Archive for the ‘Sensatioin’ Category

Why I dance for V-Day and One Billion Rising

In Emotions, music, Nia, Nia Class, Sensatioin, spirit, teaching, The Body's Way, Uncategorized on February 4, 2015 at 11:18 pm

10306232_356304124537354_4563745761935799094_nFor the past three years I have been honoured and excited to participate in the One Billion Rising dance events that celebrate V-Day. A day that symbolizes the end of violence towards women and girls across the world. The Nia community in Southern Ontario, Canada, has risen and danced with pride and passion to show their support for such an important, global issue. The horrific statistic is this: 1 in 3 women and girls will be physically abused or raped in her lifetime. Eve Ensler, author of the famous Vagina Monologues, was made aware of the pandemic proportions of this issue as women came forward and shared their traumatic onebillionrisingexperiences with her. In response, she has allowed her play (The Vagina Monologues) to be used as a tool to bring awareness and create solidarity, and support an end to violence against women. Over the years, this movement has grown exponentially and thousands of grassroots organizations around the world have begun rising together to raise awareness and funds for local shelters and services. Find out more about this movement here:

Why do I dance for OBR? Firstly, because I represent the 1 in 3 women, and it is important that we share our stories and support each other in healing and moving on. Next, dancing roots me into my body where I get centred and feel safe and calm, even when I’m surrounded by chaos. I feel immensley empowered when I move in my skin, sensing strength, speed, agility, flexibility and stability. These sensations were not always easy for me to get in touch with because I got cut off from my body, as so many women do when they experience abuse. The body can be associated with the pain, and to be aware of it is too overwhelming. Therefore, I reclaim MY BODY for MY PLEASURE, and not for the pain another inflicted on me. Nia has been instrumental in guiding me to do this. And it is now my honour and Pleasure to guide others in a Nia practice to reclaim their Body’s visceral Joy!

1613922_749596358391477_796572541_nAnother huge reason I dance for this global movement is for Freedom. I can experience freedom in my body even though I suffered abuse in it. Now I Am healing, and the dance represents that. I also experience freedom in my emotional body – joy and fun where their used to be shame and self-consciousness. I no longer feel the need to hide away because I shake and jiggle when I wiggle! I am a woman and there are parts of my body DESIGNED to wiggle with movement! I release the shame and self-consciousness! My mental body is freed because I cannot worry while I dance, and my spirit body is freed as I connect with others in my immediate space through shared music, purpose and choreography, and around the planet through our shared intention to end the injustice of gender inequality.

There is another reason I choose to dance for this cause. It is my unshakeable belief (from personal experience) that movement of any form, helps to release, shake out, and dislodge blockages of energy. These blocks can be caused by many things, and in the case of abuse or rape, the blocks are of pain, fear and anger. Some women never tell anyone about their experiences, and so the energy of the trauma gets stuck somewhere in their bodies and turns into depression, cutting, obsessive eating or starvation, and chronic disease or illness, to name but a few. By moving the physical body with dance (or yoga, massage, walking…) and infusing the space with uplifting and powerful music, the combination of personal focus to release the energy and the physical motion, gets those trapped emotions moving and releasing! It is a wonderful healing and empowering practice to dance in order to reclaim your body, your temple, your pleasure vessel!


The flashmob event is an ideal way to generate awareness because people are naturally drawn to visual spectacles of music and movement, so I very much hope you will join me as I dance and rise in the 3 locations around Kitchener-Waterloo on this coming V-Day! The details are listed below. Click HERE to learn the steps with my video! Please share!

9 am – Nia Class with a focus on One Billion Rising at the Awaken Wellness Centre. Click HERE for location details. All proceeds from this event will be donated to a local women’s shelter.

11 am – Conestoga Mall in Waterloo, near the food court.

Noon – Kitchener Farmer’s Market, at the bottom of the main stairs inside.


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! 😉


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!

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!

