Category Archives: Nia

Discover the Joys of Movement

This feels like a good time to share an excerpt from my
Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit book (2nd ed. 2011).
If you would appreciate inspiration and encouragement about choosing a joyful way to move, then you’ll enjoy this!

Chapter 15

Discover the Joys of Movement

Years ago I noticed how certain words with similar meanings prompted different reactions. I stopped saying “exercise” when I discovered that my next thought was “No pain, no gain.” That didn’t sound like much fun for me, so I began substituting the word “movement” for “exercise.” My clients smiled and their bodies relaxed when I would suggest they find a form of movement that would be just right for them.

While in my mid-forties, I could not always find a tennis or racquetball partner and sometimes felt bored lifting weights or riding a cycle that went nowhere. I had taken jazz dance classes for years but my work schedule often conflicted with the class schedule. During this time I discovered a holistic form of movement called Nia. Nia is a transformational fusion fitness and lifestyle practice that blends selected movements from the martial arts, the dance arts, and the healing arts. Nia uses The Body’s Way to achieve physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and well-being. Anyone can enjoy Nia because it encourages all participants to listen to the wisdom of their bodies. It brings out the inner dancer in everyone—especially in people who were told in their childhood (or adulthood) that they couldn’t dance or were too clumsy. All sizes, shapes, and ages can joyfully participate. If you are in a wheelchair or have a limited range of motion, you can enjoy the arm movements, music, sensations, sounds, and images created through Nia routines.

I discovered a passion for Nia that continues to inspire me to want to care for and nourish all aspects of my being. I am a certified black belt Nia instructor and have been teaching since 1999. I delight in being a dancing grandmother! And I must share this—I got a kick out of turning 60 in 2009 and love being able to get down and get back up again with ease! Nia has opened the doorway to profound joy, healing, passion, and wholeness in my life and in the lives of Nia students across the globe.

You can learn more by taking a Nia class or by reading The Nia Technique—The High-Powered Energizing Workout That Gives You a New Body and a New Life by Nia co-creators Debbie Rosas and Carlos AyaRosas. If you visit the Web site www.nianow.com you will find listings for classes all over the world.

Dance and martial arts don’t excite you? Simply walking each day can bring a sense of calm and provide cardiovascular benefits. If you move through your day via wheelchair or a Segway, taking time to get outside and connect your wheels to the earth can heighten your awareness as you take in all that surrounds you. If you like cycling or in-line skating, you can do that with attention to what’s flying by you. Whether you are walking, rolling, or jogging you can feel the wind on your face and through your hair. Delight in your senses. Smell the moment, see what you are traveling in and around, touch a flower or a rock or tree. Twenty to 30 minutes of movement each day freshens the mind and gently massages the heart in many ways. If you walk or roll everywhere you go, make time to do a part of it with a real intention of being fully in your body; an intention and recognition of “being here now” rather than on your way someplace else.

If health concerns seriously limit your ability to move, I offer a pearl of wisdom that my mother’s hospice counselor, Randi, suggested to her. Just a few days before my mother passed away, she confided in Randi that she realized she would never dance again. This wise and compassionate counselor took my mother’s hand and said, “Helen, close your eyes, and let’s dance together right now.” The mind is magnificent, and my mother smiled as she enjoyed visions of dancing one last time. Let your imagination guide you to enjoyable places now. Don’t wait.

It’s important to note that some people don’t have the problem of finding a movement form that suits them—they have found something and over-do it to the detriment of their body/mind. And in this arena of health concerns, if you or someone you love deals with disordered eating and over-exercising, Peach Friedman’s captivating book, Diary of an Exercise Addict, provides inspiration and support for healing.

And so, I advocate closing your eyes for a moment and thinking of a form of movement that creates joyful feelings and suits your wellness path. This joyful activity is the one to start with if you’re seeking a way to add more movement to your life. After selecting your first option, you might want to see if this movement involves strength, flexibility, and a cardiovascular benefit. (Nia provides all of these, by the way.) If not, the next step would be to consider adding another type of movement that includes these elements. Let this form of movement stir your passion and your pleasure.

