Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ode to Medicine Woman

The following poem was written by Nia student Ashley Henry. A couple of weeks ago, Ashely requested the Nia routine Medicine Woman for her birthday. On Wednesday, I taught the routine and after class, inspired by the meditative soulful movements, Ashley wrote this beautiful poem. Thank you Ashley for sharing your beauty, talent and grace with us.

"It's not who you were at the beginning but who you become at the end, when after facing all your challenges with grace, you find that at the core there is always the supporting comfort of unconditional love to lift you right before you fall into who you were yesterday, but instead of crawling through life, love gives you the wings of a butterfly to soar into tomorrow with a beauty you could not see in the darkness of your own cocoon. -Medicine Woman."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Thank You Body

A Moment of Body Gratitude 
Written by Debbie Rosas
Original post:

“Thank you body for dancing with me, for allowing me to experience the rhythmic journey you know as rhythm, melody and harmony. The dance of healing you dance with me in every beat of my heart. I love you body.

Thank you body for the gift and magic of a brain, and for the specialized parts that help me stay on the beat, move my arm when I want to move my arm, when I say “arm move up and down”. I love you body.

Thank you body for always dancing, even when I am unconscious to the rhythm of my life. You, the one who causes me to tap my foot, sway my hips, wobble my head, move me without me even knowing I am dancing. I love you body.

Thank you body for your wisdom that keeps me connected from the inside to the outside, to the dance of your 75 trillion cells. I love you body.

Thank you for the magical subcortical areas in my brain designed to bypass higher auditory areas that make it possible for me to hear you with more than my ears! I love you body.

Thank you body, for the interpersonal experience of moving through space, and for the opportunity to express myself, giving credence and respect to the art and power of self-expression. I love you body.

Thank you body for making me a sensation scientist, curious and aching to explore myself and my body as a vast universe with information to create positive health and well being for me and the world. I love you body.

Thank you body for keeping me in awe as an artist, using my body and live and movement to create art. I love you body.

Thank you body for a region in you, in the brain called the posterior parietal cortex, a magical smart part I know lives toward the back of my brain designed to translate visual information and turn it into instructive motor commands, signals sent forward to the motion-planning areas in the pre-motor cortex and supplementary motor cortex of my brain. I love you body.

Thank you body for creating the neural impulses that stimulate me and allow me to dance. To the magical signals of information that travel to my spinal cord and then to my muscles so they contract and pull on my bones, moving them so I can shimmy, kick, sink and rise, fold and unfold into movement pleasure. I love you body.

Thank you body for the sensory organs that rest in my muscles and provide me with feedback, information sent from my brain telling me the exact orientation of my body in space, and that make it possible for me to know where I am even with my eyes closed. Be here now, and know where you are, this is their Mantra I listen to. I love you body.

Thank you body for the magic of nerves, string-like threads that receive and transmit information, elegantly passing through my spinal cord into the cerebral cortex of my brain, making me Sensory IQ wise and body aware without thinking but by sensing, from listening to The Voices of the Body-my body. I love you body.

Thank you body of woman, for the eight-thousand nerve endings dedicated to pleasure,and for the pulse of life and creative juice you give me, and for the gift of “knowing” what is right when I listen to you, commune with you and honor your voice. Thank you for the opportunity to live in a woman’s body, and as Regena, Mama Gena says, for reminding me that, “When a woman’s turned on, the whole world is blessed”. I love you body.

Thank you body for the constant loving feedback you give me, for helping me to refine and tweak my movement s,o what I do, I do with greater ease, dynamic ease. Thank you for guiding me to choose pleasure via the subcortical circuits in my brain’s cerebellum. I love how I can imagine resting and dancing with you there, at the back of my brain, in the basal ganglia areas in my brains core, standing one with you because I know who you are, where you are and what you do for me. I love you body.

Thank you for reminding me of the importance of FreeDancing, of moving and navigating my body through space without thinking, activating my precuneus: The Your Way and Body’s Way kinesthetic body-centered map, the parietal lobe region close to where the kinesthetic representation of my legs reside. Knowing you are there I move more confidently, and with greater ease and relaxation. I love you body.

