Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Add more Yawns to your workout!

upward energyThe Art of Yawning
Here's a tip that everyone can benefit from, no matter what. Take a moment here , and invite a yawn into your body. Feel for the deepening of the inhale, the crescendo of the energy of the yawn, and then the softening and release. Ahhhhhhh...Now didn't that feel good?
There are lots of benefits of yawning, including cooling of the brain, a meditative pause from "doing " all the time, connection to your more animal/natural self that is less self conscious and more present in the physical body. Other benefits, yawns can actually adjust the bones of the skull! Yawns create a release of energy that opens the body up for more space to live in. Yawns can be fun, playful, and are nurturing. Yawns naturally connect us to The Body's Way of breathing more deeply. You must be relaxed to yawn, relaxation brings all kinds of good hormones into the body and lessens the stress hormone of cortisol. Having more oxygen in the body is healthful in all ways.
Some tips to put more Yawning in your day:
1. Life trains the body to be very inhibited, use yawning as a practice to release this. Like peeling away the skin of an onion, practice yawning. Each yawn is different, let go of a yawn having to be "the best one" , and allow your body to reveal to you the yawn that is there.
2. Practice opening the mouth wider, feel the sensation of the yawn in all phases. Make sounds as you build more ability to be real....What a gift to do more for the body that is healthful and less worried about appearances!
3. Can you taste a yawn? How about yawn into a specific body part?
4. Wake up in the morning and instead of jumping out of bed, wake up the way an animal does. Stretch from head to toe, yawn big, and enjoy the moment a bit...
5. Practice giving yawns, and catching yawns for fun.
6. Hug yourself , instead of waiting for someone else , enjoy a self hug.....practice doing 2nd best and make more time to be.
with love, Kelly

Thursday, April 1, 2010

When to NOT listen to your body!

Today's Nia tidbit is about listening to the body, and reading it's subtle sensations with greater clarity. After 10 years of teaching people to listen to their body, I never thought I would be saying to use that as information to step into what the body doesn't want to do- till today.

I have noticed from experience, and from listening to countless others talk about how easy it is to get "out of the habit" of doing those things that we wish we were doing-that our bodies can trick us! Sometimes the signal of what the body needs is mixed up with what it wants. Like a petulant child, there are times my body want things that are not "good" for me! This has become my new signal that tells me I need to listen to my mind ( in Nia we call this me the Conscious Personal Trainer) for the time being and do that which it is I am feeling resistant too.

The body does need time to be still. The nervous system and brain gain strength by simply being. Not watching tv, not reading, not making a list, not meditating. Just being. This is evident if you watch a child or infant as they go through cycles in the day. There are intermittent periods where they just appear to be doing nothing, maybe staring into space daydreaming, or gently rocking. This is like re-booting a computer to the brain and nervous system.

On the other end of the spectrum, the body and mind also benefit greatly from everyday movement and I do believe for most of us, this is the end of the spectrum that needs tending too. The body is designed to be moving in lots of different ways, daily. If you have an injury or are healing from a disease, than it's even more important to move, and to bring "stillness of the mind" to the movement of the body. Think smaller, slower and less exertion, but still moving.

Truthful moment here, how much time during every day do you spend either fully doing "nothing", OR moving physically in a strenuous enough pace to break a sweat? For 99% of people, it is more of these activities ( which are energy plus activities) and less time doing activities that steal our energy ( like tv, computers, poor time management, etc.) Another option is to move while having inner stillness, this would be being fully engaged in whatever it is you are doing. Not thinking about anything except what it is your are experiencing in the moment as your body moves.

When our energy is "freed up" we have more time, we have more ability to choose what we want to do and we do it, we feel more positive, and we feel more in control and hopeful.

At first this can feel like it takes a tremendous effort, you are stretching your capacity! Step into that resistance, do more of what your body doesn't "want " to do, and see what you have to gain!

Happy Easter, Passover, Spring Equinox, with love, Kelly

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Brain Awareness 2010 Nia Class Syllabus

Brain Awareness 2010
Partnered with http://www.dana.org/
Focus: the brain, the mind
Intent: students will leave with a better understanding of the physical anatomy of the brain, their brain/mind usage, and ways to improve function through Nia and in life.

3/15 Monday – Yellow Lunar Warrior- questions/intelligence/fearlessness

Focus: Mindfulness. Observing to learn. Prefrontal Cortex
Intent: Mindfully relate to your body/mind learning the moves of the new routine Butterfly.

