I find that the more I stay in tune with my body, rather than listening to the stories of my mind, the Universe somehow brings together all the ingredients for a fabulous Nia class.

As a Nia teacher, I’m constantly looking for/researching what I can use as a focus for the class.  Yes, Nia classes start with setting a focus and an intent.  So I went searching this morning for a focus for my class at 9:00 a.m. The music I’m using is classic rock with some country and the choreography is classic Nia choreography using many of the Upper Extremities 52 Moves (yes, Nia has 52 Moves that are blended seamlessly into every routine).

I logged on to the Nia website (yes, Nia has a website:, clicked on Downloads, closed my eyes and pointed.  When I opened my eyes, my finger was pointing to Awareness of the Elbow.  Voila’, my focus for this morning’s class.  Try moving your elbow without moving your forearm or your shoulder.  Impossible.  The Upper Extremities include the Arms, Hands and Fingers, but much more is going on muscularly and with the bones, connective tissue, etc. when one moves the arms, hands and fingers.

I’m continually impressed, amazed, thankful, blessed to be a Licensed Black Belt Nia Practitioner.  Get In Your Body — let’s dance!!!


Being At Home In Your Body


Monday, April 22nd, is Earth Day.  Have you ever considered that how we treat our physical bodies is symbolic of how we treat Mother Earth?  The more one learns about one’s body, the greater connection one can have with The Mother.

For instance, in Traditional Chinese Medicine the Spleen (not just an organ in the body, but a set of functions which are expressed in various ways throughout the bodymind) belongs to the Element of Earth and is anatomically expressed through the fascia and connective tissue of the body.  Connective tissue expresses the support of the Spleen.  In Nia, our larger movements become smooth and easy and we have a greater range of motion when the connective tissue and fascia are relaxed and unconstricted.  We feel muscle tone and we feel “at home” in our bodies.  “Being at home in our bodies is an expression of strong Spleen energy.” (– Daverick Leggett, from “Helping Ourselves: A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics.”)

The Base (Toes, Feet, Legs) can allow us to bring attention the earth beneath our feet; we can become more aware of our groundedness and when we do we give support and strength to our Spleen.

The Spleen is also the organ of digestion.  Mr. Leggett says, “Digestion is the process of converting food into usable substances within our bodies and sending them to where they are needed.  The Spleen adapts food to nourish and support our system.  This process is called ‘transformation and transportation.’  The stronger our Spleen function is, the better we are able to extract nourishment from any food to support our body’s needs.  When we eat, the question is not so much whether a particular food is good for us but rather how strong and skilled our Spleen is at extracting the nourishment from it.  The first step towards eating well may not involve changing our diet at all but rather strengthening and maintaining our Spleen.”

When we are in a Nia class, just the simple activity of moving our bodies with the 52 Moves of Nia puts us in direct contact with the Spleen.  We connect physically with the Spleen when we move our bodies since we are moving the fascia and connective tissue.  

We can support our Spleen from the emotional realm by transforming our need for “comfort food” into trusting that Life is moving us along a path of health and well being.  Nia supports the emotional realm through an invitation to “let go” of perceived obstacles through emotionally expressive, creative movements.  I have witnessed students who come to class weighed down by some perceived “negative” emotion in their lives, who suddenly get in to their bodies, moving muscles, bones, connective tissue, fascia, ultimately creating an opening for the release of the emotion.  They sense and feel the release…I see it in the relaxation of their bodies and the expressions on their faces. The Spleen is happy.

Mentally the Spleen is supported by balancing mental work with physical exercise, being in nature and breathing fresh air.  Too much sitting at the computer (as I raise my hand in acknowledgment) is detrimental to a happy Spleen.

The realm of Spirit — healthy expression of one’s UNIQUE character — one’s Life As Art — is conducive to a healthy Spleen.

“Trust Your Body — sometimes we crave our poison (food, what we watch on TV or read in the newspapers, our need for attention) but there is in each of us a deeper level of knowing.  As we bring our awareness to…we can begin to feel what our true needs are, what truly nourishes us.  At first we may need to be guided by more analytical judgments, but as we listen inside we can begin to make choices from our bodies, too.  What makes us feel good at the deepest level is good for us.  Over time we can cultivate this skill of separating our cravings and addictions from our deeper levels of guidance.”

Mr. Leggett speaks mostly to the framework of how food and one’s attachments, addictions and cravings for certain foods affects the Spleen.  Food is certainly of great importance in the health of well-being of the Spleen and its functions.  

Nia IS transformative movement.  Becoming more aware of one’s attachments, addictions and cravings in the world (not just food) and using Nia as a lifestyle practice is paramount to “being at home” in our bodies.








I taught the Nia routine “Vibe” today.  I love the music.  My personal focus was to be in the moment with my movements.  As with all Nia routines that are produced by Nia HQ, this one has specific choreography that goes with each song; choreography that was developed with a specific focus and intent by Debbie Rosas (co-founder of Nia) and the Nia Trainers.

