Living Nia: The Body's Way Every Day

Running for a cause: Healthcare shouldn't be a privilege

It's heartbreaking to hear the stories of people encumbered by medical debt, or avoiding treatment due to the high costs of healthcare. This year I have decided to run the Maine Marathon on September 30, 2018 to raise funds and awareness for the Portland Community Free Clinic.

The PCFC --now in it's 25th consecutive year of operation-- is almost exclusively staffed by volunteer doctors, nurses, therapists, and nurse practitioners. On a shoestring budget, the clinic sees over 500 patients a year who are working and stably housed but without health insurance. Learn more about the PCFC on their website, and click here if you are inspired to donate any amount.

In many ways marathon training reminds me of the kind of 'slow medicine' often practiced at the Free Clinic. Doctors and nurses take time to listen and treat the whole person. The time and commitment it requires to successfully train for a marathon requires a similar commitment.  It means I need to listen to my body and not overdo it.

The PCFC's volunteer docs and nurses show up for their once-a-month commitment reliably.  Likewise, I must adhere to my training schedule, rain or shine, whether I'm at home or on the road. 

I have found that the Nia Technique offers the perfect compliment to running: with its dynamic full range of motion moves, the low-impact and sustainable cardio, the focus on flexibility and agility, and the creativity I get to express at every cycle of the class.

We all know running can be stressful on the joints and repetitive as heck, that's why Nia is my saving grace when I am training for a marathon and am logging 5 runs per week, including one long run.

If you'd like to start running or connect with me on Map My Run (a free app that allows you to track all kinds of exercise) you can find me under my name, Erin Curren. If you need a running buddy, reach out! And if you feel inspired to give any amount of money in support of the Portland Community Free Clinic, please do! 

Thank you!

 

My Body, My Community, My Planet

We live in amazing times. Opportunities abound for us to come together and make choices and changes that will impact the future of our species on the planet. We also live with the collective awareness that if these opportunities are not seized now, we may soon be too late to sustain human life on Earth.

I came across this powerful image from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day website recently. It is a representation of all the water on our planet if it were consolidated. What appears on the surface to be so very vast, is really quite precious and rare. Even more striking is the percentage of our planet's water that is fresh...

waterlessearth_woodshole_960
waterlessearth_woodshole_960

When we consider the Body, on a personal level, as an integral part of the larger Body of the Planet, we are made aware of our interconnection, and even more so, of our inseparability. Like cells in a single body, we humans interact and respond to one another in functioning and non-functioning ways. We live benignly with one another, most often cooperatively: there is so much love expressed in each moment between us as a species!

We can and do, however, also form malignant ways of being: Toxic behaviors that enforce separateness and increase the isolation of individuals and groups.

If we care about the sustainability of our species, we must begin to embody the sustainability of our own Body, both personally, and planet-wide. For me, this awareness can start by simply slowing down, and noticing my breath. Bringing myself to the present moment fully. Noticing my thoughts, rather than being my thoughts.

Join me for Nia class and call forth the creative ways you have of sensing into our dynamic interrelatedness.

Let's step in now... together

The Magic of Circular Movement

circle

I was struck the other day after class when a student came up to me, glowing from the connections she was making after completing a recent workshop on the 5 Principles of The Body's Way. She said: "I am so glad I went to your workshop last weekend! Moving in class this morning was a totally different experience now that I understand the 5 Principles! Every movement felt intentional and I GOT why we were moving the way we were moving, it wasn't arbitrary to me anymore. It's so cool!"

Not only is it cool, it's    c  i  r  c  u  l  a  r .

Why are circles so magical when it comes to movement?

  • They engage our full range of joint mobility
  • They challenge our balance
  • They balance our movements left and right, back and front
  • They balance our movements up and down, in and out
  • They condition the intrinsic muscles
  • They open up possibilities
  • They stimulate creativity
  • They engage more of our nervous system
steps in snow

I could go on... The point is that circles, spheres, curves, arches, arcs, great sweeping reaches into the space above, below, close-up and far-away... they all help us get unstuck! You may have noticed that there are very few naturally occurring absolutely straight lines in nature. Most lines are curved, most edges are soft, or irregular, textured, or askew.

Most human movements don't occur in straight lines either, unless you are on a man-made machine, or in a traditional fitness class where the majority of moves occur in a 2-dimensional space... Not so in Nia where we are all about multiple dimensions!!

The body demands balance and the circle delivers balance. See for yourself!

The next time you move, invite a circle into your movement as inspiration, into your walk, into your reach, into your sway... You may be surprised where it takes you!

Big Magic: Let your creativity in... It wants to dance with you!

I had the divine pleasure of devouring Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic, and I heartily recommend it! Actually, I listened to the author read her book on cd, as I drove around southern Maine, teaching Nia and French. The audiobook gave me glimpses into the author's tone, be it gentle, coaxing, caring, sweet, sassy, sarcastic... or any number of other ways she has of flavoring her insights.

As I listened I couldn't help thinking that, for me, Nia IS creativity in action. It is moving with the unexpected: dancing with surprise, fear, love, anger, delight... the whole of our human experience! Nia helps me be bold, courageous, and yes, BRAVE...

Nia also helps me be quiet, and know when I need to listen, step back, reflect or simply witness.

I have found that Nia students discover something new about themselves in each class. Sometimes these discoveries are seemingly small, and sometimes they are huge. The fact that these gifts come clothed in a revolutionary fitness class is simply the best perk of all, n'est-ce pas?

Oui!

Life is too short NOT to step in! Find a class near you here in Maine, and join me for Nia. As the teacher, I will be holding the space for you, and you can be sure that Nia will call forth the creative jewels you may not even know are inside you... yet!

From behind… From below… An Ode to the Underside!

Nia-Erin-Curren-Portland-Maine
Nia-Erin-Curren-Portland-Maine

I took this photo in the beautiful public Rose Garden in Washington Park in Portland, Oregon during my Nia Black Belt training. I love the way the petals are translucent, the way the flower appears from behind and from below, the soft curves of the new bud, the dry crumple of the dying petal underneath…

This photo reminds me to pay attention to the underside of things. In Nia class this often translates as moving with the awareness of the back of my body; or sensing how the bottoms of my feet provide the lift from the earth into my ankles, and legs, and hips; or even how yesterday (this morning, just now) has faded and been renewed by this moment…

When we honor the underside of things, the hidden, less glamorous, less “perfect” yet absolutely invaluable elements of our being, we have a more complete appreciation for the entirety of existence and the fullness of the life cycle.

Next time you bring your awareness to the present moment while you are walking, sense the lift from below and from behind… notice your dance with gravity… ease your weight from one leg to the other and sense the shift throughout your body…

We are always in the center of our experience and supported from behind – all the life experience and history of our bodies and spirits on the planet – and from below – the sense of connection to Earth, the only place we as humans “grow.”

Next time you look at a flower, appreciate its lesser seen qualities, from a perspective you wouldn’t typically take… See what you notice, and how it applies to your life, your walk through this one precious, fleeting gift of a life.