Posts tagged #play


I had my first experience of NIA over 12 years ago, and from the moment the class began I was struck by the ease and the playfulness of the journey. As someone that has long danced for the pure joy and exhilaration of it, I loved that this natural approach to movement was beginning to emerge, and I predict that in years to come, freestyle dance studios will be just as common as yoga and pilates classes. 

NIA is a dance class developed by former fitness leaders Debbie Rosas and Carlos Aya Rosas, over 30 years ago. And here below is an excerpt from recent research on the benefits of imagination and movement that I received via a NIA newsletter. 

Science now shows that fitness training through practices like Nia Technique, which integrates our playful nature with functional movement, is reportedly the most effective way to improve strength and conditioning, and in the last 5 years has been a tool used by elite coaches to enhance performance of professional athletes.

Good news! Exercise is more effective with a playful, curious, adventurous mind! Magic happens when we connect movement with imagination, or get into our playful mind-space. Embodied movement occurs when we are less self-conscious and more self-aware. Notice the difference when you move from the shoulders through your full range of motion, and then switch how your mind engages with the movement, this time imagining large broad, powerful wings expanding and filling the room, giving your spirit freedom to soar, sensing dynamic ease! The muscles engage more through your torso, legs and arms as your imagination senses the space surrounding your agile form. Sport psychology and neurophysiology aims to get athletes out of their head, and more in their bodies, improving quality of movement and engaging an instinctive body-mind connection.

Athletes master their structure, but now it is recognised that over thinking can interrupt a person's ability to move with greatest ease, so their imagination is key. Nia says, ‘it’s not how it looks, but how it FEELS that makes a difference.’ When we invite imagery to inspire our movement, our conditioning improves naturally. We choose our wings. And bringing gifts of imagery into our everyday activities gives us the ability to ‘Dance Through Life’.



While we usually only associate food with nourishing ourselves, food is actually only one part of the equation and that's because we are multi-dimensional beings that need to be nurtured and nourished on many different levels. So here is an idea that's “fulfilling” rather than “filling” that was shared with me by a life coach called Janelle Fletcher.

She calls it the nourishment menu and its a circle divided into 8 segments which look like pieces of a pie. It contains 8 things that fill my soul and that I am committed to giving myself either daily or at least weekly – because these are the things that give me more energy as opposed to draining me of my energy or chi. My nourishment menu tops me up, it is relaxing, rejuvenating and replenishing. And after all isn't that what soul nourishment is truly about? 

Your “nourishment” will be different to mine so make it your own. It must align with you and what fulfills YOU - whether that be creative pursuits, walks in the rain, pottering in the garden, snuggling up with a good read, chatting to God, doing something adventurous, planning a trip, ringing a friend, playing loud music, dancing like a maniac or spending time in silence. Whatever your flavour, attend to your soul and quite often the rest will follow. You will be much more inclined to nourish and nurture yourself with whole living foods that make you feel alive and vital. And you will also be much more inclined to nourish your need to breath, move and sweat. All in all, attending to our souls has a lot of positive side effects.