Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pearls for Self-Healing from Feb 20 Nia Playshop

February's Playshop-of-the-Month was an exploration of how to recognize and utilize the Healing Arts in Nia. These Healing Arts are, namely, The Alexander Technique, The Work of Moshe Feldenkrais, and Yoga.
The common elements of all three of these arts is an inward focus and awareness with a desire to change old habits and to move in a way that is more in keeping with our natural-born ease and simplicity.

Many of our movements are learned and then relegated to 'habit'. This allows us to do things automatically and prevents us from having to use a lot of brain energy for simple things like walking, getting up out of a chair and tying our shoes. The downside of these habits is that they aren't necessarily always the most efficient nor simple way of doing the activity. Our body will recognize it as "familiar" and we will interpret that familiarity as "correct" even though it may be fraught with lots of excess tension, physical imbalance and extraneous movement. The work of these healing arts is mainly to explore and learn new, simpler ways of doing these basic activities and preserving a lot of wasted energy and releasing a lot of unnecessary tension.

Every Nia class offers an opportunity to not only express creativity and to condition our bodies by improving strength, flexibility, agility, mobility and stability, but also to explore ways of improving and simplifying our habitual movements.

This past weekend, I spent an afternoon with about 16 Nia teachers in Houston, exploring ways we can create the space for our students to have self-healing experiences in our Nia classes. We came up with many "pearls" which are cues that we can give our students to be aware of while moving. Here is a list of many of them:

Inspired by Feldenkrais:

"invite your heel to relax"
"notice that first moment"
"make choices"
"micromovement"
"cottonballs"
"relax through your shins"
"do just enough"
"feel your toes squish"
"slow motion pelvis"
"the sensation comes"
"go at your own pace"
"eyes follow hands"
"time is your friend"
"as small as possible"
"relax underneath your feet"
"sense a pause to start your movement"
"find time between the movements"
"butterfly wings"
"find stillness"
"wings tied to wrists"
"notice what's not moving"
"sense stillness"
"sense what it means to do less"
"space between your hips"
"breathe between your joints"
"go inside your body"

Inspired by Alexander:

"effortless"
"watery spine"
"lift the back of your head"
"body float"
"dangling below"
"helium head"
"move from the top"
"escalator head"
"spine like a string of pearls"
"survey"
"uplifted"
"area between vertebrae"
"relaxed throat"
"follow your hands"
"space"
"shoulder blades dripping"
"space between"
"sense a palm in the back of your head"
"water fountain"
"foam up"
"clouds"
"forehead kissing the space"
"move energy up and out"
"wings on your upper arms"
"up"
"chin slides down"
"balloon"
"heavy face"
"chin to sternum"
"your body dances beneath your head"
"as one"
"look up with the top of your head"

Inspired by Yoga:

"breathe power and energy"
"sense both pelvic bones facing the front"
"align your feet and knees"
"feet facing same direction as your knees"
"sense what happens in your hips when you move your feet"
"shin bone perpendicular to the floor"
"shin bone parallel to the mirror"
"spine of the sole of your foot"
"use palm directions to affect your shoulder joint"
"consciously align your bones"

I invite any Nia teacher or student who has a particularly helpful pearl to leave a comment and share it with us. Let's help the world self-heal one Nia class at a time.

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