Nia Testimonial: Minna Aalto, Nia Teacher
As long as I can remember, I have enjoyed entertaining myself with books, music, writing and movement. Almost 30 years of experimenting and some heady detours later, Nia – in combination with life and as a part of life itself – seems to have provided me with the courage to commit to these sources of inspiration professionally. In short, I worked as everything – from cleaning woman to art reviewer – and wrapped up a Master's degree at a university until I was ready to perceive reading, making music, writing poetry and dancing the true (and by all means plausible) ways for me to create a sacred livelihood for myself. The practice of making choices based on love and allowing myself to be guided by pleasure certainly creates clarity and focus on all levels.
Why do you practice and/or teach Nia?
Back in November of 2004, I attended my first Nia class in order to write an article about 'the next new thing in Finland,' and apart from loving to dance and being proud of myself daring to attend a gym class and facing my discomfort with coordinated choreographies in the first place, I didn't quite know what to expect. Within an hour I had experienced fun, sweat, working out, freedance, laughter, joy, peace, relaxation, curiosity, and challenges – and I had fallen for Nia, head over heels. I think the main reasons why I'm still involved, and why I have chosen to share the goodness, can be traced back to this very first class. For me, Nia has proven to be an ever-expansive source of physical fitness, mental and emotional calm, and my kind of spirituality embodied. To be able to move others, and to enable them to reconnect with themselves and others is interactive inspiration at its best. Oh, did I mention I love to dance?
Where and with whom do you take Nia classes and/or trainings?
I have completed my White and Blue Belt Trainings with Ann Christiansen in Finland (in June 2005 and June 2008), and now my Brown Belt Training with Carlos AyaRosas and Debbie Rosas in Portland, Oregon in October 2010. I have audited Ann's White Belt Trainings twice, and the second one of these I helped produced (in Turku, Finland, 2008). I mainly train with my DVDs and attend my own classes. When my schedule allows – though rarely – I attend my colleagues' classes.
What is one thing most people don't know about Nia?
What maybe fascinates me most about Nia is the vast science, craft and art behind the movement form, and the routines/choreography in particular. Somehow I assume this might not be the first thing mentioned among all Nia's qualities.
What tip can you give someone who is considering trying Nia for the first time?
Allow yourself to be a beginner – the only one judging you for getting it 'wrong' the first time around is you! Give your mind a break and (re)connect to sensation. Focus more on what feels good to you, instead of how something might look or seem to someone else. Have fun!
What has motivated you to invest in as many Belt Trainings as you have?
I started practicing Nia on regular basis directly after my first class, and realized early on I had finally found what I wanted to do: teach Nia! This heartfelt knowledge motivated me to do my White Belt Training, which in its turn showed me that there actually is a movement form that correlates totally with my personal values, and provides me with tools to enjoy and enrich not only the classes I take and/or teach, but also the life I lead. The transition from one belt level to another has somehow always been very organic and natural. I keep enrolling partly for my teaching, and partly to feed my curiosity and desire to become the best me I can be. With my Brown Belt Training in recent and dear memory, I realize the belts also provide me with a period of undisturbed focus on myself, my whereabouts and Nia. I often feel like I've experienced a physical and mental cleanse. I'm constantly updating from who I think I am into what I really am, over and over. All of the time and money I have ever invested in Nia has already paid me back a thousand times. ♥