Archive for the ‘mind’ Category

Decluttering : Space : : Detoxing : Body – Part 1

In chi, Clutter, Emotions, food, Life skills, Lifestyle, mind, spirit, teaching on July 31, 2014 at 1:39 pm


There once was a beautiful house with high ceilings, large windows, spacious rooms and a lovely warm light flooded in through those large windows. A family fell in love with it and decided to move in. They bought, beds and couches, tables and shelves. They stacked the shelves and filled the closets and drawers until everything was full. Everything had a special place, and they were happy and settled.

The new home was clean and cozy, a perfect retreat for the end of a busy day in their new town. School had its new challenges for the children, and work was tough and tiring for the parents. Most nights everyone was too tired to do the dishes after dinner. And first thing in the morning, Dad had to take Josh to early morning swim practice, and this made Mum mad and she didn’t want to do the dishes all by herself. Ivy was just too small to help her. But she did them anyway. Then Josh’s room started to overflow into the hallway, and Ivy’s toys were strewn all over the house. Dad’s shoes were never in a neat row and Mum’s work papers kept getting lost on piles of papers on the dining table – where no one ate anymore because there was no room! Josh could never find any clean clothes, so new ones would be bought. Mum couldn’t find anywhere to store her work things, so she went to Ikea and bought a bunch of lovely neat boxes to use. But when she got home, she couldn’t find a good place to put them! So they sat in the entrance way, unopened. Dad couldn’t find his golf clubs and thought he must have given them away, so he went to buy new ones. Now those live in the entrance way too. One day Ivy stumbled and fell into them, and the whole bag of hard metallic clubs fell on her and she got a bad bruise!

Mum got really angry and told Dad he needed to move the stupid clubs or she would throw them away! After a big argument Dad put his clubs in the bedroom which made it really difficult to open the door properly. Then Dad took Mum’s new Ikea boxes and yelled that she needed to do something with them because he had to move his clubs from the entrance hall, so she had to as well! So Mum took them and crammed them, still unopened into a corner of her closet, squashing all her sweaters making them all crumpled. So now everyone in the new house was sad, hurt and angry, and the house was all a jumbled mess. Getting ready to go took an extra long time, and coming home felt depressing because it was so confusing and ugly everywhere. It felt like they always had to eat in the car because they were always late and needed drive through just to stay fed. Soon Mum started looking at new houses because she didn’t like this one anymore…



There was once a beautiful boy with bright eyes, curious fingers and strong legs. His name is Billy. Everyday he grew more and more and more and soon he could walk and run and chase other little children in the park and playground. He started going to school and learned to play sports and how to use his words to communicate. He had a lunch box to carry his food and always had a white bread sandwich with a slice of meat and cheese between them, a chocolate milk, a bunch of grapes and a granola bar. When he was learning his multiplication tables one day he suddenly got really tired. He couldn’t remember how to do this set of numbers, but he knew he had done it only yesterday! But then the bell rang and it was time for the nutrition break. So our beautiful boy went to get his lunchbox and have his grapes. He went to play on the monkey bars too and when he came back inside, he remembered how to do the  multiplication table! When he got home he told his parents and they were so proud they said, “You can watch an extra hour of TV tonight!”

Now Billy is 16 and he works out in the school’s gym because he is on the rugby team. You have to be strong to play rugby, and you have to be fast. So Billy lifts weights with his team mates everyday and he also goes running on the track. But sometimes he just can’t lift enough, and he feels bad because his team mates can lift more. And when they run, he is often left in the back and runs out of energy… his muscles just can’t go on. This makes him sad. But one of his team mates says, “Don’t worry about it. You’ll keep training, and you’ll get faster and stronger! I know how to make you feel better. There’s a party this weekend, you should come! It will be fun!”

At the party Billy has a blast. He drinks beer, tries smoking pot and likes it, plays strip poker with some pretty girls and falls asleep really easily afterwards. In the morning he walks home with some other guys who stayed over and they all agreed to party more often. It felt great, and it was fun. So the next weekend, they do it again. This time someone says they should order pizza, and it was amazing! That was their new ritual – order pizza at midnight to satisfy their munchies. The guys keep going to the gym and lifting and running, but the group who have the party every weekend keep getting slower, they get heavier, and some have trouble breathing while they run. So they drop out of the team. Billy tries to stay  on the team a bit longer, but he misses his buddies. So he drops off the team too.

