Traveling in Directions and Lateral Traveling

Traveling in Directions: Move through the room and consciously change directions every few paces. As you change direction, move the position of your entire body at once. Think about the move before you make it, to heighten your brain-body hook-up. With determination, sound the word change as you do the move. Lead each change of direction with your eyes. (From The Nia Technique Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas).

For week 19 of my 52 week challenge the move that we will be working with is Traveling in Directions. The goal for the week is to incorporate this move into our daily routines. We will use the three planes of movement, high, middle, and low, and the three levels of intensity to gain insight into our relationship with this move. Allowing sensation to be our guide, we will seek comfort as we play with agility, mobility, flexibility, stability, and strength. At the end of the week report back on your experiences with this movement or journal about your experiences. Have fun!

Oh my, another two weeks have passed, and here I am returning to my poor, neglected blog. For those of you with the math skills that most people achieve by the age of 4, you will likely note that this is not the 19th week of my challenge. It is, however, the 19th move of the 52 moves that I am challenging myself and fellow 52 movers to take on and play with for a week. In the past, I would have just shuttered up any project that I had neglected this long out of sheer embarrassment, and I would have hoped that no one would notice. The new and improved (older and wiser?) Shelley will not allow that kind of behavior anymore, so here I am, red-faced and fairly embarrassed and owning it, posting again to my poor little blog. So, I am also posting the move that I played with in week 20 below.

Lateral Traveling: Begin in a Closed Stance. You’re going to repeatedly step to one side, practicing these two stepping motions. 1) step side, step together, step side; and 2) step side, step behind, step side, a move similar to the “grapevine.” For both variations, extend your hands and arms in the same direction in which you are moving. When you step behind, step onto the back ball of the foot and keep your knees spring-loaded and your spine vertical. To help get the feel of the motion, imagine you are a dancer and sound the word side. Work with various speeds to develop power and agility. Alternate sides. (From The Nia Technique Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas).

So, if you are following along in this challenge via my blog, please play with both of these moves this week. If you have been keeping up with me through some other means, I would love to hear about your experiences with these moves.

Traveling in Directions is a move I really enjoy in class. It seems like I am often facing the mirror, so I jump at the chance to move my class in other directions. What makes this move different from just walking (to me at least) is the intention that I bring when I am mindfully playing with this move. I am not randomly moving around in space but rather thoughtfully and intentionally walking in a specific direction. I use my eyes to guide my movement, and I seek the sensation of agility. When I move forward, I heel lead. When I move backward, I step onto the ball of my leading foot. Playing with speed allowed me to play with the sensations of stability and agility as I travelled through out the house and danced through my week.

Ah, Lateral Traveling, how fun you are! I have loved every minute of the week that I spent with this move. It is always fun to have options, and I love the idea that this move can feel completely different depending on which variation is used. When I step with my whole foot to the side it is a very different sensation than when I grapevine to the side. I find that with the whole foot stepping to the side, I tend to stay in my middle and high planes. When I grapevine to the side, I sink to my middle and low planes. In this variation, I can most easily experience the sensations of strength and stability. Stability is always present when I use my whole foot (as opposed to stepping behind onto the ball of my foot), but I don’t experience the sensation of strength in the same way.

I had an opportunity to dance with my lovely blue belt sister, Jennifer, in Seattle at her Nia class on Saturday. We danced Opal, a routine that I often teach. It was really the perfect routine for me last week because we had lots of opportunities to play with Lateral Traveling and with Traveling in Directions. It was such a joy to be her student, and I realized how different it is to be a student in a class rather than the leader of the class. I was free to play, and I didn’t know when Jennifer would be changing things up. It kept me alert. It also inspired my classes this week. I brought her tweaks to class, and we have been Traveling in Directions as we danced the song Opal all week. Thank you Jennifer!

A happy consequence of this challenge has been that with every new weekly focus, I find myself thinking about songs that use the move of the week or songs that could be modified to use the move. This awareness has allowed me to approach the same song from different perspectives and helps me keep the magic of these songs alive. As a student of Nia, it allows me to fine tune and deepen my relationship with each move. Bliss!

Let’s recap, shall we? Closed Stance, Open Stance, A Stance, Sumo Stance, Bow Stance, Cat Stance, Rock Around the Clock, Duck Walk, Squish Walk, Heel Lead, Whole Foot, Ball of the Foot, Relevé, Toes In, Out, Parallel, Stepping Back onto the Ball of the Foot, Sink and Pivot Table Wipe, Cross Front, Cross Behind, Traveling in Directions, Lateral Traveling, and next week, Cha, Cha, Cha!

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