Nia Testimonial: Karen Mcintosh, Nia Teacher
This is about the Birth routine and me. It didn't come to life in my life until the time was right. I've had the training DVD since the beginning of this year.I had watched it and taken it twice around April, and just couldn’t get into it. I found it too directional, too many straight lines, too disjointed, to aerobic-y. I wasn’t getting the music. It didn’t jive.
Then in September, Maria Skinner started teaching it in pieces. The first time was okay. Then the second time I took her class, my body just got it. It got the music! It got the movement to the point that I could comfortably embrace level 3. It got the magic, and I became eager to embody it so I could teach it. The Saturday after I took Maria's Birth class for the second time, I taught the first 3 songs to my class. The next time, I taught everything except Tanto Tempo, Rise, Evening Sun, and Maya. Next time, I added Tanto Tempo and Shambhala. Then I layered on Rise, Evening Sun, and Maya. Last Saturday, 10/13, I taught the entire routine for the first time, remaining true to the choreography except for parts of Shambhala and Maya and where some things had to be slowed down for greater absorption. I think I ran it for a good 6 or more weeks.
The way I taught it in parts was like gestation. I was getting further and further along in gestation. I repeated some parts and built on new ones week after week, which I don’t always do. Often when I’m learning a routine and teaching it, I’ll switch it up mid-learning with an established routine. But this time I just kept going week after week. I wanted to move to Tanto Tempo which fascinated me, then to Rise.
For my body, I love how in Birth I connect to my core and back muscles to support the sharp shoulder and shoulder blade movements and the semaphore arms. I love how my eyes integrate with my hand movements and how aware I am of my joints. I love how my students just start grinning with "Just Grooving." Sensing the back, the sympathetic movements of the abs, the weight and essential alignment of pelvis, chest and head, I am able to be more athletic, more precise, and more alive. I love that this routine is taught mirrored! I teach most of it mirrored and the connection to my class is much stronger, which improves my teaching skills.
As far as what happened in my personal life, doing Birth for 6 + weeks, at least twice a week, things began to leave my life, to create an empty space, a vacuum. First my sales job of 15 months at a Boston health club ended early October, and now my Nia class in Marlborough, MA is being replaced by a Zumba class at the end of October. The sharp movements and contractions of this routine are emptying out what needs to be discarded.
My first thought was, “Well, shouldn’t I be producing something rather than losing stuff? Isn’t that what birth is about? Where’s my baby?” But there are other aspects to birth. There is pushing, pushing, pushing to empty the uterus of life that no longer belongs within you and the nutrients no longer necessary to sustain it. Pregnancies don’t always run to term with healthy babies. They can be terminated early through miscarriage or stillbirth. I have discarded what I can no longer sustain, what no longer sustains me, and now have an empty space ready for nurturing.
Birth decluttered me, changed my energy. And I am ready to gestate again, to be impregnated with the opportunity to do what I love and share it with others. In the interests of birthing something new, sustainable and heart-centered, I am now available to teach Nia at locations around Greater Boston, especially ones Nia has not yet touched.
Why do you practice and/or teach Nia?
Nia makes me happy. There are very few spaces in life where I feel whole, real, and fully connected, body and mind. Nia is one of them. I love that with Nia you can sweat, get strong, increase your cardio endurance, and get your head in gear all at the same time. With Nia, I can do what I love and share it with others. I love teaching others that the only limits are the ones they can't let go of.
Where and with whom do you take Nia classes and/or trainings?
With Maria Skinner and Robyn Donald at Yoga and Nia for Life, West Concord
What is one thing most people don't know about Nia?
Some students are very surprised to encounter moves like plank, cobra, and other strength moves as part of floor play. Many don't realize strength is as important a part of Nia as mobility, stability, agility, and flexibility.
What tip can you give someone who is considering trying Nia for the first time?
Let it grow on you. There are no mistakes, only variations. Trust your body.