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Don’t Be Afraid Of Spirit

Posted by terrepruitt on February 9, 2013

Recently a Nia student came up to me after a Nia class to ask me a question.  She said that she had talked to another woman about attending a Nia class but the woman didn’t want to because we said “Om!”  My student asked me if Nia was religious.  I shared with her what happened in the Nia White Belt Intensive I attended and my thoughts on it.  What happened in the Nia White Belt Intensive I attended in December 2008, was Carlos Rosas asked one of the intensive participants what was in Nia.  Her answer was “God.”  Carlos said, “NO!  There is no God in Nia!”  I don’t know Carlos’ religious beliefs, if he has any, or how he feels about God or religion, but I think he was saying that there is no religion in Nia.  It is not associated with any type of religion.  It is meant for everyBODY and everyone and people of all faiths and all belief systems can participate and enjoy Nia.  It truly is based on the design of the body.  It is not based on ANY religion or God.

I personally feel that if you have God or any belief system in you then you will bring Him/it into whatever it is you are doing.  But that is not a reflection on the event or activity.  With any belief if you believe it you are going to carry it with you.  So if you believe in God, Gods, Buddha, Allah, or whatever that will come with you into Nia.  But Nia has none of that as a part of it.  What Nia DOES have as a part of it is spirit.  But that should not be confused with any type of religious spirit or supernatural spirit.  Wiki states:  “The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning ‘breath'”.  And an online dictionary says:  “The vital principle or animating force within living beings.”  Yet some people often think of spirit as religious, as in the Holy Spirit, or otherworldly, as in ghostly spirits.

Because of that conversation I had with one of my students I had been thinking of this and in a class I said, “Let your spirit out.”  And I noticed a few students stiffen.  And I continued on, saying, “That is not to be meant religious or supernatural, I mean spirit as in ‘your school spirit’, when people say ‘show some school spirit no one gets all wiggy’.  It’s like that.  THAT type of spirit.”  And I saw people relax.  I saw some say, “Oh.”  And then I saw some spirit.

I think of spirit as a passion or your inner child.  It is the part of you that wants to slide down the banister, run up the down escalator, balance on a curb, jump in the puddles, take your shoes off and slide in stocking feet across the length of the mall, or say “WAAAAHOOOOO!”  It is the breath that we often hold in.  If your beliefs have your spirit saying or doing something in class then that is fine, but that is not to say that your beliefs are a part of Nia, that is a part of YOU that you bring to Nia.

The type of spirit you would have with school spirit, class spirit, and/or team spirit that is the spirit Nia calls upon and what Nia invites to be released in a Nia class.  Let your inner essence dance and be free, don’t be afraid . . . . . . let go.

7 Responses to “Don’t Be Afraid Of Spirit”

  1. niachick said

    Isn’t it interesting that the word “spirit” brings up such fear? I am not a religious person, yet I am a very spirited person…not “spiritual” — since that is also a word that is misconstrued. My “spirit” is what makes me unique. It is what allows me to express creatively — it imbues everything I do in life — from my relationship with my husband, to how I interact with animals and how I type on my keyboard. It is, as you mention in your blog post, what animates us. Without spirit, our bodies would be robotic. Our minds would be dull and our emotions would be non-existent. In Nia, we dance with our bodies, we create images with our minds, we respond to the music with our emotions and we animate it all with our spirit. I had a student who had been dancing with me for 8 or 9 years. I have a little statue of the Buddha in my studio, along with a frog and a couple of Nia bears. This particular student came up to me after class one day and with her little finger (representing “boundaries”) pointed to the Buddha and said “why do you have THAT in your studio”. She wanted to know if I was a Buddhist. I told her I was no more a Buddhist than I was a Christian. I respect anyone’s choice of worship, of prayer. She told me she could not come back to dance if I left the Buddha statue in my studio because it represented evil. It took every ounce of strength I had not to laugh…obviously that would not have been respectful. Having been with me for as long as she had, she knew full well how I live my life, so it really surprised me that she would think any statue (no matter if the Buddha or a frog or whatever) that I might have in my studio would represent evil. She has not been back since. And that’s okay. She made her choice. The Buddha statue still resides in my studio and I have not been struck down by lightning.

    I love this blog post. Spirit is the element of Nia that drew me in (that, and the fact that we danced barefoot) and kept me coming back. Being able to dance freely, expressing my own unique spirit was (and continues to be) so refreshing!!! Thanks for putting this out there!!


    • The student who asked about religion was already planning on asking me and then she saw the cross on my necklace so she started the conversation with that . . .

      It is interesting that the word spirit causes so many different types of emotions.

      I had a student say she couldn’t attend Nia because it has Yoga “in it” and yoga is a religion. Which is something (yoga being a religion) I hear often debated.

      Nia is for everyBODY but not everyone (as we say). 🙂


  2. niachick said

    Isn’t it interesting how the word “spirit” can create so much fear? My spirit allows me to express creatively — whether it’s in a Nia class or handling a situation at the office. Spirit is what allows me to imbue every situation with my own unique flavor — whether I’m talking to my husband or relating to one of my cats — it allows me to brush my teeth with pizzaz or wash the dishes and sing at the top of my lungs. One of my long time students (she had been dancing with me for probably 8 or 9 years) came to me after class one day and said she didn’t think she could continue coming to my studio to dance unless I removed the little statue of the Buddha. To her it represented evil. I told her I was no more a Buddhist than I was a Christian. She asked me if I believed in God. Here’s a woman who had been dancing with me for 8 or 9 years and had to ask that question. My routines and the way I teach them are full of my love for God. I respect and honor anyone’s choice for worship and prayer. I do not exclude, I include. Spirit is always inclusive. Spirit does not judge. Humans judge, humans exclude. And yet spirit is what animates the human form. It is so interesting to me how humans have become separated from their “beingness”. Anyway, I love this blog post. My classes are full of my spirit and I encourage all of my students to express themselves with their own unique spirit. In fact, I have many students who tell me that the reason they keep coming back is BECAUSE of the “spiritual” part of my classes. There’s another word that gets misconstrued and misinterpreted, too — “spiritual”. Here again, humans separating themselves from what animates their very beingness. Physical, Mental, Emotional — these three realms seem to be in the forefront in the experience of many — yet NONE would be “alive” without the realm of spirit. We are UNIQUE!!! Nia is UNIQUE!! Thank you thank you thank you, Terre!!!


    • Yes. I think you might have typed this thinking your first comment did not go through. I moderate the comments because too many are spammy advertisements. I didn’t want to delete this one because you say a few different interesting points even though it is very similar to the first comment. 🙂

      I love Nia. I think it is great. I also love that there are so many different types of movement/exercises out there because that leave no room for excuses. There is something for everyone!


      • niachick said

        You’re right! I did type a second message. The first one did not appear to go through. Usually I see the comment immediately. Oh well!! I couldn’t remember exactly what I said in the first one. Similar stuff, a few other little things. Thanks for letting me know!!! I love your SPIRIT!!


        • Yeah, they were basically the same. You did good repeating yourself, but they were different enough that I thought I could just approve them both. Plus, since you took the time to type ’em people should get to read them.

          Love yours too!


  3. […] stands for Body, Mind, Emotions, Spirit.  We can call these voices or realms.  I have recently posted about Spirit.  It is not the religious type of spirit, but the school-type or the team-type.  It is the part […]


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