My Body & The Nia 52 Moves

Jeanne Catherine is a Nia teacher and trainer based in Charlottesville, Virginia. She earned her BA in Dance & Theater from Antioch College and began her personal journey with Nia in 2003.

From the time I was 11 years old until I was 21, I spent a lot of time in physical pain. I distrusted my body and hated myself. It was through Nia that I found respite from this way of viewing my body and was able to begin a new conversation with myself. Now, free of chronic pain, I find that I want my physical conditioning to be filled with love, support and the actualization of my full potential.

So when Nia Co-Creator Debbie Rosas, 5 trainers, 25 participants, and the 52 Moves of Nia came together at Soma Ranch in Texas this past weekend, I was a bit surprised to hear Debbie’s passion and purpose around reaching for our individual “enough.”

The “enough” under discussion was anaerobic conditioning. This is the kind of workout where the participant goes one or two movements beyond what feels like “enough.” I have experienced this myself as a runner, sprinting to the finish line in the last 30 seconds of the Women’s Four Miler. My heart pounding, my muscles burning and only one thought going through my head: “I can’t possibly take one more step!” But this kind of conditioning is not something I give myself in my regular Nia classes.

As I walked around the Nia 52 Moves Training, assessing, testing, and giving feedback and support to individual students, I recognized the need for physical conditioning from the “enough” perspective. I realized that I imagined “enough” as going hand in hand with pushing or shaming. And I thought about the "no pain, no gain" approach to physical health, which feels to me like, “you aren’t good enough, therefore you have to make yourself better.”

Up until this weekend I unconsciously associated anaerobic conditioning with this kind of painful, hateful self-talk. In fact, my body has asked me for more physical conditioning – anaerobic conditioning in particular – and I did not respond. Instead of listening and trusting, I told my body, “No way. How do I know you can do it? What if you can’t?” In ignoring my body’s requests, I find I am not providing what I value so much: unconditional love and acceptance for my unique design.

What Debbie shared over the weekend was that going to “enough” is important. It builds energy storage for my future self, and expands the way I think about my potential. Spending even 20 seconds increasing my heart rate and burning the oxygen in my reserves can create more agility in my body and my life. I realized my body craves the burn, the heart pounding, and 20 seconds where I think, “Wow, I really am alive.”

The insight for myself is that there are pathways to “enough” which are lined with pleasure, curiosity, grace and excitement. And it is only through individual examination that this “enough” can be found. No outside observer can tell whether I have found “enough” or when it is time to back off.

Join me in my exploration by adding 20 seconds of full on “I-feel-my-heart-pounding” anaerobic conditioning in Nia class. Approach it safely by bringing love and support to the experience, and by listening to your body. And ask yourself the question, “Is this my enough?” Then take it up a notch or two more. Only by being loving and supportive to ourselves can we safely explore our anaerobic conditioning, build our reserves and live into our full potential.