Guest Post: Finding Joy In Jill

Today I'm proud to announce my first guest blogger, Jill Feldman.  Jill's going to tell us about a passion of hers, Nia - a workout, lifestyle and personal growth program all rolled into one. Many, including Jill, have found that Nia's a fabulous way to condition, heal and transform the body, mind and spirit.

Maybe Jill will inspire you to try Nia?  It can be incredibly refreshing for your body and your mind to take up a new form of exercise after many years of doing the same ol' thing.  I'm going to try it out and I'll keep you posted - Jill is going to lead me in a special Nia session adapted to my current zero weight-bearing exercise restrictions . . . yes, you can even do Nia in a chair! 

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Jill Nia 3

I love to exercise.  All my life I have struggled with my weight and my health (I am a young breast cancer survivor and suffer other chronic health conditions), but exercise has never been my problem.   When someone (like Oprah!) complains that she hates to exercise, I have two responses.  First, she must not have enough time.  I can relate!  There have been many times in my life when healthy living has taken a back seat.  (When I was working full-time, studying for the Bar exam, and planning a wedding--all at the same time--finding time to exercise was a problem.)  My other response, though, is that she must not have found the right type of exercise.  It is my belief that there is a type of exercise for everyone, and once it is discovered, making time is no longer a problem.  For me, it is Nia.    

I came to Nia by accident.  A few years ago, I walked into a studio close to my new home looking for a yoga class and picked up a flyer on Nia.  The class time worked for me and it sounded fun, so I decided to give it a try.  After one class, I was hooked!  I had spent my whole life exercising--walking, tennis, yoga, aerobics, machines, running, weights--you name it, but I had never experienced the click with my body that I felt in my first Nia class.

Nia is a form of creative movement that was developed 26 years ago in Portland, Oregon by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.  Set to music, a Nia routine combines the energies of 9 different movement forms—3 from dance, 3 from martial arts, and 3 from healing arts.  Depending on a particular song or routine, Nia can look more like any one of these types of movement—jazz, yoga, tai chi, tae kwon do, etc.  Experience in any one of these areas is not necessary.  All that is required is the ability to move the body in the smallest of ways and the desire to have fun.  Nia can be done with a variety of limitations (it has even been adapted to sitting in wheelchairs) and at all fitness levels. 

 A typical Nia class is an hour in length and includes a slow moving warm-up and a cool down on the floor.  Every class begins with a focus, which varies from class to class.  Approximately 80-90% of a class is choreographed, with the remainder comprised of free movement.  In class, students are asked to become their own personal trainer, to work at their own level in a way that feels good in their body.   Awareness of the body and how it feels on any given day is key.  Nia students achieve a fitness result by seeking the sensation of pleasure, not pain.  The movements can be heart-soaring and large or small and deliberate--either is perfect.  As the Nia motto says, “Through movement we find health.”

Meeting my body where it is on any given day has rewarded me with new levels of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-healing.  After two and a half years of practicing Nia, my fitness level has sky-rocketed, and the shape of my body has dramatically changed.  Nia inspires me to move almost every day--whether I am taking a class or not,  whether I feel well or not, and whether I actually have the time to or not.  The result is improved health, less pain, better balance and posture, and the ability to truly enjoy living in my body.  Joy!

At the end of June 2009, I took my first level of intensive Nia training and became certified to teach.  As a Nia teacher, I share with my students all that I have learned on this journey to health:  the body holds within it an enormous capacity for pleasure that is available to tap into every day, and there is always time in life for having fun and choosing joy.

Jill teaches a Nia class every Friday morning from 9:30-10:30 at Moving Celebrations in Somerville, MA.  She also teaches some Sunday afternoons at MC from 4-5, including this Sunday, October 18!  For more information, email Jill at jill_feldman2002@yahoo.com or visit www.movingcelebrations.com.  If you are interested in finding a Nia class in the MA/RI/NH area, visit www.niaboston.com.  To learn more about Nia, visit www.nianow.com.