Thursday, 11 September 2014

Good sensory IQ - practical applications during summertime

Ah, summer! Even more ahs when it's sunny AND warm. It was a good one.

It's still a little sunny in my part of the world, but I'm writing this wearing a jumper, long fleecy trousers, and socks. Still, I saw two mosquitoes yesterday, I guess they didn't get the memo - summer seems to be over.

Let this be a reminiscent post then, of all the fun and warmth of summer, and how a good sensory IQ can save you from a slippery situation or two.
Sensory IQ is simply the measurement of somatic intelligence, or awareness of the body. When I tune in and I mindfully register my body sensations, I am much less clumsy. I haven't tripped in ages (and I was tripping silver champion, not quite gold), and I haven't crashed into any piece of furniture for a while now, just to use a couple of examples.

This summer, I was in a very beautiful part of the world, and a mighty slippery one too. I saw a young woman lose her balance and fall down, landing on her coccyx. She was quite embarrassed and she didn't want to cry, but it looked very painful. Everywhere else there were people hanging onto other people's hands and arms for dear life, gingerly taking steps. I wasn't certainly breezing through it, but I plugged in to my sensation of centre of gravity and recovered from losing my balance again and again.
Eventually I reached a less slippery bit. I didn't fall, I didn't lose my balance badly. I can't quite express how much of an achievement this was for me.

Also, I went to an open air opera in a beautiful amphitheatre. We only reached the second act when, despite the balmy air, the skies opened with such fury that within 5 seconds people were running, screaming, and throughly soaked, me included. The stones steps were so slippery, I could see people struggling, unable to go down them unaided. Besides, we all were holding our soaked opera cushions, picnics, and drinks. Again I plugged in to the sensation of balance (I have practised cat stance a fair amount of times) and of spring loaded joints, power coming from underneath and behind.
I felt no pressure on the knees, or wobbliness in my ankles, despite the steepness and slipperiness.

Drier times before the deluge
Such is the great gift of a good sensory IQ. I didn't have much of it before I tried out a Nia class. If you already found it through yoga, Pilates, gym classes, Alexander Technique, then congratulations!
Do you want to see what the Nia Technique has to add to your existing knowledge? Then try a class, it's fantastic.
If, like mine, your sensory IQ has a lot of potential for expansion, please work on it with whatever discipline fills you with joy.
It will help you in any situation, and not just for summer ;)

Sunday, 27 July 2014

My heart went boom

This Friday I shared the joy of Nia with a beautiful group of yoginis and yogis. From my body, mind, and spirit to their bodies, their minds, and their shining spirits. For me, there isn't anything like the feeling of community that gels a group of Nia dancers, and all that sweaty, healthy laughter. 

I loved having the opportunity of sharing one of the big passions in my life with a big group of people, sensing their uniqueness at the very same time. 
Truly this path is a gift, and making dolphin noises is pretty great, too.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Running a Level 1 self-diagnostic, Data style

I do like love a good Star Trek reference, what can I do?

Earlier on this week during my Tuesday class, my body came up with this completely new movement, and it felt so rich that I gave myself plenty of time to explore it and connect it with my feelings and emotions, and my creative source. Not just the body, you see? In the Nia Technique we honour our minds and spirits, what makes us unique and gives us our own fairy dust to sprinkle throughout life.

I identified this new movement as being connected to an hour long practice of FreeDance, which revealed plenty of details and little treasured in the music. Now, FreeDance is serious business. I haven't yet experienced anything so complete and full of new movement-pattern creation, self-healing, joy, deep conditioning, attention to detail, and a long etc. as this beloved Principle 4 of the Nia Technique's White Belt.

During this hour, some pain came from doing a certain movement, and instead of thinking 'oh I will not do this again, pain is something to run away from' I stayed curious and I used my Principle 10 (X-ray Anatomy) to find out where this pain came from. And of course I found out, using my X-ray eyes :). Now I know how to tweak the movement and use my feet better to avoid this pain.
Nia can't hurt me. If I hurt myself doing anything, then I have hurt myself, and if I am clever enough I will take the opportunity to explore and fix the source of discomfort.

Every day I love living in this body more and more; not because is perfect and pain free, but because thanks to discomfort and awkwardness it allows me to increase my sensory IQ, to know myself better, to feel more pleasure. This is my somatic pension for when I get joyfully older.
Who wouldn't want such a thing?

I'm telling you man, do the White Belt, it's awesome!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Sharing is caring :)

I'm back, and ready. And full of admiration for the teachers, the mentors, those who lead us on any journey which entails self-exploration and any kind of development. There is no holding of hands and singing songs together; what there is is a raising of the bar, a blowing off the roof, a strong push towards our own personal excellence and mastery.

Now that I came back wiser, more flexible, more compassionate, now is when I can deliver the holding of the hands and the singing of songs together with my students. The fun we have, the smiles, the seeing the potential in each one of them. The teacher has to show the way, it has to show the infinite possibilities for reaching up and down, it also has to show the way to laying down and listening to the breath.
The Green is a good 'un. Time to share its power now.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014


I'm flying to the Åland Islands tomorrow, the islands of peace, looking for magic dust.

