It all started November 2010 when I was feeling very isolated and withdrawn from friends. Suffering badly with distorted body image due to my battle with anorexia, I decided to take a positive step forward and find a place where woman gather. I started my search looking for yoga studios and found The Center for Nia & Yoga in Albany, NY. It looked interesting, so I called the owner, Casey Bernstein, and inquired about the program. She asked me what I was looking for in Nia. I was upfront and told her about my eating disorder. Casey said, "This is the place for you!" And so the journey began....
I was apprehensive about going, but was welcomed with open arms and kindness. Wearing a baggy t-shirt, I walked in very uneasy and tense. About three weeks in, one class was a particularly terrible experience for me. We lined up in front of the mirror, and were told to say "I love you" to ourselves. After a quick glance at my reflection, I started crying. After class, Casey and I talked. She suggested journaling after each class, which I have found to be very helpful. I struggled for a long time looking at myself and trying to not hate what I saw. Amazingly, even during this period, I always felt so much better when the Nia class was over.
Then a very special class happened. I finally took off my baggy t-shirt and wore a tank top. I was very self-conscious and felt like everyone was looking at me. After class, Casey approached me and congratulated me on wearing the tank, expressing that she could only imagine how difficult it must of been. She placed her hands on her heart and said how proud she was of me. I am constantly amazed and touched by the many comments I receive; the room is full of kindness and light.
As I look through my journal now, I notice a common thread of not wanting to go to class. I often felt anxious and nervous, but made myself dance anyways... and I am so glad I did. My own personal insecurities and the hold anorexia had on my mind kept trying to get in the way of the progress I wanted to achieve. But I fought hard and vowed I would conquer these fears and insecurities so Nia could start to bring me peace within.
Eventually, class by class, I noticed more triumphs and felt less closed off. Along the way, Casey reminded me that life is a constant journey. Later, as I thought about this, I realized she was right; we are always evolving and changing. I know this first-hand.
After a few months and a long winter, I could see myself turning the corner and felt stronger. Dancing with emotion became less scary, and I learned to laugh at myself - especially when i messed up. I could feel a difference in the world around me and how I responded to it. I am now able to stand up for myself, speak my mind accordingly, and not let people walk all over me. For once, I want to wear clothes that people will actually notice me. I even recently approached Casey about starting a support group for eating disorders. This is a daunting project, but a much-needed and worthwhile one.
It has been almost seven months since my journey began, and I have come such a long way. I also know I have much more to experience. I highly recommend Nia for everyone; it is truly life-altering. Thank you Casey for bringing me the gift of Nia.
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