Category Archives: Holistic Health

Eat your greens and keep on dancing!

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

Anne


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 this article from “Psychology today”.

Debbie Rosas. Photograph provided by Nia Technique (www.nianow.com).

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.


What I’m watching

Dancing for Dementia

A video report from BBC Scotland. Watch it here.


Dates for your diary

CalendarNia classes

New blocks of five classes begin at Pioneering care Centre and Keep Fit Darlington begin on Monday 8 May.

Full details on the Classes and Events page.


Saltaire Day of Dance


Saturday, 13th May, Victoria Hall, Saltaire, BD18 3JS

Exercise your brain and body by trying out a form of dance you’ve never tried before. Everything from Argentine Tango to Charleston and from Disco to Swing.

There’ll be Nia with Lynette MacFadden at 12.30, and I will be doing a beginners’ Irish Set Dance workshop later in the afternoon.
Full details of all dance workshops.


Sparklicious Summer Retreat Day

Saturday 8 July 2017, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.,
Hardwick Park, Sedgefield TS21 2DN

What stops you from shining?
What dulls your sparkle?

Join Karen Hughes for a wonderful day of rediscovery and soul searching to find and release your inner sparkle!
This is a women only retreat and is exclusively brought to you by Sparklicious Living.

A taste of Nia and complementary therapies are included in the day.


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Keep Calm and Carry On: why is self care so hard?

I was recently wondering why so many of the inspirational writers I come across these days are advocating self-care. I wrote about it last month  and have a few more self-care tips to share with you this month too.

It seems to me that the “Keep calm and carry on” spirit marked those of us who grew up in the years after the war. Our parents lived through it and rationing only came to an end a few years before I was born.  Making do was the order of the day and carrying on in spite of adversity was seen as almost saintly. “Looking after Number One” (i.e. yourself) typified selfishness in a bad way.

Thinking about all this brought to mind one of my favourite books, Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a small island”.  In describing his much-loved adopted country, Bryson observes that the British have sayings like “Mustn’t grumble” and “Let’s make do and mend”. The latter was the title of a pamphlet issued by the Ministry of Information during World War II.

He also says – and this part always makes me smile – that it’s a shame that communism was left to the Russians when the British would have managed it so much better! For Brits, going without is second nature; they are great at pulling together in the face of adversity; they don’t mind queuing; they accept rationing and have “a natural gift for making jokes about authority without seriously challenging it.” He asserts that the British would have taken communism “in their stride, with good heart and wihout excessive cheating. In point of fact, until about 1970 it wouldn’t have made the slightest discernible difference to most people’s lives.”

I wonder if he would be of the same opinion if he were writing today? And I wonder if all this goes some way to explaining why some of us find it so difficult to take care of ourselves? It’s not a concept we grew up with – quite the reverse! I hope some of the tips below will help.

Have a great month
Anne


Nia move of the month – Elbow Strike Back

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 Back, use the opposite hand to push on your fist, in order to drive your elbow back behind you.


What I’m reading

Here are those self-care tips, courtesy of Cheryl Richardson:

20 ridiculously simple ways to live longer better

  • Upon waking, stretch your body in some fun way for five minutes.
  • Drink half your body weight in water (in ounces).
  • Refuse to rush. When making commitments or appointments, put space in your calendar in between.
  • Look for one thing in nature that astonishes you.
    Read more

Dates for your diaryCalendar

Nia classes
New 5-week blocks of Nia classes have started at Keep Fit Darlington and at the Pioneering Care Centre. Two more weeks of the present block at Bishop Middleham.
Full details on the Classes and Events page.

Unfortunately, the Ageless Grace class at Bishop Middleham wasn’t sufficiently well-attended for it to continue.

Saltaire Day of Dance
Saturday, 13th May, Victoria Hall, Saltaire, BD18 3JS

Exercise your brain and body by trying out a form of dance you’ve never tried before. Everything from Argentine Tango to Charleston and from Disco to Swing.

There’ll be Nia with Lynette MacFadden at 12.30, and I will be doing a beginners’ Irish Set Dance workshop later in the afternoon.
Full details of all dance workshops.


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Autumn, changing your brain and “U”

pumpkin-autumn-leavesAutumn has finally arrived and though it’s still sunny as I write, there’s a crisp coldness in the air and the next block of Nia classes in Newton Aycliffe will take us almost up to Christmas! In the meantime,  I have plenty of news and tips to pass on this month.

I’ve just heard a great TED talk by Denise Medved on changing your brain through play. At a time where one of our biggest preoccupations as a society is coping with an ageing population, she proposes a really simple way to keep people’s brains healthy. I’ve shared details below. Do take a look.

Have you ever been told how good meditation is for clearing your mind, but struggled to get started? Well, I’ve found a five minute video that really helped me (see below).