The green belt is, as I see it to be, all about mastering the craft of teaching. 
It is now the time to learn how to get all the juice out of my teaching, to be able to deliver the best classes I can possible teach, to bring as many people as I can reach back into their bodies (and many other beautiful side effects, unique to each person). Only they can do that, granted, but a good teacher should be able to show the way.

Luckily for me I had plenty of good teachers in my life, and my spirit and my body are calling me to be impeccable and compassionate with my teaching too. 
Green, let's go.

Sunday, 18 May 2014


You know when you read or hear something, and you know it to be true but can't explain how or why you know? 
The first time I read this paragraph I was sitting in the sun, waiting for my morning bus to take me to work. And I started laughing, a big belly, shoulder-shaking laughter. For three reasons; a) what I just read was beautiful b) I found it to be true c) it's so apparently annoyingly contradictory that it's funny. Big funny business, Zen is. Gong!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

"The way is to climb, the way is to lie still..."

I climb up two short flights of stairs and I'm in the dojo.
My way these days is to lie still, to close my eyes inhaling the slightly musty scent off the tatami mats and to be RAW. 
Setting my music player on shuffle, I try and create a state of "no inner dialogue" by being in a Relaxed body, Alert mind, and Waiting spirit.
Now, the shuffle setting is a hoot because sometimes I listen to favourites like Nina Simone's Sinnerman, Fleet Foxes' Your Protector, or The Pixies' Levitate Me and other times tunes less conducive to RAW will come up such as Aphex Twin's 4 or Pink Floyd's Careful With That Axe, Eugene.

Still, if the suspension of judgement and inner dialogue were easy, there would be no point in the practice. So I practice, and I observe in mild and amused despair how much inner dialogue comes up, how many little stories about likes and dislikes I tell myself, and just how much daydreaming I get lost into.
Nia's practice of RAW is difficult for me, and it also does me good.

I recently read Bruce Lee's take on RAW:
'Do not be tense, just be ready, not thinking but not dreaming, not being set but being flexible. It is being "wholly" and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come'.

Sounds good to me.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Celebrating what it is

I am excited about things, and people, and tea.
This morning, after the shower, I looked at my body for more than 2 minutes. I have adventures coming up in June, and hopefully July. Maybe I wanted to check if my body would be up to it; I am going to be demanding strength, and stamina, and smoothness and attractiveness. So I looked.

And this is what I found. My hair is definitely showing silver, I found a few sparkling strands, very close to each other, where I had none only a few weeks ago. My skin is also changing and becoming drier and more sensitive. I can't get away with not moisturising everyday. And the stretch marks! They tell my story of gaining weight, and losing it, gaining weight away, and losing it again...
I am getting visibly older. 
As I stood there in front of the mirror I though 'it's good that is so' and then, 'well, even if it isn't good, it's still happening'. I saw my body as it was right then, in that moment, and there was no judgement, and it wasn't good or bad, it just was.

And then, as I brushed my teeth, I sensed the joy of moving my elbow up and down, and my wrist nice and loose. The precision instruments that are my fingers, holding the toothbrush. My mouth sensing the plastic fibres, and tasting the minty toothpaste, and the cleansing friction on my teeth and then it came. The gratefulness.
I'm older, and stronger, and younger, and more fragile, and aware, and alive. My body is good stuff, and it's mine. I'm alive, hot damn!

Monday, 14 April 2014

What's new?

Some things are not for us, some other things are. 

I've always preferred the slightly imperfect, the not-so-new, the time eroded. And that's like me; slightly time eroded, not so new, and most definitely imperfect. And that's fine. 
So I will be kinder with my practice, all my practices. Kind but not indulgent, and practice that_______ (side kick, front block, heel lead, relevé...) again, and again. But not mechanically and wanting to have them over and done with, there won't be a target number to be reached. Instead, I will purposefully and joyfully learn the technique, so I can fly with it later.

I miss having a big adventure, sometimes I miss (the other acceptation of the word) smaller learning opportunities and I mistake them for frustrations or disappointments.

For me it's not the having started young, but the choosing being older. And I chose purpose and joy. Again and again.

Monk laundry

My favourite colour

After all this time, still sitting pretty

Learning on the road,  I was never happier to wake up early

Monday, 6 January 2014

Don't work it, baby

New Year resolutions, anyone? I only have one (which is double); to be in my body, as mindfully and joyfully as possible and to pay more attention to my second brain.
What do I mean?

When information enters the body, a system vital to the successful operation of the body, called the enteric nervous system, kicks in.

The gut, the enteric nervous system, the second brain, plays a key role in getting us to pay attention and is designed to function even without input from the spinal cord and brain. The second brain also produces an immense amount of chemical compounds, including every type of neurotransmitter found in the cranial brain. 
In other words, both brain and gut can be used to help in making choices and decisions. Learn to listen to this second brain and you can live life as someone not only with a thinking mind, but also with a thinking body, and who doesn't like a good thinking body?

So, I've resolved to stop working it so much and to start listening. Let's see what happens...