Note: mindfulness is noticing what is happening without creating a dialogue about what you notice. Maintain this throughout the week , in and out of class.

Homeplay: Have at least one meal each day where you practice “mindful eating”. Noticing what food looks like, feels like, tastes, texture, how it feels in stomache etc….and random thoughts and feelings. Eat in silence with others….

Benefits: promotes relaxation, decrease stress hormones, promotes adaptability, helpful with all brain diseases including depression, pain management, anxiety, etc.

3/17 Wednesday- White Self exhisting Mirror

Focus: Two halves Make the Whole- Left and Right Hemispheres of the brain
Intent: To sense linear, ordered , patterned movements, and from this shift into sensing a move “wholly”, feeling the spaciousness, freedom and creativity . Back and forth.

Homeplay: Draw the two halves of your brain, pencil inside each half all the tasks you did yesterday ….on the left side all the linear , orderly tasks you did and on the right, the creative, primal, dreaming/sensing activities….feel free to use symbols or drawing or words.

Benefits: Helps everyone to build new neural pathways. Keeps brain healthy and young. Great for ADHD, and other “over thinking” problems, excellent for people who’ve experienced stroke.

3/18 Thursday –Blue Overtone Storm
Catalyze/self generate/energy

Focus: Reptilian, limbic, monkey brain
Intent: Lose your mind and come to your senses. Using your sense of smell, touch, taste, hearing, sensation, you’ll journey into the depths of the brain and out. Noticing where you are and shifting yourself into other parts of the brain as you notice, sense, and re-direct.

Home play: Notice and journal about what happens in your body when you are in reptilian, limbic or frontal lobes.

Benefit: ADD, Depression, development of the brain

3/19 Friday – Yellow Rhythmic Sun
Enlightens, Universal fire, Life

Focus: Cerebellum
Intent: 5 sensations of fitness- balance

Homeplay: Go outside and on a walk, use nature and whatever you find to activate each of the 5 sensations in different parts of your body. FAMSS: flexibility, agility, mobility, strength and stability.

3/20 Saturday – Red Resonant Dragon
Nurtures, birth, being

Focus: Memory- Hippocampus
Intent: Building and strengthing neural pathways …relaxing as you challenge yourself to remember. Dynamic ease

Homeplay: Sitting comfortably in a chair, recall an event that happened last week , maybe in Nia class. Bring to memory , in clear detail, including all conversations, colors, sights, smells….Pretend you are being interrogated by a friendly officer and you are remembering the details , recalling them specifically. Do this for 15 minutes and then let it go. Come back an hour later and recall the same event, see if you remember more details. Go through from beginning to ending like a movie. This is a great way to improve recall memory. You can change experiences and make this memory recall a ritual at the end of the day as a way to “stay empty”.

3/21 Sunday- White Galactic Wind

Focus: Music and The Art of Listening Thalamus and Temporal lobes
Intent: RAW

Homeplay: Listen to a variety of music, count out beats, and define sections of chorus, vocals, instrumentals, intro and other. Staying relaxed and focused throughout an entire song or more.

3/22 Monday- Blue Solar Night

Focus: States of consciousness Asleep, Awake, Aware, Dreaming
Intent: Deepen awareness states.

Homeplay: Before going to bed tonight, put your journal by the bed. Bring your body into a relaxed state. Recall RAW. Observe your breath and feel very relaxed, alert and waiting in your body. Ready yourself for a blissful night of sleep. Intend to remember your dreams. Make this commitment to yourself. Sleep deeply and peacefully and have sweet dreams! Upon awakening , write down your dreams immediately.

3/ 23 Wednesday Red Spectral Serpent
Survives /life force/instinct

Focus: Parietal lobes – pleasure and self healing
Intent: to work with the natural process of healing in the body through pleasure seeking

Homeplay: What percentage of the time do you feel pleasure in the body? What part feels it the most? What does your body like- go through each part and listen to your body’s response to the question of “what brings you pleasure?”. For an entire day, seek increasing the sensation of pleasure in all that you do.