It’s Billy’s graduation now and he has a great university offering a scholarship for him. Since dropping off the rugby team, Billy found out that he really liked gaming and that it also fit in really well with his enjoyment of partying, so he gamed a lot, and got really good at a lot of games. Then he started messing around with making his own games and this was fun because he loved numbers thankfully! But over the years of sitting at his computer, drinking pop and beer, smoking and eating fast food, he had developed bad posture, acne, and was overweight. He didn’t always feel very good, but he knew that once he got to university he would make a new start…


When we overload ourselves in some way and eschew a simple system to keep a basic routine, life can seem excruciatingly difficult and arduous. Stay tuned for the flip side of these two stories.


Giggling, Exercise and Orgasms – 3 Free, Natural Ways Out of Depression

In food, kwirky, Life skills, mind, Nia, Sensatioin, spirit on May 8, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Ever feel depressed? Blue? Sad and bummed out for no apparent reason? Do you look around to blame the heavy, dark cloud of feelings on something and can’t figure out for sure what it is? Then become more depressed because identifying the reason seems like the only way to come to a solution? Or do you know why you feel so low and the solution to the problem seems insurmountable? Unapproachable? Totally beyond your control?

You are not alone. I am not alone. I lost my mum and then my god father within 6 months of each other, both very suddenly. Their gunshot-like deaths rocked my world and each day has been my own personal mix of tears, pain and joy. Joy from my support network of friends, family and activities I give myself. But some days, none of those things do any good. Pain and tears come far more easily now that I feel I have lost my personal support system, my mother; and work and financial problems drag me down way more than they used to.

It’s been a particularly dark week for me, and the best I could do was lose myself in the warm nest of comfort eating, Netflix and sleeping for far too long. But today, day 4 of this deep slump, I heard my mum’s voice as a lay, pretending to feel too tired to get out of bed at 1:30 pm… in her firm, yet teasing tone, “Come on! Up you get! You know exactly what to do, you lazy so-and-so!” I did have to pee, so I rolled slowly up and started to mentally plan my day: pee. make tea. watch more of the series I’m into on Netflix. eat something. make more tea. watch more Netflix…

IMG_0375It was just as I was opening the Safari browser that a photo of my mum I keep on my desktop caught my eye. She is posing with a tub of Greek Gods honey flavoured yogurt with a huge spoon and pulling a silly face. It made me smile. And I immediately remembered all the things that I can do, without much effort, that will chemically alter my brain and body state so that I do not feel as depressed. I chose my top 3 for this article based on price (free!) and ease of making them happen.



1. Giggling

Giggling, laughing and smiling engage specific muscles in the head, neck and core which combine with sharp inhalations and exhalations. These movements and breaths cause the brain to release endorphins – the happy hormone. Recent studies now show that laughing improves mood for this reason, and it has been shown to increase pain tolerance. (

So watch some funny youtube videos, read some silly jokes or comics or look at some ridiculous pictures to get yourself laughing. Here are some to get you started – bear in mind, these are my personal favourites!

Eating lemon baby faces

Eddie Izzard – Cake or Death?

Funny Talking Animals –

2. Exercise – MOVE!

Exercise is another endorphin releasing activity, but there’s more to it than just that. Exercise also releases dopamine – the pleasure chemical. Dopamine is also released when we eat, which is a big reason why comfort eating is so popular as a way to feel better. However, regular exercise releases dopamine without the negative side effect of packing on the extra weight! Serotonin is another chemical that is responsible for feelings of happiness, restful sleep and healthy appetite. You want to keep consistent and high levels of serotonin in the body so sleeping is easy and feeling happy is easy, and regular exercise achieves this. (

Dancing is my go-to happy place!
Nia – a dancer’s Interval Training workout:

This is excellent for boosting metabolism and pushing yourself to your personal edge.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) hard core:

I love Pilates for targeting trouble spots, but also getting the heart rate up and sweating!
Pilates: butt blaster:

This gorgeous outdoor video is the prefect balance of challenge and peacefulness for me.
Sweat your turtle off! Yoga:

3. Orgasms – A Hormonal

Reset Switch

Orgasms release a whole host of other chemicals in addition to serotonin and endorphins that promote the ass-kicking of depression!  HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is released, and this helps with renewing and repairing cells throughout the body. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone produced by your adrenal glands and is linked to various anti-aging effects as well as rebuilding and nourishing effects on cells. DHEA is released before orgasm and during as well. Also, oxytocin is released during orgasm. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone and it causes people to feel increased feelings of bonding and intimacy. Orgasms are a simple and easy way to elevate these hormone levels and bring back a chemical balance to the body. This allows for either relaxation and rest, or a surge in energy and creativity. I shall not share any of my personal options for reaching orgasm, because that would be weird! But I will say that orgasm does NOT need to be reached through partner sex. (

3 simple tools to help you get rid of the blues. You’ve got this! 😉


Holistic Living is Like a Grand Feast!

