When you watch a Nia class, it is clear every person is bringing something unique to the dance. Yes, the choreography is the same, yet each pelvis, chest and head seems to be dancing to a different drum. You see people expressing thoughts and feelings from a deep and empowering place – from the inside out. Everyone is dancing in their own way, in their body’s way.
When given the freedom to move and space to explore what feels pleasurable, a body will always move in The Body’s Way. As a teacher, knowing this gives me great confidence. If I ask my students to move and listen to their bodies – by always choosing pleasure and comfort – I can trust they will move safely and efficiently. I can trust they will increase the experience of joy and conditioning in their own bodies when I guide them to follow The Body’s Way.
Increasing comfort and joy in my body is a priority. The way my body looks is secondary. Nia has taught me that the “look” of health and well-being comes naturally, and is the inevitable by-product of fully engaging and expressing myself in my dance. A big part of my expression comes from my pelvis, chest and head, which we refer to in Nia as the “core” of the body or “the three body weights.” In a healthy body, the pelvis, chest and head can move both systemically (collectively as one unit) and separately (one at a time). While each of the three body weights has its own unique character traits, the core as a whole is the home of our feelings, emotions and chakra centers.
Shake your tailbone and you will sense a rush of energy flowing up from your sacrum out the crown of your head. Shimmy your shoulders and say, “Ahhh” and you will sense energizing vibrations in your lungs and throughout your rib cage. Shake your head yes or no, and you will feel a rush of tension in your neck undoing itself. These sensations are the Voice of Your Body speaking, telling you that moving your three body weights is good medicine.
To develop a healing, moving conversation with the core of your body, incorporate these simple tips from The Body’s Way Education into your daily life:
1. Your pelvis as a bowl for your abdominal viscera – and the birthplace of your life-force energy.
2. Your chest as a birdcage for your heart and lungs – the place from which energy is circulated and distributed throughout your whole body.
3. Your head as a crystal vase for your thoughts and dreams, into which you can direct your conscious and intuitive energy (thoughts and feelings).
Make every movement an act of self-expression! This week, practice one of the below core moves each day to condition, heal and find new ways to express yourself through your core. Or, begin your day with one move (such as pelvic circles) to say, “Good morning, body!” and then integrate the remaining seven moves into your day whenever you need a movement break. For example, when you feel stiff from sitting at your computer, stand up and practice spinal rolls.
Throughout your day, allow yourself to move in your own unique rhythms and body languages. Use the emotions that arise to inspire your three body weights to be jazzy, luscious, lyrical, snappy or sensual. Even as you isolate your pelvis, chest and head, stay connected to your entire body, so you can move as a whole. If your body does not feel comfort, adjust what you are doing – or how you are doing it – until the sensation of comfort returns. Think of your body as your spirit’s ballroom dance partner and discover the pleasure, comfort and joy available in every move you make!
Move 1: Pelvic Circles
Stand in a comfortable position with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart and circle your hips in a fluid motion, as if you are hula-hooping. Sense the fluid rotation in your hip joint, the movement of the ball in its socket. Circle it in both directions to maintain relaxed mobility in your hips. Sound “Ahhh…” as you circle, to blend breath and body.
Move 2: Hip Bumps
Stand in a comfortable position with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart and bump your hips in varying directions – front to back and side to side – as if bumping someone out of the way. Sound, “Ooo!” as you hip-bump to create rhythmic precision.
Move 3: Chest Isolations
Stand in a comfortable position with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart and gently move your rib cage in all directions – to the front, back and to the sides. Open your chest, extend up, turn to each side, bend to each side, and circle your rib cage. Relax and sound “Ahhh….” to sense rhythmic and fluid movement in all directions.
Move 4: Shimmy
Stand in a comfortable position with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, and begin to vibrate and shake your shoulders as if shivering from the cold. Release your lower jaw to relax your neck and shoulder muscles. Sound the vowels “A-E-I-O-U” as you shimmy, to keep your movements dynamic and sustainable for extended periods of time.
Move 5: Undulation
Stand in a comfortable position with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart and undulate (wave) your spine from top to bottom and bottom to top, sensing space between each of your 26 vertebrae. Sound the word “Yess,” elongating the sibilant sound to help make your movements smooth.
Move 6: Spinal Roll
Stand in a comfortable position with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart. Inhale deeply, look up, and sense the front of your body lengthening and opening. Begin to slide your hands down your legs, using them for support as you sit back and sink, until you reach a point where your body says, “Enough – I can’t go further.” Then, as if you are a rag doll, exhale and round your spine over your thighs as you look toward the earth. To come up, push down through your feet and round your spine up, sliding your hands back up your legs as you roll into a standing posture. Sound the word “Ohhh…” as you round down and up to coordinate your body and breath.
Move 7: Head and Eye Movements
Stand in any position and look around in all directions, using your eyes to engage and move your head. Use your eyes to “seduce” your head with curiosity. Press the tip of your tongue lightly into the roof of your mouth to relax your lower jaw. Throughout the day, nod and shake your head from time to time. Sound “Yes,” “No,” and “Maybe!” exuberantly, blending body gesture and sound to integrate your physical and emotional bodies.
1. Your three body weights balancing, one on top of the other
2. Each weight moving independently
3. All three weights moving as one unit around the spinal column
4. Healing and alignment occurring throughout your spine