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Tag Archives: Carlos Rosas


A valued teacher is a precious thing. Transition around letting that teacher go can be a challenge for body, mind, emotions and spirit. The same sensations we use to create healthy bodies — Flexibility, Strength, Mobility, Agility & Stability — can be used for all the realms in times of transition. Thanks to Mary Linn, who I am also challenged to let go from the practice of teaching, for playing this week. You will be sorely missed, my dear friend.

You can find all the playlists below. If you’d like to listen to them, you can find almost all the music on Spotify where you can listen for free! Please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

But first, here are some things I know you want to know about:

Locker Room Renovation at Albemarle Square starting soon
Renovations on the locker rooms at Albemarle Square are starting now and both the men’s and women’s locker rooms are now closed. For all the information, please click on the sidebar link on the right side: acac Locker Room Renovation 2018.

Buddha Cat: Learning Awareness, Presence & Self-Care from a Teacher Who Sometimes Barf on the Bed … Second Printing Is Here!
Buddha Cat is in full swing and on sale at my site! If you haven’t yet, you can go to http://www.susanmcculley.com and sign up to be a Buddha Cat Backer. You will then have access to a discount code for free shipping that never expires for Backers!

Buddha Cat Now on Amazon
Buddha Cat is now also available on the world’s largest retailer! You can find both Kindle and paperback editions AND if you are already a reader and fan, PLEASE would you write a review? A review is one of the most powerful things you can do to spread the word. Find the book listing here! Thank you for your energy and support!

Buddha Cat Now Available at Local Stores!
If you’d rather not order online and/or if you’d like to support an independent bookstore, you can find the book at some local establishments!
Over The Moon Bookstore at 2025 Library Ave in Crozet, Virginia. It’s a beautiful store filled with great books, lovely things and chocolate and is well worth a visit. They also carry Buddha Cat postcards!
New Dominion Bookshop on the downtown mall at 404 E Main St in Charlottesville, Virginia. New Dominion is the oldest independent bookseller in Virginia, and carries books in fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature, and a unique selection of architecture and landscape gardening resources…as well as Buddha Cat – the book, prints and cards. Please do go in, ask for Buddha Cat by name and support local artists, local booksellers and local cats.
Quilts Unlimited / J. Fenton Gifts on the downtown mall at  118 West Main St in Charlottesville. This is a great place to find contemporary American Handcrafts, artisan jewelry and whimsical (even Buddha-y) gifts.
PawPrints on the downtown mall at 201 East Main Street near the fountain. A locally owned shop, PawPrints offers unique items for both people and pets. You can find fun cat and dog themed toys, treats, gifts and apparel – and Buddha Cat!
Integral Yoga Natural Foods at 923 Preston Ave, IY provides the foods, supplements, personal-care products – and Buddha books! – needed to maintain a healthy, happy lifestyle.

Blue Ridge Writer’s Annual Book and Arts Fair, Saturday October 27, 10am-4pm
I’m delighted to be participating in this annual event of 35 local authors of adult and children’s literature as well as artists and musicians. It’s going to be a great day! Join us at City Space, 2nd Floor of the Market Street Garage on the Charlottesville Downtown Mall from 10am-4pm. Talk with local authors, artists and poets and find delightful and inspiring gifts.

Buddha Cat Book Launch Party on Saturday, Nov 3, 2-3pm at New Dominion Bookshop
Come to the historic New Dominion Bookshop on the historic downtown mall for a book launch party! I’ll be signing books and you can do some early holiday shopping and there will be very cool people there (you!) and, of course, snacks! Please join us.

Thanksgiving Day Nia at ACAC Downtown — Thursday, November 22, 8:15am
Start the holiday with mind-full, joy-full, grate-full movement! Please join Susan for a special Thanksgiving class on Thursday, November 22 from 8:15-9:15am (NOTE TIME CHANGE!). Bring a friend or relation! Or take some space for yourself.
acac hours ~ Thanksgiving Weekend
Wed, Nov 21, regular opening time and close at 6pm
Thanksgiving Day, Thu, Nov 22, 8am – 12noon
Fri, Nov 23, 8am opening, regular closing

Nia Moving To Heal Classes at acac downtown Sundays at 315pm
Join Rachel H on Sundays at 315pm for Nia Moving To Heal: a joyful, restorative practice that combines dance arts, martial arts and healing arts.  It is designed to empower your body, mind, spirit, and emotions.  Participants are encouraged to work at their own pace and personalize movement to adapt to their health needs.

