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.
If you’d told me ten years ago that I’d have been able to join in a retreat about moving more easily, let alone run one, I’d have struggled to believe you!
Like many people suffering from the onset of arthritis, I thought I was stuck with it, but discovering Nia changed my life in so many ways. Since becoming a Nia teacher, I’ve become an Ageless Grace Educator and Somatic Exercise Coach and now I’ve pulled together some of the simplest and most effective techniques I’ve learned to help you move with Joy and Ease – even if you only have five minutes to spare – because I know what it’s like when you can’t. It’s going to be in the form of a half-day retreat on 17th June and I hope you can join me.
Show us how you move!
On 10th June, I’ve been invited to do a free Nia taster at Heighington Village Fair at about 11.15 a.m. and I’m going to need your help to get Heighington moving! This is going to be a fun, family-oriented event with lots to do all day, and in the evening there’s live music and dancing. Join me on stage for the taster if you’re feeling brave, or dance in the audience and let’s see how many people we can get to join in.
Saltaire Day of Dance
It doesn’t seem five minutes since I was telling you about the Saltaire Day of Dance on 14th May. It’s usually a great day out, and I wasn’t disappointed. I caught up with old friends. I loved Lynette MacFadden’s Nia workshop with some stunning moves and great variety of music. My friends who attended the Charleston workshop said it was packed and great fun, and I was delighted to introduce a few more people to Irish Set dance.
And finally, I’ll be taking a break at the beginning of July, so there will be some changes to regular Nia classes. I’ve put a list on the Classes & Events page or you can download the details if you prefer. I’ll be giving out a printed version to all my regular class members.
Have a great month!
Nia move of the month – Hand technique: Touching
Touching is one of the ways we connect to, and receive information from, our environment. We sense our own skin, our clothes and the space around us, via touch. The nerve endings sense the texture of a surface as we touch it. Touch can be expressive, it can be healing, and helps improve body awareness. Here’s Laurie Bass to explain more.
What I’m reading
Inspired by the recent TV series “The Durrells”, I decided to re-read one of my favourite childhood books: “My family and other animals” upon which the series was (rather loosely in my opinion) based. The characters are the same but I feel a certain artistic licence has been taken with the account of their adventures on Corfu. Have you read it? What did you think?
Dates for your diary
5th and 12th June 2017 – Last two weeks of current block of classes at Keep Fit Darlington and at the Pioneering Care Centre. New block starts on 19th June 2017. Some changes to regular programme in the first two weeks of July. See Classes & Events page for full details or download Classes & Events June-July 2017.
Show us how you move!
Free Nia Taster session at Heighington Village Fair, Saturday 10 June, 11.15 a.m. How many people do you think will join in? Will you help me to show people that anyone can do Nia? I’m looking for some suggestions for fun tracks to share (contact mewith your ideas) and let me know if you can come along and join in. I’d love it if you could join me on stage or from the audience.
Loosen up! 5-minute magic fixes for moving with Joy and Ease
Tense, stiff, painful back, neck and shoulder muscles?
Busy busy busy? No time to de-stress or relax? Easy to learn, simple to do 5-minute moves and activities to relieve stress, release tension and create perspective around challenging situations.
Take some time out to try this brand new half-day retreat at a reduced rate on: Saturday 17th June, 10.30 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Woodham Village Community Centre, Newton Aycliffe.
Autumn 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
How many times have I read or been told how beneficial meditation is? I’ve lost count. Here’s a five-minute YouTube videothat 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
Ann 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.
The 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
How would it be if, at the end of a busy week, you could give your mind and your body a real treat? What if you could find some simple moves that would release all that tension you’ve been holding in your shoulders? What if you could do some really gentle exercise that would lubricate your joints, and soothe your spirits and then you could just relax and float away without feeling guilty for doing nothing for a full 20 minutes?
Well, here’s the good news. You can! I’m currently taking bookings for another Move with Ease session on Friday. And do you know what? as it’s almost as relaxing to deliver it as it is to participate. I consider it a success if someone falls asleep! So do come and chill out with us. Please contact me as soon as possible to book your place.
Have a great week!
Nia move of the week – Head and Eye Movements
Be curious – what do you see around you? Use your eyes to look and follow the direction of your eyes to move your head. Follow a body part – hand or foot with your eyes and allow your head to move with them, in order to engage the muscles of the neck integrate the top of your spine in your moves.
Press your chin down towards your chest to open the back of your neck; then take your chin up and back and look at the sky (opening and closing your mouth will help condition the muscles under your chin). Nodding, shaking and rolling your head helps to find the right balance and releases tension.
Like me, you may have enjoyed watching the floor exercises at the Olympics last week and cheered, as I did, when Amy Tinkler from Bishop Auckland won her bronze medal. Most of us would never dream of even attempting the kind of floor work she does, but getting up and down from the floor is the first skill we learn as toddlers and a really important one to maintain as we get older. Here’s an interesting take on “Why the floor is your friend” by Stacy Barrows
“If you’re like most of us, the word “floor” probably makes you think more about tile, hardwood and carpet than friendship….it’s not the first place your mind goes when you think of relaxation, repose and rejuvenation. The floor, after all, is for foot traffic. It’s hard… needs a good cleaning, and is much farther away from our derrières than the comfy sofa. The floor has a bad rep. But as a movement therapist, I have learned that the floor is my friend. Here are three reasons why…” Continue reading
Classes & Events – Dates for your diary
26 August, 18.30 – 20.30 – Move with Ease – r-e-l-a-x on Friday evening
Aditi Yoga & Pilates, Darlington.
An alternative Friday night out! Join me for this two-hour session with a focus on breath and body, mind and spirit, relaxation and self-healing.
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.
5 September – 3 October, Mondays 18.30 – 19.30, new block of 5 Nia classes, Pioneering Care Centre
So what are the best three things about your day so far? (if you’re not sure what I’m referring to, see last week’s blog under “What I’m reading”). Have you been recording them at the end of each day? How did it make you feel?
Lots going on this week: a free online event to help you age well; links to information about the music that people ask me about all the time; this week’s Nia move of the week – Side Kick; and a link to an article about someone with Parkinson’s who has found Nia very helpful.
Oh, and I nearly forgot – you’re the first to hear about a new 10-week course of “Mindful Movement” I’m doing at the Pioneering Care Centre from next month.
Have a great week!
Nia move of the week – Side Kick
With your weight on the supporting leg and your knee soft throughout the move, raise the kicking leg, pulling your heel up and back towards your buttocks. Kick to the side with the side of your thigh towards the ceiling. Imagine kicking a door shut. You might like to sound “Yes!” as you do it (just a suggestion…). Bring your leg back in and replace your foot on the floor. It’s another folding and unfolding of the leg, like the front kick.
A free online Ageless Summit started on 20 June. This is aimed at people over 40 and covers a wide range of areas related to successful ageing. Denise Medved, from whom I learned the Ageless Grace technique is of the contributors. She says that although you won’t learn how to live forever, you will learn how to live a healthier life and see growing older in a positive light for a change. Topics covered during the summit include:
How to improve your sleep
How to exercise over 50
Why Cholesterol isn’t the problem
How to lose weight after 40
How to create a life of significance
How to restore your natural movement and balance
Maintaining your energy
Ways to reduce your chronic stress
More information and to book your place, visit the Ageless Summit website.
Music from “Grace”
Every time I use a track from Fiona Winter’s routine “Grace” people ask me where they can find the music. It happened again at Monday night’s class at the Pioneering Care Centre. So here, once again, is the link to the handout for the workshop I did last year and which tells you about the music and the routine: Grace workshop handout
Other Music I use for classes
Visit the Nia online store where you can check out the music for each routine by clicking the album cover and then “preview music”. Nia music can now be purchased as a digital download.
What I’m reading
Accepting an Uninvited Guest in My Body: Parkinson’s By: Shannon McGuire
I have lived with Parkinson’s Disease for over 10 years, yet I am living proof that there are multiple benefits from dancing for those suffering from neurodegenerative disorders. Nia, in my experience, is particularly beneficial because it combines multiple disciplines to challenge many aspects of our physical selves; not only adding relief to the symptoms of disease, but actually fighting the disease itself… Continue reading