Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Late bloomer

Since Nia and I have found one another, there is only one pointless regret that I have experienced: why didn't I do this earlier?
Totally pointless, because I can't do anything about it, so what's the use of thinking that I could have started dancing earlier, that I could have paid more attention to my body before my mid thirties, that I could have had more qualifications in what I love by now?

But sometimes I can't help it and I think that, if I would have started sensing the joy of movement when I was younger, I would be more flexible now, more graceful, that my teaching experience would be more complete as I would have had a more extensive background in dance.

And then, I just had to look at some very late bloomers, the roses that grow in my parents' garden, to realise that it doesn't matter when beauty and joy come to our lives. They have come, let's greet them and make them stay.
Late roses after the rain, such joy. We can all bloom whenever we're ready.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

What I want

I want my own will, and I want simply to be with my will,
as it goes toward action;
and in those quiet, sometimes hardly moving times,
when something is coming near,
I want to be with those who know secret things
or else alone.
I want to be a mirror for your whole body,
and I never want to be blind, or to be too old
to hold up your heavy and swaying picture.
I want to unfold.
I don't want to stay folded anywhere,
because where I am folded, there I am a lie.

R.M. Rilke

Monday, 17 September 2012

Finding the sacred

When I get tired, cloudy in my head and heavy in my body, I go back to my basics: gentle movement, and going into nature to watch it doing its thing, in its own natural time.
Apples will fall when ready, bees will pollinate when ready, blooms will hold all their colourful beauty until ready to rest.

This is one of my recipes to regain balance, something simple to do that I hold so dear. Get out, under the clement late summer sun or the cold overcast skies, whatever the weather get out and observe. I believe in nature, the seasons, everything having its time and place.  And if there is the chance to stroke a cat...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Late summer's gift

Walking through the nature reserve after Nia, taking in all this wonder

Friday, 7 September 2012


Dancing though Life, Living Meditation and Life as Art are the triad of principle 5 of Nia, Awareness.
Do you think it sounds abstract, or airy-fairy, or hippy-dippy? Ok, this is how I exercised Awareness today:
As I walking from the train station back home today, I noticed how wonderful it was to feel the sun on the top of my head and back of my neck. For a moment I was intensely aware of my head being able to move thanks to my neck and spine, and I started just saying yes with my head as I walked in rhythm with my footsteps. Then I realised I was walking like an elephant, planting the whole sole of my foot instead of doing the gentler "heel lead" tai chi technique, so I changed from baby elephant ( they are cute, nothing against them) to graceful gazelle (in my mind, at least) and walking became so enjoyable. The sun, my head and neck, my stride, all of these together in my mind, I looked up and to one side and I saw these pretty wallflowers, their lovely blue colour going so well together with the green of their leaves.
There is beauty, there is pleasure, and awareness will bring them to you on a silver tray, you just need to be ready to accept them.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Anytime, anywhere - always with intention

I mentioned in a previous post that I was in Beijing for work (and that it was a bit of an adventure getting there), what I didn't talk about where the long days, the air pollution getting to my chest, the many hours sitting down in the same position taking appointment after appointment.
As a Nia dancer, didn't I have the means to heal myself? I only needed some space and music, both of which I did have.
But it wouldn't have been right to take care of just myself, so I told other ladies that were attending the same event about Nia, and they were curious to know more. One morning, I held and mini Nia class; we only danced to 4 tracks but I made sure to include a warm-up and a cool-down.

The next day we were far too busy socialising in the evening but the day after that, I gave another class in my room, this time longer, moving the furniture around to accommodate more people.
It was such a lovely experience, and we all got so much out of it that I was asked to give a class next year, during the same event, but using the hotel's gym so as many people as possible could benefit.
The body wants what it wants; to be healthy, comfortable, loose, and safe, and after a hard day's work, even as we think we are so tired that we can't face moving a finger, there is nothing like dancing to great music doing some self-healing.
No strain, no pain, but all the gain a body that is taken care of can get.

Monday, 3 September 2012

A change of attitude

I stress when I travel by plane, there I am no different from so many other people. Especially I worry when I am travelling for work and there are connecting flights and long hours ahead. This time it was a connecting flight from Amsterdam to Beijing that I missed, courtesy of bad weather at Heathrow that had us waiting on the runway for over an hour.