In Ekhart Tolle, food, kwirky, Life skills, mind, Nia, spirit, Uncategorized on April 20, 2014 at 7:50 pm

The word ‘holistic’ has been tossed around a lot lately and to some it has a waffly, insubstantial reputation. To others it’s an ideal that is just too far beyond a realistic lifestyle, and so it causes feelings of yearning and sometimes bitterness at the prospect of aiming to attain it, and feeling constantly like one is falling short.
“Who really has time to meditate before their workout in the morning, AND have organic and free range food everyday, while balancing work, community and family obligations?”

But when we come right down to it, we ARE capable of fitting in extra items on our daily list of to-dos if we are really committed, or if we just really WANT it. The motivation is where it’s at. But I’m not writing today about how to light a fire under your arse, that will be another blog! Today I want you to consider how a holistic lifestyle CAN be cobbled together on a weekly basis. A daily basis to start off with is what sends most of us into overwhelm; and perhaps you need to scale back even more and consider a monthly cycle. But first lets exercise our imaginations!

Imagine a great feast, like Easter Lunch, Christmas Dinner, Thanksgiving. Laid out upon the table are many dishes of food. Some are considered main course foods, some are sides, some are the vegetarian options, and some are gravies and condiments. Each wonderful feast has a variety of all these dishes; if it didn’t it would certainly feel as if something were missing!
What do you mean there isn’t any turkey? How could anyone forget to have gravy? But Thanksgiving just isn’t the same without pumpkin pie!
Now I want you to imagine that each of the dishes you might get at one of these feasts is an activity or element of life that is important to you. Consider what it brings you and whether you give it main, side, dessert, or condiment status.

Here’s my list:
Main 1: consuming clean, organic, free-range food
Main 2: dance or other joyous movement as exercise
Main 3: sharing my knowledge about health and wellness with others
Side 1: researching (health, wellness, nutrition, exercise)
Side 2: Spending time with friends and family
Side 3: Personal reflection, writing, meditation
Dressing 1: sleeping in
Dressing 2: self-care – baths, acupuncture, massages, etc
Dressing 3: reading for pleasure
Condiments: outdoors activities, movie dates, game nights…

Anyone can see that it would be quite challenging to fit all of these in everyday. And notice I left out things like cleaning, laundry, shopping etc. These things can be folded into your daily chores – tucked in around the edges. Because, lets be honest. Laundry (unless you own and run a laundromat) isn’t anyone’s idea of a passion in life! Yes it’s necessary, but it shouldn’t take precedence over a main or side dish. Now, consider your holistic lifestyle feast over a week or month, and feel the ease seep into your bones, because your body knows this is doable, and also so very necessary for your overall well-being.

Now take 15 minutes today and write down your list of mains and sides. Then organize them over your calendar for the next few weeks making sure to rotate some sides and dressings and condiments so that they all get in there. The main dishes are more likely the ones you need to keep in for each week. And perhaps you may find that you actually don’t feel like a main dish you first listed is really a main anymore! Or perhaps a dish you listed as a side needs to be bumped up to main for a while. The circumstances in our lives greatly impact what things become non-negotiables for us, so be flexible in allowing your list to fluctuate and shift.

So when are you going to take that 15 minutes? Decide now and stick to your intention. It’s totally worth it! You can seize the moment right now and list them in the comments below, and we’ll all be here to support you as you make the best feast of you life!


I have a skill set that can help you in designing a holistic lifestyle for yourself. So feel free to contact me to discover where your priorities and goals are taking you.

30 Years of Nia

In Aikido, Alexander Technique, belt intensives, Dojo, Duncan, Feldenkrais, jazz, mind, modern, music, Nia, Nia Class, Sensatioin, Tae Kwon-do, Tai Chi, The Body's Way on August 21, 2013 at 11:46 pm

This year is Nia’s 30th birthday, and I plan to celebrate that fact in every class.

In this inspiring video, founder Debbie Rosas and President Jeff Stewart share their thanks in celebrating Nia’s 30th anniversary. It includes a touching story from a Nia instructor who resolved tension in her legs, a white belt graduate suffering from Cerebral Palsy who can now hold herself up and walk, and an exciting story of a Zumba instructor who was amazed at the difference Nia made in her life and teaching style.

Aerobics_LivingPages It was in 1983 when Debbie and Carlos Rosas first took off their shoes and began to really move their bodies. Before then, both Debbie and Carlos (Nia co-creators) had been running a successful aerobics club called The Bod Squad in San Fransisco, California. Their motivation to create Nia was the high rate of injury and burnout they saw in their aerobics clients and instructors, as well as their own personal feelings of pain and discomfort in their bodies as they got up each morning. They truly believed fitness was to make you stronger and more supple, not to hurt or injure or cause recurring pain; so their journey began in the martial arts.

