Emotional Release; emotional relief.

In jazz, music, Nia, Nia Class, Tai Chi, Uncategorized, vocalising on January 8, 2011 at 2:28 am

You know when you have moved on from an emotionally traumatizing event or relationship and you begin to sense yourSelf opening up again and feeling lighter? And then, out of the blue the shit gets stirred up again, afresh, like it had never healed to begin with? You feel like you were kidding yourself all those years, weeks, hours, and seconds you had to make it through, one minute, by one minute, by one… Well. I just had one of those. It sucked! I pride myself on my introspection and self-reflection to further my personal growth as an emotional and spiritual being. Perhaps I pride myself too much? Who knows! All I knew at the time of the re-lapse was that I was NOT okay with how I felt. I started to stew and mentally spin off on the ‘whys’ and ‘what fors’ and ‘who is to blame?’

Being a Nia practitioner who also teaches classes in a local studio, I had made a plan earlier in the day, to practice a new routine. The time for that was coming around, and at first I was consumed with a seething desire to shoot off a sharp-shooting, harshly witty and biting email response to the one that had brought up all the shit again, and really show them who the HELL was calling the shots here! And then I heard myself. I was shouting so loudly in my head that I was shocked into mental silence. Who IS that in my head? I am not a vengeful person. I definitely make it a priority NOT to play into peoples’ games. But here I was, doing just that. Thankfully, somehow, some part of my Self tapped me on the shoulder and said, in the voice of Lady Gaga, “’S gonna be okay, Just dance!”

So I did.

The routine is ‘Canta’, created by Nia co-founder, Carlos Aya-Rosas. The routine is filled with haunting, multi-cultural music, featuring more vocals than usual for Nia music. I turned up the sound significantly louder than normal and ‘stepped in.’ The warm-up gave me an opportunity to clarify my focus, wriggling and squirming in my skin, organizing myself from the inside-out. Searching for twinges and creaks to untwist and realign, I went through lists of words and phrases to create my internal, personal focus. (Canta’s focus is X-ray anatomy, principle 10 of the While Belt. But every Nia routine can be used with any focus you want to create for yourself.) One word kept resurfacing – release – so I went with it. A part of me scoffed, ‘Psh! That’s too simple for what’s going on here!’ But I knew from experience and many books and teachings, that simplicity is usually the best option. We often over-complicate things. Bringing the issue into the physical body, while accessing the emotional, mental and spirit realms, calms us enough to find the clarity we need. As the warm-up continued I sought peace in the motion of my breath as my body flowed through the thai-chi-like movements. Planted feet. Slow motion sweeping arms. Eyes following the path of my fingers through space. The music revved up a little and hip twitches and small, whole-foot steps added an agitating dynamic. As the hips woke up more, I became very aware of the hot and cold sensations flashing through my solar plexus. There it was. Right at my power center, the third chakra, whatever you like to refer to it as. The thing to be released was clinging onto my spine, deep in the core of my body. It felt my intention to release it. It didn’t like that much. It felt hot, then cold and then hot again. I intensified my attention to my breath and kept moving.

The ‘get moving’ section of the workout started off with cross-behind and cross-front steps with lots of opportunity to free-dance the upper body. The tune was, Somptin Hapnin (Water In Me) by Adham Shaikh. There is water splish-splashing all through it, sounding like someone playing in a puddle. As the movements settled into their pattern I felt my core pulse and contract with growing intensity. My breath was loud with a heavy emphasis on the exhale. My arms dangled a lot of the time, and bounced, as my legs and core moved my body through space. Soon I was alternating powerful thrusting and pulling motions with my core and arms with hopping and flopping my arms and head around. During the patterns in the choreography I was aware of the incredible sensations of relief that flooded through me every so often. I was IN my body and feeling the flouncing of the release of that hot/cold knot, but I was also feeling my Witness, watching me. It was comforting. The Witness does not judge. She only watches. She is the mirror in your mind. I learned from her that I could let go even more. So instead of just exhaling sharply with each core-pelvic thrust, I spat out words. Fuck off. Get out. Stop. Enough. My space. The music worked well with double syllables. It was exactly what I needed!

As the routine continued I also continued feeling and sensing the hot/cold core of my body reach the same warm buttery temperature of my muscles in the height of a Nia workout. There was clapping that I used to clear out the space around me, similar to when we clap to scare something away. There was kicking which I channeled my ‘get outta my space’ thoughts into. There were sweeping figure-8 arm motions that I healed the space around me with, returning its currently turbulent energy to serenity. Soon the claps became triumphant and celebratory and the kicks moved into a fun Jazz-like energy. I felt myself smiling. The words also became more positive: Love. Heal. Yes.

I rode out the rest of Canta switching between the celebration of dance and joyous healing, to empowering myself to protect mySelf better and not let others’ games affect me. I am not here to play games. I am here to show others how to love and heal themselves through dance, music, art and anything else that lights up their eyes! The power of aligning our four realms (body, mind, emotion, spirit) into a common purpose or focus, is immense. As I reached the cool down and floorplay cycles of the routine I felt another word surface – relief. My body was thanking me for helping her process the upsetting feeling in her core. The sensation there is quite different now. It is no longer an angry flashing hot-cold knot, but a cool and moving, watery sensation. When we heal ourselves, the optimal goal is not to kick out and stomp on that which caused us pain, but it is to acknowledge and accept the pain. Then, with our focus, we transform the pain into what it wants to be. All pain is, is love that has become confused and frightened. As I write this tears are welling in my eyes. Have I just had a profound moment? I am smiling through my tears. This is real progress for me. Let my words help to inspire you on your journey of healing.

Nia is a powerful tool, resource, comfort, teacher, and celebration. I feel like I say this a lot, but if it weren’t for Nia over the past decade, I don’t think I would be as healthy and pulled together as I am today. The main difference between Nia and other exercises (mindless running, gym machines, aerobics classes) that has the most profound effect on us, is that it is conscious movement. We move with purpose. We listen with our senses to what our body is desperate for us to hear. The ‘hearing’ is done through the sensations in the body. There are many conscious movement forms out there, and Nia is my main staple. Look into Yoga (real yoga, not “flow yoga” or “yoga-lates”), thai chi, 5 Rhythms, contact improvisation… make up your own! But find your conscious movement practice.

In a mere hour, I went from raging mad and desperate to WIN, to calm and relaxed with a desire for Peace. You can see the healthier option here.


  1. Wow!

  2. Kirstie, what a heartfelt and beautiful post. You are articulate, conscious, and honest. Being a ‘both/and’ kind of person myself, I’d probably fire off the zapper as well as dance :-). I deeply respect your commitment to growth, and hope to dance with you soon.

  3. Ooooh, Kirstie, what a beautiful expression of your experience… You inspire me to feel & sense at deeper levels! Can’t wait to do Canta again ! 😉

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