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Wednesday, February 09, 2011


As I have mentioned here, I do yoga--I take classes at a local studio when I can (which is not very often) and I practice at home with my mat and my DVD and music. I really like yoga; it is comforting and good for you and doesn't involve insane equipment or drill instructor trainers barking at you to feel the burn. However, I read in Sylvan's book The Body Sacred and on her blog about something called Nia and was interested to try it.

You see, I also really like dancing. I have never been trained to dance and I probably look like a fool when I dance, but I love it and it feels good, and so I read about Nia and thought, Hey! An exercise that combines yoga, martial arts, and dance? Sign me up! From its website, Nia is perfect for seasoned athletes and rank beginners alike, which I found to be true at the first class I took, which was last night at the Rubin Health Center in St Petersburg. The class was small--three other women besides me plus the teacher, a young woman named Lesley--and downright intimate, but very open and comfortable. I, the dancing fool with two left feet and zero coordination, had a wonderful time. The other three women were clearly at varying levels of expertise; one seemed very skillful and often expanded upon the motions which the instructor was doing, adding her own arm movements, dips, and so forth. Another seemed to be at a mid-range point and comfortable with her body. The third looked to be a beginner like me. Body types varied as well--one women was very lean, another was heavier-set, and a third built like a swimmer with broad shoulders and strong legs. We were all different ages, with me on the young end and one of the other women looking to be in her late forties.

And this is the beauty of Nia. There was no snickering at me for my clumsiness, there was no shaming or preaching to the heavier woman. There was music and Lesley showing us a motion to move into, and yes, there was sweat. It is good exercise. I can feel my legs and shoulders particularly today.

I look forward to this Saturday's class. This is a great way to exercise for those who hate gyms, those who are working through feelings of shame regarding some aspect of their bodies, whether weight or grace, those who want the meditation portion of yoga but also love to dance.

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