Foot In the Dojo Debbie and Carlos were asked to remove their shoes and move. They began doing leg lifts and jumping jacks, and the martial artist sadly shook his head and said, “You have forgotten how to move.” How was this possible? Leading aerobics instructors not knowing how to move? Both Debbie and Carlos left with more questions than they had arrived with!

Over the next 13 years Debbie and Carlos embraced a totally new way of exercising, one focused on pleasurable sensations in the body, throwing out that “no pain, no gain” motto that has haunted fitness institutions for decades!  From this was born the fusion fitness trend where Debbie and Carlos began incorporating first, more martial arts into their dance choreography, and later healing arts movement forms (such as yoga).

9380454919_f887d5f757_b Just as it took yoga many many years to work its way into ‘mainstream’ fitness clubs and studios, Nia too is on that same journey. I, and thousands of others who have experienced the magic and power of Nia in life and on the dance floor, am in on this special movement practice’s secret. But there really is no secret! It’s a simple truth: do what feels good, and you will heal and get stronger. Listen to what your body tells you (by way of it’s sensations) and you will grow and evolve into the most beautiful version of yourself with ease, grace and most importantly, Joy. Nia is now practiced in over 45 countries world wide and trainings are also offered all over the world for the purpose of personal growth and for teacher training.


Nia is a sensory-based movement practice that is designed to build an awareness of your own body in order to better serve it – whether you need strengthening, weight management, cardio endurance, rehabilitation from an injury or emotional or mental clarity and peace. Nia is a blend of 9 movement forms from 3 disciplines – The Martial Arts (Tae Kwon Do, Tai Chi, Aikido), the Dance Arts (Jazz, Modern, Duncan), and the Healing Arts (yoga, Alexander Technique, The Work of Moshe Feldenkrais). It is danced barefoot to soul-stirring music and can be adapted to individual needs and abilities. Each class lasts around 55 minutes and is choreographed using 52 basic moves, steps and stances that anyone can learn. All of the moves are based on the natural design of the human body, what we refer to as The Body’s Way. No prior movement or dance experience is necessary to participate. All you need is a desire to be alive and moving, and the curiosity to try something new!

Find classes at

nia-mark-medium-black.jpg Love your body, love your life!      Dance through life!

Smokers have it right… sort of.

In chi, Life skills, mind, music, Nia, Nia Class, spirit, Tai Chi on February 15, 2012 at 6:31 am

Smokers have something going for them that non-smokers don’t. It’s the required 15 minute break every few hours throughout the day. No one seems to question them. No one tells them they can’t go. After all, they are addicted. They are sick and cannot help themselves. I mean, who else do you know, who doesn’t smoke, takes a 15 minute respite away from their job, desk, daily routine, whatever! totally and completely for themselves at regular intervals through the day? Ha! Speaking from personal experience here, I have been both: a smoker and a non smoker. I am currently a non smoker, and sometimes I miss the nasty, stinky cancer stick just because it gave me a “legitimate reason” to have some me time. Because, you know, if you have been around a smoker who hasn’t had a cigarette for a while, they can match even the meanest PMSing woman! So without much ado, we let the smokers slink off to poison themselves into a stupor where brain fog is reset, disallowing clear thought and fresh emotion to rock their lives into something more creative and lively. Creativity and feeling alive can be unpredictable and a little scary from time to time; but now that I am a non smoker, I wouldn’t want my life any other way.

However, I would like to take back my regular 15 minute breaks! But, instead of huddling a minimum of 10 feet away from the building in the freezing sleet or blistering heat (depending on your time of year!), I would like to roll out my yoga mat and stretch. Or, play some music and dance.

In some large airports there are specific locations designated for smokers that don’t require them to entirely leave the terminal. This convenience allows them to smoke without the hassle of having to leave and trudge back through security again. Outside many public buildings there are large garbage receptacles with a plate of sand on the top where the smokers can easily put out their butts. And it’s only been a few years in some cities where smoking has been prohibited in most public social establishments. At least now going out dancing doesn’t include inhaling second hand smoke as necessary evil of the activity! But as evidence grows and people wake up to the devastating effects of smoking to health, these little details of convenience will also continue to disappear. Soon, even the smokers won’t have any recourse to public areas to satiate themselves and relax in this mad world!

