During my fist Blue Belt Intensive back in 2000, Debbie Rosas, my Blue Belt Trainer, noticed that many of us at the Intensive were not incorporating much Martial Arts when we were first asked to teach. What exact words she used, I don’t recall. What I took away was that the only way we would change the shape of our bodies was by embodying the Moves and embodying the Movement Forms. I think back then, I still thought of Nia as primarily a cardiovascular practice. I had not yet tapped into the way in which the 5 sensations could condition my body in a multitude of ways.
I remember the exact moment in a Nia class that I was teaching when I noticed he sensation of strength coming from inside of me and felt like I was watching myself mold my shape from the inside out. This was a sensation primairly linked to my core and specifically originating in my psoas muscle. It was a real WOW sensation. That was the day when my body truly began to consciously take shape. It was the day when I realized that ,not only was I dancing through life with Nia, I was also sculpting my body from the inside out. Life As Art took on a deeper meaning.
Since then, I have experienced again and again the truth of Debbie’s words. When I execute the Moves in The Body’s Way, my body changes. I become more balanced and shapely. It is this precision, the gift of the Martial Arts, that when I bring to the relationship with all of the 52 Moves creates the sensation of body as sculpture.
Diving in to anatomy has also helped to enhance my relationship to body as living sculpture. Anatomy made no sense to me when I was just looking at the books so I created and Experiential Anatomy class at my studio. Each week I focused on on muslce, had the class look at pictures, palpate the muscle (if possible), and then move the muscle. We sometimes worked in partners, one person touching the origin and insertion point of the muscle (when possible) while the other person moved, using touch to stimulate awareness. I taught a Nia class right after this class and brought the muscle we were focusing on in the Experiential Anatomy class into the focus for the Nia class. I took one year to go through this process and by the end of the year, I felt like I could sense my body as a three dimensional sculpture and had more definition than ever before. I also felt more emotionally connected to my body from the inside out. Familiar, had traversed it’s inner landscape. The power of sensation ~ imagination ~ expression.
Enter Brown Belt and Principle #10, Symbology. Fill my body with energy. If I had accomplished the sensation of filling my form with physical energy with my anatomy class, Brown Belt initiated me into the world of shaping and reshaping my light body. I actually love working the relationship between all the #10’s, X-Ray Anatomy, Floorplay and Symbology. They all remind me to view myself as a multi-dimensional being. Using X-ray anatomy, I can consciously explore loosening and tightening to change my form, to find more balance, ease, grace and strength. Using Floorplay, I can consciosly explore my relationship to gravity and use the floor, the earth as a place to grow in and out of. Using Symbology, I can explore my body moving as one whole living organism and allow the shapes that I take on to be full and passionate and fulfilling.
When people ask me what is is that I do when I move that make my movement feel so full, I tell that that what I do is fill my whole movement with me. Systemic for sure. And emotionally connected. And spiritually authentic. I fill it with me. I become the sculpture and I become the artist and I become tha audience in the for of the Witness taking it all in. One thrilling shape seamlessly becoming another, each breath, each movement another chance to be fully alive in my body, my home.