later. The further I got into the training, the more it would become apparent that although I had a dance background, I had to let go of my schooled dance moves and let my body guide me.

In other words, I had to learn “My Body’s” way.

Today I am a certified Nia Teacher and have been leading regular weekly classes and participating in creative events since 2011.

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So what is a Nia class like?

Nia consists of 52 easy, body-centered moves that draw on Dance Arts, Martial Arts and Healing Arts, like yoga. Nia’s 52 moves include various steps, stances, and foot, hand and finger techniques to name a few. These particular moves, combined with a free dance element make Nia a wholesome practice that helps to bring physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being to students. A Nia class works through 7 cycles and is set to music varying from world music to rock and pop. No Nia class is the same and no Nia teacher is alike.  This is what I enjoy the most about being a Nia Teacher. I get to mix and match music and movement, which keeps me in a creative flow for hours while planning my classes and events.

The Body’s Way

One of the main principles of Nia is what is called the “Body’s Way”. Since everybody has different levels of mobility and stability, students are encouraged to pay special attention to their body in order to develop body awareness. At the same time, students need to recognize body sensations such as pleasure and pain. Before I started practicing Nia I wasn’t aware of my body the way I am now. With Nia, I have come to truly understand and love my body through discipline, healthy eating habits, exercise and rest.

I have learned to let go of my negative emotions and allow my body to thrive on joy, love and pleasure – all while dancing. I am wholly focused on helping others find their Body’s Way, and delight in seeing the glowing satisfaction of the students at the conclusion of each workout. Each class features a different emphasis, but it is ultimately up to the individual to follow, or to work with their own particular focus. My job is to guide students through the routine in a relaxed atmosphere with warmth and humor, while exhibiting the different energies found in Nia training.

What is your focus today – is it the joy of movement, forgetting an unpleasant thought or situation, or simply breaking a sweat? You are welcome to dance through it with other members of the non-judgmental Nia community. No dancing experience is necessary to dance your Body’s Way!

Here are my 5 reasons to practice Nia:

1. STAY IN YOUR BODY

When we let our body guide us through movements, our inner ‘dialogue’ will naturally diminish. Just try to free dance at home without attaching to your thoughts and notice how your mind stops roaming and chattering.

2. RELEASE NEGATIVE EMOTIONS

Delight in your Nia teacher when she laughs and plays like a child, then follow her lead. Express your personal power by doing arm blocks, chops, and kicks…all while releasing negative emotions in a fun and playful way.

3. BALANCE AND ENERGY

The playfulness of Nia helps to relax your body as you let go of your emotions. This allows you to recharge and rebalance, which in turn helps you to accomplish more in your daily tasks.

4. PHYSICAL TRAINING

Choose your intensity level from 1 to 3, and shape your workout according to your own needs. Sense your own energy of “now” for achieving the best results. If you feel like having an athletic workout today, stick to level 2 and 3. If your focus is body awareness, use level 1 and 2. Your teacher will suggest all three levels in the class.

5. EXERCISE YOUR HANDS AND FINGERS 

Have you heard of catching flies, creepy crawlers, and claw hand or spear fingers? These are Nia moves that train the small muscles in your upper extremities. I personally practice these everyday because I spend way too much time on my Mac using repetitive movements. Essential…

Nia is like chocolate – it’s hard to describe, you just have to taste it.

 

Connect to Your Body through Nia Dance + Smoothie

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JOIN HIBA GIACOLETTO AND I FOR OUR SECOND NIA DANCE + SMOOTHIE EVENT ON JANUARY 22!

TAKE A MOMENT FOR YOURSELF AND CONNECT TO YOUR BODY IN A WHOLE NEW WAY THROUGH NIA DANCE. NIA INCORPORATES MARTIAL ARTS, DANCE ARTS AND HEALING ARTS AND IS ACCESSIBLE TO ANYONE, NO MATTER YOUR FITNESS LEVEL.

THEN LEARN HOW YOU CAN NOURISH YOUR BODY THROUGH SMOOTHIES YOU CAN EASILY RECREATE AT HOME.

HERE’S HOW YOU’LL BE ABLE TO CONNECT TO YOUR BODY THROUGHOUT THE EVENING:

55 MINUTES: NIA DANCE WITH KATIA (CERTIFIED INSTRUCTOR) – NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE NEEDED – ANYONE CAN DO IT!

