The joy of loving your body

Twirl by SkipSteuart.Photo by

One of the big challenges of the writing life is to stay physically healthy when the entirety of your job is to sit in front of a computer and move your fingers.  Or sit in a chair and flip pages while you read.   If thinking burned calories the way riding bikes does, we’d be golden, but it just doesn’t seem to work that way.

So writers, to stay healthy, have to build movement into their daily lives.

Anyone who has followed this blog knows that I’m a walker and hiker, and that I love hatha yoga and practice it regularly.  They balance each other beautifully, building strength and flexibility in their own ways, keeping the whole muscle/skeletal system moving.  They are not, however, particularly aerobic.  (Hiking is, of course, but in a good month, I only hike 3-4 times.)  I like jogging, but find it’s best if I keep it to once or twice a week.  I had been wanting to add something vigorous I could do indoors, for those times when it’s too snowy or I’m too busy to get out in the daylight hours. 

I tried various cardio classes.  Hated them.  HATED them.  A decade ago, I found I liked kickboxing, but they don’t have that at my Y, so I kept trying things.  Just before Christmas, I tried Nia, which was advertised as a combination of dance, martial arts, and yoga.   It couldn’t any worse than a cardio class, I figured, so I tried it.

It was love at first dance.  Since December, I’ve been to Nia classes an average of three times a week, and it fits perfectly with walking and hiking and yoga.  I can go in the evening, dance for an hour, shake out all the tight spots from writing all day, and get back to work happily in the morning. 

I know you hear about ten thousand things to do, but I would hate anyone who might like it to miss it, so I’m saying, give it a try.

Nia is, basically, a dance class.  There are some kickboxing and tai chi kind of moves thrown in, and you finish with stretching to music, like hatha yoga.  Some of it is complicated (like a jazz square, which I am only now, after four months, starting to sort of understand. Sometimes), but it doesn’t matter. Some people in class are getting it right and some are not, and nobody cares.   I’m not the most graceful or coordinated person on the planet (why do you think I hate cardio? Why do you think I like hiking?), and I love it. Every single class goes by so fast that I’m surprised it’s over.  

That’s because it’s about pleasure. Joy.  Celebration. It feels like dancing in your living room.  It feels like being ten and twirling around with your mother’s best scarf in your hand.  You’re sweating and moving and your body is LOVING you for it, but it never feels like work.  If I could, I would go every day.Just thought you’d want to know.  For a list of classes in your area, click here.  To just learn more about Nia in general, click here.

Let me know if you try it, will you?


6 thoughts on “The joy of loving your body

  1. Barbara,

    Thank you so much for posting this. I am determined to get the word out about Nia in my area, but that is only words. They need to try it. So thank you for adding your voice to mine. And thank you for loving Nia, too.

    I was trying to help someone the other day with a Jazz square and her issue was specific in that she was trying to move the same foot twice (left, left, right left). So I asked her to think of it more like walking or marching (left, right, left right). I suggested that with each step she put all her weight on that foot, then she has no choice but to move the OTHER foot. And I swear I saw the light bulb go on over her head. Maybe you are not having that specific issue, but maybe you are. Practicing using the weighted step approach will then allow her to put her feet wherever she wants (either weighted or not). It could be in a square, or a square that is turned on its edge to really be a diamond or whatever. It doesn’t really matter as long as they are weighted correctly and if you are dancing Nia the correct way is finding the Joy!

    Thank you again!

  2. Terre, that’s a great tip. I’ll try it tomorrow. Like a march. I’m thinking too much, honestly. If I stop and let myself feel it, it works. Then I notice the person in front of me, or start counting or….

    TRYING Nia is the trick. My friend went with me last night and had a blast, and another friend is going in Australia (hi, Mel!).

  3. I’d love to hear what you think, Melissa.

  4. Melissa Compton

    Very intriguing! I looked into it more online and not only found a Nia center in my area, but also tried a couple moves in my living room and was able to release some anxious energy. I’m gonna ask my SIL to come with me to next week’s newbie class. 🙂

  5. Wahoo! Thank you again Barbara! Looks like you got FOUR Nia recruits. You brought a friend and someone in Australia (Hi Mel!) is trying it. I am sure that Melissa and her SIL will love it. You go! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  6. Safeguard the health both of body and soul.

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