Thursday, August 5, 2010

Has this guy found JOY?

I think you'd agree with me that this man is experiencing joy.  Something about that music seems to make him come alive. I wonder if he has always been this way when it comes to music, or if he has somehow learned or chosen to be that way?

Not sure what I mean? I wouldn't have understood the concept of choosing joy myself just 5 years ago.

Nia's first principle is "The Joy of Movement".  I never actually thought that was possible. To me, movement had always been related to body shame, physical pain and usually some form of embarrassment on my part.

I took my first Nia class with Martha Randall in 2002. It was arranged by Marla Feldman as part of a "team building" workshop for the therapists at NRC Feldman & Associates.  My first impression? 

"This is not for me!" In fact I told Martha and the rest of the group how strange I thought it was to be exercising barefoot.  That experience sent me back to the gym to the aerobics and step classes.

Until a year so so later when I needed to fill in a night with a new activity (back then I was so over-programmed) and the only thing that worked was a Nia class up the street at the community centre. So I gave it a try. 
Fast forward a few years to my exercise addiction, when I had decided to do my Nia (White Belt) teacher training (really as a way to squeeze in more exercise into my life).
The first full day of that White Belt training in 2006 with my teacher Martha Randall,
she introduced this principle "The Joy of Movement".  

She said,  "In Nia, joy is the primary sensation we want to seek from all movement. If you lose joy, tweak your movement to find it again. When you have joy, sustain it. When joy is not present, look for it."

I struggled with this as my therapist had, at the same time, been telling me that it was ok to experience sadness and that I didn't have to keep pushing it down.  And, in my experience, movement had never been pleasurable. The "Joy of Movement" seemed impossible for me.

Martha explained that "joy", however can be part of any emotion. She asked us to consider the "Joy of Sadness" as an attitude shift that might help us learn.  That made a little more sense.

In those days,  I really had to practice choosing joy (by adjusting my movements and intentionally smiling while practicing).   Over time, I began to become alive in my body.  I began realizing that sensing and feeling my body (something I had avoided doing for a long time), could bring me joy instead of the shame I was so used to attaching to my body. 

And now, I realize that joy is a sensation that comes from me moving in ways that suit and respect my own body. It doesn't come naturally, but comes from my attitude. When I shift to being open to whatever is happening in the moment, then I can make adjustments to invite in the energy of joy. And when I create my own joy and showcase it through my Nia classes, it can help my students feel free to choose their own joy.

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