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?

Nia Playshop “Form and Freedom”

niaplayshopmars1

Hello and welcome!

I am excited to invite you to a new Nia Playshop – a collaboration between three certified Nia teachers Nathalie, Tess and myself on March 1.
You will be able to see how different Nia moves are done by different teachers while dancing yet YOUR OWN way. The program will start at 11 am and will go on until 12.30. Let’s break a sweat, laugh, enjoy the movement as medicine.

WHEN: March 1, 2015
WHERE: Rue de Montbrillant, 14

Signing up is required.

We hope to dance with you soon!

The little secret behind my preparation for the Nia Dance + Smoothie event (Food for thought).

somaticsThe little secret behind my preparation for the Nia Dance + Smoothie event.

The present-day circumstances in my life are such that sometimes I need to find time for my workouts whenever I can without leaving the house. For example, last week I had no time to physically train for our Nia Dance + Smoothie event and I felt as though this time off was expressing itself in my body as a sensation of ‘restraint’ (as opposed to ‘expansion’) and with this came the little pains and general discomfort.

I had always thought that if I didn’t go to the gym or to yoga class I was wasting time and effort working out at home. I needed to get out, walk to the studio or gym in order to set up the right mood for a workout. My body is conditioned to recognize the discipline and regularity that comes with structured and punctual workouts as being the main factors to success whether my goal was to drop or maintain weight. But I don’t live in a perfect world, and with obligations like everyone else that frequently replace my usual training time, I thought that maybe connecting to my body in a more subtle way would somehow help to maintain my form. I also felt that this would complement my other physical activities, making them more holistic.

So in preparation for leading a vigorous Nia class I did the following: through out the week I simply performed 15 minutes of stretching at home at a VERY slow pace. I let my body guide me from one exercise to another, and this is what made the whole difference. I realized that slowing down actually opens up space to listen to the body’s wisdom. With this new awareness I was able to connect to my body and especially to the parts of my body that needed healing. My upper back and my left ankle had been bothering me, but they felt much better after the gentle exercises. After just 15 minutes of exercise, I felt expansion, ease and lightness in my body as well.

So this is the little secret behind my preparation for the Nia Dance and Smoothie event. By making small adjustments in our workout routines, especially those that encourage ‘listening to our bodies’, we step onto the self-awareness path that is essential for those who want to live holistically.

Dancing through life,

Katia

Yoga, Pilates or Nia?

While yoga and Pilates are praised for the body and mind connection they provide, Nia brings a number of additional benefits that promote an overall sense of well-being.

Though I continue practicing yoga and Pilates, only Nia brings joy and playfulness to my exercise routines. Nia consists of 52 easy, body-centered moves that include various steps, stances, and foot, hand and finger techniques just 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 the Nia participant.

It is with Nia, that I came 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, and all while dancing

Here are the 6 reasons as to why I practice Nia and why you should as well.

1. PHYSICAL TRAINING

A Nia class works through 7 cycles, starting with a gentle warm up and ending with ‘floor play’ movements. You choose your intensity level from 1 to 3, and shape your workout according to your own needs. If you feel like having an athletic workout, 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.

2. FREE DANCE ELEMENT

Free dance can be guided or not. I use it for self-expression, self-affirmation, sensing my body, self-reflection or movement meditation.

3. BODY AWARENESS AND THE BODY’S WAY

Since everybody has difference 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.

4. 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 your arm blocks, chops, and kicks.

5. 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 of your daily tasks.

6. 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.

To find a class near you go to http://www.nianow.com.

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!