 

Suggestions for Implementing the Ideas in This Chapter

  1. Think of a form of movement that creates joyful feelings and suits your wellness path. Nia, yoga, tennis, jogging, hiking, Pilates, golf, dancing, biking, aerobics, tai chi, softball, skiing, rock climbing, swimming, walking, skating—these are just some of the choices you have.
  2. Does this movement involve strength, flexibility, and a cardiovascular benefit? If not, the next step would be to consider adding another type of movement that includes these elements.
  3. Consider working out with a buddy. This is a great way to motivate and support both of you in creating time to discover the many joys of movement.
  4. Walking is a wonderful way to provide cardio-vascular benefits. Have fun stretching before and after you walk and you’ve added flexibility into your plan. If you have a gym membership, add weights and “play” with how it feels to strengthen your body. An alternative is to buy weights (second-hand stores always seem to have this type of equipment around) and check with a personal trainer or find a good book from the library to guide you. Less is more in this arena, as you never want to strain your muscles. It’s important to skip a day to allow your muscle fibers to rebuild properly. So if you do an upper body workout one day, focus on lower body the next.
  5. Set the intention to participate in healthy movement activities every two days. Seek pleasure in your choices, be playful, and don’t overdo.

Excerpt from chapter 15 of Wellness Wisdom, 2nd ed., 2011, by Susan Tate

LEARN MORE about FREE Nia classes with Susan at the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center at the University of Virginia.

©2000 – 2017 Susan Tate

Copyright 2011 by Susan Tate

11 Ways to Choose Love Over Fear

MakeYourChoicesQuoteWe are living in extraordinary times. Clearly, it is important to know about things that can keep us safe. But what is being splashed in front of us at a rapid rate is repeatedly fearful information aimed at keeping us on edge. Do you think it’s time to boldly create a revolution based on love and not fear? I do.

I recall the drills we had in the 1950s when we tucked ourselves underneath our little first grade desks to practice saving ourselves in case we were attacked by Russia. I don’t want to duck my head anymore. I want to look out more with a vision of peace, a sharing of our abundance, and a mindful caring for our fellow human beings, whether they live in the United States or some other place on this globe.

I want the children to walk upon this planet with light and love-filled steps and a trust in the adults who are guiding their way. I want our children to make safe, healthy, and loving choices.

During the 1990s, I was the Director of Health Promotion at the University of Virginia. “Make your choices based on love, not fear” was the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross quote we selected to be printed on the back of the condom packs provided during our Peer Health Education workshops. Yes, stop and think about it. We wanted students making safer choices because they had a respect and love for themselves (what a concept!) more than they feared unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection.

Today, I would like to see this quote boldly printed on the nightly news, at our banks, in our work settings, in our cars, in our grocery stores, and all over social media.

We can speak and think from a place of fear or from a place of love.

 “Make your choices based on love, not fear.” We have the choice to shower our world with love or react with fear. I’m choosing love. How about you?

Here are my suggestions for how to choose love over fear. Feel free to add to the list.

11 Ways to Choose Love over Fear

  1. Notice when worry or fear creeps into your thinking. Observe the fear, release it as you exhale, and then breathe in love instead. Repeat if necessary.
  2. Pray, meditate, chant, or sing.
  3. Observe and give gratitude when sacred peace envelops you.
  4. When fear invades your thinking, move your body. Walk, run, swim, dance, bike, do Nia, yoga or other physical activities that create endorphins from your body’s inner pharmacy. If you move through your day in a wheelchair, take time to get outside and connect your wheels to the earth and breathe in love.
  5. Observe your tendency to judge others and gradually lose interest in doing so.
  6. Be the place where love shows up.
  7. Notice your surroundings and the people in it with appreciation. This may result in being more accepting of people who don’t think, look, or act like you.
  8. Choose to no longer view the “other” as “other.”
  9. If you watch or read the news, use it to support your prayer practice. And then spread good news whenever you can.
  10. Forgive someone. Feel free to put yourself at the top of your list.
  11. Choose love.

In what ways to choose love over fear? Please feel free to leave a comment here or come on over to my Susan Tate Community Facebook page.

 

©2016 Susan Tate

 

 

 

 

 

So We Danced in the Parking Lot

As I enter my 18th year of teaching Nia, I do so without having a studio to teach weekly classes.

To catch you up if you haven’t had the pleasure of receiving my newsletters (which you can easily subscribe to if you look to the right) . . .

The studio I taught in for nine years closed in December with a week’s notice; the next studio I found was temporary and will be torn down when permits are finally acquired; and the day after I signed a contract in April with the Ballet Academy, I received an email saying it was closing in June . . .

I have heard that God never closes one door without opening another, but three closed doors in six month? I am paying attention.

As you may imagine, it’s a reflective time and I sense the universe has plans for me that haven’t yet been revealed! I am curious, open, and trusting.

There are plans for me to teach in Austria this fall and I have just returned from the east coast where I taught Nia in two beautiful studios in central Virginia. So I know I will continue to teach across the globe. What will happen locally? I really have no idea.

