Wednesday, April 7, 2010


"Butterfly" is my new spring routine.  I haven't completely learned a new routine in several months, so I am so excited to have new moves and music to play with.  Butterfly is a routine with an upper body focus.  You flutter your wings, roll your shoulder blades, and fly your body's free dance.  A perfect  dance into spring. 

Feeling systemic movement through your upper extremities is something we rarely do.  When is the last time you walked forward while swooping your arms out in front of you and up to the sky?  When is the last time you walked backwards while letting your hands whoosh down toward the earth from above your head.   When is the last time you hugged your heart from behind while kissing your shoulder blades together? Add some moving music to that and you've got yourself some soul soothing medicine.

Do you smell the spring breeze calling you to move?  It is time for us to come out of our winter cocoons.  It is time for us to feel the sun on our skin, to shake open our wings, stretch and see where they can take us.  Interested?  Come to A2 Yoga on Wednesdays at 6, and be ready to fly.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Nia Haiku...

When trying to decide on a focus for a class for folks that were mostly new to Nia, the following haiku sprang forth, and so we danced it.

Choose joy energy.
Tune with your body 
and dance what you sense.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What Nia Has Given Me

Just having taken a Nia survey, her gifts are fresh in my mind.  Thought I would share.

Physical Benefits
Since I discovered Nia, I have stronger muscles (especially core muscles), greater flexibility, greater balance, and the ability to move more confidently, easily and gracefully.

Mental Benefits
Nia is a treat I look forward to.  It provides me an outlet for peace, an opportunity to let go and play, and a universe to explore. It quiets my mind.

Emotional Benefits
Nia is a tempering, calming force and an ever present source of confidence and overall well being for me.  It allows me to play with moods and visualizations, and brings overall balance to my life.  It tones my love muscles.

Spiritual Benefits
Nia has deepened my sense of connection.  With my body, with those around me, with everything.

There is something magical about the combination of the movement, music, and attitude of Nia that just clicked for me.  

How has it clicked for you?  

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Listening to Your Body's Whispers

Usually it's not till I'm injured and in pain that I listen to my body, but my body is talking to me all the time. It tells me to stretch and shift when I've been sitting too long. It tells me that there's strain on my knees when I bend like that. It tells me that it's perfectly satiated two hours after dinner. I know I can easily tune in and listen, but sometimes I don't. Then my body has to scream louder. It's not nice to make your body scream, and it's no fun to listen to.

There are always little warnings. They start as whispers. Sometimes I hear them when I'm dancing, and I don't listen. It's usually midway through the dance when I'm in the zone. I'm warm and loose and into the music, and I might get little tinge of pain if I turn my knee before my foot. I get so connected with the emotions and energy of the music and movement that I ignore my body's whispers. I'm dancing in my mind, which is an exhilarating place to be. But noticing my body as I dance is gratifying too. And what happens if I listen to my body for the way to move? What if I tune in to what my body is telling me? There are messages all the time.

When you decide to listen, you notice what feels good to your body. It might to step lightly, or maybe it wants to open through your shoulders. You might be surprised to find that following your body's way makes you feel lighter, more graceful and expansive. Guided by what movement your body wants, your dance through life becomes easy and grounded in the present moment.

As you are just beginning this skill of listening, you may have to start the conversations. At those moments when you remember to notice your body, give it little gifts of attention. Here are some examples:
  • When taking steps forward, enjoy the soft touch of your feet on the floor and the gentle roll of the heel to toes.
  • As you stand, engage the muscles in your inner thighs, pushing energy down into the earth to take weight off your knees.
  • Expand your chest where you sit by subtly rolling your shoulders back and down and gently engaging the muscles across your chest, radiating energy from your heart.
Your body is what allows you to do everything that you do, and it is your only mode of transportation through this journey. At the same time, it is also your closest traveling companion. Be good to it. Let it have some say in how you get around. Let it also be a space that you stop and explore from time to time, listening for guidance about where (and how) to go next. Listen to your body's whispers, and you will have a much more joyful journey together.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Right to Bare Feet

Dancing in bare feet is...luxurious, grounding, freeing, comfortable...just, well, right. At least it is for me. Of course, I'm a barefootist by nature. I can't wait until spring each year, when I can finally feel the earth under my feet. I only wear socks in my house if it's freezing, and even if it is, I must sleep in bare feet.

