Nia Testimonial: Jacinta Birchall, Nia Teacher
I am a 47-year-old mother of one. I have two clothing and footwear stores: The Black Cat Boutique and The Ruby Cat Boutique in the Yarra Valley in Victoria. I am also the co-founder of The 9ine Lives Project. I am dedicated to sustainable fashion practices and am a strong advocate of using reclaimed and sustainable textiles in manufacturing; our clothes have 9 lives! I grew up in this beautiful valley and studied drama and art. I moved away and worked as an actor in my early 20s. In between acting jobs, I worked as a labourer and during that time I studied Oki Do Yoga. It was the last time I was fit – until I found Nia in 2005.
At that time I had a chronic back problem, which could force me to be out for three days at a time. I never dreamed I would be pain free from doing something I love! But it's true. I'm living proof that "through movement we find health." Currently I am teaching three classes a week in and around the Yarra Valley. I am producing (organizing) an intensive training later this year for Nia Trainer Ken Gilbert. I am currently the Treasurer for Nia Australia, and through this position I have found the benefits of being a part of the Nia community. I feel I have found my tribe again. I love that Nia attracts such positive people who are keen on living a healthy lifestyle. Through Nia, I have not only found health but also a positive attitude towards life, people, and my role in community.
Why do you practice and/or teach Nia?
I knew from the very first Nia class that I wanted to teach Nia. I don't really know why. I'd never had a calling to teach anything before. I just knew it was important. Maybe it was the music, the expression, the tingle in my nerve endings, the smile on my face. Or maybe I just felt the deep foundations of this practice. Intellectually, I knew it was good for me, and something I could easily sustain as a regular form of exercise. Then I took the White Belt Training and experienced first-hand why and how those foundations were formed. I'd found a lifestyle practice I could sustain. I continue to practice and teach Nia because there is joy and pleasure and fun without dogma. There is freedom to explore within a sound framework. I have experienced profound self-healing through regular practice, and with each training and Nia's continuing education, I delve deeper and understand this is a continuing process.
Where and with whom do you take Nia classes and/or trainings?
I have taken classes with Michelle Redman and Deborah Shaw and Melissa Schroeder. I have done trainings with Ken Gilbert, Winalee Zeeb and Ann Christiansen. I am about to take the Green Belt Training with Winalee in April 2011 and produce a White Belt Training with Ken in September 2011 (which means I'll help with the planning logistics, hosting details and other arrangements).
What is one thing most people don't know about Nia?
That it is a community. That it is fantastic for lazy exercisers or those new to exercise because it is effortless.
What tip can you give someone who is considering trying Nia for the first time?
Listen to the music and trust that your body knows how to respond. It's genetically encoded to move to rhythm. Just look at a child and how freely they move to music with no training. Drop the judgement and criticism of yourself, the teacher and the community you're dancing with.
Which of the nine disciplines of Nia has given you the greatest benefits so far?
Martial arts for sure. It has given me a physical confidence I've not had before. (I wish I had this growing up with two big brothers!) I have stability and agility and a range of motion that, before Nia, had been very limited. I also love the power surge I get from sounding during this section of class.