Yoga Retreat in Mexico with Lynsie McKeown ~ February 9-16, 2019
It’s time to say YES to you and your well-being; to put you first. Join Lynsie McKeown, February 9-16, 2019, for 8 days of daily practice, luxury villas, delectable meals and immersive experiences in paradise. This retreat is designed to nourish, support and celebrate YOU. Immersed in beauty and nature, you’ll experience the benefits of a complete practice; asana (vinyasa tantra), pranayama, guided meditation and Yoga Nidra (a deep state of restoration, relaxation, and awareness). Body, mind, heart and soul will be rejuvenated. You’ll leave feeling full—full of more joy, motivation and inspiration to carry you through the rest of your year. Find out more here.

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

Monday, Oct 22, 2018, 1045am ~ Carlos Coalescence

Healing Senses 8:27 Parijat
A Different Space 8:43 Bob Holroyd
No Quiero Nada Mas 4:46 Sancti Spiritus
Soullala 4:08 Candy Dulfer
Adouma 4:28 Angélique Kidjo
African Drug [Original Tribal Mix] 6:02 Bob Holroyd
Inner Membrane 5:19 Govinda
Shining Path 7:23 Dreadzone
City Knows Your Name 4:59 Chris Coco
Visions 6:14 Purekane

Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018, 840am ~ Carlos Coalescence

A Different Space 8:43 Bob Holroyd
No Quiero Nada Mas 4:46 Sancti Spiritus
Succumb to Me 5:15 Terence Trent D’Arby
Soullala 4:08 Candy Dulfer
Adouma 4:28 Angélique Kidjo
African Drug [Original Tribal Mix] 6:02 Bob Holroyd
Inner Membrane 5:19 Govinda
Shining Path 7:23 Dreadzone
City Knows Your Name 4:59 Chris Coco
Deeper 2:55 Rena Jones & Eliyahu Sills

Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018, 545pm ~ Carlos Coalescence with Mary Linn

Song for Olabi 6:07 Bliss
Duden 6:41 Natacha Atlas
Letitgo 5:36 Prince
Qalanderi 7:10 Cheb i Sabbah
Drumming Up a Storm 6:01 Bob Holroyd
Denmark 5:07 Chemical Brothers
Cantaloop 4:39 US3
So Cool 5:43 Candy Dulfer
Spanish Seaside 4:59 Auditory Sculpture

Wednesday, Oct 24, 2017, 11am ~ Carlos Coalescence

Song for Olabi 6:07 Bliss
Duden 6:41 Natacha Atlas
Letitgo 5:36 Prince
Qalanderi 7:10 Cheb i Sabbah
Soullala 4:08 Candy Dulfer
Drumming Up a Storm 6:01 Bob Holroyd
Denmark 5:07 Chemical Brothers
So Cool 5:43 Candy Dulfer
Spanish Seaside 4:59 Auditory Sculpture

Thursday, Oct 25, 2017, 840am ~ Carlos Coalescence with Mary Linn

Song for Olabi 6:07 Bliss
Duden 6:41 Natacha Atlas
Letitgo 5:36 Prince
Qalanderi 7:10 Cheb i Sabbah
Drumming Up a Storm 6:01 Bob Holroyd
Denmark 5:07 Chemical Brothers
Cantaloop 4:39 US3
So Cool 5:43 Candy Dulfer
Spanish Seaside 4:59 Auditory Sculpture

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

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.

 

Twenty years ago, Nia Technique Founder Carlos Rosas created the routine Bliss. I was a new Nia student at the time and remember the buoyant, powerful feeling when I danced the routine. I felt like I was flying.

In the intervening years, I come back to some of my favorite songs from Bliss but I rarely teach the routine as a whole. This week, Mary Linn and I will teach our interpretation of this classic routine together on Monday and Thursday* and I’ll offer my own Bliss-ish playlist on Tuesday and Wednesday**.

