Starting Over: Dancing Nia Through My Seizures

Sometimes life invites us, or forces us, to begin again. In these moments, Nia has become my chosen practice for starting over.

I came into Nia reluctantly. It was 2008, and I was an overly busy person - pastor of a church, mother of two beautiful children, wife of a cross-country, tele-commuting husband . . . Life was too busy.

It had been a challenging year, plus I have epilepsy, but after years of reasonably well-controlled seizures, my disease came back. On Mother’s Day, 2006, I had a generalized (grand mal) seizure that terrified all of us with its severity. It left my body feeling exhausted and in pain, and my brain felt as if it had short-circuited.

Less than a year later, my beloved sister, Marcia, suddenly passed away of cardiac arrest.

My life felt as if it was spinning out of control. I knew I needed to hit reset, and somehow start over again. A friend invited me to come to a dance class called Nia. She knew I loved to dance and felt that Nia might help me find my grounding again.

How right she was! My body longed for the dance, and my spirit longed for the open, genuine expression of joy. After that first class I wrote in my journal, “I did a new thing today (even though I didn’t really want to), it’s called Nia. I’ve been so numb, but right now I feel something different. My heart feels lighter, and my seizure brain feels quieter. I feel as if I just came home to myself.”

It was the beginning of a new journey. In the years that followed came taking the white belt, teaching, and pursuing the green, blue and brown belts. My joy in dance rarely faltered, even though my health continued to deteriorate. My seizures increased in severity and frequency. As I failed on multiple anti-seizure medications, I began using Nia principles such as RAW, Free Dance, and monitoring my battery, as if my life depended upon them. I used Nia to find my way through the monthly seizures that were becoming my new normal.

Little did I know this was the beginning of another journey, and that I would need to use all of the tools of Nia again, in the future. I began cultivating my beginner’s mind, and I started over, yet again.

Stay tuned! Next month we will bring you another installment of Kristine's Brain Journey.

Kristine Zakarison is a Nia Black Belt, a certified yoga instructor, as well as an ordained minister. She is the mother of two children, wife, and the owner of Aloft Studios in Pullman, WA. She shares her thoughts and practice at and After living in Boston for many years, she returned back to eastern Washington, where her family still has a farm. She loves living close to the soil as she dances through life.

Photo by Kristine Zakarison