Last year that would have been a tragedy; I had a taxi waiting for me at Beijing airport, colleagues expecting me, appointments for which I was going to be late... but this year I made it into an opportunity. From the moment I knew I wasn't going to make that plane, I let all anxiety and worry come to the surface and then disappear by acknowledging that there was nothing I could do about it. It was like throwing my hands up in the air (Spanish style) and saying "ok life, do your worst, because I am going with the flow here".
And this is the result, the next morning (KLM put me in a hotel and gave me dinner and breakfast, I love that airline) I went into Amsterdam for a lovely and colourful stroll. A slow and quiet Sunday morning, all for me like a present ready to be opened. And a coffee and a brownie at the cutest café.

All the pretty buttons

Tiny restaurant in the basement

Massage therapy studio in heavenly corner

The Barber of Amsterdam!  I took it for you, you know

So let go, I say. Whenever you think the worst is coming, try and turn it around by looking into the possibility. And I eventually made it to Beijing.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


That's how my lovely Nia dancers make me feel. I had a new student last class, where we were dancing to Passion (which can be quite fast and challenging in places). This new lady may not have been as fit as some of my other students who exercise several times a week, but she totally grasped the concepts of self-healing and natural time, and she took the steps and stances to her own level. She took breaks when she felt she had to, and I couldn't have been happier. That is exactly what I want my students to feel, that they have absolute freedom to be themselves in class, and to give their bodies whatever they are asking them for.

Another of my students mentioned that she wasn't sure about coming to class, as she didn't feel very well the night before "but I thought I'd give it a go" she added "and, of course, I have finished the class smiling". With what amazing women I get to dance! Proud, I tell you. 

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A tremendous amount of wheat (and a crop circle)

A crop circle appeared on Cheesefoot Head, just outside Winchester. It was a lovely trip after Nia class. My lovely friend Karen and I actually had to lie down and soak up that glorious sun! Then a policeman came to see what we were up to... not much officer, just lying down on wheat.

Are you sure it's a good idea to lie down here?

A few poppies amongst all that wheat

Friday, 10 August 2012

Adiós, Chavela

La Llorona

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Monday, 6 August 2012

What should I wear?

A few days ago, a lovely lady and future Nia student (she will join the class this weekend, yay!) sent me an email asking about what she should wear for Nia. Leggins, tracksuit, leotard, swimming costume? She made me laugh. And so I answered her with my standard "just wear comfortable clothing and bring a bottle of water". How boring not what I should have said! What I really should have replied is "dress in whatever you feel fabulous, sexy, and most yourself, and it's comfortable to dance in". Because this is what I do.
When I started practising Nia, the clothes I wore to class were old t-shirts and faded leggins. What was the point of wearing beautiful things to get them sweaty and smelly? ( I do sweat in class, quite a lot). But the deeper I got into the practice, the more I wanted to feel, not just comfy, but beautiful and sexy. I wanted to sense my body moving and I wanted to be able to see how my shoulders rotated, my ribcage ondulated and my hips bumped. It wasn't a question of showing off, it was a celebration of my shape, whatever it may be; for me it was like saying to my body " You may have any shape you want, but you can move and dance and I am so grateful for you". And that, hiding underneath big, baggy t-shirts, wasn't going to happen. 
So I started changing how I dressed for class, and what a difference! I am not saying it changed how I am in my body, but it changed the quality of the dance making it bolder, more feminine, celebratory in a way. And I love it.

So next time I get asked what to wear to class, I will know what to say.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Sketches of Spain

But there is no Miles Davis in here, I'm afraid; just a few photos of my Spanish escapade. With my parents we went to this Andalusian country house, reconstructed with original materials from the 17th and 18th centuries taken from old houses and derelict cottages. Everything has been lovingly restored and put together so tastefully, and now it's as if all the elements that make this lovely Caserío de San Benito have been always there, at home.

 Breakfast, the best meal of the day

 Albero sand and blue pots, so pretty

 ¡Abrid puertos de claridad!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Summer haiku

Red cold
guffaw of summer
of watermelon!

José Juan Tablada, translated by Samuel Beckett.

¡Del verano, roja y fría
de sandía!

I get some serious joy from eating a watermelon slice, in particular at my parents' house in their beautiful back garden guarded by pines. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

When your heart breaks...

dance the rest of your body!

Living the dharma is also about learning to live without. And it's so hard sometimes.

