How have you moved today? Have you walked or run? Have you reached for a bowl in a high cabinet or pulled some weeds? Have you lifted a child into the car or put your shoes down into the floor of your closet? Have you caught an apple falling from the counter before it hit the ground? Have you stroked and animal’s fur? We all have tendencies and habits and patterns but our bodies are designed to do a wide range of movements, not just thumb-type on our phones.
In the mindful movement classes that I teach, we focus on this variety. The co-founders of The Nia Technique, Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas, gave it a name: The Five Sensations of Fitness. They identified those sensations as Flexibility, Agility, Mobility, Strength and Stability or FAMSS. A body that can access all five of these sensations is a body that is creating fitness and health.
Nia defines these sensations as
- Flexibility ~ the sensation of energy moving out along the bones
- Agility ~ the sensation of quick start and stop movement
- Mobility ~ the sensation of movement flowing without beginning or end
- Strength ~ the sensation of energy moving into the bones
- Stability ~ the sensation of energy moving out from center in all directions equally
Intentionally taking the body through these five sensations is one way of expanding the way the body moves beyond habit and tendency. And that expansion into a winder range of movement is one way of increasing fitness and health.
And FAMSS is not just for the body. Our minds, hearts and spirits can benefit from these sensations, too. And no time is this more true than in times of transition.
Late in 2011, my teacher Carlos Rosas left the practice of Nia. Carlos had been one of the most influential and impactful teachers I’d ever had. He changed the way I lived my life and saw the world. When he left, I had plenty of thoughts and feelings and spiritual wonderings about it.
The same sensations that gave me fitness in my body, served to help me be with the reality of Carlos’ departure.
- Flexibility ~ I practiced feeling and thinking out to the horizon, lengthening my perception of his leaving.
- Agility ~ I played with noticing the quick changes in my thoughts and emotions about Nia without Carlos without feeling like something was wrong.
- Mobility ~ Allowing my emotions (and sometimes tears) to flow, my imagination to roll, inspiration to move fluidly helped me decide how I wanted to proceed.
- Strength ~ I pulled energy in from what I knew, from the resources I had around me, and generally feeling my own power even without the leader I’d looked to for more than a decade.
- Stability ~ Connecting not just to grounding but also expanding into what was possible started me on the path of taking ownership of my teaching, my creativity and my life.
Now, my beloved friend and teacher, Mary Linn is leaving her teaching practice. I find myself reminded of many of the thoughts and feelings I had when Carlos retired. Mary Linn is my sister in movement and in life. I love working with her and while it is my hope and intention that our friendship will not end, I know it will change when we aren’t teaching together. So I’m reconnecting with FAMSS to give me some holistic fitness and health.
Mary Linn’s leaving. But not yet. So this week we are teaching together on Tuesday and Wednesday our collection of some of our favorite Carlos choreography…as we interpret it.