The original music of the routine is largely selections from Rae & Christian’s 1998 album Northern Sulphuric Soul. I love the variety of sounds and the rich, passionate vocals in these tracks which offer ears and imagination and bones a playground. Bracketing Rae & Christian are three pieces from Shantel’s Higher Than the Funk album, also from 1998. These have a meditative pulsing quality that help my thinking mind relax and my body to explore.

Carlos’ focus was on the balance between gravity’s grounding and the electromagnetic pull up. The image he used was the flame: fueled and rooted to the source while pouring energy up. After dancing this focus in different ways over the years, I think of this energetic balance as the way humans soar. The way we can fly is to push up out of the Earth itself. Earth grounds us and Heaven pulls us. In our bodies, the 1st and 7th Chakras create that even energy pull of rooted and expansive.

And, as Buddha Cat (that wise creature) reminds me, a simpler view of this focus is the balance between up and down.

Please experience Bliss this week — either with us in the studio or wherever you are.

* Bliss with Susan & Mary Linn
Monday, May 14, 1045am-12noon, acac albemarle square
Thursday, May 17, 840-940am, acac downtown
Thursday, May 17, 630-730pm, acac albemarle square

** Bliss-ish with Susan
Tuesday, May 15, 840-940am, acac downtown
Wednesday, May 16, 11-1215pm, acac albemarle square

decoding the details 3 013016

If you’d asked me a couple of months ago, I would have told you that Jazz just wasn’t my cup of tea (or shot of bourbon or whatever the Jazz-appropriate beverage is). I would have said it was discordant and random and long and frankly, irritating.

Lately, though, Frank’s been turning on a Jazz station in the evenings. And I like it. Well, I like some of it. A lot of it. Sometimes, I slam my teeth together and a painful noise but mostly, I like the feel of the sound.

Years ago when Green Day released their first album, I had a friend who was a huge fan. When he played their music it sounded crazy and loud and indecipherable to me. He said, It’s just unfamiliar. Once you listen for a while, you’ll get it. He was right.

With that in mind, Frank and I signed up for an online Jazz Appreciation course. We’re learning about different genres, the history, the classic songs, and we’re learning (slowly) how to understand forms of jazz.

It’s like we are breaking the code of the music. We’re listening and counting and counting and listening and confused and then, Ooh, yeah! There’s the change! It’s like understanding a different language or being in on a joke. Oh yeah, I get it.


have this feeling when I count music using the 8BC system in Nia. It’s a genius system, developed by Nia co-founder Carlos Rosas, and it creates a map for any song with a beat. With the 8BCs, I can decode the rhythm and speed, the sections, and the details within a song.

But it took me a while to figure it out.

I struggled mightily (and avoided the 8BCs) for years and it wasn’t until my friend and mentor, Helen Terry, showed me the joy and play of decoding music that I started to love the system. We call in “doing the bars” and Helen got me hooked on it.

Once Helen taught a song in class – Big Lie Small World by Sting – with the most unusual choreography. The movements made sense in my body but didn’t follow any pattern I’d ever danced before. I asked her was the Sam Hill was up with it, and she said, Do the bars.

I popped that Sting CD into my car stereo and I listened dozens and dozens of times. I’d listen and get lost and get lost and listen and count and get nowhere. But then one day (and I can tell you exactly where I was when it happened), I heard it. I broke the code. I felt like an 8BC super hero.


What the jazz course and the 8BC system is to music, meditation is to the mind and emotions. If I’m feeling a whole bunch of everything and my head is a mad house and my heart is pounding, getting still, pausing to sit can help me decode what’s happening.

Meditation allows me the space to feel physical sensation, label emotions that are moving through, notice when and what I’m thinking. Sometimes I just stay confused and upset, only calmer. Other times, I break the code: Oh, right. I’m embarrassed. I’m angry. I’m afraid. That’s what’s happening.


Whether I’m decoding music or my mind, the practice is noticing the details, becoming more familiar, more intimate with what’s happening. Sometimes (like in bebop or when I unexpectedly do something ridiculous), I’m still confused. But sometimes, sometimes, I break the code.



BONUS: Some Nia routines have codes built into them: recurring patterns or movements. Kelle Rae Oien’s Pulse routine has a code that shows up in almost every song. Here’s a hint.