I am now settling into a “routine” without teaching three classes each week (which has been what I have done since I began teaching Nia in 1999). As you might suspect, there is some sadness that comes up for me.

But I must also tell you that I am still grinning when I think of the last Nia class we had on Saturday morning, June 11 at the Ballet Academy in Edmonds.

Here’s what happened:

When I arrived at the studio, the door was locked.  But that didn’t stop us–there was a parking lot right there!

It seems Michelle has a great sound system in her car. Since we didn’t have the right iPod cord to connect to her car, I searched the CD stash in my car and found one marked “Nia.” I had no idea what was on it but it proved to be the perfect mix for dancing in the streets! Michelle moved her car into a horizontal position, inserted the CD, opened the car doors, turned up the volume, and we danced with JOY! Thank you to Michelle and to the delightful group of 12 Nia students who came to dance. I’ll never forget it! Until we dance again . . . my heart is forever grateful.

If you find a locked door or a door closing unexpectedly, what do you do? I’d love to hear it. Please feel free to comment here or over on my Nia With Susan Tate Facebook page!

 

The Space In Between

spaceinbetweenA few days ago, the management of the beautiful dance space where I have been teaching Nia for nine years gave us a week’s notice to cancel further classes and return our keys. My last class there will be Saturday morning, December 20. When I read the email notification, I immediately went into a very spiritual mode of thinking. “Ahh, everything will be okay! I wonder what’s next?” Within five minutes my mind took me to incredibly human thoughts (not so spiritual) and then I circled around to the spiritual view again. I’ve gone through shock, anger, acceptance, confusion, sadness, and denial. My grief is still present. But I am settling pretty deep into acceptance. I am keenly aware that, if this is one my biggest problems of the year, I’m very lucky.

What I want to share with you is the feeling of peace that is coming to me (in spurts) now. It’s similar to the feeling I had when we sold my parents’ home in the late 90s. My mother had died in 1996, two years later one of my younger sisters died, and then my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and could no longer live alone. It was time to sell the family home and pack up 53 years of a household.

As I wrote in chapter 25 of my Wellness Wisdom book, I vividly remember the feeling of sitting by myself in the family living room as I gazed at all that was around me. There was the family Bible on the table by my dad’s favorite chair, my mom’s music box collection, a small bust of Jackie Kennedy, family photographs on the dining room wall, and the old maple stereo console we’d had since the sixties. Anticipating the next four days of packing and removing remnants of our family’s life together in my childhood home, I began to cry. It seemed like a task I was too young to be doing and nothing seemed to make any sense. How would it feel to never come home again?

After praying for a few minutes, I felt a deep sense of peace wash over me. Spirit was clearly at work here, as I felt I was receiving a profound gift that enabled me to move through this passage with grace, strength, and trust. This gift proved to be more valuable than any household item in our lovely family home. I realized that it wasn’t the stuff, it wasn’t the dishes, and it wasn’t the doors or the walls or my old bedroom that was important at that moment. It wasn’t the living room where I stood for photos in my prom and wedding dresses or groaned when mom wanted to take one more family picture. It wasn’t the things—it was the space in between that was important. The gift was the realization that the space in between all this stuff was where I had learned to love. And that love was something I was able to safely pack with me and keep for the rest of my life. My tears stopped and I thanked God for the gift of this peaceful insight, and for the gift of such loving parents.

And now after nine precious years, I am leaving The Dance Space—unexpectedly. This space was like a home to me and to many students and teachers in our Nia Seattle community. It seems that here too, it was the space in between where we danced and laughed and played and cried and expressed joy and love. It was the space in between where we connected as dancers, friends, supported each others’ life events, and sometimes danced and donated to send healing and resources to places throughout the world.

I notice the similarities with leaving my family home and leaving The Dance Space now. It was the space in between where I found a loving Nia family that was always there for me as I celebrated birthdays and holidays without my children and grandchildren at my side. I will take all of that with me and I don’t even have to pack it!

I will take with me the feeling and energy of the love that we generated there. I offer gratitude for every student who walked through that door. I offer gratitude for each of the (over 1,000) classes  that I had the honor of teaching there. I offer gratitude for all the workshops held there. I offer gratitude to each of my Nia teaching colleagues for sharing their gifts there. I offer gratitude for the experience of teaching a Nia class in April with my daughter and granddaughter in the class–three generations doing Nia together, I offer gratitude for the space and for the neighborhood. I will leave the studio free and clear to serve the next people to enter. I will clear the space and take all my personal energy with me. That will leave my body, mind, spirit, and emotions free to embrace the next dancing steps; and lead me to the perfect studio space so I can continue to share my beloved Nia practice. My wish is for my students and our Nia community to be open to doing the same.