Thank you body for sight, what makes it possible from areas in the premotor cortex of my brain to switch on, making it possible for me to mentally rehearse before, see, before I do, what I do. I love you body.

Thank you body for the dance, for the opportunity to interpret, stylize, imitate, and represent what I see others doing in My Body’s Way. I love you body.

Thank you body for the universal language of movement, body language, spoken in a shape, a shimmy, a pump, a push and pull, a reach, and shake, I love you body.

Thank you body for the silent and powerful impulse you use to move me, my cells, you, triggered by sound, music, and by my emotions.

Thank you body for the opportunity to be in a loving community of atoms, molecules, cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, and organisms-me in my body and with other bodies, part of a nested system and part of the Universe.

Thank you body for the map of The Body’s Way, a woman’s way, and for dancing with me. I love you body.

Thank you body for teaching me, we are connected, one, whole, moving and functioning best when filled with joy and love, respect and curiosity. For reminding me that if I continue to thirst for discovering what it means to live in my body as an empowered women, alive with with light and passion, kept alive by taking the path of pleasure, and by following my heart and the guidance of those eight thousand nerve endings-all is well in the world."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Way of Practice

Whatever it is you are being guided to/working towards/desiring/in the process of manifesting - Don't give up. Practice presence. Be with your breath and body on the journey.

I was inspired by this poem today:

The Fruits of Practice 

from "Going In and In: Poems from the Heart of Yoga" 
by Danna Faulds

Image from:
Despite fervent pleas for ease
and safety, there are many days
when reality doesn’t quite line
up with what I’d choose.

Breakdown. Letting go.

Surrendering even the illusion
of control. Breathing into the
unknown – sometimes that is
what life holds.

Practice hasn’t brought an end
to pain. I still increase my
suffering like a fish caught on
a line. My struggles only draw
the hook in deeper. But being
in reality is its own reward.

It’s the perfect paradox; the
courage to stand and breathe
when everything in me wants
to flee is as great a gift as the
freedom to seek retreat.

No, practice hasn’t brought
an end to pain but it has honed
my willingness to experience
the moment and sometimes see
perfection unfolding in ways
I wasn’t big enough to plan,
much less predict.

Practice isn’t about achieving
a goal. It’s not a means to pole-
vault over suffering.

Practice is my way of looking life in
the face and saying yes to all
its disparate gifts.

Practice keeps me awake when I would
sleep, and reminds me it’s
the journey, unfolding in this
very moment, it’s the journey
that reveals the truth, and
not the destination.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Class Cards for Nia, Nia-Yoga and Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance

Use your Class Cards now for Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance!

Co-created by Jennifer and Liziah, Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance is a fusion of viniyoga and dance.

Strengthening, relaxing, fluid, fun and therapeutic, Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance is slower than Nia with simpler footwork and dance moves. All of the moves are adaptable for different fitness levels.

Come to strengthen your body in a gentle way, to stretch, fly, extend, lengthen, deepen, connect with your breath and find deep relaxation.

The first 40-50 min of class is done standing/dancing/moving with our bare feet connected to the ground. The last 20-25 min are on the mat.

Feel free to bring your own mat but the studio has mats, blocks, straps, cushions and blankets. Bring water and wear comfortable clothes to move and play in.

Our theme for the month of January is the "Dance of the Warrior: Cultivating Inner and Outer Strength."

We teach every second and fourth Friday from 6:15pm - 7:30pm at Balance Studio in Fremont: 418 N 35th St, Seattle, WA 98103. Our next classes are January 11 and January 25, 2013.

You can now use your class cards with Jennifer or Liziah for Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance! Drop-in rate remains at $15.

How cool is it that you can now use your class card for Nia, Nia-Yoga and Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance? Yay! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

#26Acts of Kindess

Yesterday, as I walked back to my car in the Safeway grocery store parking lot, I noticed an envelope on my windshield. Worried it was a ticket I quick looked around for a parking attendant and so no one. I also didn't see "tickets" on any of the other cars so I set down my grocery bag and picked up the envelope. What I received touched my heart beyond any words I can share:

The stranger who left this card for me was inspired by a movement called #26Acts of Kindness. The call of this movement is to commit to doing one act of kindess to honor all those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. The card I received was in honor of Jesse Lewis, age 6. Holding the card close to my heart I felt compelled to learn more about Jesse so I googled him. This precious little angel died trying to lead his fellow classmates to safety. He was playful, active, funny, loving, well-loved, passionate and brave.