In Nia, the feet are called "the hands that touch the earth." That phrase reminds me to respect and give gratitude for my beautiful feet. Most of us don't know our feet like we do our hands. Sure, maybe we've gone for a pedicure together a few times, but those were special occasions. We are much more likely to spend quality time with our hands, maybe cooking a meal together, or cleaning out a closet. There's more of a day to day familiarity with our hands. We take our feet for granted. Maybe because we can stuff them into shoes and forget about them, maybe because they don't help to get us things.

But, just like our hands, our feet help us sense textures and shapes, and they help us express. Feet are just more foundational, rolling dutifully from heel to toe, following the body's lead, or purposefully grounding down to create a solid base as we seek stability. Sensing our feet as we dance purposefully into a heel lead, step lightly onto a whole foot, or lift up into a releve brings our attention to the roots of our body's movement. Our feet are working all the while as we move ourselves though time and space.

Thank your feet today by spending a little quality time with them. Soak them in a hot bath, give them a pumice scrub, or a yummy-smelling lotion rub. Let them walk and dance, uninhibited by the oppressive shoe! Bare your feet proudly, and feel their power on this earth.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Indulging in Pleasure and Ease

I just returned from a total and complete vacation to the Pacific Northwest. I stayed up late, slept in, ate amazing food, drank wine, hiked, laughed and loved my friends and family. There's something about a vacation away that brings you back to yourself. Letting go and allowing myself to fully enjoy and embrace this precious little window of time reminded me that it's okay to indulge once in a while. It's okay to take pause and notice what feels good, tastes good, smells good. It's okay not to know what you're going to do tomorrow and to search out little adventures, to be curious and to try new things. It's okay to let go and let someone else drive the bus (which, due to a snafu in the mini-van rental became quite literally true, as we trekked around the greater Seattle area in a 15 passenger cargo van.)

Anyway, all this relaxing left little time to dance. So this week, as I transition back into the dance of everyday life, I'm bringing my vacation with me and playing with the focus of moving with pleasure and ease. This is a little bit of a change for me. I tend to constantly push forward. In my dance, this means that I'm usually trying to go stronger, deeper, faster, longer. Even though moving with that kind of dynamic intention can be exhilarating, there's also an inherent strain. My body usually tells me so the next day.

This week, I'm taking the lessons of my vacation into my body and letting go and enjoying ease. My goals are floating, stepping lightly, seeking pleasure in the warm honey of my joints, seeking gentle expansion in my muscles as they warm and stretch. It will be more yin and less yang. After last night's class with this focus, my body felt so good, my movement, so easy. This week, I remind myself that I can extend my vacation. Indulging in a dance of pleasure and ease is a way to treat your body to a relaxing get away. Having experienced the rewards this week, I encourage you not to forget to give that gift to yourself once in a while too.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Nia Al Fresco

I had the privilege of teaching Nia at the Joy Tree Yoga retreat this weekend at the spectacular Inn at the Rustic Gate in Big Rapids, Michigan.  It was a first for me, as I got to teach "al fresco" in the pavilion.  We laid yoga mats down to cushion our feet and danced AO while gazing out at the sunset over Toogood lake and "the Great Green Meadow."  The summer evening was cooling down, green herons glided over the lake, and the breeze danced with us.  It was a magical experience.

Only three of the women in the group had ever done Nia and I got lots of expressions of gratitude and joy afterward.  Many commented how fun and energizing it was.  At breakfast the next morning, one of the participants told me, "I think that's the first time that I have ever really just let myself go.  Just really let myself go.  No judgements about myself or anything.  It was very freeing."  

Yes!  Even better, the theme of the retreat was "Finding Freedom, Inside and Out."

The next morning I got to join the group for a fantastic yoga class taught by Kelly Garner.  She is the owner of Joy Tree Yoga and organized the retreat.  It was a fabulous couple of days.  I got to catch up with my favorite aunts (who happen to be the owners of the Inn, Pat, Marcia and Sharon), I got to eat wonderful food (thank you chef Sharon for all the take home leftovers...I had three pieces of spinach pie today!)  And I got to meet an amazing group of women.  Truly cool ladies of every age and background.  It was an honor to be able to be a part of their retreat, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have shared Nia with them.  Lucky lucky me.