Dance, Martial Arts and Yoga – Oh my!

This year, I really wanted to try one of them new-fangled exercise routines. I've been saying for years and years and year that I should get myself out of my chair and just do it (no copyright infringement intended), and now, I've finally done it.

At first, I wanted to try Zumba. I've heard a lot of good things about it - my aunt loved it so much she became a Zumba instructor! Heck, everyone, an lifeatuoft blogger and their dancing cat is doing Zumba. Being the trailblazer I am, I wanted to try something different. I love Latin music and all, but I need something more... zen. But not so zen that I fall asleep.

This is how you get a cat to dance. Please don't try this. At all.
And then there's Nia.

I came across Nia while looking at the drop in schedules for Hart House and the Athletic Centre. Not gonna lie, I was drawn to it because of the pretty name. It sounded like a name of a kind of zen-ish practice or something. I was partly right - Nia incorporates yoga into their routines. There's more to Nia than yoga though. It's a combination of yoga, dance and martial arts, and according to my instructor the whole point of Nia is (be mature now) to move in such a way that brings you to a state of pleasure. She encouraged us to tailor all the moves to whatever we're comfortable with.

I walked into the Sunday Nia class at Hart House not knowing what to expect. I'm not a dancer (been there, fell on stage, traumatized for life), but I have been doing yoga on and off for about 5 years now, and I spent about 6 years before that doing martial arts. I was curious as to how they put all those movements together to create routines.

The music started, and I kept my eye on the instructor. I wasn't ready to watch myself dance in front of the mirror just yet. We started off with simple movements, things to get us going. Bend down, roll your spine, deep breaths. Then the moves got faster. We started spinning, kicking, punching. Lots of grapevines and cha-cha-chas. Bend the knees, go low, drum the floor. Swing a sword, push your hands up, point your elbows. The songs kept changing, and we kept moving. It was quite amazing how well the music matched the routines and, I have to admit, I was smiling a lot throughout.

(For those who can't remember the grapevine, let's revisit awkward social dance classes in junior high school, shall we? Step, behind, step, touch - you know want to do it.)

We ended off with stretches on the mat. I may have two left feet and nearly collided with someone, but it was fun. I had a good time, and it was the perfect combination of huzzah and zen.

One thing I wasn't prepared for was how sore I would be the day after. I'm writing this the day after the class. My shoulders and legs are aching, and I swear my hip is about to fall off. It's the good kind of sore, though. Just enough to make me want to go again.


Summer Nia drop-in classes are offered Thursday from 12:10-12:55 at the Athletic Centre, and Sunday from 12:10-1:00 at Hart House.

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