10 MINUTES: HOW TO MAKE SMOOTHIES FOR WINTER DEMO WITH HIBA (HEALTH COACH)

20 MINUTES: SOCIALIZING WITH A NEW AWARENESS IN OUR BODIES AND A SMOOTHIE IN OUR HANDS 🙂

YOU WILL LEAVE THIS UNIQUE EVENING FEELING MORE ALIVE AND GROUNDED AT THE SAME TIME, READY TO TAKE ON THE NEW YEAR!

WHEN + WHERE: JANUARY 22, 19:00 – 20:30 @ KAK.ALOM STUDIO – 21BIS RUE DE LA NAVIGATION COST: 40 CHF, INCLUDING DANCE CLASS, SMOOTHIE DEMO + TASTING

Save the date! Connect to your Body through Nia Dance + Smoothies event on November 26!

Nia + Smoothies

TAKE A MOMENT FOR YOURSELF BEFORE THE CHRISTMAS RUSH AND CONNECT TO YOUR BODY IN A WHOLE NEW WAY THROUGH NIA DANCE. NIA INCORPORATES MARTIAL ARTS, DANCE ARTS AND HEALING ARTS AND IS ACCESSIBLE TO ANYONE, NO MATTER YOUR FITNESS LEVEL.

THEN LEARN HOW YOU CAN NOURISH YOUR BODY THROUGH SMOOTHIES YOU CAN EASILY RECREATE AT HOME.

HERE’S HOW YOU’LL BE ABLE TO CONNECT TO YOUR BODY THROUGHOUT THE EVENING:

55 MINUTES: NIA DANCE WITH KATIA (CERTIFIED INSTRUCTOR) – NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE NEEDED – ANYONE CAN DO IT!

10 MINUTES: HOW TO MAKE SMOOTHIES FOR WINTER DEMO WITH HIBA (HEALTH COACH)

20 MINUTES: SOCIALIZING WITH A NEW AWARENESS IN OUR BODIES AND A SMOOTHIE IN OUR HANDS 🙂

YOU WILL LEAVE THIS UNIQUE EVENING FEELING MORE ALIVE AND GROUNDED AT THE SAME TIME, READY TO TAKE ON THE CHRISTMAS RUSH!

WHEN + WHERE: NOVEMBER 26, 19:00 – 20:30 @ KAK.ALOM STUDIO – 21BIS RUE DE LA NAVIGATION COST: 40 CHF, INCLUDING DANCE CLASS, SMOOTHIE DEMO + TASTING

BOOK NOW AS SPOTS ARE LIMITED!

LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU THERE! KATIA + HIBA

We are meeting again for the Nia Happy Hour!

The last Nia Happy Hour was only two weeks ago, but I miss it already! So we are meeting again on November 6 at 7 pm at Kak.Alom Studio. I am so excited about this particular class, because Nia Happy Hour is a unique blend of Classic Nia and guided free dance that will help you to reconnect with your body. Here are the reasons as to why you should connect with your body:

1. It makes you feel alive.
When you feel more sensation (body awareness), you feel more alive. You notice the little aches and pains of the body, but this also translates into feeling loads of intense joy.

2. It is the first step to self-healing.
The body is the first thing to get knocked out of balance in your whole health. Whether it’s your relationships, your work or life purpose, how you express yourself creatively, your environment, your spirituality, it is manifested in your body. And so If you’re not aware of the sensations of your body, you can’t self-correct and begin the process of healing yourself.

3. It helps you make conscious choices. When you feel undecided, get in your body. The body will tell you what to do. When you drawn to get that Christmas cookie in the middle of the night, stop, get in your body, ask your body why. If you still want that cookie, at least you’ve made a conscious choice.

4. It keeps you more grounded. You won’t feel chaotic, spinny, buzzy, or floaty the way you might when you’re in your head.

And finally, connecting to the body brings much joy, pleasure and childlike qualities such as innocence, element of surprise, humor to name a few.

See you in the class!

Dancing through life,
Katia

Nia Happy Hour at Kak.Alom Studio (rue de la Navigation 21 BIS)

I am pleased to announce that I will will be leading a Nia Happy Hour class on the first Thursday of each month at Kak.Alom Studio in Paquis.

Join me for a 60 minute class that uniquely blends classic Nia and guided free dance. This is a safe, holistic fitness program that will invigorate the whole body, mind, and spirit. Effective and fun, you will leave feeling comfortably tired but not exhausted. The free dance element will allow for the expression of your being, your soul and the real you, as you unleash your emotions and work the stress and worries out of your system. Feel welcome to dance it out within a non-judge mental community of individuals who love to dance!

Happy dancing!