Archive for the ‘teaching’ 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.


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.

Clarity in Progress Cont.

In Life skills, Nia Class, teaching, Uncategorized, vocalising on February 21, 2012 at 5:57 am

I want to share my experience since writing the ‘Clarity in Progress‘ post from (insert date).

The week following my writing the blog, a dear friend told me about a yoga studio in her local area that would be receptive to hosting Nia classes. It was located above a health food store with a loyal clientele and, in her opinion, was a lovely space to dance. I set up a meeting with the owner and class co-ordinator for the coming Saturday morning. As I climbed the stairs to the studio, I saw a handful of young kids, around 10 to 12 years old, milling about and getting their shoes on. A tween yoga class had just ended. Nice! I am such a fan of getting kids, and especially tweens and teens, into a freeing and grounding practice like yoga. The two women I met with were very friendly, and I was shown into the studio. (Cue celestial choral music!)


There were high ceilings. There were two large windows… and wait for it! A VIEW OF MOVING WATER!!! The studio looks out onto the Grand River. It is situated in such a way as to not show the ground below us. I would have to stick my head out of the window to see the sliver of earth between the building’s foundation and the water. I think I was looking out of one of the top row windows in the photo above. It was beautiful. Needless to say I vocalized in wonderment, and this caught the attention of the yoga instructor showing me around! So I told her the story of my recent blog post basically describing this very studio, and in our conversation I went on to describe the basics of Nia, its history and its endless adaptability for all fitness levels and age groups. We settled on a date for a community class (pay what you can) to give the locals a tasty preview, and then a session of six classes if enough interest  was shown (8 people signing up minimum).

Now, I realize that my original blog on ‘CiP’ was describing a living wall and juice bar in a well-equipped centre for holistic wellness, but I also want to credit the details of part of my vision already presenting themselves to me in reality. There is no ‘living wall’ or a ‘do-it-yourself juice bar’ but there is the health food store downstairs. Images and visions we have may seem finished and ready-made in our mind’s eye, but in this world may be stepping stones to a reality we can’t fully imagine yet. I just know this meeting at the yoga studio was a large breadcrumb on my path leading me in a direction I need to follow! Dreams do come true. But the catch is having the dream and then sharing it with others. Being proactive and finding tangible, practical ways to talk about your ideas and passions is key to bringing them about. The trickiest part for me is getting clear on what it is I want… what is it that I want to envision?

It is a work in progress, and for now, I like my studio floating above moving water!

The studio in this blog is, The Paris Yoga Studio in Paris, Ontario.

Thank you for reading, and please comment below with your experiences and thoughts! There is only LOVE.

Setting the Focus

In Life skills, Nia, Nia Class, teaching on November 20, 2011 at 10:28 pm

The focus that is described at the beginning of a Nia class gives the opportunity to become more aware of something. It can be physical, emotional, mental or spiritual in nature; and it could be all of these or any combination of these things, at once. At the very core of Nia, the focus is physical health. This is just the first building block. From the physical we can deepen and extend our growth towards optimal health in all areas of life.

Each Nia routine that is created comes with a prescribed focus. The focus of Sanjana is ‘dynamic ease’. R1‘s focus is ‘connection’. Earthsong’s focus is ‘the one point’ (our centre of gravity, or the hara), and so on. When I became a teacher of Nia, I learned that there was a formula of sorts, to help describe the focus for each class. In fact, teachers would use myriad foci over several weeks/months while dancing the same routine. This fascinated and intimidated me. I was confident with dancing, but not speaking about the dancing. How did they think of all these different foci? Where did they get the ideas for them? And more importantly, how was I going to come up with my own foci when I started teaching?

I asked a few of my Nia mentors for guidance in this area and, then, as a white belt teacher, I was told to connect with the 13 white belt principles. I thought about going in order and doing one a week. But that would only get me through 3 months. What would happen after that? Well, I thought to myself, I would just cross that bridge when I got to it, since my mentors only said, “Connect with the white belt principles, and you’ll be fine.”  So I did. I wondered whether I should go in order from 1 to 13, and figured I might as well. There’s no point in re-inventing the wheel.

Now, I have been teaching Nia for nearly 2 years and giving focuses for every class. And you know what? I still use the 13 white belt principles… but I use other stuff too! I now have my blue belt training in Nia and I have more Nia family members to call upon for guidance and inspiration. Our community is strong, creative and very supportive. We come together at Jams (movement based fundraisers for various causes), playshops, paloozas, trainings and regular classes when we can, and as a result of this contact I was inspired to do the following: Over the last year I allowed myself to explore my intuition as it effected my Nia practice. This meant that I would not only come to class fully prepared with a particular routine, but I would leave room for spontaneous changes that came to me. These changes could take the form of changing the direction the class usually faces, or making a choreographed tune a free dance, or changing the prepared focus at the last minute! For the most part, this exploration, this PLAYfulness, has been very rewarding and enjoyable.

So, back to the focus. I suppose that over the months I taught my own classes, I was able to glean snippets from speech on the Nia teacher’s DVD for learning routines, and turn the snippet into a focus. Debbie Sterwart-Rosas and Carlos Aya-Rosas speak so beautifully and clearly about movement and sensation, that their narration through a class is almost like an essay on Nia. As I said, I also revisited the 13 white belt principles regularly, and found I had favourite ones. I also played with ways to combine several principles into one focus. With each Nia training intensive, playshop and Jam I participated in, I was introduced to more and more information to educate myself with. Each belt intensive provides us with a 2 inch-thick manual as well as a few pages of suggested reading. Each gathering of Nia-phites leads to conversations about personal discoveries and reflections on journeys and lessons learned. These experiences all create a web involving Nia, and how Nia has changed, healed and uplifted our lives. I take all these elements now and use them to create my foci for class. I listen to my intuition for guidance into a general subject area, and then whittle something down with my rational brain to make it simple enough and memorable enough to apply in class.

And then one day, a client of mine asked me, “How do you choose a focus for the Nia class?” At the time I didn’t answer as we were just stepping into class, so I resolved to answer her later. And this is why I now have a blog about it! To be honest, creating the focus for the past few months has not been the most intimidating thing for me anymore! I feel confident when thinking about what it will be, and sometimes I even leave the planning of it to the day of the class!

There is one more part of this journey I want to share. As I began to think of how I create the focus for each class as an answer for my curious client, my thoughts strayed to a woman and Nia sister, who I hold in very high regard. She has taught me Nia (before I got any belts), she has loved and supported me before and after I got trained, and she totally inspires me to be the best Nia instructor I can be; and I don’t think she realizes quite how much she does for me! Anna Schantz teaches in Burlington, Ontario and has her black belt training and has been teaching for over 10 years. Check out her website: Zensation Fitness. I asked her about creating foci and she said, “I like to play the ‘What if?’ game.”  What if I was to challenge myself today? What if I were to use the same focus as last week? What if I wasn’t going to talk during class? What if…? This game opens up so many doors and it tests my creative muscles about how to describe such focuses in class! This part of Nia is my favourite! The part where my brain is forced to create new neural pathways. These feel difficult and sometimes uncomfortable in process, but in the end my 2 brain hemispheres are more integrated and I feel wiser! It’s REALLY awesome!

So that concludes my ‘How I choose a focus’ blog. I use the 13 white belt principles, Debbie and Carlos’s wisdom, my Nia education manuals, the Nia community’s wisdom, and my own intuition. I hope you have more clarity around the subject, and I hope you can understand that this idea of having a focus can be applied to anyone in any situation. Choose a focus for yourself each day… or maybe just each week… or month – time just flies by these days! And see what happens when you bring consistent awareness to a specific focus in your life. Some focuses I have used in the past which are easily adaptable to anyone’s life, are listed below:

Calm simplicity Anything goes – do not judge
Always do your best The Joy of movement/life/love/shopping
Tai-Chi – slow motion to de-stress We are all connected

The No-Show Class

In Duncan, jazz, katas, music, Nia, Nia Class, teaching, Uncategorized on July 20, 2011 at 5:06 am

There are times in the Nia teacher’s early career (the first 5 years – like any new business) where she is faced with the empty class. The prep work is taken care of: the routine is learned and solid (usually!), the advertising has been thorough – posters, cards, Facebook and Twitter announcements, word of mouth, begging friends – and the free classes have been offered weeks before hand. Basically, all the grunt work has been accomplished with flying colours and a fantastic smile! But for whatever reason, the Universe, one’s subconscious, The Powers That Be… seem to conspire against the new Nia teacher, and she comes ready to dance and share herself, and no on else shows up. She stands alone in the studio space.

To dance, or not to dance; that is the question. The options for not dancing are endless and very reasonable. There is always more laundry to do, not to mention getting groceries at this time would free up time tomorrow, and be less busy at the store. Depending on the teacher, he may or may not choose to dance in the space alone. I almost always dance whether or not students show up. I enjoy dancing all the time, and it’s a good time to practice. Especially when there is a beautiful studio just sitting there, empty.

I had a no-show class today. I usually don’t take these occurrences personally, but today was hot and really humid. It made me feel tired and heavy and lethargic, and I had quietly been hoping that the energy and enthusiasm I usually have for Nia would ooze from some of the students in class… but students there were NONE! Oh woe! I thought. How beastly and lonely I feel! It is an insult to SUCH a gorgeous studio (The Art of Fitness) NOT to dance in it! Fine! I will dance anyway – to hell with the heat and my lethargy. No one is here to judge me. I will dance at level 0.5 if I have to!

So, I proceeded to creep and slither across the floor, digging into the depths of my body and spirit to find some energy to dance. I chose not to play the traditional routine’s music for Butterfly, but a playlist I found on my iPod called ‘Butterfly-Rock’. I didn’t quite remember the songs I’d chosen, but it sounded more exciting and the surprise would keep me on my toes. Nia teachers will often fiddle with music once they are comfortable with the original routine. It allows for our personal flare and creativity to be expressed in the class, and it’s just plain fun! The routine started off the same as it always did, and by the third song in, The Way of the Priest by Purekane, I was losing hope about it being the uplifting and surprising boost I felt I needed. Sometimes I just add one song at the end or in the middle of a routine, and that’s not very exciting – well at least, this sticky and hot afternoon it wasn’t! So I muscled on. I got into Butterfly Heart by Chris Coco, and experimented with different arm swinging movements to entertain myself. Truth be told (ssshhhh) I can get bored with some of the movements, so here I played around with different ideas – some of which I plan to use! Then there’s the free dance portion. Those of you who know me will know that I LOVE free dance. But today, I wasn’t feeling it! Crazy, I know! But on the second round of free dance, I kicked myself in the arse and forced myself to skip like a kid through the park. I waved my arms around (very Duncan dance), and got myself to feel the “wind” in my face from my speed. The end of the piece uses the skipping forward while lifting the arms slowly upwards, and then running backwards in repeating sets. This worked up my heart rate and I was panting and smiling by the end – my running backwards at the end usually turns into a silly, “Aaaah! Run from the crazy dog!” sprint! So I was climbing out of my sticky hot hole of alone-ness… and then…

NA NA NA COME ON!!! Yells Rihanna from the stereo!

WOO-HOO! This is what I had been yearning for! I had reached the ROCK part of my ‘Butterfly-rock’ playlist. I had risen out of my doldrums with Butterfly Heart, and this took me up, up and away! I had substituted this for the sometimes seemingly long and repetitive Summertime, also by Chris Coco. I like it-like it WAY more with this music. There are blocks,

jazz squares

and kicks

in this kata that repeat in a particular pattern which can feel endless with the original music. So I had changed it! And it was fanTAStic!

The routine continued with different songs mixed in with the originals and I felt energized and enthusiastic again! An all-time favourite among the Southern Ontario Nia teachers (and beyond, I’m sure) is the track, Rock Your Body by Music Instructor. I had added this to the mix too! I use it as a mixture of guided movement and free dance. The choreography is a lot more interpretive allowing for lots of creativity from students. But today, I just tore up the space and flew through the air and played the strings!

The weather did not keep me down, and I left the studio feeling refreshed despite the thick red-gold sun-soaked air. The lesson for me in this was: dance. No matter how I feel. Just dance. No matter what, I will feel better! Even with no one to share the space with. This was a rare opportunity to fill the space totally with myself! Expanding one’s energy field further than the usual day-to-day size is liberating. It feels like breathing in much much more deeply and fully. It is a way to let one’s spirit truly soar. Dance ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like it! Use my experience to your advantage!

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!


The First Time

In teaching, vocalising, voice amplification on May 11, 2009 at 2:27 am

What an energizing and at the same time, exhausting experience teaching a movement class is! My nerves were negligible once I got my body moving, but I was aware of how much louder I play the music at home. Having the music quieter in the class makes it easier for the students to hear me, but it makes it harder for me to hear the music cues I rely on. Some feedback I got was that I was hard to hear over the music… I plan to look into types of amplification for the voice so that I can have the best of both worlds. Angela, my voice teacher, reminded me that the main cause for vocal damage with fitness instructors, is with straining against loud music to be heard. I don’t want to end up in that boat. I love singing too. Actually, I love singing while dancing! It’s a good way to tell if you’re pushing yourself too hard. It’s like the talk test with any working out you are doing. If you can’t have a chat while exercising, you are working too hard – if you can’t sing along with the tunes, you are pushing yourself too hard!

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