So, what if we replaced all the little conveniences smokers have and had, with a healthy and progressive collection of spaces to put down a yoga mat to stretch or meditate or dance? Each hotel, office building, grocery store, mall and airport could afford a room for this. It could be a sanctuary to calmly and quickly recharge with short stints of one’s personal favourite centring activity, be it yoga, dance, mediation, tai chi, Qi gong or whatever! The closest I have seen to this idea is the super short massages (or massages by the minute) in airports. It’s perfect really. If you are spending lots of time cramped up without much space to move and stretch while traveling, getting someone to give your muscles a quick shake up and rub down is very helpful. So why not take it one step further and provide spaces to take on the responsibility ourselves? Wouldn’t a movement to create small oases all over the cities for the sole purpose of rejuvenation and relaxation send out ripples of peace through our civilization? I feel we desperately need more access in our day to day lives to peace and relaxation. After all, it is frequently touted that it is from a place of peaceful relaxation where most creativity stems. Being hunched and tense and stressed only makes us weak, tired and irritable. There is no room there for open and free thought or inspiration!


On an aside, I think this short, frequent practice is different from a regular exercise routine. This practice will surely enhance one’s physical body, but it should not replace longer workouts. Just think of smokers who workout! I know that many professional dancers smoke, yet they are very physically active. This 15 minute repeating interval is for our holistic sanity. Within the swirl of daily activity there needs to be accents of stillness. From the stillness we can reconnect to our inner guiding voice or higher/authentic self. The more we connect with it, the easier it will be to forgive  – being cut off while driving, waiting in line when in a hurry. It will be easier to see the beauty that surrounds us everywhere and let this Love buoy us along our path. I know that my Nia practice can only improve from these 15 minute respites. I can already sense my creativity gasping for the space to reboot and tap into the musical cosmos that sends me magical messages about new music and fun focuses to use in class!


I am starting today! I may not have a specified location to roll out my mat or play music, but I know I can find a place to stretch. I have actually done yoga in airports while waiting for the next leg of my journey to start boarding. I take a space out of the way of traffic and move through a selection of poses that call to me. And every single person who looked my way, either smiled, nodded in silent agreement, or spoke to me in passing about what a great idea that was. People are ready to embrace these places of restful rejuvenation. I just need to find a way to start them! And for the time being, I will start with myself. This is where all great change across the world starts – the self. I will take 15 minutes every 3 hours today, where I stretch through a few of my favourite yoga postures. I will focus on my  breathing to energize my cells with plenty of fresh oxygen, and I will quiet my mind, sending my clamouring thoughts to my internal answer machine to pick up once my 15 minutes are done. When I am at home I will most likely dance for 15 minutes or meditate, since I can control my personal environment more.

I would love to hear what you will do to start this movement. Comment below and share this post with others! Let the Conscious Movement begin!

Take Care. Be Aware.

In Life skills, mind, Nia, Nia Class, Sensatioin on April 11, 2011 at 7:26 pm

When we take steps to get back into shape, and increase our over all fitness, we must constantly take stock of our situation and adjust to accommodate ourselves. In order to build greater muscle mass to boost the metabolism and increase fat loss, one of the most reliable methods available to us is weight training. However, as this article I am featuring here today states, there is weight training, and then there is weight training. Take a glance down the list of machines that you should avoid in order to avoid injury.

In Nia we have movements that are designed in line with The Body’s Way. The Body’s Way is the most efficiently functional state for the human body. Within The Body’s Way is YOUR Body’s Way. This allows for our unique physical quirks – in my case, an example is I have slightly knock knees from birth. These irregularities in the human body are present in everyone, and we all need to bring awareness to how to adapt fitness regimes that will best serve us. Cramming a cube into a circular space isn’t going to work well at all. And so when pumping iron at the gym, using machines that force us to use linear motions with joints and muscles that are designed to move in arcs, isn’t going to benefit us.
In a typical Nia class, the weight training can be experienced throughout the entire class. The use of levels (low to the ground, mid-level and high – reaching up) as well as the three body weights (pelvis, chest, head) create plenty of built-in weights for us to work with. We push against the floor, the walls, and sometimes each other, in order to activate and strengthen our muscles. Nia classes have also been designed with free weights (Power Hour ) to add intensity to the basic principles we already work with in a Classic Nia class. What is important here is that The Body’s Way is always respected and followed as a guide towards optimal fitness and health.
When you work out, take care of yourself. Be aware of your choices. And just because EVERYONE is doing it (or has been doing it for ages) doesn’t make it right or good for you. Listen to your body through sensation. Activate your sensation scientist self every time you step into your fitness regime!

Canada’s National Health Show

In mind, music, Nia Class, teaching, Uncategorized on October 23, 2010 at 1:56 am

On the weekend of October 23rd and 24th, Nia will be featured at Canada’s National Health Show in Toronto! I have been asked to present the half hour demonstration! I feel very honoured.