The focus I set for my class was “Conditioning and Confidence in Possibilities”.  Conditioning in this case was using different levels of intensity with the 52 Moves or choreography.  Sometimes I used speed as a reference for conditioning and also the planes (high, middle, low) of Nia; and sometimes both.  So many ways to utilize conditioning, too.  The “possibilities” piece had to do with where each person was individually with their energy level, their body sensitivity, etc. and their choices along the way.   I also added to my conversation “in the circle” (I always start my classes in a circle to set the focus) that choosing NOT to participate in the “speed or planes” of a move did NOT constitute a lack of self-confidence…more so it was an indication of listening to one’s body.  The invitation is always there to explore if it’s the right thing to do.

As soon as the music started, I knew — I sensed — that I was not going to follow the original choreography.  My spirit realm spoke quite clearly that it was time to really allow my personal focus of “being in the moment with my movements” to manifest in truly creative ways.

And truly creative it was!  I found myself surprised by some of the interesting “pearls” that came forth from my Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spirit realms.  I had such a great time, and I do believe my students did as well.

Have you ever found yourself compelled to create in the moment?  Did you allow yourself the space to do so?  What was your sensation at a physical level?  Did your mind want to distract you or did it relax and go with the flow?  Is it possible to use words to describe your emotions around creating in the moment?  I found myself to be “giddy”, “delighted”, “radiant”, “sassy”.  My mind allowed no distractions.  My cueing was with the language of the 52 Moves.  “Grapevine, Lateral Travel, Slow Clock, Cross Front Cha Cha Cha.  Double-time.  A physical sensation of being grounded (which never left me) seduced me into being in the moment.  It was pure passion…my sacred livelihood manifesting with each movement…each translation…each smile on my students’ faces.  

Endless gratitude for Nia and all its wonderous possibilities and conditioning! 

Letting Go, No Judgment


I am constantly amazed at Nia’s ability to draw forth from me more of my creative in-the-moment capabilities.  

Last week I was attending the Blue Belt Nia Intensive with Caroline Kohles and Winalee Zeeb.  My first time through the Blue Belt Intensive was in September of 2003, so here I was 10 years later revisiting Communication, Relationship and Intimacy (the cornerstones of Blue Belt).  There is a great deal of information that is shared in Nia Intensives…academic as well as somatic.  

Being a Black Belt since 2008, I was under the mistaken impression that I would be “reviewing” the Blue Belt principles…HA HA HA.  Yes, certainly reviewing was part of the process, but WHOA Nellie…embodying the principles was never so evident.  Amazing, magical, wonderous, marvelous, ecstatic rippling waves of recognition occurred as I moved with and was moved by the physical realm, the mental realm, emotional realm and spirit realm (lovingly referred to in Nia as BMES).

Winalee and Caroline are two of Nia’s original Trainers.  Along with energizing the Intensive with their own spirits, what they offered to me or what I took in from them was the essence of letting go, letting go and letting go.  No judgment.  Such a seemingly simple thing to do…if I’m holding on to something and let it go, I no longer am holding on to it…right?  Ahhhh grasshopper, there is much to learn about letting go.  And I’m having the time of my life right now doing so!!!  

Another of the fantasmagorical life-changing moments from Blue Belt was the two phrases:  “what am I bringing to the relationship?” and “what can I bring instead?”  Life-changing…opens up a whole new world.  

Last, but not least, I’d like to say that I have had the opportunity to not only witness, but be in full experiential mode with this letting-go-no-judgement-what-am-I-bringing-to-the-relationship-and-what-can-I-bring-instead way of living as I taught my Saturday and Monday Nia classes after returning from the Blue Belt.  On Saturday, I took a routine I had been working with for a couple of weeks and decided to do totally in-the-moment choreography using Nia’s 52 Moves.  My plan worked beautifully.  I received lovely feedback from many of the students in class that day.  So, I decided to do it again on Monday.  Oh how the Universe loves to creatively play with me.  My iPod froze up.  What to do, what to do.  What am I bringing to the relationship?  Anxiety.  What can I bring instead?  Joy!!!  And of course the fact that my good friend and fellow Nia teacher, Kathy Rink, was in class that day, had her iPod with her and after a moment of “trying” to decide what Nia playlist to use, she offered that she had a “Chillout” playlist.  OMG.  Can I?  Should I?  Dare I teach in the moment without even knowing the music?  It took about 5 seconds for the Universe to kick me in the butt and utter the words, “Go for it, Kathy.  Put it on.”  

Perfection.  Magical.  Creative.  Holy cow.  No judgment.  I let go.  As a Black Belt, this should be second nature to me (ooops…is that a judgment?).  I’ve taught individual “songs” before in the moment.  And only one other time just prior to attending my Black Belt Intensive in 2008 did I teach an entire routine without knowing the music (ala Mary Carol Rick’s divine playlist).  Five years later, I do it again with an ENTIRELY different experience.  In 2008, I was so totally aware of all the mistakes, the tendencies, the this and the that.  In 2013, no judgment.  Totally present.  JOY lead the way.  The Nia 52 Moves provided the platform.  Life As Art. So cool.  I want more.  And guess what???  I can have it!!!  YAY ME!!!