The Best Gift You'll Ever Get- Your Own Body

The Best Gift You'll Ever Get- Your Own Body
Friday, 26 November 2010 08:53 By Lishui K. Springford, Contributing Writer Life & Leisure - Alternatives
     It has now been scientifically proven that there is one single best exercise form for everything that we want for our bodies, as well as for mental and emotional benefits.
     This one movement form is the best for weight loss, musculo-skeletal strength, mental balancing, muscle toning, cardiovascular health, and healing for chronic pain. It is also the healthiest movement form for people of all ages, all fitness levels, and all abilities.
Have you been able to guess what this miracle exercise form is? It's whichever one you will do.
     I'm not much for self-discipline, so the 1980ʻs fitness myth “no pain, no gain” left me for twenty years both avoiding fitness and, paradoxically, embracing pain as a sign of having accomplished something worthwhile.
      When I graduated from school and gave up student modes of transportation (that is, walking and cycling), I began my expansion away from my sturdy and strong size 12 toward a generous size 16.
      This process was exaggerated further when I suffered an injury in one ear that led me quickly to terrible balance. Chronic back pain and blood sugar problems then discouraged me even further from giving up precious time each day or week to punish myself in a gym or aerobics studio.
      When I discovered the Nia Technique, I fell in love.
     This wasn't because I'd found a fitness technique I could stick to. It also wasn't because I'd happened to find a movement form that gave me the benefits of increased balance, strength, muscle tone, grace, agility, flexibility, stability, range of motion, self-defense skills (both physical and psycho-spiritual), healing of my chronic back pain, cardiovascular endurance, a sexy walk and being able to fit into standard-sized clothing. I didn't even fall in love with Nia because creative movement to music provided relief for my auditory problem, solved my back pain, and levelled my sugar metabolism.
     I fell in love because Nia feels great.
     Nia is something I will drive a two-hour round trip to enjoy for one hour. When I took my first Nia belt level training, after seven days and forty hours of “working out,” I went out dancing to celebrate. This movement form is much more than “fitness” for me; it has become my primary way to feel good each and every day.
     Nia does have an extremely practical side. In the early 1980's, when Nia's creators, Debbie Rosas Stewart and Carlos Aya Rosas investigated ways to reduce the very high rate of injury in traditional fitness programs (over 40% of aerobics class students and more than 70% of instructors suffer injuries from their practice), they sought guidance from eastern and western sources alike. The revolution came when they took their first big (literal and figurative) step: Debbie and Carlos removed their shoes.
     It was a considerable risk to take, bringing this “radical” notion of barefoot exercise back to their aerobics studio, but the practice allowed studentsʼ brains to experience the biofeedback of fourteen thousand nerve endings in the soles of their feet. This in itself produced the first rush of pleasure that, for many of us, has made us Nia addicts.
     Nia has developed and refined since then with the inclusion of healing techniques, dance forms, and the mindfulness benefits of martial arts, but the central revolution remains the same: pleasure, not pain, leads us to wellness.
     Nia teaches us how to work with both The Body's Way and our own personal body's ways. People of all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life and from every fitness level ranging from couch potatoes to serious athletes often get hooked in their first Nia experience. This may be because of the music, or it may be because they enjoy the mindful visualizations and vocalizations.
     Some people feel that their Nia classes are their physical therapy, and others experience Niaʼs movement medicine primarily in their mental and emotional re-balancing. Some people just feel good at the end of their class because they love to dance, and some feel empowered because they've worked off tension through kicks, punches, and relaxation exercises.
     Where do you feel pleasure right now?
     The principles used in Nia are applicable in all areas of life. You can (and should!) move your body with joy. You can experience joy in any moment, whether it's a tiny sensation in a little finger or a suffusion of warmth throughout your body. Pleasure also comes from the profound experience of sensory stimulation through the bare feet and moving our bones through space.
     The sensation of contrast alone is pleasure. Have a good time! Laugh a lot. Be honest. Be real. Pleasure allows you to attract and be with the kind of people you could happily be with all the time. Pleasure is also an experience of agelessness; joy and great experiences can happen at any time, any place, and in any situation. Our happy memories make the intervening minutes or decades irrelevant.
     Pleasure resides in the memory of everyone with whom you have ever enjoyed good times, and pleasure resides in the ability to visualize or imagine anything that you could want for yourself or your loved ones.
     There can be joy in sensation of any kind: colours, experimental movement of the hands, the sense of natural time, complex rhythm vibrating through the body, delicious food combinations, the texture of varying textiles or the differential pressure experienced by lying down on a stony beach. Life gives us the ability to sense contrast so that we will enjoy ourselves and look for more. I am certain that the joy of sensation is experienced by every being on this earth that has the capacity for stimulus-response.
    Finding pleasure from a state of discomfort or displeasure:
     Mindfulness is the solution to pain of any kind. Be receptive to what is, be mindful and present to sensation in your life, no matter what form. Connection to any sensation is a type of pleasure. If you need a quicker fix than that, find a place in your body where you can say there is any sense of pleasure right now. Then be with that and let it grow.
     Choosing pleasure lets us empower ourselves to be in charge of our situation because it empowers us to be in charge of our experience of it. if you feel victimized, you need only make a choice to experience pleasure and you will become empowered.
     Celebrate pleasure by being grateful for all that can be good in life. Having a body itself is a gift - the gift of life. I invite you to finish out this first decade of the new millennium by empowering yourself to choose to enjoy life's most precious gift.
Lishui K. Springford is a holistic healing practitioner and a white belt Nia instructor in Woodford and Owen Sound. For more information about Nia in our area, please visit You can also contact Lishui directly at 519 270 5624 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .