I’ve often wondered, if I had to stop teaching Nia for some reason, would I have the commitment to keep going on my own, just for myself?
When I began my licensing as a Nia teacher I was, naturally enough, very focused on teaching, on learning the techniques to remember all that choreography, timing and panache. So focused in fact that with the tools to develop a practice (those routines in my hands) I never took the time to establish a pattern of a Nia practice just for me.
Now I know from my intensive years in yoga that having your own practice is the most important thing because it is relatively easy to be inspired and motivated when in class. Doing that for yourself takes commitment. I thought that becoming busier as a teacher would be all I needed but over the past six months I’ve realized the opposite is true. The busier I become the more important it is to commit to my own practice – beyond learning a routine to teach. Why is that? Why is developing a personal practice in any discipline important?
I am not sure the answer is the same for everyone, or even if I can articulate it myself right now, but it is about a deeper connection beyond the initial reason that took you in that direction (for me it was about physical healing). Sometimes it is easier to talk about what prevents us from having a practice.
One of my ‘excuses’ for not having a practice is lack of time. I spend too much time on things that aren’t important and do not give me much in return: things like getting prepared for the day which inevitably involves searching for things. Part of that is not taking the time to organize my belongings but also accumulating too much – especially accumulating too many choices which in turn creates clutter, overwhelm and stress. Having worked with many people as a feng shui coach I know this isn’t a problem specific to me! They are some of the ways we complicate our lives. but which also provide the opportunities to sort it out again.
Clearly time is limited but there is flexibility in how we use that time. For example I could limit my choices in any number of areas of life. I can eliminate the time-stealers, for example, how much time do I spend deleting emails I don’t want to read while procrastinating on things that do need my attention? What inner need does mindless activity fill in my life?
But it is not only the physical limitation of time that we give our energy to. Our thought processes can hold us back even more than physical limitations. For example one worry I’ve had is that if I go all out on my own practice, I won’t have energy to teach my class. On the other hand I can see that working towards a higher level of physical conditioning would probably mean I would have more energy to give, not less. In other words, the more you do, the more you can do, within reason and also taking care of basic needs of hydration, nutrition, getting enough sleep and so on.
Perhaps the thing about developing a practice is that it is a commitment to yourself. It isn’t social like taking a class and you don’t get brownie points for it (since it is private, no one else even needs to know). Still I am excited and pleased with what I’ve started, working with a routine I initially found very challenging. There is clearly physical and mental conditioning happening, but also patience and acceptance – because I’ve taken the emphasis away from learning this routine to teach, to doing it just for myself.
This is my challenge and gift to myself for the coming year.