DOUBLE BONUS: Tomorrow is the start of the 28-Day Meditation Challenge sponsored by one of my favorite teachers, Sharon Salzberg. Whether you are brand new to meditation or you are renewing your existing practice, this is a great way to get some support and community. I’m also blogging about my experience every day (ish) with a mandala that I’ll post on my A Thousand Beautiful Things blog (and on the 28-Day blogging site, too). Join me there!

Principle 12: Continuing Education

P12 make-new-mistakes

The longer we do something (like, say, live), the more challenging it can be to keep learning.

“I got this,” we figure. No need to learn more.

Learning feels awkward. We can talk ourselves into avoiding it.

Instead, cultivate what Zen Buddhists call shoshin (beginner’s mind). Keep learning … and be willing to suck.

For a long time, I paid lip service to Principle 12 but wasn’t really willing to suck. Diving in with the distinct possibility that I will not be good at what I’m attempting frees up boatloads of energy.

Suck is the beginning of success.

The Unofficial Guide
to the 13 Nia Principles
~ Practical, Nia-or-Not Applications for EveryBody

(Wondering what the hey the Unofficial Guide is and why I’m writing this series of posts? Click here!)

P12 Gandhi quote

Principle 12 – Continuing Education

Excerpt from the Official Nia Headquarters Description:

Principle 12, Continuing Education, is about making a personal and professional commitment to your ongoing growth and education with Nia. This principle is more than a concept and a practice; it is a way of living.

***

From conscious actions such as speaking, to unconscious functions such the pumping of your heart, your body lives and breathes with a natural intelligence that is always taking in information—always learning about itself so it can make adjustments to support its highest state of functioning. By merging the two intelligences of sensing and thinking, you tap into an awareness we call the “thinking body.” Here, your true capacity for perception and self-knowing unfolds. To access the thinking body is to develop body literacy—the ability to listen, understand and consciously respond to the information your body communicates to your mind via sensation. Once you develop body literacy, every sensation becomes a powerful form of education you can use to transform your life.

Unofficial Practical Nia-or-Not Application for EveryBody:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

On Friday, November 14, Charlottesville hosts a TEDx conference: a day of local and international speakers sharing ideas worth spreading. I have the great good fortune to be the speaker coach for Jim Harshaw, who will be giving a TEDx talk called “Why I Teach My Children to Fail.” On the face of it, Jim’s talk is about failure as part of the process toward success, but really, what he’s talking about is continuing education. (Coincidence that Principle 12 falls on the week of TEDx? I think not.) Continuing education is about constantly choosing to step beyond what we already know into new areas of learning and growth.

Continuing Education is about being willing to suck.

During Nia trainings, Nia Founder Carlos Rosas would remind us over and over that the only way we’d improve as teachers (or partners or parents or people) is to be willing to suck: to be willing to flail and not know and stumble and forget everything and totally, completely stink. In Zen Buddhism this practice is called “shoshin” or “beginner’s mind” (I wrote about this a while back). Shoshin is an attitude of openness and curiosity, a willingness to learn something new, even when practicing at an advanced level. In some ways, then, the longer we practice and the more we know, the more challenging Principle 12 (aka shoshin, aka beginner’s mind, aka willingness to suck) can be.

Often I forget that learning and practice are two different things. Once I’ve learned something, I can practice it over and over and train myself to do it more easefully. But learning is awkward. As my brain and body endeavor to do something unfamiliar, I feel vulnerable and clumsy and uncomfortable. Awkward is simply what it feels like to learn.

And, if I’m really in the spirit and practice of Principle 12, I seek out that awkward feeling even while doing things that I’ve done a thousand times before. Continuing education is to be willing to suck — even at things we’ve done for a long time.

No matter what you want to do better ~ teach Nia, play ice hockey, parent a child, sing opera, give a TED Talk ~ some part of that learning will feel spazzy and uncomfortable. At some point in the learning process, you will suck. You will flail and fail. As Jim Harshaw will say on Friday at TEDx, the inevitable failures aren’t bad things to be avoided but are simply part of the process of continuing your education and enhancing your life.

It takes courage to be willing to suck, so Continuing Education takes courage. It is much more comfortable to stay in safe, known territory than to risk suckage. But it is only by finding that courage and taking those risks that we can be our best and discover what is possible.

 

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