Tag 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

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

 

 

 

 

 

The book I didn’t write in 1985

As many of you know, my first book, Into the Mouths of Babes, was published in 1984. But it seems a year later I had another book in mind.

IMG_0908My daughter recently came across this piece of yellow construction paper with a list I wrote in 1985 of 14 things I could do every day to find good health and keep it. (We still can’t figure out how it ended up in her treasure box of memorabilia.) As you can see, the first line reads: The – I Want to get Healthy Book by Susan Firkaly, (my former name). I chuckled when I read the list since so many of the things I wrote then have become part of the wellness work I have been sharing for the past 45 years!

For those of you who didn’t know me in the 80s—I was a 30-something mother of two children, teaching high school full time, and generally knocking myself out attempting to take care of my family. Although we were vegetarians, I could have metaphorically been described as one of those women who could “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, ever let you forget you’re a man!” (A jingle from an old perfume commercial showing a super competent take-charge woman who represented the feminist “superwoman” of the time.)

In my picture of myself as a modern mother of my generation, I was probably wearing a Wonder Woman cape. Well, underneath the cape was a woman with a constant flow of stress-related illnesses. I had colds, sinus infections, the flu every year, a stomach ulcer, IBS, anemia, and had tubal ligation surgery in 1983 that almost killed me when the doctor hit an artery.

On top of all of that, I had a series of whacky accidents. I totaled my car a half-mile from our house on December 24. No, it wasn’t icy; I just went off the one part of the beautiful country road–actually actually attempting to avoid an accident–and hit a cement culvert rather than just dirt. It caused my car to flip over, smashing it as it landed sideways across the two lane Virginia road. I had a serious neck injury and minor bruises. Angels were with me, truly, and I shall take this opportunity to remind everyone “seat belts save lives!” And, oh yes, you might want to know I was on my way to the DMV to get my driver’s license renewed.

Then there was the time I slipped on some soda that someone spilled on aisle 12 of the supermarket and I ended up with torn ligaments in my right knee and had to have knee surgery to repair the damage. (I sometimes told people it was a skiing accident since sliding down the aisle in the grocery store wasn’t nearly as fun to say.)

In the early 90s I began working at the University of Virginia. But the Wonder Woman cape offered no protection from several years of uterine problems. I ended up having a hysterectomy—the surgery complicated by a blood clot in my lung.

That was the old me.

So you can see, I was not the vibrantly healthy and happy dancing woman you know today! Why am I sharing this now? Because I don’t want any of you to attempt to take care of everyone else but yourself—the way I did then. The only way I felt I could get taken care of was through illnesses and accidents. It was TOTALLY subconscious.

Feeling in a rather reflective mood lately, I just wanted to let you know my wellness path had quite a few twists and turns (think knee twisting and a car turning over) and your path may have had–or be having–some bumps too.

The list I made in 1985 was a pretty wise one! In fact, I just realized that although I didn’t write that book back then, much of it was poured into my fourth book, Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit (2007, 2009).

So, here’s the list of the 14 things I wrote on the yellow construction paper on January 26, 1985 along with my comments from today in italics.

1. Think positive ~ I still do this but would add a note of how important it is to also honor the painful feelings first and then letting them go and THEN thinking positive. I used to skip that other part—and the pain had to go somewhere–for me, it got stuck in my uterus . . .)

2. Meditate and pray ~ Today I would move this to number 1.

3. Eat well ~ But of course.

4. Take iron

5. B-complex

6. C

7. Multi-vit    ~  4 – 7 cracked me up, as I am the vitamin taking (and selling) queen! Nine years ago I wisely partnered with a top-rated global nutrition company, USANA Health Sciences, and now I share these supplements with those who are a good match for them. I am a good match—as my last 9 years have been my healthiest years ever!

8. Sit ups  ~ I haven’t done sit ups in years! But I “play” with my abdominal and core muscles all the time through my Nia practice. It’s much more fun than sit ups.

9. Aerobic dance ~ Now, Nia friends, doesn’t this just make you smile?  In 1997 I discovered the joyful, somatic, and yes, aerobic, dance/fitness practice of The Nia Technique. Nia has been a vital part of my vibrant health and in-shape-not-sore-anywhere-strong-65-year old body!

10. Drink juice instead of Coke ~ Yes, I was a Coke (Coca-Cola!) addict for 2 decades! Yikes! It was my drink of choice. I loved the caffeine, I loved the sugar, I drank more than you could every imagine me drinking. Then, one day, on my way back from Portland after attending my Nia Blue Belt Intensive Training, I just stopped. And today, I advocate water instead of juice—there’s just too much sugar in the juice. I enjoy eating the whole fruit (with the fiber still in tact and no added sugars) instead.

11. Do Kegals ~ Oh, yes, and so many other pelvic floor strengthening exercises too!

12.  Read ~ I know I put that on that list because I was only reading non-fiction, professional research-based books and articles at the time. Now I also, finally, read purely for pleasure.

13.  Write ~ Doing that, loving writing, will stop only when I’m dead.

14.  Think healthy  ~ Oh, the research on this one is another book in itself! (I recommend any books or YouTube videos by Bruce Lipton or Mario Martinez on this topic.) Our beliefs control our health way more than our genes do!

BACK TO YOU: What’s on your list? Is there anything you’d like to put on your list to add to your self-care and expanded wellness? I’d love to hear from you–you can leave a reply below.

I’d also love to support your wellness path through coaching or through answering your questions about what vitamins you might want to take.

Email me to schedule a telephone coaching session: susan@susantate.org

Possible topics:

nourishment/nutrition*
stress reduction
relationships
life transitions
sexuality
business/career planning

* I offer a 15-minute FREE phone consult
if you want guidance on selecting vitamins.

 Here are just a few of the possible side effects you can expect:

More inner peace
Overwhelming episodes of gratitude
Expanded reverence for yourself and others
An overall sense of joyful well-being

Email me to schedule: susan@susantate.org

 

 

 

 

7 Ways I Spread Wellness

You may have heard me mention that wellness is communicable! As each day passes, I am even more excited to share my work in its many forms. Recently, I became aware that some of you may not know all the things I offer. Please let me know how I can serve you!Well-2

1. Nia – I have been teaching Nia since 1999 and it has been a source of healing for me and so many others. READ MORE

2. Wellness coaching – I LOVE supporting people via phone coaching or in-person sessions. READ MORE

3. Vitamins – Did you know I sell vitamins? Yes, I do and they have been such a huge support for my health and the health of my clients over the past nine years. I am proud to partner with USANA Health Sciences, a 22 year old global wellness company backed in science and steeped in integrity. Need help sorting out all those vitamins on your shelf? Contact me. READ MORE

4. Nutrition advising – You must know how much I love nourishing the body, mind, and spirit. READ MORE

5. Books and articles – My high school English teacher would be proud. I have written eight different editions of health and wellness-related books. READ MORE

6. Business mentoring – This isn’t for everyone but you’ll know if you want to work with me after reading this. I am currently seeking four qualified people. READ MORE 

7. Wedding officiant – I “do” weddings! I’ve been a wedding officiant since 2004 and love the sacred honor of holding the space for couples to marry each other. I hold the space for them to do this in profound love. Check out the photos here! READ MORE