Undulation: Standing in Open Stance, undulate, or wave, your spine–from top to bottom and then bottom to top. Imagine that your spine is a third arm. As you do the move, sense the spaces between your vertebrae. This mental focus will help release neuromuscular energy and chi that may be blocked in the spine. To help make your movements smooth, sound the word yessss. Practice in all stances. Benefits: Practicing Undulation keeps energy flowing along, and through, your entire spine. This move is perfect for releasing tension in the back and bringing power to the Core. (From The Nia Technique Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas).

It is week 32 of my 52 week challenge, and this week the move is Undulation. If you are playing with me, here are our goals: incorporate this move into our daily routines. Use the three planes of movement, high, middle, and low, and the three levels of intensity to gain insight into our relationships with this move. Allowing sensation to be our guide, let us 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!

I have been putting off this blog post about my relationship with Shimmy because I knew that I would be writing and sharing about deeply felt personal issues. I finally had to get over myself and just do it. So here is my story and my baggage.

If you have ever met me in person, you probably noticed that I am rather busty. I have been since I was about 11 or 12 years old. Growing up and having a large bust was hard for me, and I have had (and at times continue to have) all kinds of body image issues and emotional baggage about my breasts. For most of my post-pubescent life I have heard endless comments and jokes about my breasts. I imagine that these are the same kinds of comments one might hear if they are really tall or have some other physical characteristic that makes them stand out. My reaction to these kinds of comments was embarrassment and shame. I hated any kind of physical movement because I imagined that it drew even more unwanted attention, so I spent much of my life looking for ways to not participate in things. My large bust became my grand excuse to lead an increasingly sedentary existence.

When I decided that I had to make some life changes that included exercising, I found myself in a Nia class. I was so excited to look around the room and see other people with bodies of all shapes and sizes, and to make the class even more safe and inviting, the lights were turned way down. This was not a class that I could make excuses about; I don’t even think I was the bustiest gal in the class. So, I checked my baggage at the door, and I danced every day for a year. Over that year, I underwent huge changes. I lost weight, I became stronger, I cared less about what people might say or think about me or my body, and I fell in love with the way it felt to move again. It was a magical transformation for me, and the people who are close to me and support me were cheering me on every step of the way. It was fantastic.

So why I am writing about this when I should be posting about Shimmy? Shimmy is exactly the kind of move that I would have avoided in my former pre-Nia existence. This week in my journey with Shimmy these thoughts have been swirling around in my head, and I have been thinking a lot about how Nia has changed my relationship with my body. As I stand in front of my class six times every week and shimmy, I am not embarrassed, and I am not thinking about how I look. I am thinking about relaxing my jaw or about letting my shoulders find the beat. When one of my students recently commented that she wished she could shimmy like me, I actually laughed and made a joke about having a lot to work with. It might seem like a trivial thing to other people, but for me it is a sign of progress. Nia is the “love your body” workout, and while I still have my moments of wishing for smaller breasts, I have learned (and am learning still) to love my body and let go of my embarrassment.

While I did not Shimmy around town this week, I did Shimmy at home and in class. My insights this week were that Shimmy makes me tired, really, really tired. If I shimmy too long, I get a side ache. I find that this move always connects me to the energy of Jazz dance, and sometimes I like to pretend that I am wearing some beautifully beaded dress (because it makes me happy!). I also noticed that I will use Shimmy as a filler move between songs to keep everyone moving. These insights made me happy this week, and I can honestly say that I love Shimmy. It reminds me of just how far I have come on this mind/body/emotion/and spirit journey.

I hope that you all have a wonderful week playing with Undulation!


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