Understanding the fundamentals of Nia Dance Fitness, continued...
The Thirteen Principles of Nia (a 13 part series)
Principle Five, Part 2: Awareness and Dancing Through Life
Principle 5 is about living in the present, about having all 5 senses turned on and about paying attention. Last month we addressed the pain half of Awareness this month we look at the pleasure half of the principle.
Commentary by Julia Desmond,Certified Nia Instructor
Pleasure : a state of gratification, a source of delight or joy
The pleasure half of Awareness consists of three parts: Dancing through Life, Living Meditation and Life as Art. Dancing through Life is the active portion of this Nia triad. It teaches that all movement is dance and when we take time to make every movement a conscious act we can begin to choose pleasure over pain. Movement can become a source of delight for the body. In class, play with the various movements. Can you find different ways to do the same movement that brings you pleasure? Try stretching in a new way, deepening or intensifying the move and sense how your body reacts.
Living Meditation on the other hand addresses stillness. It is the practice of stopping and waiting. With practice, the mind and emotions can be stilled as easily as the body. When we achieve stillness we become centered and can truly listen and see. Before class take a moment to close your eyes and be still - simply listen as the music starts, when moving notice the body parts that aren’t moving. Start to appreciate the moments of stillness in your busy life.
The third portion of this triad is Life as Art. This corner of the triad is about perception and inspiration. What is beauty, art or dance? It is easy to be inspired by the beauty all around us in Colorado. What is more difficult but just as important is to find the beauty of and find inspiration in the simple movements we go through every day. As I sit here typing this paragraph I notice my fingers are doing their own small dance on the keys. Before Nia and the awareness principle I would have simply said I am typing.
Dancing through Life helps us to be more aware of all that we physically do in this life. Enjoy every movement made during the day and chose to make it pleasurable. Make time to be still and centered. Realize that beauty, art and inspiration is all around merely waiting to be recognized.
Commentary by Allison Frederick Nia Studio owner/operator
Fall is a great time to learn how to "Dance through Life." The streets are lined with vibrant splashes of red, orange, gold, and yellow. Fallen leaves crunch below our feet. The air is crisp and the sun is bright. For me, my senses are heightened during the fall and it is the experience of heightened senses that is a goal of Nia.
Nia is about appreciation, and in this case, it is appreciation of our world around us. Instead of just "getting through the day," Debbie Rosas (co-founder of Nia) encourages us all to "dance through life." In Nia class we may relevé and the teacher will encourage you to visualize taking an item off the top shelf of a closet so that as you raise up onto one leg and stretch forward, your mind does so with a sense of purpose rather than to simply move for movement’s sake. Another Nia exercise is the "sink and pivot table wipe" where you drop your knees a bit and pivot your arms around your body as if you are wiping the table. We suggest everyday activity visualizations in class to introduce the flow of brining daily life into our Nia routine and to apply our Nia routine into our daily life.
During the fall season, I feel as if I am walking through a Van Gogh painting. Compared to what I normally see and experience the colors are larger than life. Even though I feel it is surreal, in reality I am face to face with the explosive beautiful reality of nature and life. The feeling, as if I am walking though a painting, is a lot like dancing through life. I am not visibly swaying as I walk as I would if I was actually dancing but my gait is different because I am walking with acute sensory awareness. I am noticing life as it is happening. I am appreciating the world around me and this appreciation leads me to actually dance through life rather than to simply move for movement's sake.
How will you learn how to dance through life? The book, The Nia Technique provides these helpful suggestions to get you started.
1. Move and particularly notice one part of your body, and pay attention to what you are doing, how you are doing it.
2. Say to yourself: I am slowing down and paying attention to what I sense, connecting to the sensory impulses I receive.
3. I am becoming aware of my touch, how I stand, how I feel, what I think, what I smell, what I hear, what I see, and what I perceive as art.
4. I am connected to everything going on inside and outside of me, energetically connected to my body and my world.*
*p. 281, from the fitness book The Nia Technique
More articles on The Thirteen Principles of Nia
Principle One: The Joy of Movement"Joy is the primary sensation you should seek from all movement. If you momentarily lose joy, tweak your movement until joy again arises." *
Principle Two: Natural Time and the Movement Forms"All of your Nia movements are done in your own personal, natural sense of time and include movements and energy from nine classic forms." *
Principle Three: Music and the BBC System "Nia is practiced to the sounds and silences of music, using an eight-beat counting (BBC) system (1 - and, 2 - and, 3 - and, 4 - and, 5 - and...) to organize the movements." *
Principle Four: FreeDance"Anything goes movement-wise. Let go of structure.
Principle Five: Awareness and Dancing through Life"In Nia, you become aware that every movement in life is a dance and that every movement can be used to self-heal."
Part 2 of Principle Five: Dancing through Life
*Nia Principle descriptions are taken directly from the fitness book "The Nia Technique: The High-Powered Energizing Workout that Gives You a New Body and a New Life" by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.
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