Last night, I stayed up late writing up 26 cards to share with strangers. With each one I held an image of Jesse in my mind's eye. I breathed love into each card, channeling it from my heart through my arm, hands and fingers onto the pen that touched the card. This morning I invited Jesse's spirit to dance with us and our class focus was on our hands and performing random acts of kindness for ourselves and others.
Jesse Lewis, age 6. 
His mother said of him: 
"He was a force who lit up a room when he entered. 
Compassionate and caring, 
wise and soulful beyond his years."
We are all in this together. We have the capacity to create a better, more loving, safe and beautiful world for ourselves and for future generations. We can all begin with just one simple random act of kindness each day. Like the card I received from the stranger said so beautifully: "Let's make love ring louder than violence and hate." Pay it forward. Pass it on.

If you'd like to use a template to print your own #26Acts sheets, feel free to use this one (below) created by my dear friend and Nia colleague, Randee Fox, who was also deeply affected and inspired by this random act of kindness.

Happy Holidays everyone. From my heart and soul to yours.

With love,

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What is Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance

Liziah and I have had several people ask us to explain the differences between our two class offerings: Nia-Yoga and Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance. We hope this offers some insight!

What do Nia-Yoga and Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance have in common: 
  • Both are co-taught with love and delight by Jennifer and Liziah. We both want you to “love your body and love your life.”
  • Both embody the joy of movement and are rooted in the philosophy that “through movement we find health.”
  • Both invite you to tap into somatic awareness and move in your own way honoring your unique body and spirit.
  • Both encourage creative movement and expression with a safe and loving structure.
  • Both incorporate the use of the breath in guiding our movement.
  • Both are done barefoot to soul-stirring music.
  • There is an arc to both classes – a warm-up, get moving, cool down and movement on the floor.

What are the differences between Nia-Yoga and Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance:
  • Nia-Yoga is 35-40 min of Classic Nia, 7-9 min of Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance and 20-23 min of Viniyoga.
  • No Nia music or choreography is used in Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance.
  • There is no martial arts component to Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance.
  • Movements are more meditative.
  • Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance is slower than Nia with simpler footwork and dance moves. The dance moves used in each song are easy and designed around a yoga asana.
  • Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance is strengthening, relaxing, fun and therapeutic. We design each routine around a theme such as “The Dance of the Warrior or The Dance of Celebrating the Heart.”

What kind of yoga does Liziah teach?
The style of yoga Liziah teaches is Viniyoga: a gentle, strengthening, meditative style of yoga. It is a supportive style of yoga that invites each individual to find their bodies way of doing a posture. It focuses on connecting movement and breath, finding a rhythm that supports harmony and integration of body and mind. This is a highly adaptable form of yoga and is suitable to people of all skill levels and those who have physical limitations and injuries.

What kind of dance is included?
Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance was co-created by Jennifer and Liziah and includes simple dance moves that anyone can ease into. Steps are as simple as stepping to the side, doing simple turns, creating waves with the arms, hip circles and much more. We design all choreography around a yoga asana (pose) so that you can experience what it’s like to flow in and out of an asana and then hold it in static form to experience strength, stability and relaxation.

Jennifer’s dance inspiration comes from Nia (includes Jazz, Modern and Duncan Dance), Latin Dance, African Dance, Caribbean dance, Afro-Caribbean dance and 5Rhythms. Liziah’s dance inspiration comes from a variety of dance techniques including hip hop and other contemporary dance and performing arts.

Who should come to Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance:
Everyone and anyone! Come to strengthen your body in a gentle way, to stretch, extend, connect with your breath and find deep relaxation. The first 40-50 min of class is done standing/dancing/moving with our bare feet connected to the ground. The last 20-25 min are on the mat. Feel free to bring your own mat but the studio has mats, blocks, straps, cushions and blankets. Bring water and wear comfortable clothes to move and play in.

We teach every second and fourth Friday from 6:15pm - 7:30pm at Balance Studio in Fremont: 418 N 35th St, Seattle, WA 98103. Our next classes are December 14 and December 28, 2012.

Monday, December 3, 2012

December 2012 Newsletter

As the year closes out I found myself returning to the blog post I wrote in January 2012 about the seeds I wanted to plant in the year ahead. I am happy to share that many of the seeds I planted sprouted including: reaching greater integrity in my Nia practice as both a teacher and student which includes both a deeper relationship with the Nia principles and mastery (a process!) of the 52 plus moves and nine movement forms, bringing the healing arts aspect of Nia to the forefront, collaboration with colleagues (most notably Liziah Woodruff for Nia-Yoga and Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance), exploring the alchemy of my voice and creating more space in my life to explore my creative side!

I am excited to announce that exploring my creative side birthed two long-awaited creations. The first, Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance, is a unique healing arts movement practice that combines the soft fluidity of dance with accessible asanas in the Viniyoga tradition.Liziah Woodruff and I have had the vision for Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance for years. Our desire is to provide you with a meditative practice to soulful music that invites your body, mind, heart and spirit to stretch, fly, unwind and relax. This co-creation and collaboration is dear to both of our hearts and we are thrilled that we will be sharing this passion and vision with you on 2nd and 4th Fridays from 6:15pm - 7:30pm at Balance Studio in Fremont!

The second creation is one that I have been nurturing for over a decade, The Embodied Tarot is truly my lovechild. I have been working with the tarot as a path for self-understanding, growth, transformation and guidance for nearly three decades. Yes, I started quite early. I was exposed to tarot in my family as a small child and received my first deck when I was ten years old. The Embodied Tarot is my creation - a unique approach to the tarot that blends counseling and embodiment practices such as movement, affirmations, meditations, guided imagery, art, writing and more. The Embodied Tarot process is a path to awakening our inherent wisdom. We already know the answers to the questions we ask and if we listen intently, we can be ease-fully guided by our thinking mind, emotions, spirit and physical sensations. I'd love to serve as your midwife to awakening!

In 2013 Everybody, Love Your Body will become the umbrella (or mothership) for all of my somatic offerings: Nia, Nia-Yoga, Nia 5 Stages, Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance and The Embodied Tarot. I hope you will explore each of these with me over the year ahead. My vision for the year is to lovingly tend to these creations (honing my craft) and offer my best self to each of you as a teacher, guide, facilitator and educator.

I'd love to hear from you what your one or more of your goals are for the year ahead.

With warmth and heartfelt wishes for a holiday season of dancing feet, love in your heart, a smile on your face, gratitude and the presence of your loved ones,

p.s. A huge thanks to those of you that came to dance withGretchen and I on Thanksgiving morning. With your support we raised over $400 for Noel House! See the beautiful video Gretchen put together of the class:

Coming Up!
- Sat Dec 8, 4pm-5:30pm Dance Space Teachers Nia Benefit Jam for Occupy Sandy, $20
- Fri Dec 14, 6:15pm-7:30pmStretch and Fly Yoga Danceat Balance Studio, $15 
- Tues Dec 25, 9:15am - 10:30am Christmas Morning Nia-Yoga at The Dance Space with Jennifer and Liziah, $13
- Fri Dec 28, 6:15pm-7:30pm Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance at Balance Studio, $15 
- Four Saturdays starting Jan 5, 2013 Manifesting a Personal Vision in 2013 with The Embodied Tarot

Class Schedule:
- Tues Nia-Yoga: 9:15am at The Dance Space
- Wed Nia: 5:30pm at Community Fitness 65th St. ($12 drop-in) 
- Thurs Nia: 9:30am at The Dance Space 
- 2nd and 4th Fridays Stretch and Fly Yoga Dance: 6:15pm at Balance Studio ($15 drop-in)
- Sun Nia: 10:30am at Balance Studio