I am doing the micro thing with foci in my class lately. Today the focus was on using the thumb and pinky fingers or the hand. The intention was to create a relationship to the space inside the body and the space outside the body via sensing these fingers. At first I was not sure this could carry a whole Nia class but WOWOWOWOW. It did that and more.
As I was delivering the focus, I noticed that when I was reaching out with my thumb I felt a connection to the big toes and when I was reaching out with my pinkies,I felt and instant connection to my littlest toe. I expressed that discovery to the class as well and they felt it too. So I co-opted the big toes and littlest toes to bring the creating a relationship to space below into the intention as well.
What I love about Nia is pretty much summed up in the above two paragraphs! My body, my movement and my sensations become the last frontier, the wild, wild west and the greatest adventure. And it all comes from my paying attention to my body sensations and my willingness to explore something new in a new way.
Finger extensions, one of the finger moves, invites us to sense the relationship of each finger to the body. I focused on just two of these fingers, the thumb on the radial side of the hand and the pinky on the ulnar side of the hand.
The thumb is the nurturing finger. When I am dancing with my thumb leading the dance it absolutely connects me to my deep core, my belly button, my sternum, my medial alignment, the front of my body. When I reach as far out as I can with my thumbs I can feel the reach all the way form the joints of my pubic symphisis. The pinky is all about the edges. Like the outline of a picture, it is about reaching as far out as my body can go, to the lines of the preriphery. I experience the reach of my pinkies in the back of my body. They reach up and out from my lower back, create space between my shoulder blades and activate my wings.
Moving them together connects me to deep inside and far, far out. When I dance with both of these fingers activated, I feel the dancing that happens within and without. Very exciting. Isolating each finger allowed for minute attention to each energy channel, that along the frontal body for the thumb and the back body for the pinky.
From a practical physical perspective, using the finger extensions works out various muscle groups associated with the areas of the body activated. So thumb activates the pectoralis group, the biceps and the abdominal group. The pinky activates the lattisumus dorsi, the triceps, and the quadratus lumborum. By focusing on the extension of my fingers, I give myself a workout from the inside out.
From an emotional/mental perspective, using finger extensions connects me to the expression unique to each finger. The thumb is the opposable finger that give me the power to hold on. It is the hitchhiker, the sucking thumb of the baby, the bug squasher. The pinky is the delicate flower petals, the part of me that embraces the sky and opens my wings.
When it felt like we needed a break from the hands, I brought the classes attention to the big toe and the littlest toe of the feet to reinforce that relationship between the medial space – the big toe and the edges – the littlest toe. Imagining we were stamping them both on the floor as we lead from the heel or step onto the ball of the foot or onto the whole foot, each requiring a certain relationship to the toes. The reaching with each of these two toes.
In working with the music, I felt for the sounds that called each of these four fingers and toes. Several other of the 52 moves made a significant contribution: creepy crawlers, balance finger, finger flicks, webbed spaces, chop hands and fists.
As we cooled down I felt I had been on a marvelous journey, I felt wide, expansive and grounded and thrilled to have this new relationship to my body, within my body, with the music. This is how we danced today in class.