The day is fast approaching and I have been working on assembling my swirling thoughts on myriad topics that could be the focus of this demo. I want to introduce Nia newbies to this magical and fantastic fitness practice. I also want to attract attention from random passers by. And I only have half an hour!!!

“In through the nose, out through the mouth… ahhhhh!”
What makes Nia so profound?

For me, it is the hundreds of years of movement practice that it is based on. There is deep history present within it as well as cutting edge scientific revelations being discovered on an ever evolving basis. I have seen Nia in the press get shallow comments and reviews that skirt the meat and potatoes of it’s foundation. Truly Joyful movement comes from a deep deep wellspring, and it is this that supports us as we trip and skip along the surface playing. We feel safe and secure with all that knowledge under, behind, and within us, that we can let go with complete abandon!

And this is what I want to impart to the Nia newbie and random passer-by…

My focus will be to demonstrate the 9 movement forms and the 7 cycles present within the Nia class. I have used a combination of classic NiaSounds tunes as well as some “well-known” pop songs to grab the attention of the passers-by who are searching for that special something… and perhaps Nia will fulfill some of that “special”!

I feel nervous and excited about this opportunity. I am a natural stage performer and will not have issues with stage fright, however, I very much want to impart the beauty, depth and freedom that Nia can bring to people. Nia has changed my life on many levels, and I continue to use it as medicine to heal my body, mind and emotions. Doing it justice in the short 30 minute presentation is a large undertaking.

The Journey of a Nia Routine

In jazz, Life skills, mind, modern, music, Nia, Nia Class, Tae Kwon-do, teaching, vocalising on September 28, 2010 at 2:01 am

Each Nia routine has a journey of discovery, adventure, peacefulness, reward, anything the teacher can think of. It is sometimes more subtle and personal to each class participant, and in some cases, like the one I will be sharing, it is very direct and explicitly shared as a story in each song.

Sanjana is the routine I will be using for this explanation.

One of the awesome freedoms we Nia teachers have is to be able to switch out music for our own choices and reasons. I LOVE music and finding new ‘clicks’ to the choreography Debbie and Carlos have created. Sanjana’s given focus is ‘dynamic ease’. In our bodies and in daily life, we strive for the balance between relaxation and stress to keep moving forward, to stay productive and content. For my new journey with Sanjana, I adapted this focus to deal with the area of relationships we have with others and ourselves in our daily lives. I call it ‘listening’.  The sense of hearing with our ears is definitely engaged with the new music, and listening with the body’s awareness and attention to pain/pleasure to promote self-healing is included. An intention of receiving what the body is transmitting through sensation is very important for self-healing. In this explanation, I will list the song title and artist, and then explain the story of the track in relationship to the routine.

Rendez-Vu, Basement Jaxx

As the warm-up, this song is purposely too fast. It is used in half time. The heavy driving beats and bass makes us want to move faster and pulse, but the idea is to feel the fight between our mind’s desire for our body and the choreography. Daily we force ourselves to behave in ways that go against our desires, and it’s important to be aware of our true desires when we are denying them. This exercise helps us recognize what we do want when we have fewer conformities to adhere to. Many of our relationships are ones of duty.

Sure Fire Winners, Adam Lambert

This popular track is used to bounce the energy up from denying ourselves in the last song. Its message is empowering and we all need that empowerment to succeed with our personal goals in life. A positive outlook and belief in ourself can make us, or a negative self-defeating outlook can break us. So having the upbeat, positive message with fun, forward-moving steps, opening the front of the body, creates a dynamic upswing in the journey of the routine.

Te Amo, Rihanna

Here we listen to a story of unrequited love. We ‘skate’ around the room forwards and backwards in a repetitive way, mirroring the patterns we can, and do fall into, in our relationships with others. The movement has a rocking feel that can lull and comfort us with its familiarity, but the continual circular movement around the ‘race track’ puts stress on the calf muscles, and after the 3 minute song we can feel the burn. This can be interpreted as the burn we have felt from the experience of unrequited love in our own lives, or the burn we get when we know we are playing with fire, yet still choose to take the chance.

I’m in Heaven, Universal Funk

This is the fun night out, strutting our stuff, and revelling in our beauty and energy. Having a group of friends to “play” with is incredibly healing. As humans, we are gregarious creatures. Playing is very important for our creativity and vitality. The choreography is playful and frisky with opportunities to act out being tipsy and silly as well as exploring the sensuous sexiness we all possess. Scenes from Saturday Night Fever are used as imagery to add spice and fun to the choreography.

