Health And Fitness: Moving Your Whole “Self”
The world continues to change and in recent years, at a much faster rate. Because of those changes, people are realizing that time is of the essence to change the way we live and interact with Mother Earth. We are more mindful about how we eat, where we buy our food and clothes, the time we spend in the shower, recycling or composting trash, supporting non-profits and people or groups doing good work, creating communities that share the same ideas, peacefully protesting for our rights; all with the same purpose to birth or re-birth a new and better world.
The way we exercise has been changing too. People are tired of traditional aerobics classes and lifting weights that put a lot of burden on the joints and muscles and it can feel like we are in opposition with the body. We are learning the benefits of more fun and dynamic things to do such as boot camps, dancing, boxing, biking, Pilates, yoga, etc.
A real workout is about not only encouraging everyone to feel comfort and pleasure in their bodies but to understand and respect their own natural sense of time, your body dictates when is time to start, to stop or how long you should go for. The focus is now shifting from the way we look to the way our bodies feel. Losing weight is not necessarily a priority anymore; it’s about aging well, being able to do our daily things like carrying the laundry, the kids, going up and down the steps, bend down to take care of the garden, without feeling aches and pains – Being able to be active with vibrancy from strength from within rather than feeling sluggish.
Dancing integrates all of these concepts and traditional and new philosophies. On a more mental/emotional/ spiritual level, how healing it is to simply dance?! To move the body freely, to create your own moves without worrying if you are looking good or doing it right. There is no right, there is no wrong. It’s about the relationship between you and yourself only. We have approximately 700 muscles and 200 bones, imagine how many different moves can be created by combining them all!
In the book “What is Your Body Telling You,” Steve Sisgold talks about how the entire story of your life is held within the library of your cells and that your body remembers all the events that you have deleted from your mind – with or without intention. By intentionally moving the body and reviewing its biography, conscious awareness to all the wisdom and emotions stored there may come alive. With that, a new you can come alive too.
One year ago, a technique called Nia was introduced to Baltimore and it has been changing many people’s mindsets of how they choose to exercise and move their bodies. Nia integrates dance, meditative and martial arts with the intention of creating fitness, health, and wellness, not just for the body, but the mind and spirit. Imagine a workout made of real dancing, thoughtful choreography, amazing music from all over the world and movements that were created to support the natural and organic way of a how each body works. That’s Nia. It’s about becoming a “sensation scientist” in your own body. Rather than trying to do what the instructor is doing, we encourage the student to listen to her own body’s needs and move according to that. The teacher will demonstrate the moves. But your body will dictate how you do them. Do you want to kick high or low? Does it feel more comfortable to do plank or to use the hands and knees? Full out or mellow? All of this can change from song to song, day to day, class to class. It’s not about mimicking anyone. It’s about going inside and getting what you need. It’s about the joy of movement.
Exercises that blend different movement forms create a combination of cardiovascular exercise and whole body conditioning. Each aspect these forms stimulate the body bringing different benefits that vary from person to person. One may find it hard to yell “ha” (an outward verbal expression practiced in Nia designed to release stored up tensions or stress from the body) while giving an outward punch, while another person, may find it to be a way to release tension built from a day at work.
Anyone who loves to move and feels ready to get self-empowered by exercising mindfully and joyfully in their own and natural way should experiment a holistic workout because it meets each individual where they are in terms of fitness level, age, shape, sizes, etc.
The most important thing to be aware of is that there is no such thing as exercising the body towards perfection because we are already perfect exactly as we are. It’s really about the fun! In every class we come in and we set an intention. We step in committed to no distractions, we move, we sweat, we play on the floor, we stretch, and we acknowledge our body for always letting us know exactly what it needs. This body that we should not take for granted because it was not owed to us, it is a gift.
By: Lola Manekin
Lola Manekin, LMT, M.Ac., L.Ac. holds a Master’s in Acupuncture from the Tai Sophia Institute in Laurel, Maryland. She is a Reiki Practitioner and a NIA Technique Green Belt Instructor. Lola received her B.A. in “Naturologia”, in Brazil, where she studied the use of many complimentary therapies such as Aromatherapy, Bach Flower, Massage, Hydrotherapy, etc. She practices at BlueGreen Acupuncture & Bodywork in Baltimore and teaches NIA at different locations also around Baltimore.