One of the benefits of being a compulsive note-taker is that when I feel stuck and I’m randomly searching through my computer, sometimes I find juicy gems of information. That’s what I am doing this morning: planning classes for the week focused on the 6 stances of The Nia Technique (click here for the details on the 6 stances) and I stumble across notes from a workshop with Nia co-founder, Debbie Rosas, in September of 2006. My notes (in part) read:
Feet: inside of foot (heel up to big toe and out to 3rd toe + the arch between) is the most stable. In any stance or move, all toes need to be relaxed. If (toes or) any body part above the base is tense, this is a sign that the base isn’t stable enough.
My experience with stances has been: first relaxation, then power.
Stances seem so easy. Stances are just standing. I do that all the time.
For years in my Nia practice, I kept saying, in essence: “Yeah, yeah, I got the stances: ClosedOpenASumoBowCat. Let’s move on to the interesting stuff.” At my Brown Belt training (emphasizing here: this means I’d already taken my White and Blue Belts and had been teaching for 4 years), Carlos Rosas asked us to do a simple move and really notice the details of our movement. Simple? Closed Stance is simple. So I took a Closed Stance. And I noticed that my toes were wiggling around. My feet just wouldn’t get still. So I scowled at them and they tensed up. Especially my toes. When that happened, I could feel how the rest of my body tensed up, too. So I just stood there in my Closed Stance and did my best to relax my feet and breathe. (Carlos came over to me in the midst of this. “A little less simple, Susan. Could you actually do a MOVE?” When I told him what I was noticing, he left me to it.)
Back home after the training, I noticed that when I was uncomfortable in a conversation or situation, when I didn’t know the answer or I didn’t want to tell the truth, my feet would either move around or they would tense up. And I couldn’t think. My brain would stop working and my feet just wanted to get me out. So I experimented. When anyone said the four most terrifying words in the English language (for my readers with relaxed feet, those words are “We need to talk.”), I would focus on my stance and let my feet get still and relaxed.
Lots of times it didn’t work. My feet would roll around and my toes would tense. When I could manage it, though, my whole body would relax (no matter what frightening thing the person wanted to talk about) and I could actually hear the other person. And then, my brain would actually work and I could respond. Amazing.
If you’ve ever taken my class, you might notice that I almost always begin with inviting everybody to sense their feet. This is why I do that. If the feet are relaxed, then the whole body can relax and that seems to me to be a good place to start.
AND when the feet and body are relaxed, we have power. Whether I am executing blocks in Nia or explaining to my friend why I didn’t do what I said I’d do, relaxing into my foundation, my stance, gives me support, strength, and choices. Relaxing into my stance gives me the power to take a stand, stand up for myself and stand up for what I believe in.
This week in class and out of class, notice your stance. Experiment with relaxing into it and notice where you take a stand.