NiaJam for Hopewell by Diane King

On May 29, Ottawa held its first NiaJam. Over 50 people came out to dance, laugh, sweat and to support Hopewell. Nia is a dance fitness practice that incorporates three different elements of Martial Arts, Dance Arts and Healing Arts. Nia is practiced by people of all ages, shapes and sizes. The philosophy of Nia is Your Body, Your Way and its first principle is the Joy of Movement. EveryOne gets into Na for different reasons.
Diane: I discovered Nia at 50. I had tried dance, karate, yoga, tai chi and while all brought a certain amount of joy to me, there was always a feeling that I was never quite doing the moves correctly. I seemed to always feel inadequate. Then I attended a demo class taught by Martha Randall, a black belt instructor from Toronto. Martha had come to Ottawa and was teaching two classes.
I was a bit nervous, all by myself, amongst all of these women who seemed to know what they were doing. Then the music started. Martha led us through a warm up. She had explained that we just follow along and express ourselves the way we want to. There is no one RIGHT way to do Nia, they are ALL right ways! Oh, liberation!!
By the third dance, I was in heaven.....it had an African beat and as the music built in intensity, we were vocalizing and as the movements became more powerful , I felt this huge lump in my throat and I thought, "I am home!" It was at that moment that I decided to do the White Belt Intensive training. I wanted to become an instructor and bring Nia to Ottawa so I could dance it every week.
It took a year to get up the nerve to teach Nia but I haven't looked back. I get so much joy from teaching and from looking in the mirror and seeing the smiles on my students' faces. I love watching beginner dancers "getting it" as they keep coming to class. I love watching one of our older dancers (in her 60's) lose herself in the music....eyes shut, moving enthusiastically throughout the room, joy written all over her face! I love the smiles that break out spontaneously as our dancers let go and give themselves permission to play!
Nia unleashed the little girl in me and gave me permission to be creative! I love that I can wear creative clothing, that I can express the moves the way I want to interpret them, that I can vocalize what I'm sensing inside, that I can so be in touch with my body and my sensations. Nia is freedom!
Hopewell: We decided to support Hopewell for our first Jam as we felt that our philosophies/goals are very similar: Celebrate everyBody! and Your Body, Your Way! How perfectly aligned is that? Our hope, through Nia, is that people find pleasure in moving their bodies. That they appreciate their bodies for what they are.
Another principle is that if it feels good, keep on doing it. If it doesn't , tweak it and then sustain it. It's about finding the pleasure in movement. In our precious bodies. In awareness. In sensation. The people at Hopewell are delivering a similar message. We are all precious, we are all ALL RIGHT! :-)

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