Jenn Hicks

Archive for the ‘Nia’ Category

What does it mean to BE in a Nia class?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

If you are reading this, you likely know what being in a Nia class is all about (and if you don’t know about Nia, you can learn more about it here).


If you DO know what being in a Nia class is, I have a question for you:


Do you really know what it’s like to fully BE in a Nia class?

To let go of thinking and dive into sensation?

please be here


BE in Nia class

BEing in a Nia class is the practice of  allowing ourselves to stay with what is happening on a moment by moment basis. Fully BEing in a Nia class is about being present. Being aware.

For me, BEing in a Nia class means that I am sensing and feeling, not thinking. I am present when I am not thinking about my to-do list, but instead am aware of how good it feels to move my spine a certain way or how much pleasure I bring to my feet when I move my ankles.

The possibility for something so *freaking* magnificent exists when I am in truly in my body, and not just in class to “exercise”. I want that for you, too!

Being aware keeps our bodies safe

Just like being alert (i.e., present) when driving a car or cooking or walking across the street is going to prevent potential accidents, so is being aware in a Nia class. Unnecessary and undesirable stress on the body can come from “tuning out”, leading to injury.

Here’s a perfect description of the benefits of staying in the moment.

Lack of awareness leads to excessive force in all that we do from simple activities like flicking off a fly to brushing our teeth, closing a car door and so on. Excessive force creates resistance in ways that we have no sense of – for example most of us push against or resist the ground when we walk, run or stand by locking our knees, holding our breath, contracting our belly and butt muscles and more. If we did not resist the ground then it would feel like the ground is lifting us up as if we are on a magic carpet ride, our joints and muscles yielding and adjusting to the contours of the carpet. (source)


I want the magic carpet ride experience, don’t you?!

Nia is NOT just an exercise class

Now don’t get me wrong, I realize it is not a simple thing to truly be present to sensation and to let go of ever busy thoughts. And that’s why Nia is a practice. It’s not just a fitness class. Nia is about continuously working towards feeling good in our bodies. And the first step? Being and staying present so that our wise, wise body can be in charge, instead of our egos.

Prior to me really learning about sensing and feeling my body through Nia, my body was a confusing, numb, mechanical thing attached to my head.

Now, thanks to Nia, my body is a powerfully tender and alive space that I can celebrate (instead of regret). I feel it. And I have a better relationship with it.  I want that for you, too!


The mind can steal magical experiences from you on the dance floor

Tweet: The mind can steal magical experiences from you on the dance floorOver the last couple of weeks, I took my own Nia practice on the road when I co-taught with Martha Randall and attended Sarah Butler‘s class. Dancing with these wonderful women, I was reminded that being in class and “not getting” the choreography can be a real distraction. It brings up fear, insecurity and so much more. That distraction can set off a whole inner dialogue which takes me further and further away from my body. It happens in a split second. And it can rob me of my purpose in calss: to experience joy and pleasure.

Go ahead, turn off your mind

How? Sensation will help you along. Sensation is the voice of the body, after all!

I know I’m truly in my body and fully in the experience of a Nia class when I allow my body to guide me.

How? Well, at any given moment, my body is talking to me. My job is to listen. My right foot says “please land softly” and it’s up to me to respond. My left knee often says “make sure you are allowing me to face in the same direction as your left hip and ankle so you don’t torque me.”

The best is when my body says, “Ohhhhh yeahhhh! More of THAT movement, please!

Tuning in to sensation will get you out of your mind and into your body.

Turn up your imagination, emotions and spirit!

In order for me to get a holistic experience in Nia class, I must kindly and with compassion ask my chatterbox of a mind to take a break.  This allows me to be present not only to my body, but also opens the adventurous possibilities that come from engaging my imagination, trying on different emotions and personalizing my experience by letting my unique spirit come out to play.

be here now

Can you enjoy the pleasure of being in the moment? 

I so want everyone in a Nia class to feel free and to enjoy the pleasure of truly BEing in the moment.

I want you to feel as free and as alive as I do when moving.  I want you to truly enjoy the pleasure and power of being in the moment; not hiding behind fear or a “to do” list.

I want you to drop your limiting beliefs (“I can’t do that“), to feel free to experiment and explore movement possibilities. I want to see you do that because I know that you will  become more and more confident, just like I have. I want you not to just “exercise” and go through the motions, but to really BE in your body and have FUN!

I want that for you. When you’re ready for it.

Dance Lesson by Joy Kogawa

Friday, August 1st, 2014



I have a student named Katherine who truly understands the essence of Nia. It is so joyful to watch her move with such grace and appreciation for her own movement possibilities.

Last week, after our class at The Healthy Joint, she handed me this poem entitled “Dance Lesson” by Joy Kogawa. I took a picture of it to include in this post as I adore reading hand writing (maybe you do too?), and because of the simple beauty of pen and paper (which remind me very much of Katherine). Also, doesn’t she have the most beautiful handwriting?


photo 2(click to enlarge)

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. My favourite part? “…Calling out that any awkward step will do”

If you’re having a difficult time reading it, here it is in typeface:


Dance Lesson
~ by Joy Kogawa ~

The Dance Master
Dances in the tunnels
In the bone marrow
Calling out
That any awkward step
Will do

Here then and here
Are the gentlest of arms
Holding the limbs
Of the swaying sounds

How beautifully music
Moves in the air
With the dance master naming
our names like a song.