Philosopher, journalist and adult human in training.
Published April 30th 2017
Can you really dance your desires into reality?
As I sat on the train, watching the city build itself around me, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I was Brisbane-bound, on ANZAC day afternoon, for a 2.5 hour workshop titled "Dance YES and Manifest".
I'd never heard of Debbie Rosas, nor the dance-infused, mind-body fitness composite she pioneered. But I'm not the type to let a complete lack of information stop me from diving in.
This way of being will reward you with a lifetime of disastrous, wonderful, and disastrously wonderful experiences. While I'm happy with my Russian-roulette way of living, I decided, on this occasion, to do a quick bit of last-minute research.
The movement-based mash-up I had signed myself up for is called "Nia". Feet tucked up on the seat in front of me, I flicked through websites, reviews and videos from all over the world. Nia, I discovered, is up there with Pilates and Zumba as a global wellness phenomenon. And, with her platinum blonde buzz cut and array of kick-ass catsuits, its co-founder, Debbie Rosas, rocks fashion like a boss.
The fabolous and fierce Debbie Rosas with her killer hairstyle
Suitably impressed but out of time, I ran from Fortitude Valley station to CUPO Creative to make it for the 1:30pm class. Rounding the corner onto Mclachlan street, I merged with a school of vibrant and colourful ladies. They glided in formation, along the sidewalk, across the street and up the stairs to the CUBO studio.
We abandoned our shoes to the hallway and filtered into a wide and airy room, wooden floorboards underfoot, delicately graffitied walls all around.
When the time came to begin our marathon 2.5 hour session, we gathered round Debbie like children waiting for story time. While the workshop was movement focussed, it began with a talk from our host about mindfulness, manifestation and the body.
Debbie explained her philosophy on loving your body and embracing yes. "My body is the most important relationship I'll ever have and the most important thing I'll ever own." She encouraged us to see nothing wrong with the word "no" but to alter our perspective to say it in a positive way; a way in which your "no is the nudge to say yes to something different, putting a yes behind every decision you make."
Debbie's ethos is that the body speaks to us through sensation with many more subtle and complex layers than the simple pain-pleasure scale. Through Nia, you are supposed to be able to connect with your body, learn its language and flow with it. "We don't want to follow the pack, we want to follow our body."
We each dedicated time to envisioning ourselves in the future we wanted to manifest before partnering up and sharing our desires with each other.
This is where, for a Nia neophyte, things got a little weird.
Nia is part choreographed, part free-form, with influences from modern dance, Yoga, martial arts, Pilates, interpretive dance and even twerking.
The class started with a seventies-style parade in which you were announced by name before dancing your way from one side of the room to the other. A delightful activity for extroverts and Nia devotees, I'm sure. Less cool for clumsy and unacquainted introverts.
With two hours ahead of me I had a choice: wallow in my awkwardness and look for things to criticise in the class that was making me feel so self-conscious; or surrender my ego, my judgements and my concerns about the validity of what I was doing and just go with it. Fully commit, let loose and give this thing a chance to do its magic. If it had any.
So that's what I did. And I had a brilliant time.
Nia's not something I want to break down intellectually. There's no great complexity to it. No stunning choreography, no concerns about form. In fact, it's a place to abandon all those rules.
Every move is a suggestion and you allow your body to pick it up as it wants. There's no trying to look good, no trying to impress anyone, no trying to do anything really. You just let go, be silly, be free, do things your friends would call lame and dedicate precisely zero seconds of your life to worrying about any of it.
As a form of exercise, I found it quite gentle but, in two solid hours, you do work up a sweat. You also work up a lot of smiles and a glorious attitude of carefree playfulness.
It's hard to say whether Nia had any positive aftereffects. Since I'm a believer in undiluted honesty, I will tell you, what I wanted to manifest has come about. How much of it can be attributed directly to the "Dance YES and Manifest" experience is hard to say. But I do hope the lovely lady I was partnered with, and all the other beautiful souls who attended, have had the same success with the goals they set for themselves.
thanks Krystle for diving in to your first Nia experience and for your refreshingly real review. Nia does have a form, but you captured the spirit of it - about listening to your body and moving in a way that feels good without worrying about 'getting it right'. A regular Nia class goes for 1 hour and is much less confronting than a 3 hour workshop with 80 other people! I hope to dance with you again
"surrender my ego, my judgements and my concerns about the validity of what I was doing and just go with it. Fully commit, let loose and give this thing a chance to do its magic." Yes! thank you Krystle...this Nia thing has transformed my body and my life..7 years on and I am privileged to share the magic of Nia...which is actually the way my body was designed to move. I truly hope you find your way to a class very soon.
Two words stood out for me - surrender and abandon! Surrender to the unknown and the freedom. Abandon the rules. Where else in your life can you do this? I love Nia - and thank you Krystle for trying something out of your comfort zone .. and continue with Nia to see what can transform!