Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This is what 8 looks like:

a giant, goofy, gap-filled smile showing the simple joy of hanging out with your dear friend (and your tiger, of course) at one of your very favorite places. Interestingly, Tovah chose to skip the usual party this year, and opted instead for a few special outings and her favorite malted milk ice cream. Very low key compared to previous years, but it seemed just perfect for who she is right now.

Monday, August 02, 2010

My Weekend

I decided to celebrate my recent significant birthday with a weekend of learning and dance at a Nia workshop. Thanks to my one-and-only, I was able to take two whole days out of my regular life--no schlepping, no laundry, no what's-for-dinner--to dig a little deeper into the movement that's been so nourishing and energizing for me in the last year.

Have I written here about Nia? Probably not. Where to start?

I stumbled into classes at our local community center last fall after realizing that inhaling chlorine on a regular basis probably offset any gains I was making in the pool. I was initially attracted to the Nia classes I'd spied through the studio doors because everyone looked like they were having so much fun. Seriously--people grinning in an exercise class? I had to check it out.

During my first class I felt wildly self conscious, like I had two or three left feet. I stressed myself out trying to get the choreography and then suddenly, when I stopped thinking and started feeling, it all came together. I found myself remembering my years as a dancer and realizing that dancer was still deep down inside me somewhere and maybe it was time to let her out.

My goodness that all sounds terribly woo woo, doesn't it?

But the simple fact that I've willingly gotten out of bed 2 or 3 times weekly to exercise for the past 11 months is nothing short of miraculous so I will just accept the magic, thanks very much. For months that's been enough. In fact, I was almost afraid to learn more about Nia. Why ask questions when it works?

And yet...and yet I just recently hit a point where I realized that, God willing, this will be part of the rest of my life. And it suddenly felt ok to ask questions, to dig deeper, to learn more. And just about that time, an email dropped in to my inbox, promoting an opportunity to find out more. There's that magic again.

I sent in my money, packed up a day's worth of snacks, and dove in to 13 hours of learning and moving in a beautiful, light-filled, high-ceilinged studio that was the perfect place to listen and watch and think. I don't get a while lot of time like that so this felt very special.

What exactly did we learn? Nia is a fusion of 9 different movement forms: moden dance, jazz dance, Duncan dance, Feldenkrais, Alexander technique, yoga, aikido, tai chi, and tae kwon do. While I knew this, I didn't know much about these individually, and I certainly hadn't thought about how each of these relates to what we do in Nia. This workshop was an opportunity to learn about the various disciplines through discussion, video, and practice. There was a great deal to think about and ample opportunity to watch masters in action and then practice in both controlled and creative ways. There were lots of folks there with far more knowledge and experience than I have and it was wonderful to learn from all of them.

My re-entry wasn't easy. I pushed myself too hard and I was tired, sore, and ravenous when I made it home last night but I also had that profoundly satisfying sense of having made enriching connections. I can't wait to take what I've learned into the studio tomorrow and after.

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