If you’ve ever wondered how the Nia routines I teach are put together, there’s a link to an article on Ann Christiansen, Nia trainer and creator of the routine “U” where she talks about the process.  And in the “Nia move of the month” section, we’re beginning to look at punches, which are great for strength and conditioning.

I’m looking forward to beginning another block of five evening Nia classes starting on 14 November at the Pioneering Care Centre and taking us up to 12 December. We’ll then take a break for Christmas. Full details below.

Have a great month!

PS. Following the discussion at the end of today’s class, the last track I used was: “The Unwinding” by Parijat. It’s used in the Nia routine “Humanity“.  The other track we talked about was the first track of the routine “Grace”. It’s called “To make the impossible possible” and you’ll find more information about it here.


Nia Move of the month – Upward Punch

There are four basic punches: Upward, Outward (forward), Across and Downward. as with the Blocks, they all begin and end in the Ready Position:  A or Sumo Stance, knees soft and spring-loaded, hands in a fist with palms up, elbows in, forearms close to your body.

You can sound, “up!”, “out!”, “down!” or “across!” to engage your core and diaphragm.

Punches can help you move quickly and rhythmically. They develop strength in your core and arms and condition your back and legs too! and can really make you feel more powerful.

Put on your favourite music and depending on the beat, play with strong, powerful, jazzy and gentle punches.
For the Upward Punch, from the Ready Position, use your elbow to power the punching fist up in front of your face, while the other elbow draws back. Repeat on alternate sides.

Watch it here :


A five-minute invitation to meditate

tibetan-singing-bowlsHow many times have I read or been told how beneficial meditation is? I’ve lost count. Here’s a five-minute YouTube video that really helped me. I tried it and couldn’t believe that it really was a full five minutes, so I timed it! And I can confirm that it is just over five minutes long.


What I’m watching
Changing Your Brain Can Be As Simple As Child’s Play, Denise Medved

Here’s a fab TED Talk from Denise Medved, creator of Ageless Grace, about how movement, and specifically play, can activate the brain and keep it healthy. Enjoy!

Denise is the creator of Ageless Grace which uses the simple techniques she describes here.


What I’m reading
u-class-experienceAnn Christiansen on creating the Nia routine “U”

I mentioned last month that the Nia routine “U” is now available as a digital download from Amazon, iTunes and Google Play and you can buy the DVD from Nianow and Amazon. Here’s its creator Ann Christiansen talking about her inspiration for the routine and what the choreography is intended to do. Read it now: Behind the scenes with Ann Christiansen.

And this video captures the power, grace and strength of Ann’s moves.


Classes and events
Nia in Newton Aycliffe, Mondays at 6.30 p.m.

Nia logo new redThe next block of Monday night classes will begin on 14 November.

£17.50 for the block of five. Please bring the correct money in an envelope with your name on it. £5 per class

More information on Classes & Events page.

Taller, lighter and peacefully energised…

512px-still_water_at_dusk“Taller, ligher and peacefully energised.” That’s how two participants of “Move with Ease” ended September and began their weekend – in their own words. We had moved mindfully into the evening with slow, simple, healing Nia moves; I then talked them through some somatic exercises to re-educate brain and muscles to release tension and improve posture. And we rounded off the evening by sharing a guided visualisation where they were able to relax completely. And as a post-script, I heard from one of them that she also enjoyed a great night’s sleep afterwards. Don’t you just love it when everything comes together and people tell you it works?

It was a fantastic start to my weekend too, and to the new month of October. How was yours?  Last month we had the schools starting up again and this month it’s new beginnings for lots of young people starting university. So which new chapter are you beginning in October?

Why not join me this month and begin a new healthy habit? Is there something you’ve been meaning to do for ages – a five minute meditation every day, write a journal, eat more healthily, exercise more, cut down on caffeine or alcohol? Like most people, I know there are probably lots of things I could do to be more healthy, but I know I won’t do them all, so I’ll focus on just one.

My aim is to do 5 minutes of somatic exercises every week-day this month to see whether I can feel the difference by the end of the month. Notice I said, “every week-day” and not “every morning “- I need to give myself a bit of wiggle room for when life gets in the way!  What I’m intending, is that I’ll get into the habit and choose to do it every day.

Will you join me? Can you make it something really simple? Just one thing that is easy to do. But I know I have to be careful because the things that are easy to do, are also very easy not to do!

If you want to let us know what you’ve chosen to do and how you’re getting on, please comment over on the Supple Change Facebook page.

If you need some inspiration, take a look at what else is on the blog below and have a great October.


Nia Move of the month – Outward Block

All Blocks in Nia begin and end in the Ready Position:  A or Sumo Stance, knees soft and spring-loaded, hands in a fist with palms up, elbows in, forearms close to your body. As you move your arms, imagine your head and shoulders are staying within an imaginary picture frame; this means you’re not opening up too far and risking straining shoulder ligaments.

