By Noriko Yamamoto
Twelve years have passed since I started to teach Nia-dance exercises at JCCC. I am so happy with the fact that my having continued my classes this long shows that there are people who deem it necessary.
I used to teach ballet and dance for a long time in Japan. Back in those days, questions of such things as body, mentality and means of expression such as “how” and “why” came to mind. I had second thoughts about the need for exercise. For me, exercise is similar to cleansing your inner body. Likening it to a river, if the river gets polluted the water would be blocked by garbage and lose its clarity. Similarly, by doing exercises such as twisting, shaking, stretching and crouching, you eliminate excess fluids and toxins, make your heart pound, and make your blood healthy and clean with improved circulation.
We hardly pay attention to our bodies until we feel a pain. Nia exercises make you feel every part of your body without pushing yourself hard, even parts that you have never paid attention to in the past. It is like having a non-verbal conversation with your own body. Then after you find the spot of your body that needs to be taken care of you start gently moving the spot, dancing with all kinds of fun music. It helps to prevent a problem naturally before you actually feel the pain.
We always tend to keep our various feelings inside. Dancing with music releases your feeling naturally and brings back a sense of freedom. Nia has incorporated features of jazz, modern dance, martial arts and tai chi. You let your voice out of your heart by saying “ Hai-ya,” “Yes” or “ No” and thus release stress. You might be trapped by stereotypical views like “I am slow at learning a dance” or “my body is not flexible” and think you are not suited to dance. However Nia is different from other dances because Nia does not leave you open to comparison with others, so you never think your dance is inferior to your counterparts. You are being yourself. Accepting yourself for what you are allows you to create your own moves. You dance for your own body.
In any case, exercise or physical activities are not only good for your body and mind but also gives you a positive outlook on life.
Nia Program at JCCC is offered on Wednesdays from 7:15 p.m. till 8:30 p.m.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Nia, please contact Noriko by e-mail.