Nia Testimonial: Debbie DuPey, Nia Teacher
MA org. Leadership
I've been working for over 20 years preventing violence against women, including sexual and domestic violence and human trafficking. My specialty has been creating educational materials and designing workshops. Through an effort called Women Walking Together, I helped design and facilitate workshops throughout Central America and in Vietnam using a "natural helpers" model, which trains natural leaders in the community to help women and their families who are experiencing violence. I started the fairtrade enterprise, Corazon Scarves, to address the economic needs of women who have experienced violence and oppression in developing countries. The enterprise sells scarves made by women overcoming violence and oppression. I teach Nia to the women, who are all back-strap weavers. Nia inspired movement as part of their wellness activities.
Why do you practice and/or teach Nia?
I fell in love with Nia when I attended an empowerment program for teenage girls. Laura Markman was teaching a session for the girls and I joined in. I've always loved to dance, and this was the perfect combination of structure, fitness and freedom. I started attending Laura's classes in Spokane, WA. While doing the domestic violence workshops in Central America, I was haunted by how ravaged so many of the women's bodies were from repetitive movement from the daily work they did – making tortillas, cleaning, carrying wood, etc. The weaving craft that they tried to make a living from required that they sit on the floor or ground, leaning over a loom for eight or more hours a day. I wanted to bring back to them something that would give their bodies relief from pain and offer moments of pleasure. This inspired me to train to become a teacher.
Where and with whom do you take Nia classes and/or trainings?
When in the U.S., I take classes from Laura Markman. I'm the only Nia teacher in Guatemala, so I mostly dance by myself or with the weavers. I occasionally offer small workshops to tourists or others. Mostly what I do is for free because I live in country that is so poor. Plus, it just works out that way. Right now, I am in Spokane and I'm sub-leasing space in a wonderful home owned by a 74-year-old artist. I introduced it to her, and now she practices with me almost everyday. She has told me "You've given me back my body."
What is one thing most people don't know about Nia?
How amazingly freeing and spiritual it is. On one level, it is just this great workout, but after an hour you feel as though you've touched the sacred within yourself.
What tip can you give someone who is considering trying Nia for the first time?
Let go! When I have shared Nia in the past, some folks are looking so hard for a structure to attach themselves to that they miss the experience. The people who enjoy it the most seem less concerned about getting it right and more about enjoying the movement of the body. The body learns the movement intuitively, but sometimes our brains get in the way of the process.
How has Nia inspired you to create Corazon Scarves?
Two and half years ago, I decided to spend an extended amount of time in Guatemala. I packed up my house and made plans for departure. But I also wanted to go to Portland to do the Nia White Belt Training with Debbie. Most people were telling me that this was too much, considering all the uprooting I was doing in my life. But intuitively I believed it was crucial for my transformation. Through the Nia White Belt experience, I became more attuned to my authentic self and had the confidence to live out my dreams. I practice Nia daily, by myself or with whoever else is interested. It keeps me balanced and true to my larger vision of participating in the creation of a beautiful world without violence, where each person can experience joy in their life.