This guest post is written by Loretta Milo, who is a Nia trainer and teacher based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Today, I find myself experiencing a full range of emotions, from sadness and grief to love to comfort and consolation. Yesterday, as I drove to teach my Tuesday night Nia class at the Pikes Peak YMCA, a class that I have taught for more than eight years, I realized that it was going to be a very different class. There would be many wildfire evacuees, as the YMCA has been set up to receive evacuees. There would also be long-time students whose homes were under siege immediately.
We are very close community of Nia students and teachers, and with the fires in the distance, we all knew we needed to dance. My desire for this class was to set a very special focus and intent, as is our custom. I very consciously, with more awareness than ever, chose my playlist, which consisted of some favorites for comfort, some fun songs to lighten the weight of concern, some thoughtful ones to soothe our minds, and finally, some meditative sounds to soothe our souls and bring peace to our hearts, if only for a few moments.
What I was not prepared for was that which I encountered as I made my way to the YMCA to teach; when I rounded the corner from my home in the forest, I was faced with a wall of flames that had overcome the peaks of Colorado Springs. It was roaring toward me, flames and smoke of swirling colors and brilliance. My body screamed, “Stop!" and my breath was gone. I don't remember how I was able to get off the road. I then watched my community burn like an inferno.
After making it to the YMCA, I taught my Nia class with gusto like never before, trusting that movement and my Nia practice would ease my shock, connect me to my community, and ground me. It was an amazing class–one that I will never forget. I realized that two of my students didn't make it there and were probably trapped by the closure of the highway. I made a note to check in with them later.
I then realized that the Zumba instructor, who teaches after me, was being evacuated—and her home most likely was being overtaken by flames. I decided to teach Nia to the Zumba students; it was so great to be able to offer Nia to a whole new group of people. We smiled, sounded, punched, kicked, freedanced, and pretended to be birds.
It dawned on me, as I moved with the class, that my boss, Nia White Belt Sally Kennedy, was probably watching her home burn. I then thought of all my other friends and students who were probably losing their homes too. I stayed connected to sensation to get me through, using movement as medicine for my body, emotions and spirit.
I will continue to pray, and I hope you will too. I will continue to dance, and I hope you will too. Please keep us in your hearts. Words of love and support, along with fundraiser offers (thank you, JoAnn Scott, Nia Brown Belt) mean the world to me.
Thank you to everybody who sent us prayers and love, especially Nia Trainer Helen Terry, who connected with us from Thailand, Adelle Brewer who wrote about us in her blog, Debbie Rosas and Jeff Stewart, Laurie Bass, Jule Aguirre and Casey Bernstein for sharing their support on Facebook. I love my friends. I am grateful and so blessed to have an extended Nia community of friends during this very challenging time in my life and the lives of those in Colorado Springs.