Brain Awareness Wrap up: Reflect on the last week and a half and journal about what you learned about the brain, and you. Especially and guidance you received or and specific sessions that you’d like to personally set some goals around. Notice the new awareness and gifts that this week of a sustained collective focus had for you . Share with Kelly if you wish!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

March events - Nia with Kelly workshops, events, gatherings

Hello dear students and friends,
March is an exciting month for me. Get your calendar's out and pencil in the fun events! Each year, I produce "Brain Awareness Week" in conjunction with www.dana.org. I am passionate about the brain, and mostly passionate about ways that the brain regenerates, improves and self heals when given the right type and amount of stimulation. I have witnessed how Nia and all the principles and exercises we do in class have improved how my brain functions and would like to share this experience everyone. Will you help me? For each new student that comes to class during the month of March, from your referral, you'll receive a bonus free class on your cards. Just ask them to say you sent them. I have extra schedules and beautiful brochures coming for you to leave around town. Thank you so much for sharing your Joy , and for practicing Nia with me.

1. Nia Western Caribbean Carnival Cruise: Deposits due on March 5th . I have sign up papers in class or you can email Lynn Atkins at cruiseforyou100@aol.com or email me and I can forward them to you. These sheets explain the pricing and options. We can connect you with another Nia student for a roommate if you need that.

2. Guts and Grace Playshop: Experience Yin/Yang and how to bring them into your body, mind, emotions and spirit more consciously to create more harmony. Saturday March 6th 1-3pm . Fee: $35 ahead, or $45 at door. I am seeking 10 curious and open students ready to explore under the surface. Please rsvp by email/phone by 3/6 your intent.

3. FREEDANCE Master Class: March 13th 12-1:15pm fee: $15 at door or $10 if rsvp by 3/12. Shorter than a playshop, you'll briefly learn about the 8 stages of Freedance, and then dance straight for an hour through them. Similar to "trance dance" or "Ecstatic Dance" as there is no choreography. Yet, the form of the stages will give you an anchor to gradually open up your body to new creative ways of moving.

4. BRAIN AWARENESS WEEK: March 15-22nd. Every class will have a master class feel and be extended 15 minutes where possible. Go on a journey into your brain, and discover in each class how a different part is utilized and how that is stimulated in your Nia practice. Take this week of classes as deep as you'd like. There will be optional "homework" suggestions you can play with. You'll leave the week gaining an awareness of how your mind works, how the anatomy of the brain is designed, and how to optimally enhance function of the brain. The latest in brain research will be shared and some short discussion on brain diseases and how Nia can help specifically.

5. SEEDS Group Coaching experience with Kelly: Seeds stands for "sacred energy expands desires swiftly". -begins 3/20 Saturdays 11:30-12:30pm

WHAT: It's the name of a pilot group coaching series that I am offering. This specific group will focus on creating a personal vision for wellbeing, clarifying goals, and finding small steps each week that will bring you closer to that vision over time. Wellbeing includes everything in your life that effects your health. Visions of more energy, healthier environmental surroundings, organized, high functioning, able to relax, healthy time management, stress control, exercise, nutrition, healthy weight, more joy are some examples.....it can be any of these or more. Everyone can improve some aspect of their life, and working in a group is a powerful and speedy way to expand this wellness. We'll gather, get present, talk a little about coaching vs. teaching, and everyone will have an opportunity to share in a balanced way.

DATES: Four sessions over the next 8 weeks. Meet on Saturdays after class 11:30-12:30am at Saradance. 1st session : 3/20, 2nd session 4/3, 3rd session 4/17, 4th session 5/1. Must commit to all these sessions to participate.

FEE: This is an experimental "beta" group. This means it's a pilot program I am pricing especially low, and asking for your feedback along the way. This price will go up next time. $39 for all sessions ( that's less than $10 per coaching session, and you'll have the group energy to further charge you up on your path!!!!)

Who?: Specifically, I am looking for 8-12 individuals interested in living life with more pleasure and enhancing the joy of creating more wellness through visioning and taking baby steps toward that vision in a group setting. I am looking for those interesting in integrating more of what they want into their lives with grace and with the cycles of nature as inspiration. Those cycles include; Sowing, Germination, Sprouting, Proliferation, Budding, Blossoming,and Fruition

5. Nia JAM : Wednesday March 24th 9:15-10:30am . Fee: same as regular class. Nia JAMS are when a group of Nia teachers each teach different songs and "jam" the way musicians do. Expect heightened energy, big Joy, and an amazing experience of collective creativity.

6. Autumn Teneyl Trunk Show and Cocktail Party: Wednesday March 24th before and after class 8am -12pm. Autumn Teneyl clothing is delightful and flattering clothes with interesting materials and patterns. Perfect for dance or everyday into night elegance. She has created a new line of specific "Nia Wear" that you can buy only at trunk shows - not on the website. It's also a little less expensive and there are smaller pieces ( like skirts and little jackets) that are $30 and up. I am offering an evening cocktail party at my house from 5-9pm this same day, for your convenience. Feel free to come to one or both times and enjoy the camaraderie and fun of trying on new clothes and shopping in a comfortable environment. There is no pressure to buy....come and enjoy the art. Please rsvp if you are coming to the evening party.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

space, stepping in, flow

Today's tidbit is about flow, space , and stepping in....

This time of year it's always fun for me to teach class as there is often an influx of new to Nia students. Lot's of people set intentions for the new year, and want to get some movement going. It's so fun to hear their comments at the end, and most recently I am finding that the new students seem even more ready than ever to receive the promise of Nia. That promise being moving the body/mind/emotions/spirit to find both fitness and pleasure at the same time. One of the things that I am sure new students feel is how the space itself feels different than a traditional fitness space. As I am looking at potential space for a Nia studio I spend time thinking about Saradance. Saradance has it's perks and it's downfalls, one of the perks being we have danced there for 10 years. We have created space there through 7 Nia White Belt Intensives, and we collectively have danced through many life transitions in that space.
I am very interested in noticing how I relate to space. This includes noticing how I can shift it, change it, stagnate in it, be repelled by it, bounce off it, or communicate with it...and on an on. I can put space between myself and another, I can fill space up, I can clear it literally and figuratively. I also know it's easy for me to judge space itself as either "good" or "bad" when space is really just that, it's space. It gives me sensation. Space is invisible yet it can be felt very clearly through the skin, the senses, and breath. When I feel I don't have enough space, I am often focusing more on that which is taking up the space vs. noticing the space available. My breathe is effected by this perspective from me. I can blend and harmonize with space, slap it, tickle it, ignore it.....it's endless..yet what I give to space effects what I get out of it. Sound like a love relationship?
As Nia teachers, we practice "creating space" through stilling the body and mind. It is a practice that is valuable in and out of Nia class. You can create space for any activity, creative pursuit, relationship,or idea. The art of creating space is to bring your body, mind, emotions and spirit in to complete stillness at will. Neutral. A group of people creating this stillness together is even more effective at expanding the space. It is quite simply, noticing space versus noticing noise, or what's filling up the space. What you notice expands. What a group notices expands more.
At the beginning of Nia class, there is a shift in the space when everyone arrives. Often it's a little frenetic. People going this way and that. Greetings, getting things ready, using the bathroom, etc. Then with cycle 1, we all get on the same "page" when I set focus and intent. Cycle one helps harmonize the group. This helps everyone to get their bodies and minds directed.
Cycle 2 is the actually or metaphoric "step in". Doing something physically as an action to prepare and let go of any distractions. Saying to the mind " I let go of anything outside this room .". This stepping in is vital to increase the space around us all. This step creates the needed flow to move into cycle 3 warming up. Once this is done, the space feels different. To me, it's as if the space itself says "ahhhh, thank you for recognizing me!". Step 2 is a vital bridge that prepares the body and mind.
My tip for you today, is to notice something in your life that you either feel struggle, contraction, or stagnation around, or that you'd simply like to see more "flow" with. Ease....Set your focus on that. Perhaps it's some personal intentions for 2010. Intend to have movement. Do something physically that initiates a letting go of distractions. It can be stepping through a door, 3 claps, facing different directions and making it more ceremonial or whatever you can make up. What you do doesn't matter so much as long as it's purpose is to let go and become more present. Enjoy warming up into the next cycle and keep dancing through life with Nia! I hope this note inspires you in some way. As always, if you wish to be removed from my email list, or if you know of someone who would enjoy these Nia tidbits , just pass it on or let me know. Love, Kelly

Kelly Atkins http://www.niawithkelly.com/©Black Belt Nia teacher ©ACE certified personal trainer©Certified Wellness Coach- Coach "K" ©PhysicalMind Institute Certified Pilates Mat teacher

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nia and Martial Arts

Punches, Blocks, Chops, fists, spear finger, kicks, knee sweeps, and stances are all moves borrowed from the martial arts. Every Nia class utilizes some variation of these moves blended with dance. In martial arts, the hands are trained to be so skilled they become a weapon when used in combat. Each of these movements conditions the body in unique ways, like the front kick gives us stability in the ball joint, grounded foot, and agility in the thrust of the kicking leg. The kick also allows us an opportunity to breath out and make sound as a way to naturally strengthen core muscles. Timing and measurement of where to place the foot further challenges our mind/body connection.
The upward/outward/inward/downward block all are great opportunities to practice with "yes" and verbal "no's" as we center and practice technique of movement through the shoulder joint. This is also a good time to have the martial arts attitude( depending on whether it's Tai chi - patience, Aikido - peaceful warrior or TKD defense/attack) beyond the move, and to access how we utilize our personal energy. The verbal words of yes, no, are a way to stimulate emotions as well, and even to empower a "no" or a "yes" with different meaning.
The moves along with a loud or whispered "yes" or "no" are effective at uniting the emotional body with the physical and with our core. Add to this moving and measuring how we balance our own energy throughout the class and with all the moves. The "simple" technique of adapting the moves to fit ones body, vs. copying the moves the way the teacher demonstrates them builds confidence. It's also a way of strengthening a relationship with self ( through being responsive and confident in your process) which in turn opens up new ways of being in relation to others.
In Aikido it's described as being vertically aligned first. Aligned with your center, the earth, the sky, your spirit, ( independence), and then relating horizontally without losing one's verticality. Being overly horizontal (co-dependent)would be like losing energy constantly by worrying about everyone around you, or having weak boundaries internally/externally or overly concerned with boundaries over all. This would be the sense of falling forward during a kick, or leaning forward during a block in a stance.
A sense of balance of being true to oneself, and yet also relating with others , even and especially in conflict, would be the desired Aiki approach. This is an example of one way to bring Nia "dancing through life" into your life.
I hope you find this tidbit helpful, I always enjoy the moment to reflect and bring forth these notes. How's your verticality today? Aho, Kelly

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Body Reveals itself to us!

Today's tidbit relates to the Nia Principle that the Body reveals itself to us when we listen. This is the principle called "The Body's Way" and all of Nia is built from this. The Body's way meaning that we can look to the design and function of any part of the body, and find the potential and possibility of that part, and compare it to what is happening in our own body. Closing this gap is the art of healing. It requires presence, each and every day, and moment, for that matter, as the body is always speaking to us and we may miss the whispers and only listen when the body is screaming at us. Often we spend more time in the past, recollecting what has happened prior than to be present to what is happening now. Our bodies are different, and changing all the time. Our bodies are a reflection of our thoughts ( this is a great reminder to consider changing your thoughts about aging and the body) Collecting the fine details of sensations and offering stimulation that then feeds back more information. This is the healing circle- all the while the mind offering the statement of " Now i am healing".....This can be happening while we are in life, while we do the things we do each day. While brushing teeth, cooking, getting dressed.
Another aspect of The Body's Way is recognizing that our bodies are energy. Science tells us that every muscle, bone, organ, even our thoughts are a moving energetic vibration. Everything is made up of energy, the more dense ( like a chair for instance) the slower the vibrational rate. The body can hold onto energy , and create a density, that may inhibit our ability to remain physically, mentally , and emotionally healthy. This often happens when we become too entrained, and too much in our "heads" thinking things intellectually versus experiencing life through the body with no inner dialogue. Thoughts like " stand up straight", "keep knees behind toes" and linear movements that make logical sense actually tense up the body and inhibit the natural flow of movement. It is this inhibition, this tension , that creates illness or holding of excess energy that blocks full health. When you release physical or emotional tension, the body moves with more pleasure, ease and wellness increases.
One of the best ways to open into moving the body in an organic natural way, releasing the "training's" and thinking mind, is to practice the first stage of healing. This stage is called "embryonic" , this is where we begin to move without thinking. The intelligence of "preverbal" comes forth. Our Body's are designed to know how to move without us having to be told or to recall from a thinking place. Embryonic is the state of unlocking that wisdom, and allowing our bodies to unfold for us the path. The body can then re-order itself without the thinking mind creating tensions.
To begin embryonic, lie on the floor and hug knees in. Begin to move randomly as if you are in a bubble supported by a sea of water. Allow your limbs to feel buoyant. Sometimes reaching, twisting, from the right or left, or belly down. This is all sensation, and allowing your body to move in ways that feel pleasure able. Once embryonic is practiced for a bit, it's helpful to move through the other developmental stages with the same preverbal state that you have cultivated. ( creeping, crawling, standing and walking) This is a great way to be in the moment, and can be a state that is called on at any time during the day while you do other activities. Enjoy! Love, Kelly