Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Nia journey.

I posted last year about my Nia intensive training here. Someone posted an anonymous comment - please leave at least your name so I know who I am talking to! - asking about the rest of my journey. So here it is...

Warning this is a pretty large post - grab a cup of tea and settle in!

If you asked me this morning what my Nia journey looks like... Sore thighs and upper arms from dancing 3 classes yesterday (2 on my own and one with my students). Is it just me or does everyone push themselves a little harder when dancing on your own? You sink deeper into a sumo stance, your precision is a little more "tae kwon do" and less "tai chi" and your cross front cha cha cha seems to take up the entire space. Once I am in front of a class I am more aware of "toning it down" for students.

So where was I? Oh yeah my Nia journey...

Nia looks like... Heading home last night and falling asleep very soundly. Waking up this morning and looking forward to presenting Nia to the general population of my city on a stage in the Queen St Mall! A year ago I could not have seen myself dancing 3 classes a day and dancing in front of hundreds in a public space! So how did I get here?

In April last year I undertook my White Belt. The white belt expereince was really intense. Emotions and bodies were certainly frazzled by the end, but we were excited about taking our next steps.

However, I found - at the end of my white belt - I was a little lost. I certainly wasn't confident to teach. I guess this is why there is the new 25th Anniversary Nia Green Belt being advertised. Everything that is found in the Green Belt is what I expected as I entered my first Nia white belt circle. I realise now that there are a lot of Nia folk who attend White belt on a purely personal level so can completely understand the focus. I would attend the green belt if I could, but it is a little too far to travel.

Since completing my white belt there have been ups and downs galore. I didn't actually find time to learn a routine until I was asked to sub for Sophie while she went to the US to undertake her Brown Belt on October - 6 months after my white belt. In the 10 days she was away I led about 6 classes - teaching a sort of personalised version of Dreamwalker White Belt.

I found the learning of the routines really difficult. I am a logical person who likes things "spot on". Needless to say of the form and freedom Nia encompasses I think I slept through all the freedom sections of white belt! I was completely "in my head" for those first classes - got to get it right, got to remember the music ques, got to do 8 leans followed by 8 pulses followed by etc etc etc...

I now have a lot less difficulty learning a routine - much more about feeling it and simply moving to the music. If I miss a que, completely forget a section of the choreography or whatever who cares - just keep that booty shakin'! When I talk to students they say basically the same thing - it doesn't matter what we do we just love to move.

I taught a new routine for the first time last night comprised of Girls Night Out, Dreamwalker and a song or two from a few other routines - theme is "play" - my students were fabulous! I knew about 75% of the routine really well and at the start of the class I mentioned that it was the first time I had taught this routine. One of the students said don't worry - we won't notice if you mess up and flail about the place, it will just look like "melodic arms" to us! Bless them!

But I disgress again...

So I learnt my new routines, I taught my first classes and could confidently call myself a "Nia White Belt Instructor". I am proud of that tag. To all the lucky students who are able to share a Nia teachers first baby steps into teaching it is an honour, but I do apologise to all of my lucky bunnies. I was so jam packed full of adrenalin I danced at level 3+++++ and by the end we were all in a big pile of sweat on the floor. I am much more mindful now about bringing my energy down a peg and letting others take it up a level on their own.

For me - someone who has never danced before, never really been into any form of exercise - it is a really wonderful feeling to be able to get up in front of a room and give people an experience. There are so many people out there who - like me - have been told over the years - you will never be a dancer, you are as graceful as an elephant, dancing is too expensive. That is simply not true! You simply need to find your feet, find your style and find your very own groove. Nia gives people the opportunity to express themselves, dance and enjoy the moment.

Last night I was dancing Adouma (by Angelique Kidjo) with my class and there is a section of "chicken arms". I looked around the room and people were smiling, laughing and dancing like chickens. I said to them "how good does it feel to let go of everything from your day and be a little silly?"

We sit at work all day with our "professional face", go home and put on our "Mum / partner / carer" face, but sometimes I just want to put on "my" face. Nia allows you to do that. A lot of my students call Nia "their time" - time they take out of their day to release, have fun and move for no other reason apart from "it feels good".

I want to write more, but let's face it... If you have made it this far wow! I should be nice and let you get back to your families now.


Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie,

Thank you for the update!
I found your blog while researching
Nia White Belt training.

Looks like you and your students
are having fun and getting fit
with the routines. Looking forward
to your Nia updates.

Appreciate the quick response.

I am located in the North East
USA and there will be a few
training this year. Considering
signing up! :)


(Sorry I did not sign off on the
first comment,pressed the
Enter button too soon.I do not
belong to the Blogger so
using the Anonymous option.)

Kratzy said...

Hey Jahra!

Yay... I know who I am talking to! White Belt was incredibly intense. However I'm not sure if it was simply our White Belt - I have heard they are not all as intense. A lot of my co-white belters were travelling, in the middle of great personal change and overall we were very "emotionally charged". We had a couple of moments that were really intense emotionally, but I think that had a lot to do with the group rather than the training per se.

I loved the White Belt. I found it really interesting and I loved the movement. I would say jump in if the time is right for you. It is a BIG financial committment so you need to feel right with the decision.

As far as where to from here once you have completed White Belt... That really is up to your natural time. I think making a step from White Belt training to being a White Belt Trainer is a really great way to explain natural time. I started teaching about 6 months after white belt, Antoinette about 10 months and Maria has only recently signed up. So taking what you have learnt and processing it in your own way takes everyone different amounts time.

Go for it! Enjoy it! Explore the strength, grace and joy of movement.

Love Steph.

Kratzy said...

Also... I forgot - here are some photos from my white belt and other random Nia photos from here in Brisbane, Australia.


Love Steph.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Steph,

Steph said:
"I want to write more..."

Please do! Would love to
hear how you found Nia and
more about your Nia Journey.

Are you planning to pursue other
belt training?

My background is in healthcare
and some of us are famous for taking care of others, but putting
aside our own health.(true for many women
in general)

Time to take care of ourselves
better, so we can better care
for others!



Kratzy said...

Who are you thinking of doing your white belt with? Being from NE USA maybe Caroline or Winalee or Stefany or Casey?

My trainer was Ken Gilbert and he was really good - so great to have a male instructor. I would love to audit a training with a female instructor to see if the dynamic changes. Men - naturally - bring a different energy to the movement forms which I love.

I really enjoyed watching Ken's precision in movement and the energy generated. I don't think I have ever been as exhausted as after one of the classes Ken took while he was here. So awesome!

Love Steph.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Casey would be the
trainer closer to me at this
time. Love her website, the
WB training looks like fun.

So happy to hear you enjoyed
Ken's presentation. It is good
to train with more than one
person to help develop your own

I was thrilled today to hear
that Debbie Rosas will be in
New England for a seminar in
the Fall! The site is about
3 1/2 hours from me so I will
need to check in the the possibility of attending.

And Steph, thanks for being
my Nia mentor :) Love the internet,
its really great to get your
perspective and comments from



Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!