Hay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes... ¡Yo no sé!
Golpes como el odio de Dios; como si ante ellos,
la resaca de lo sufrido
se empozara en el alma... ¡Yo no sé!

César Vallejo

To those who suffer; find your dance whichever your steps may be, find your music. Or hold a pencil between your teeth in front of the mirror for a minute, it's called the Facial-Feedback effect.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The cake trust table

How glorious England is! I had the chance to go to Castle Combe these last couple of days, as I was attending a conference there. Amongst many sightings of limestone in all its glories (weathered, leached, newly carved...), I spotted this cake table just outside someone's cottage. Their business was run on trust; you take a cake and leave the money there. No one making sure you were being honest, and no one cheated.

Monday, 2 July 2012

All the birthday blessings

It was my birthday on Friday, and I had a great day at work, and an even better weekend. My girls at work made me a candle with coloured paper and cardboard, which went on top of a slice of the melon cake I baked the previous evening. 
The next morning, my Nia class felt just heavenly. I started the class by gathering every one in a circle and setting the focus and intention; self-healing. Never mind the looking good, the getting the steps and stances right, the moving in unison. I invited every body to listen, to give themselves exactly what they needed, in their own natural time. And in reminding them about their capacity to self-heal, I did a lot of self-healing myself. I relaxed my shoulders and neck, even loosened up my lower back. How I feel now is so much better than I did years ago, when I was younger. I have arrived in my body, and I intend to remain aware of it for a long, long time, as joyfully and fulfillingly as I can. 

And after class my best girls (and Ben) and I went to Avon Beach... loving those negative ions!

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Hanging Mini-Gardens of Winchester

Look at it from a different perspective; empty glass containers can be beautiful vases, a wall is a canvas. Not quite like the mythical Babylonian counterparts, but we have no photographic evidence of those, so...

My Sunday's work

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Solstice breakfast

This morning the sky was overcast, and a light rain has been consistently falling all night so I decided not to go to Stonehenge or Avebury to welcome the sun on the longest day of the year.
Instead, I got up at 4am and had a breakfast celebration with coffee, eggs, toast, beetroot juice and paper lanterns on my little balcony overlooking the garden.

Welcome, summer!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

What His Holiness said

Today someone asked the Dalai Lama for advice on something that we all can do every day, whichever Divinity we believe in, whatever Faith we profess.
His Holiness said " if you have the opportunity to do someone a service, take that chance and do it. If the day doesn't bring you the chance to help someone, at least don't harm". I turned around to see what people's reaction was and most of them were nodding and smiling. Let's all keep nodding and smiling, helping and not harming. What a wonderful day I had.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Dancing with friends

Today my fellow White Belt and friend Angela taught a couple of tracks in my class; it was fun. And for me it was important to remember that fun is the main thing; I want students to get as much as they can from the class, and I can get lost in the technique rather than the joy. It doesn't happen often but I have to pull myself back from the "are they following this step? Are the falling back on the ball of the foot?" and get stuck in with the carefree joy that comes from being a sensation scientist.
I enjoyed myself, Angela enjoyed herself, and the class felt it. I love it when that happens. Whatever you sense gets passed on, and fun will be in my list of sensations to project, for sure.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

No place like home

Sometimes I really crave a cup of coffee (with soy milk, which froths like there is no tomorrow in Frothland). Check out the Queen-themed chocolate decoration, it was a shame to spoil the pattern (did it anyway).

I had the chance to audit some sessions of my White Belt training, and it felt so good. Coming home with new pieces and a deeper knowledge of the same principles has really energised me. Despite the crazy muscle ache.

Monday, 4 June 2012

A little green...'s all I need sometimes. And the dappled light between the leaves, the very simple joy of closing my eyes and infusing myself with green. 

Beautiful representation of Buddha, an unusual one as well as he's holding a lotus flower on his right hand. Usually Buddha's hands are empty.

Meditating? Dreaming?

Monday, 28 May 2012

In a Zen garden...

... there are 15 rocks, but only 14 can be seen at one time. There is always something hidden, and there are more things in this world than those to be seen with our eyes. The same with our bodies; the hair, skin and flesh we see are the veneer to bones, connective tissue, muscles, tendons. So much beauty inside and out, such perfection of mechanism.

