Dancing With Myself

Dancing with Myself, originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent Self-Care issue, January 7, 2021.

Dancing with Myself, originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent Self-Care issue, January 7, 2021.

A combination of yoga, martial arts, and dance, Nia was introduced to me by my friend Meg Miller, who’s been an instructor at the Montecito YMCA for more than a decade. When the pandemic torpedoed indoor classes,
Miller started an online “Nia Together-Apart” group, sending videos for people to dance from home “with her” every Saturday at 11:15 a.m., her normal class time.

As Queen of the Procrastinators, I left the link in my inbox, red flagged and scolding me for a week before I finally decided to try Nia. I intended to do it at 11:15 a.m., but it was more like 5:15 p.m., when rolled-back clocks made it too dark for my regular walk.

“In Nia everything is based on 52 moves,” explained Miller. “In addition to what is generally known — that moving to music is
good for us — Nia uses findings from neuroscience to create a holistic experience
through dance. I know this sounds a little woo-woo, but plenty of people do Nia purely as a physical fitness experience.”

I cranked up the video in the privacy of my bedroom, figuring I’d come for the cardio and slip in some metaphysics if the spirit moved
me. The last time I danced was in the early COVID days: a TikTok challenge from my son and his girlfriend. After a bit, I started to let loose. Rather than following the leader,
the idea is to listen to your body and enjoy every movement. So I freestyled instead of doing the floor-play, which looked too much
like pushups for my taste.

Although Nia is meant to be danced communally, my freestyle was definitely more “free” in my bedroom than it would have been at the YMCA. Even Miller, who loves the community aspect of Nia, said, “I’ve found a lot more freedom and self-expression doing it without
an audience of any kind.”

My heart rate was definitely elevated, and my spirit did get a little lift. I’ll try Nia again, maybe even next Saturday at 11:15 a.m.

For more information, visit nianow.com.
Santa Barbara Independent Cover, Self-Care, January 7, 2021.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on January 7, 2021. To see this story as it appeared in print, please click here.