Nia is about pleasure and Joy and about working out.
I have a lot of newcomers in class this time of year since everyone is working on resolutions. So, I always say something about “keep moving in pleasure throughout the whole class.” “If your heart rate is too high and you are sucking-wind, it means you’ve probably checked out of your Conscious Personal Trainer (CPT) and gotten carried away with the Joy… bring everything back toward center so you can recover. Smaller is a good place to study your moves, your mind, your feelings, and expression.”
I invite students to explore all levels no matter their familiarity with Nia or their level of fitness.
Since focusing on White Belt Principle 7, the three planes and three levels has raised the intensity of my classes overall. Exploring the smile line for a solid hour makes students strive to… well… explore the smile line in all three planes for an hour. Then, we’re all sweating and breathing heavier. My community focuses on the workout first. Joy and pleasure aren’t the things that get them through the door initially. People here in DC want to efficiently burn calories and look good. I am even tempted to say that many people are willing to give up joy and pleasure in lieu of a kickin’ workout. It’s the promise of Nia that allows them to find Joy and pleasure AND get a kickin’ workout.
So this whole other side of Nia is what makes them stay (or not, as the case may be). I am not afraid to bring up the mechanics of an intense workout, as a matter of fact, I go right for it. Then, the sneak that I am, I teach people how to use their CPT and let that inform their own workout. I usually work a “small dance” (intimate or whispered dance) into the choreography and ask everyone to sense their heart-rate so they can decide if they’d like to take it back up (and dance bigger and louder) or stay as is.
Another thing that seems to be unavoidable is that people are striving to “do it right” – even when they are reminded over and over that right is relative or that there is no one right way – or that right is THEIR Body’s Way. Here in DC, people tend to be so detached from their Body’s Way, that they need to slam into their edge and then dial it back back into pleasure and joy. It is not at all odd for new students to be surprised at what intensity pleasure and joy can have.
This thing – workout-driven dance vs. “pleasure and Joy” dancing is also easier to see than just hear about.
I am grateful when there are more old-timer students in class than new students. I ask for a show of hands of new people, then seasoned dancers, and then belts in the room. I usually make a joke about, “these are the people you can cheat off of if you get confused.” It is not only true that they are also the teachers…it’s easier to catch the vibe of pleasure and joy from several people in the room who are experiencing it rather than just doing as one is told. Joy and pleasure are always catchy. They look so good on people that the others have the desire to get that rather than getting a butt-kicking.
Again, in DC, people come in worried that they are going to “mess it up” somehow or they are worried about being klutzy. Unless they are already working on being less of a perfectionist, the class really challenges this personality attribute. I tell new people that the learning curve for Nia is very gentle. Only 52 moves and most of them we will do on their first day and even though next class will be different in many aspects, the basic moves are still the same. So in 2, 3, 6 classes, most people have a solid sense of the practice. For cerebral Washingtonians (and maybe everyone else) I mention muscle memory and learning curve and basic moves. Then, people relax. That is a context that their right brains can handle. If I think it will help, I also mention that confusion (sometimes the aim of the choreography), develops new neural-pathways and makes the body and brain communicate at a Black Diamond level. Choreography is sometimes meant to confuse so you will come out having worked a different part of YOU, like your brain and emotions, and spirit. Not just your thighs.