I like this garden, one of my favourites in Kyoto. Such a peaceful afternoon in Ryoan-ji.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

My (imperfect) evolution

We were told (thanks Dorit) at the Intensive White Belt training "Nia is a lifestyle practice, you will incorporate different elements of Nia in your lives, not just the dance and the movement". I don't know how it happened, but a few months ago I stopped drinking cow's milk and eating meat. It just didn't feel right for me, so it wasn't a sacrifice or even a conscious decision.
I've been "threatening" with becoming a vegetarian since I was an angsty teenager. What a wicked thing to say to Spanish parents (think of all that serrano ham and chorizo going to waste); it would have been like becoming a pariah at family reunions. But it never came from the heart, and I kept on eating meat for years. And now, without any fanfare, goodbye meat, hello tofu. I'm still eating fish though, until I organise myself and figure out a diet or eating plan that will give me all the nutrients I need and then will be goodbye fish. But this post isn't about what I do and don't eat, it's about how I felt today when I read a quote from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. It was as if my heart had expanded in my chest and was filling every single corner with recognition, intention, respect and purpose. The quote was so powerful, the quote was this: My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Insa-dong Street, Seoul

Not a hostel for crabs (at least I don't think so). But maybe it's for Cancerians only...

The most eye catching restaurant entrance in Insa-dong, Seoul

I am loving Seoul, I wish I had more free time to explore! On to Japan tomorrow. There has been a lot of self-healing in between meetings, discreetly of course, as it's not good manners to freak out hotel staff by breaking into free dance in the middle of the lounge bar. So looking forward to having a bigger space than my small room, although there are slim chances of that in a Japanese hotel. Just realising how lucky I am at home, with my big living room/kitchen.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

No boiler? No problem!

I'm not going to say that Nia can make your problems magically disappear, but it can certainly put an interesting spin on things.
This morning I found out that my poor boiler had given up the (metallic) ghost and packed up. No boiler means no hot showers and also no clothes being washed properly in hot water. As I am a few days away from a trip to Korea and Japan, this wasn't good news. A few months ago that scenario would have been akin to the end of the world, and while today I can't say I was madly pleased, I took this morning as an opportunity.
This morning was my chance to wash with water boiled in a kettle, to begin my morning movement in a different way, to pay attention to my legs, feet, underarms, face... tweaking my usual manner of washing myself.
And then I thought how wonderful it is to have hot water every morning and how I've always taken it for granted, so I said "thank you" to the boiler gods and started thinking that I may need to go clothes shopping in Japan. 
Oh well, if I must sacrifice myself...

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

After the rain comes sun...

... and after a long day at work, sitting down at my desk, comes my Nia practice. And I can hear my body saying yes, finally, thank you! As my optometrist once (very wisely) said "Our eyes were not made to stare at computer screens all day long, but to look at mountains, trees, and stars"; so our bodies are not for being still, tied down to swivel chairs while the tension accumulates in our shoulders - so high they can almost touch your ears - and our legs are almost forgotten.
My body doesn't need much to be happy, a bit of love for my shoulder blades, my lower back and my neck and I feel so much more energised. I listen to what it has to tell me and what it needs, and then we move together, naturally.
Tomorrow I will start doing the bars for Passion, the Nia routine, after having played the music in the background and free danced stages 1-6 for three weeks. But that's tomorrow, now is time to look at the mountains, trees, and stars.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Setting the Focus and Sharing the Intent

My body and I were strangers. Until I discovered Nia, that is. 
For years and years I was so immersed in intellectual pursuits that I came to see anything physical as a distraction. I've never played any sports, never went to the gym and didn't enjoy any form of exercise (not even playing with a frisbee at the beach!); and still my body carried on uncomplainingly, moderately healthy and silent. Or not silent at all, but I was deaf to the language of my body and didn't understand what it was trying to tell me about the joy of movement, of expression, of the pleasure of uniting mind and body in mindful awareness.
Two years ago a friend told me about this amazing dance class she went to, where she kept on smiling while moving the way her body wanted to move, and with this great music to boot! So I had to try it, and it was love at the first step. Now I am a White Belt Nia teacher and I get to share my love of Nia with my students, and family, and friends, and work colleagues, and...
So this is to be a diary of me being in my body and the intent is to connect with every part of my it, have fun, experience joy and share it with as many people as I can, of course! And now it's time to step in.