Practical, Nia-or-Not Applications for EveryBody
“Nia Principles?! I don’t even do Nia!” If that is you, fear not, this post is part of a series exploring the 13 Principles of Nia as they apply to anything you do with your body. As long as you have a body, the 13 Principles (and this series) have something to offer you. Since beginning my practice of The Nia Technique in 1999, what keeps me interested in Nia isn’t the particular movements we do in class. What’s compelling about Nia is the universality and the practical application of the 13 Principles. The particular movements you happen to do don’t matter at all – whether it’s Nia’s 52 moves or asanas in a yoga series or dribbling a basketball or weeding a garden or walking a dog. The principles apply to every kind of movement – every sport, every practice, every single movement performed with the human body. This unofficial, practical guide to the 13 principles is designed to help everybody and anybody experience more ease, health, and pleasure in the body – no matter what kind of movement you do.
Principle 1 – The Joy of Movement
Excerpt from the Official Nia Headquarters Description:
Joy has a physical sensation, which encourages us to embrace the body as it is and move in such a way as to create further Joy and pleasure. The ‘Capital J’ Joy we speak of in Nia is different from emotional enjoyment. The Joy of Movement is a physical sensation, experienced through the body. Your body is the source of the Joy of Movement. If anything distracts you, come back to the body. To experience the Joy of Movement, you simply need to consciously choose to sense Joy – and then let it in. … If Joy is not present, tweak your movement by making small modifications to what your body is doing. Keep seeking the sensation of Joy. Once you find it, sustain it.
Unofficial Practical Nia-or-Not Application for EveryBody:
“Joy” is a red herring in Principle 1. The key is that the Joy in the Joy of Movement is the “Big J Joy” not the “little j joy.” Joy in Principle 1 isn’t necessarily about happiness or pleasure or excitement or even enJOYment but about presence in the body no matter what is happening. Whatever you’re doing, be here for it.
One day, soon after I started my Nia practice, I made a thoughtless comment to Frank about his dishwashing habits. He considered it for a few minutes and then proceeded to tell me how hurtful my words had been and how many women would love to have someone with his dishwashing habits.
There are few things in this world I hate more than being in trouble with someone. When someone is angry with me, my usual response is to get the hell out of the situation as fast as possible. My favorite escape strategies are to cry, run away, stop listening or strike back. This time, however, I looked straight at Frank and listened both to what he was saying and to the sensations in my body. I could feel my stomach get tight, my heart contract, and my breath quicken. I adjusted my stance so I felt more stable and I thought to myself, “This is the Joy of Being In Trouble.”
The Joy of Movement or Being in Trouble or Anything At All is about being right here to experience it. A tweak — a small modification to what your body is doing — is an act of self-compassion. In the case of me being in trouble, I adjusted my feet so I felt more grounded and supported. A tweak allows me to take care of and be kind to myself in the midst of whatever is happening.
One of my meditation teachers uses the phrase “it’s like this right now” to remind me to stay present without grasping to keep something going or resisting and pushing something away. She also teaches self-compassion and kindness.
The (Big J) Joy of Movement is all about that.
I might be getting all green lights and parking spots right out front. Or my kids may have just tracked mud onto my carpet and my favorite jeans don’t fit anymore. No matter what, Principle 1, The (Big J) Joy of Movement reminds me to choose to stay connected to physical sensation and to treat myself with compassion and care.
The Joy is the juice in what’s happening right now and my ability to be with it.