Are you in a time of life where you can see the value of the spaces in between? I’d love to hear about it here or over on my Susan Tate Community Facebook page.

Posted 12/17/15

 

Making the Four Agreements Your Energy Allies

the.four_.agreements.ruiz_

I was introduced to Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, in 1999 at my very first Nia intensive training. In Nia, we are encouraged to use these agreements as “Energy Allies,” not only our practice–but in our daily lives.* They have worked so well for me over the years so I thought I would share them here for you! And, oh yes, I actually think there are FIVE agreements — you’ll find I’ve added one.

*The day I posted this (6/29/15) I received a lovely email response to this piece from Nia co-creator, Debbie Rosas. She reminded me that these agreements spring from the ancient wisdom of shamans. She wrote, “The origin of these came to Carlos and I before the book was written. They are ancient made modern.” Thank you, Debbie, for wrapping Nia in the sacred cloak of these principles! They have added so much peace to my life.

The Four Agreements (+1!)

1.  Be Impeccable with Your Word

Your word is powerful and sacred. Impeccable is defined as “in accordance with the highest standards of propriety; faultless.” I think of this concept as being honest, kind, and succinct way to speak. Choosing to be impeccable with your word is a mindful choice.

Think and speak loving words. I understand this agreement includes our self-talk and how we keep the agreements we make with ourselves. My self-talk no longer includes things like, “Oh, Susan, you are so stupid!” My body/mind would hear that and respond accordingly!

What part of your professional or personal life would be energized if you decided to shine more light on the power and impeccability of your words? See the resource section below for Tate’s 10 Tips for Being Impeccable With the Word.

2.  Don’t Take Anything Personally

Release any sense of self-pity or self-importance. Somewhere I heard that an unexpected “NO” to a request might result in NO = New Opportunity. Ruiz says, “Nothing other people do is because of YOU. It is because of themselves.”  Oh, how I have found this to be true! Clearly, sometimes it’s quite a challenge to not take something personally. In the times I have found myself starting to feel hurt or offended by someone’s words or actions,  I have been able to shift the painful energy immediately into peace if I am aware enough to remember this agreement. It’s such a choice, but we have to remember to make it!

3. Make No Assumptions

Making assumptions, especially if you assume the worst, can sometimes dim your light and deplete your energy. If you can note and then minimize your inner dialogue you will probably feel better.

Honoring this agreement helped me to stop making up unsettling stories about what people might be thinking about me or something I did. Years ago, after I shared a concern about “what will people think?” to one of my dear friends, her pragmatic and loving reply stopped me in my tracks.  “Susan, people don’t really think about you that much!”  I laughed so hard and felt such relief!

Can you recall the last time you made an assumption and spent all that time in your head and it wasn’t fun at all? Next time you can make up a better story!   

4. Always Do Your Best

Do the best you can at the time with what you have to work with.  A year from now, your best will look different than today, and that’s okay! Lovingly observe yourself to assess whether you are doing your best. In Nia we call this the “Loving Witness.” My friend calls it being an “Observette!”

Trust yourself and take action.

Changes that are forced into being
are always temporary.
But changes that are loved into being are permanent.

~Louise Hay

5.  Be the Place Where Love Shows Up

This is the agreement I added to Ruiz’s list and I must admit, it’s my favorite. This energy ally is the connective tissue that holds a sacred container for all the others.

When your actions are motivated by love,
your energy multiplies and accumulates.
~Deepak Chopra

Amen to that, Deepak! Now doesn’t that make you want to be the place where love shows up?

In your work life, love what you do as you provide any kind of service. I have met people who cleaned the floors where I worked who offered a loving light and kindness while they pushed the mop. They might appear to be from the maintenance department, but to me, they were sparks of love making our work place look and feel more beautiful.

One of the best quotes I’ve ever read about love (I have shared this at the wedding ceremonies I have been honored to officiate) sums up this fifth agreement:

LOVE
You are not meant to search for it,
You are not meant to wait for it,
You are meant to generate it.
~Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith

Whatever task is ours to do at the time, we can choose to do it with loving kindness and service. When in doubt, ask: What would love do now?

Thank you for creating time to read this post. I’d love to hear how these energy allies light up your life!

 

RESOURCE LINKS

Tate’s 10 Tips for Being Impeccable With the Word

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom