Ever heard of Nia? No neither had I until a chance conversation with a lovely lady at a talk we were giving recently. She enthused so much about this dance class that I decided to give it a try. I felt that besides my regular walking, the odd jog and cycle, I wanted to find some form of exercise to help me connect with myself more, increase flexibility and be able to ‘let myself go’. Both Yoga and Pilates are wonderful forms of exercise particularly in midlife but Nia would possibly offer me something more, I was about to find out.
Nia originated in America over 30 years ago and it aims to encompass dance, martial arts and mindfulness. It is considered a holistic practice to tone your body and soothe your soul. It is practised barefoot and to some wonderful, relaxing music.
So on Saturday morning I set off to join my first Nia class with local instructor Jo Turner who is a vibrant, joyful lady who is passionate about Nia. Jo leads most of the classes from her beautifully equipped garden studio. After greeting me warmly and introducing me to the other ladies in the class, Jo explained that although she would be choreographing the moves for us to follow, this was very much about how we connect with our bodies, minds and the music,so not to worry about getting it right. It was a chance to be at one with our breath, a chance for us to express ourselves, reconnect with our bodies.
So how did I get on?
The music was quite different for me, some might say quite mystical maybe spiritual but also soothing. Its a very flowing dance style movement that is connected to each breath in and out and to your body. The first thing that stood out to me was my inability to quieten the voices in my head, all the things on my to do list etc. How stiff my movement was and that I wasn’t breathing as I should, I wasn’t able to ‘let go’ as some of the others seemed to. As the class progressed I could feel my breathing improving, I was loosening up and I was more in the moment. What this experience taught me is just how much I need something like this in my life.
Am I hooked now on Nia ? No not yet, but I think that says more about me and my inibility to focus on myself than Nia itself. Other women there are clearly getting a lot out of the class and Jo’s passion for it is infectious. And yet somehow over the rest of the weekend my shoulders felt looser and I was calmer. Did I connect more with my body than I realised? Maybe, well I am booked in for another class this week and I am looking forward to it very much. I didn’t get to this point in my life overnight. Work, children, parents, all these responsibilities can weigh heavy on us women, therefore one session isn’t going to change my life just like that. Most of us women and men are like coiled springs in this modern life an its going to take some time to uncoil that spring.
What we at Aspire 2 Health feel passionate about is that healing isn’t just about eating well and exercise, It is about taking care of our emotional health too. We must learn to take time for ourselves and not feel guilty for that. We embrace the teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) where every organ is considered to be connected to a season,emotion, time of day, colour etc and where emotional health and the ability to ‘let go’ of anger, grief or sadness is key to healing the body and mind. So whether it is a Nia class, meditiation, mindfulness or yoga, we encourage you to find some time just for you, you may be surprised at the results.
If you would like to try a Nia class you can contact Jo at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on facebook https://www.facebook.com/JofarnhamNia/
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