Billie Jean, MJ

Here we continue to elevate the heart rate using the movement form of Jazz to stay with the fun energy of the routine. Using images of dressing-up in MJ style clothes and performing on stage adds a dimension of exhibitionism to the moves. What do we show the world when all eyes are on us? The relationship between our inner, private selves and our social, public self can sometimes be at extreme odds. What would we be like if we came into more balance? If we are normally shy, what do we wish we had the nerve or guts to do in front of a crowd? And if we enjoy being the centre of attention, this is a chance to relish the opportunity!

Thriller, MJ

The same moves were just danced in the previous number using Jazz energy; with Thriller, Modern dance energy is applied, along with Tae Kwon Do, to fight off the zombies and ghouls! But then about 2/3s of the way through, we are consumed by the zombies and become zombies. Here, playing with our relationship to our dark sides is explored. The knee sweeps take us around the room using freedance arms to dramatize our inner demon or zombie! Letting out our “ugly” physically and vocally with the deep voice spoken word, and evil laugh at the end releases other forms of energy that can become trapped due to a lack of safe places to express it!

Air Batucada, Thievery Corporation

This track allows us to feel quick agile movements while swinging our arms or waving them around, almost throwing ourselves off balance. This quick moving choreography can make us think of day-to-day life, running around, getting this and that, meeting here, shopping there, cleaning… the relationship we have with the business of life and how we must get through it in a tireless, upbeat way, can show us many things about our Selves. Playing with up movements with the arms, and then loose dangling limbs expressing fed-up exhaustion, builds muscles and stamina, and then releases tension held in the shoulders… We switch from right to left on our feet after 8, 4, 2 and then 1 count, to mirror how we can be pulled in many different directions and how we can either let it pull us off balance, or stay physically centred and flow easily through the changes in direction.

FREEDANCE – Soul Tree, Oka

This is a freedance for the soul. Whatever we need to dance out, we do here. Move through the three planes. Get on the floor. Jump in the air. Move with fluidity and grace. Move with our ugly and awkward self. Use the music to move. Listen to the body. Cultivate the way we converse with our Self. Are there sore spots? Do some movements feel bad or healing? Pay attention to the Self. It’s all about YOU (ME).

Rise, Flobots

We use Tae Kwon Do energy in these blocking and punching patterns. Hearing the lyrics talk of rising up together and being strong together and fighting for what is right, brings a sense of camaraderie. The relationship of the group/tribe for support is powerful and accessible to us. Empowerment brings the tribe together in support of each other. We CAN succeed and we will have support. Feel the strength in the blocks and power to say No! or Yes! And sense the muscles in the core while punching, and realize a punch is also a pull. At the same time as pushing something away we are taking something in. Life is always a two-way street.

COOLDOWN/FloorPlay – Out of the Mist, Jami Sieber

The Spirit of the Earth Continues, Cybertribe .

Both songs here are used for the 5 Stages of Self-healing. We walk around performing a self-check for pain, tightness, etc. And then move through the 5 Stages. About ½ way through the last track, we end the fifth stage and walk re-checking for changes in sensation. Being in an honest relationship with ourself can only lead to health and peace, and by giving time to listen to our body, we open communication pathways that allow us to move forward. The end uses the same motions we started the routine with, feeling the movements fit comfortably with the music and sensing the natural flow that wasn’t present when we last performed the movements. A sense of relaxation and well-being can be felt when we are in the right flow of energy in our lives. Turbulence comes and goes, and we must roll and rock with them, with the comforting thought that it will calm down and end eventually. It is important to keep a feeler out for that peace and flow, so that when we come near it, we can choose to immerse ourselves in it while we can.

Each Nia class participant will have experienced a slightly (or hugely) different hour during Sanjana. And this is the beauty and magic that is Nia. We share in music and movement, but we differ in how we interpret both of those elements (magic). A Nia class is so multileveled, and can be accessed at any level, deep, superficial or somewhere in the middle. The choice is always up to the student. If we need the deep soul-searching in the dance, it is available. If we only want the sweaty, strength and agility training of the fitness portion, it is available. The Journey of the Nia Routine allows for growth on any spectrum, and all Nia participants should understand this. And that is why I decided to share my personal journey of Sanjana (to new music) with you.


PS: I linked all the songs I could find on YouTube so you could have a listen. However, not all tracks are there.  Enjoy what you can!

Abundance Technology

In Life skills, mind, Nia, teaching on November 16, 2009 at 1:33 am

Having recently experienced a warm, energizing and opening weekend, I felt drawn to blog again. It’s been a while!