Dancing in the Snow

In Sensatioin on December 4, 2010 at 12:58 am

The holidays and merry-making associated with this time of year is making me feel more joyous and loving than usual. I hope you too, are experiencing heightened enjoyment! Allow yourselves to find those sensations, both in class and in everyday life, that make you exhale with a satisfied, “Aahh!”

When we are surrounded by the opulence of this season, and all our senses are on high alert (smelling spices, hearing music everywhere, tasting treats, seeing twinkling lights and touching sumptuous textures), we have even more times and places to revel in the gift of our 5 senses. Our 5 senses have enormous power. By bringing 100% of your focus onto a beautiful sight or mind-blowing flavour, you automatically become present. Being present is the state in which we cannot experience worry or stress, because we are not contemplating time outside of the present moment. The longer we can extend this moment (and it is infinite by the way!) through engaging with our senses, the more relaxed we will be. From this place of relaxation we can move, think, and feel more deeply and freely. Our experience of life will be enhanced, and whatever stressful or worrisome situations do arise (as they always do) can be dealt with far more easily and with more clarity.  So, the next time a beautifully decorated tree catches your eye, or a mellifluous tune tickles your ear, pause and enjoy the peace you find in the sensations in your body.

With this profound gift of sensation, we can be our own zen master teachers. It is possible for us to come from a place of observer and witness, where judgement is reserved. A journey of learning has frequent stages that necessitate reflection followed by assimilation and integration. And let it be noted that the best reflections come through when we hold back our judgement. Let your thoughts and feelings out, however they come – no editing, no rephrasing, no erasing or changing ideas mid-sentence.

What IS she rattling on about? I hear you ask; well, when one first starts out making a point of noticing sensations, one isn’t going to notice that much… at first. One might start the day intending to notice sensations, but then the activity of daily living draws attention outward, and the intention gets forgotten. A good way of keeping up with becoming present is to record your sensations somehow. It can be in a journal, a sketch book, point form on the ‘notes’ app on your iPod, or just an alternative to counting sheep as you drop off to sleep at night. Whichever way suits you, you will soon find yourself needing to highlight your favourite moments, as there will be too many to record. When this happens, a physical record may not be necessary anymore. I still record some moments that touch me more deeply than others. I do this with the intention of developing that deep engagement all the time. Eventually, the deeper we get and the longer we can stay in the present, the closer we come to experiencing life as One. One with all life on the planet – One with the planet – the planet is a living organism, after all.

Through Nia’s attention to sensation in the body, a specific method is outlined by which we can access and maintain presence in all areas of life. Our practice time is in the Nia class. We are given a safe, totally accepting space, music, and guidance to SENSE, FEEL, and IMAGINE. This guidance leads us to create moments of presence throughout the class that eventually link together giving us a continuous, hour long moment of presence. Once we step out, it is up to us to bring that awareness with us. Since Nia is for everyBody, your pace is your own. No one is going to rush you. No one is going to slow you down. This is truly a magical element of the potential Nia has, as a presence-awareness learning tool. I have definitely used up my class time just dashing about to the beats and paying no attention to the sensations of my body. And afterwards my body lets me know about it with aches and soreness the following day! This is my lesson: bring mindfulness and presence to movement in order to heal and nurture. What is your lesson?

Lessons change, and you are your own teacher, zen master, or guide. You know when and what is best for you. Lessons that leave an impression are the fun ones and the exciting ones, and the ones that perhaps hurt a lot. BUT! Remember, Nia follows the pleasure principle: if it hurts, stop what you are doing and tweak so that comfort is regained. This can be applied to anything. So apply it! This is a season for sharing and receiving. Share openly and receive gratefully. Become present as often as you want to or can. Inhale deeply, look up, trail your fingers in the snow piled along fences and say YES to delicious sweet meats! Revel in the season’s delights and LOVE YOUR BODY!


Love, Praise, Gratitude

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