“There is no ‘supposed to be’ in bodies. The question is not size or shape or years of life or even having two of everything, for some do not. But the wild issue is, does this body feel, does it have right connection to pleasure, to heart, to soul, to the wild? Does it have happiness, joy? Can it in its own way move, dance, jiggle, sway, thrust? Nothing else matters.” – Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Have you ever watched kids running around at a playground and wished you could recapture some of their natural curiosity, exuberance, and unabashed playfulness? Have you ever longed for movement classes that are just downright fun? If so, then it’s high time to check out some offerings on the mid and upper Cape that embody the essence of “movement with joyful attitude”: Hatha Yoga, taught by Diane Kovanda; Alchemia Yoga, taught by Nancy Curran; Big Mama Yoga Fusion, taught by Linda Harmon; and Nia, taught by Jessica Jackson.
These classes share one major common attribute: each of these passionate women infuses her teaching with the joy inherent in the exploration of moving the body. Each instructor uses a basic form of movement as her foundation, and then encourages her students to make the moves their own – in other words, to find a place internally where the movement becomes the student’s expression of self. There is great freedom and joy in contacting the body in this way.
Each instructor also welcomes students of all ages and body shapes and sizes, and encourages them to explore at their own pace. These are classes which honor the unique beauty of all types of bodies. As Moshe Feldenkrais and others have shown, movement can actually change one’s self-image on a neurological level. This change literally expands one sense of potential and can help alter a person’s body image for the better.
Here, in their own words, are descriptions of each instructor’s movement form:
Nia is a well-being fitness and lifestyle practice. Through expressive movement – the body’s way – Nia empowers people to achieve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and well-being. Nia changes people’s lives. Jessica Jackson discovered Nia at the National Wellness Conference in 2001, became a Certified Nia Teacher in 2003, and has been teaching ever since:
I remember my first Nia experience like it was yesterday. I felt at home in my body for the first time after many years struggling with body image. I wanted to become a teacher to make sure I would continue my practice. Nia has given me a foundation for discovering unlimited access to my body.
Created by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas in 1983, Nia is taught in over 26 countries worldwide. Each Nia class has a focus, be it a sensation of functional fitness like flexibility, agility, mobility, strength, or stability, or perhaps a principle of Nia like The Joy of Movement. Nia routines energize the whole body, mind, spirit and emotions and are simply choreographed to awesome music, ranging from popular to jazzy to African. We take precision from Tae Kwon Do, grace from Aikido, and fluidity from Tai Chi. From jazz dance we take flair, from modern dance we use expression, and in the style of Isadora Duncan dance we go barefoot. The healing art of The Alexander Technique brings us awareness, while Feldenkrais gives us presence, and Yoga gives us balance and strength. Nia integrates these nine forms, creating health through movement. Anybody can do Nia.
Look for the release of Debbie and Carlos’s new book in January 2005 from Broadway Books: The Nia Technique – The High-Powered Energizing Workout That Gives You a New Body and a New Life.
For more information, contact Jessica directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Nia Headquarters at 1-800-762-5762 or on the web at www.nia-nia.com.
Nancy Curran teaches a form of yoga called Alchemia Yoga. This is how she describes it:
My classes are inspired by the beauty and power of nature. I teach a heart-centered form of yoga called Alchemia Yoga, both locally in New Seabury on a deck overlooking the ocean and in Key West in the winter months. The heartbeat of the ocean helps you connect with your internal rhythms and allows you to be receptive to your body’s pace of unwinding tension. Your body is your teacher as you explore different postures and learn to use your breath and awareness to release … let go.
Alchemia Yoga’s focus is on blending breath and movement to bring energy held within the body to a higher vibration. Alchemia is the feminine form of Alchemy, the art of transforming or transmuting energy. The breath is the elixir that stirs the energies within the body. By bringing it through the heart we are able to bring any base energy into a higher vibration. Imagine for a moment that most famous of alchemists, Merlin the Magician, to get a sense of what Alchemia is.
Approaching the poses with a sense of play, Nancy invites you to explore at your own comfort level. Modify each posture to define your comfort edge, that place you discover each moment through the breath which has a steady sense of ease yet lifts you to explore a new territory. You know that feeling you have when you yawn? A stretching which feels so good, as it releases that sensation of being stuck, held back or just plain bored? That is the inspiration. Move that energy, expand your sense of self, explore a freer sense of you.
You can reach Nancy at 508-737-3211 or by email at email@example.com.
Big Mama Yoga Fusion
Linda Harmon, creator of Big Mama Yoga Fusion, is a bodyworker and teacher. She says:
I have a passionate interest in the theme of body image and in learning how our self-perception shapes our experience, for better or worse. I am a big woman who well understands the struggle with weight – I equally (and fortunately) well understand the inherent beauty and wisdom of the body in motion. I love movement and bring a playful and joyous sense of curiosity to my teaching. My work is informed by my love of nature, particularly the ocean.
Each of the BMYF classes begins with a gentle warm-up, some beginning level yoga asanas, movement done first in stillness and then to vibrant world music, meditation, and inspiring body image poetry.
BMYF is as much a state of mind as it is a movement class. My classes are designed with the beginner in mind, and I welcome you to come explore the rich and beautiful terrain of your wise and ever-changing body. Come and explore movement both in silence and to rollicking bluegrass tunes, Putumayo world music or bluesy, soulful jazz. Come and get to know your internal rhythms. Come and learn how to access forgotten movements in your spine. Come and learn to inhabit your interior space with deepened awareness and respect. Come and learn to extend your boundaries while maintaining respect for your limits. Above all, come and have fun!
For more info about BMYF, contact Linda at 508-420-5276 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diane Kovanda shares these insights from her lifelong practice of Hatha Yoga:
I love yoga. When I was ten I would spend hours in my bedroom, upside down in shoulderstand, waving my legs every which way, describing to an imaginary class just exactly how to get up there and do those fancy things with the legs. What great fun it was! My first teacher, Callie, inspired me through her wide repertoire of yoga poses and wisdom. Yoga strengthens me, tones my body and gives me inner confidence and peace.
I’ve been teaching an imperfect form of yoga for years. Ah, what a relief – we have fun in class! I teach a strong foundation of the yoga poses and leave room for exploration and play. Each class includes a gentle warm-up, asana practice and guided relaxation. I am not a guru – I just keep showing up for my yoga practice, as do my students. My students like having the space to explore the poses at their own pace and in their own way. Sometimes emotions arise in class and there is space for that expression as well.
I have practiced yoga when I’ve felt good and healthy; I have practiced when I’ve felt awful, when my self-esteem was crumbled to the ground; after being injured in a car accident; when I’ve been feeling overweight and sluggish; and when I’ve experienced happiness and bliss. We have a long relationship, this yoga practice and I. Having given up striving toward perfection, I just show up daily to my yoga practice and begin to breathe deeply, stretch and know myself anew.
For more info about Diane’s classes, contact her at 508-428-8635, www.yogacapecod.com or email at email@example.com.
By Lnda Harmon, Photos By David Colantuono