I might have mentioned this about Nia before, but it came up again today so I am posting about it. If I posted about it before, I can’t find it. Nia is unique in many ways. One way that Nia is unique is that we don’t shy away from issues or situations. I have been instructed in other types of trainings to “always remain positive”. As an instructor “to leave your problems at the door”. I’ve been told it is the instructor’s job to create a positive atmosphere. And while, I understand that, and I believe it to a certain extent, there are times when other feelings and life situations can be acknowledged. Today is September 11th. It is the anniversary of a very horrific attack that has affected the entire world. Everyone has their own opinions and feelings about the attack, the results, the anniversaries, and all, but for many it can be a time of sorrow. Whether you knew someone who died in the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers or you just know that many things were taken away when those planes crashed into the towers, it is sad day to remember. With many exercise classes it would not be in keeping with the training to bring that memory into the class. I was teaching a new class today. It was only my second time at this new location and with these new students. I thought that maybe bringing something so “heavy” into the class (the second class!!) might not be the right thing to do. But it crossed my mind that this is Nia, and in keeping with what Nia is, I could do that, because dancing and moving to issues and life events is something that we do in Nia. We can dance our emotions, whether they are happy or sad. We can dance our sorrow or our joy. We can dance for people who have died or are in need of positive thoughts. We can dance for beloved pets that are no longer here. We can dance whatever we want. We can dance our hearts. We are not confined to being the “happy-up-beat-don’t-let-any-emotions-but-happy-show” type of exercise. And my heart, my heart really, really, really, wanted to remember. I wanted to remember all the lives that were lost in connection with the event. I wanted to remember what we all lost on that day. I wanted to remember what we still have. I wanted to remember, to honor, to grieve, to rejoice, to share, to sense, to feel . . . . . I wanted to do Nia.
So I took my concerns to my class and I asked them if it was ok with them that we dance a dance of remembrance. I explained to them how this is something unique to Nia, that we can dance anything. I suggested a focus of remembering with an intent of doing so in our own way with our own feelings, I suggested feelings of both sorrow and joy. Because as we all know it was tragic to have lost so many lives and so much freedom, but many did survive and many freedoms are still ours to enjoy. The students were free to dance their own version of remembering.
As I said, this is a new class with mostly new-to-Nia students, having such a vague and “non-physical” type of focus is something I usually do with people who are not new to Nia. I have found that many participants especially people new to Nia, appreciate having a physical or body related type of focus. By physical or body related type of focus I mean a body part/area (“Let’s focus on our feet with the intent of sensing our whole foot.”). But I also believe that people can do what they can do. So if a non-physical focus and intent works for the participant then they will be able to incorporate it into their workout. With a focus on something that affected everyone, even though it was non-physical, I sensed the participants could tap into the remembering that was significant to each as an individual.
I love that Nia allows for us to not only dance what we SENSE, but also what we feel when we feel the need to do so. Today, I felt the need to dance what I feel. I feel the need to honor the victims of September 11, 2001 — ALL of them, even the ones that are alive — because everyone was affected in some way and for some of us dancing is a great way to express it. Nia classes don’t always have to be about the “happy” we can dance what we need to dance at that moment.