I hope you had a good break during the Easter weekend. After working on Good Friday, I had a full three days off. I saw family on Easter Sunday and pottered around the house on Monday, determined not to do anything remotely connected with work in any way, shape or form. I spent ages on my latest hobby – Zentangle. I’ve discovered some new Zentangle patterns, or “Tangles”(see right), via a great You tube channelthat presents a new tangle nearly every day. I find it’s a nice restful way to begin the morning. It’s designed to be very mindful and a good way to release stress.
My new job means I sit at a desk more than I used to, and I do find my hips stiffen up if I don’t move around. So, since deciding to take some time out from teaching Nia classes, I make sure I walk for at least half an hour every day. The fresh air helps clear my head at lunch time and I get to explore the area around the building where I now work. From time to time I also take some of my own advice, put on some of my favourite music to find which Nia moves are a good fit.
Have a great month.
Nia move of the month – Fingers:
For me, this wasn’t the easiest move to practise. It creates tension in your hands, fingers and forearms. The first two fingers are extended, the second two folded and the thumb presses down on the knuckle of your first finger.
You can spiral your hands, change palm directions and “dance” your hands in space around you.
Talk about great timing! I found something really interesting on NiaTV just this morning: a twenty minute workout using the music for the Nia routine “Sanjana”.Great for those days when you haven’t the time to do a full one-hour Nia class, or like me, if you currently struggle to finish a full class.
Yes, after teaching at least one class a week for the last few years, I attempted to follow a class on Nia TV one evening last week and only got half way through before I had to give up. I was just too tired. After not teaching for a few weeks, following a dose of ‘flu, I’m going to have to ease myself in gently. Partly because of this, I’ve decided to take an extended break from teaching Nia, so I won’t be teaching any regular classes in Co. Durham or Darlington until further notice.
Until I came across the twenty-minute workout, my suggestion for this month was going to be to choose a couple of the “Nia moves of the month” and have fun moving them to your favourite songs. For example, the Nia move “Slow Clock” fits really well to “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees, or how about “Travelling in Directions” and “Hip Bumps” to Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff”? Add a couple of hand moves, or “Rock around the clock” or “Duck walk“- for the introduction, and you have your own mini workout!
This is another of my favourite Nia moves. It helps my fingers, hands wrists and forearms stay strong, flexible and agile. It releases tension and helps keep my joints mobile. I am convinced that this, and the other Nia hand and finger moves, really helped me overcome arthritis pain in my hands and wrists.
Basically, you “tickle” with all of your fingers and thumbs. You can change the position of your hands and the direction of your palms. If it makes you laugh that’s all to the good – just sense your abdominal muscles tighten when you do! Watch it here:
Dates for your diary
No Nia classes for the moment in Co. Durham and Darlington.
Oh my goodness! Where did January go? Even if it passed quickly, a lot happened! My computer “died” at the beginning of the month, so I had limited access to my website and emails for the whole of January. I also started a new job, led a Nia session at the Sparklicious event on 6 January. Following a visit to the dentist, I developed an infection and then spent the last two weeks of January out of action with ‘flu. So I’m quite glad to see the back of January and will be focusing on eating well and staying fit and healthy for the rest of the year!
Given that I had ‘flu, I had to cancel a Nia class on 22 January and if you’ve visited the classes and events page of the website recently, you’ll have seen that I’ve decided to take a break from teaching classes for a while so I can focus on recovering completely.
If you are already missing your Monday night Nia class, you could consider subscribing toNiaTV. Alternatively choose a couple of the Nia Moves of the Month that I’ve featured in the blog over the last year, put on some of your favourite music and just get moving!
Have a great month.
Nia move of the month – Fingers:
I love this move. For me, it’s playful, I can feel the strength in my hands and fingers as I practise it. It’s a great move for conditioning not only the hands and fingers, but the forearm muscles too, and for releasing tension from the neck, shoulders and hands. It’s a simple and effective move for anyone who uses a keyboard a lot or who spends time engaged in handicrafts or any activity that requires fine motor skills.
Curl your fingers and place your thumb across your finger nails. Push the thumb to create some tension and then flick your fingers out, as if you were flicking water off them. Or you can imagine an explosion, or fireworks. You can create variety by changing the plane of movement (low, middle or high) and by changing the palm direction. Laurie Bass incorporates whole body moves with finger flicks. Just watch!
What I’m watching
Nia Dance Wild video In December and January, Nia teachers around the world held events to mark the release of a brand new Nia routine called “Wild”. Take a look at the video here.
The Truth about… Getting fit, BBC TV
This is the time of year when many of us think about starting to exercise after the excesses of the end of year festivities. This programme gives some great advice. However, I have to admit that I haven’t seen the whole programme yet, but what I did see was fascinating. To quote from the programme website:
“Medical journalist Michael Mosley teams up with scientists whose latest research is turning common knowledge about fitness on its head.
They reveal why 10,000 steps is just a marketing ploy and that two minutes of exercise is all a person needs each week. They discover how to get people to stick to their fitness plans and what exercise can actually make everyone more intelligent. Whether it is for couch potatoes who hate the thought of exercise, someone too busy to consider the gym, or even for fitness fanatics who are desperate to do more – science can help everyone exercise better.”
I’m a bit sceptical about just needing two minutes exercise a week, but I do agree that a 10-minute brisk walk every day can be better for you than aiming for 10,000 steps. See what you think! It’s available on the BBC iPlayer for the rest of February.
What I’m reading
If you’re looking for some inspiration for staying healthy and looking after yourself, take a look at the “Wholeheartedly Healthy” Blog by Laura Agar-Wilson. She has some great healthy recipesand lots of ideas for self-care.
After a few days away from home for a late summer break, I’m back to work this week and autumn has well and truly arrived. It was good to meet up with people I hadn’t seen for a while, and to have time to read, to draw and generally relax.
I went for a few long walks during my break. It’s a while since I’ve done that. I’m used to walking from the car park into work, I’m on my feet all morning and I’m used to teaching Nia classes, but I’m out of the habit of walking for more than 20 minutes at a stretch. And, I have to admit, for most of my week’s holiday, I was sitting down. Getting back to teaching Nia classes yesterday, reminded me how much I love to move, how much my body needs to move and how it gets me out of my head.
It put me in mind of a talk I heard a while ago by Paula Byrne where she talks about how modern life means we sit more and move less. It’s both fascinating and amusing to see her lead the audience through a 3 minute movement workout with no steps to learn, no counting and no need to know left from right (a bit like Nia classes in a way). You can find a link to it below. I got distracted looking at her outfit. I love it. Any idea where I can find one like it?
Classes are back to normal from this week, but unfortunately, I’ve had to cancel the workshop planned for tomorrow, Wednesday 4 October 2017. For details of what’s on currently, please visit the Classes & Eventspage.
Have a great month.
Nia move of the month – Hand technique:
This is a great move for releasing stress and for improving strength in your arms and shoulders.
You can do a slow version: hold the palm of your left hand up and in front of you and with the other arm, chop down with the side of your hand (like a karate chop). Don’t hit the palm of your hand – stop just as you get there. Repeat on the other side.
The faster version involves both hands chopping at the same time, keeping the wrists loose – like a massage therapist working on tense tight muscles.
What I’m watching
Everyday dancing by Paula Byrne
Dancing is an act of trust – giving our bodies permission to speak up, to move any way they want. It’s an act of moving meditation, because our bodies are always in the present moment… and the present moment is where life is happening.
Dates for your diary
The block of five classes that began at Keep Fit Darlington and at the Pioneering Care Centre on 18th September continues on 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd October.
Advance notice – Another Sparklicious Day Retreat
Saturday 6 January 2018 – a great way to leave the old year behind and step into the new. Details to follow. Check out Sparklicious Living’s website.
Having just seen a recent photo of me on Facebook, a friend commented that I just keep looking younger. If the items below are to be believed it must be because I dance often, am always on the move and I love Brussels sprouts! As you’ll see, the emerging theme of this month’s blog seems to be: keep moving to stay young at heart and fit and healthy in mind and body.
So here’s where you’ll find me moving in May. If you’re able to join me for some Nia classes this month, then a new block of 5 classes begins on Monday 8th May at Keep Fit Darlington at 2.30 p.m. and at the Pioneering Care Centre at 6.30 p.m. It would be great to see you!
I’m looking forward to the Day of Dance in Saltaire on 13th May because I get to go to a Nia class with Lynette McFadden who will be leading a workshop there. It will be such a joy to join in as a participant! I’ll be rounding off the day with an Irish Set Dance workshop (Irish Set Dance is why I started doing Nia in the first place – to stay fit enough to continue).
And finally, a lot closer to home, I’m delighted to have been invited to share some Nia at the Sparklicious Ladies’ Retreat Day in July. You can read all about it below.
Have a great month
Nia move of the month – Elbow Strike Side
Elbow Strikes all start from Sumo Stance or Bow Stance and use the opposite hand for support to direct the strike. They invoke the power and precision of the martial arts.
They help to release stress and condition the upper arms, chest and back.
For Elbow Strike Side, use the opposite hand to push on your fist, in order to drive your elbow out to the side.
What I’m reading
Eat your greens – Brussels sprouts in Dementia Research
Who knew? It seems that sprouts are being investigated as a potential cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. More
And if you’re not keen on sprouts, you could try dancing:
Why is dancing so good for your brain?
Dancing improves brain function on a variety of levels. Two recent studies show how different types of practice allow dancers to achieve peak performance by blending cerebral and cognitive thought processes with muscle memory and ‘proprioception’ held in the cerebellum. Through regular aerobic training that incorporates some type of dance at least once a week anyone can maximize his or her brain function. Continue reading thisarticle from “Psychology today”.
And if you don’t consider yourself a dancer, just keep moving. “Through Movement We Find Health” is the Nia philosophy and core belief, reiterated by Debbie Rosas, Co-creator of Nia, in a recent newsletter:
Science has proven that movement: 1. Produces new brain cells and their connections. 2. Stimulates the brain. The brain is a highly sensitive communicator designed to detect motion, cues, and patterns.
3. Enhances neurotransmitter, nerve connections and their growth.
4. Helps to form new blood vessels.
5. Helps regulate and reduce stress.
6. Boosts the production of brain chemicals that enhance learning.