To do the Outward Block, from the Ready Position, bring one fist and forearm across up and out to block the side of your face, while the other elbow pulls back. Keep your hips facing front. Do it strong, or do it jazzy, and enjoy!

The Blocks help build strength and speed in your arms and the core of your body.

Watch it :


Stop Breathe & Think

MP900387543This is the name of an App someone told me about and which I’ve found very helpful for building a few minutes quiet time, mediation or stillness into the day. You can download it to your phone or tablet and choose words to describe how you feel, physically, mentally and emotionally, and the app will suggest a few mediations for you. The shorter ones are free.


Free Move without Pain E-mail course

I have just signed up for this course to help me in the first week of my October Challenge. It’s available via Martha Peterson’s Essential Somatics website. If you go to the website, a pop-up box will appear after a few seconds to allow you to sign up. I can’t tell you what it’s like yet, because I only just received lesson one and haven’t had time to check it out, but I learned about Somatics from Martha and highly recommend her as a teacher.

If Somatics is something that interests you, please let me know as I’m thinking about organising a workshop.


What I’m watching

Here are two tv programmes I found very interesting. You may have seen them too. What was striking was that by adopting a healthier lifestyle people with long-term conditions, experienced huge improvements to their health, without using medication.

  • The Retreat on BBC 2 in which Nick Knowles joined a group on a Thai island to undergo an intense detox and healing programme. The results of the fasting, vegan diet, yoga and meditation – as well as other practices and healing sessions – was profound. And on a physical level the one diabetic followed in the programme lowered his blood sugar level dramatically without using drugs at all.
  • The Doctor who gave up drugs. I was particularly heartened to find that the group of people who started waliking for 30 minutes, five times a week, saw a dramatic improvement in their health too. And walking is so easy for most people and it’s free. Here’s the trailer:


What I’m listening to

A friend recently recommended a healing meditation on YouTube by Jason Stephenson. When I checked it out, I discovered that he also has videos for aiding sleep, for relaxation and for confidence. These are my favourites for healing and for confidence. Great to listen to last thing at night, or first thing in the morning.


Classes and events
Nia in Newton Aycliffe, Mondays at 6.30 p.m.

Nia logo new redA new block of five Nia classes begins on Monday 10 October at the Pioneering Care Centre in Newton Aycliffe.
Details on the Classes and events page.

u-class-experienceNia routine “U” now available on DVD and digital download

And on the subject of Nia, the routine “U” is now available as a digital download from Amazon, iTunes and Google Play. And you can buy the DVD from Nianow and Amazon.

Northumbria Healers Mind Body Spirit event, Saturday 8 October, Hexham.

More information on Classes & Events and on the Northumbria Healers website.

Take 5 & Chill!

asleepFeeling very chilled after my first ever “Move with Ease” session last Friday. I caught up on sleep over the weekend (a lot!), so I hope the participants felt as relaxed as I did. One actually said that the only way the session could have been improved was if I’d provided duvets and left them till 8 a.m. next morning!

If you missed it, there’s another chance to try it out for yourself on 29 July. Same time. Same place. We’ll start with some simple moves to help release tension and relieve pain, followed by some mindful, slow and easy moves to music and end with around 15 minutes of complete relaxation. Places are limited, so please contact me if you’d like to book a place. Full details on the classes and events page.

Read on to discover this week’s Nia Move of the week and download 10 tips for an ageless brain and body.


Nia move of the week – Hip Bumps

Staying with the Core of the body, this week we’re looking at Hip Bumps.  Doing Hip Bumps keeps upper and lower body connected as well as toning your core, your waist and increasing mobility in your spine.

Just imagine you’re bumping someone out of your way – forwards, backwards, to the sides.(Remember that dance from the 1970s?).

If it’s uncomfortable, try slowing down or making the move smaller.

Watch it here.


What I’m reading – 10 tips for an ageless brain and body

I’ve just finished reading a novel which follows the effect of early onset Alzheimer’s  not only on the person who receives the diagnosis, but also on her family, particularly the younger daughter. (“What might have been me” by Yvonne Cassidy).

I found it very thought-provoking, but it also made me want to do everything I can to stay as fit and healthy as possible. I imagine most people feel the same way; so you might be interested in this link to  10 Tips for an ageless brain and body from Denise Medved, creator of Ageless Grace. It’s all common sense advice. I hope you find it useful.


Classes & Events

Move with ease 20160729Move with Ease
Friday 29 July, 6.30 – 8.30 p.m.
Venue:  Aditi Yoga and Pilates, Darlington

A two-hour session where you’ll learn some simple moves to help relieve tension and back pain, move mindfully to soul-stirring music and then relax completely to set yourself up for a great night’s sleep.

Contact me now to book your place.

Full details of all classes and events