I took part in Denis Karda’s ‘Winalee Weekend’ event, out in Ballinafad, Ontario. Wow. Winalee Zee is a black belt Nia instructor who packs a strong and silly punch! “Dolphins are my greatest teachers!” She says to a pack of Nia teachers from the area. We all giggle and think she’s cute,  but truly, if we only learned more from observing the creatures around us, who share the planet with us, our wisdom would deepen to no end.

Among other things, Winalee shared beautiful and joyful playshops with seasoned Nia teachers all the way to brand new Nia initiates! She also shared uplifting and enlightening messages at the end of each session. And it is one of these messages that has drawn me to write and share with you.

LPG is the technology for abundance. Knowing what LPG is, is all you need to experience abundance in all areas of you life. Wait for it…

L = Love magnetizes abundance to you.

P = Praise magnifies abundance around you.

G = Gratitude – opens you to receive abundance from the universe.

Winalee went on to explain what the opposite of LPG was, and this illustrated to me how many of us, myself included, live on the opposite end of abundance. And then we have the audacity to gripe about our feelings of need! Here is the opposite to LPG: FCE – Fear, Criticism, Entitlement. I know I find endless comfort in my grumpy and grumbly days. Rude people. Annoying chores. Stressful job. I fear failing. I criticize drivers. I think I deserve more money for the work I do just BECAUSE!

Winalee gave credit for this information to someone else, and because I was too caught up in the moment, I failed to take note of his name. If anyone who reads this knows who he is, comment please. He deserves recognition for this beautiful and simple message.

I am officially hopping the fence to live on the side of abundance! I’ll let you know how it goes! Or perhaps I’ll see you there!


Teaching Practice 2

In chi, Ekhart Tolle, mind, music, Nia, spirit on May 22, 2009 at 1:35 am

The music in the Nia routine is my constant, my rock. It guides me where I need to go. I know the music so well that my mind doesn’t even register that I have moved onto the next movement pattern; similar to an activity that has become second nature to the body and mind, such as driving the car, or cooking a favourite dish. When we participate in these ‘second nature’ activities, our minds are free to be still, and our spirits are free to soar and gain perspective. It is part of the Nia instructor’s job to bring the students along and create a similar relationship with the music for them, and verbal cueing makes this possible. Once a pattern has been established through repetition, the student can relax into his body and explore the different sensations the movements create. The instructor will speak to the class giving sensory tips such as, “Notice your knees” or, “Focus on the crown of your head.” These directions are meant to bring awareness to parts of the body that you may not think about consciously. Through this pointed focus your practice becomes deeper, and you are able to delve into unfamiliar realms within your own body, mind, and spirit.

A note on ‘bodies’:
When I refer to ‘the body’, I mean the corporeal form that is made up of bones, muscle and tissue. It grows and changes from day to day, and it is our responsibility to care for it and keep it in good health. When I refer to ‘the mind’, I mean the intangible thoughts that run through our heads – inner monologues we may largely be unaware of. In Nia (and many other movement practices), there is a focus on quieting the chatter of the mind. A wonderful guide for me personally, is Ekhart Tolle. His books, The Power of Now, Stillness Speaks and A New Earth, all deal with ways to bring awareness to our minds, and also to find methods to calm and quiet the mind. I highly recommend Tolle’s work to everyone. It is not based in any particular religion, but deals in depth with behavioural and, some would say, spiritual matters. Moving on now; when I refer to ‘the spirit’, I am not indicating a specific religious definition of spirit or the soul. What I want to describe is the, again intangible, but none-the-less very noticeable, energy or life force that surrounds all living things. It can be called ‘Chi’, or an aura. There are many words in many languages to describe this. However, spirit in the sense I use, is individual to each person. No one’s spirit can be the same. I sense my spirit as a quiet, wise presence. It takes a few minutes to tap into it, but if I rush through my days without being aware of it, I find myself forgetting things, stubbing my toes, whacking my elbows on doorframes, etc. You know the days I am talking about, I’m sure! The spirit is hard to pin down. It is not the emotional part of us, but our emotions can be very effected by the spirit. Visualise a pyramid. The base is the body; the middle is the mind; the top (that floats above) is the spirit. It has a bird’s eye view of all that surrounds it. It is part of the whole, but it remains slightly detached so as not to lose perspective. But it is always within reach. This spirit body is important in Nia practices because Nia applies to our entire being. Each routine gives us the opportunity to connect with and explore and play in any and all of these bodies. Each body lends a different quality to the same movements. This not only feels different, but it reflects differently in how your body changes and moves through space from day to day.

There is an emotional body as well, but I will save that topic for its own blog entry!

Enlightenment is a big word. I fall back on ‘balance’ as something to strive for on a daily basis. Balance within my bodies will naturally lead to balance in my life – professional and personal. Then once that state is achieved we can work on the bigger words!

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