I grew up in a large family in the beautiful city of Nelson, New Zealand. When I was born, the lower part of my left leg had not developed correctly. By 10 months old I was wearing an artificial leg. It instantly became part of my life. Putting on my leg became as natural to me as putting on a pair of shoes. I didn’t think too much about my leg as a child. I just got on with an active outdoor lifestyle. It didn’t occur to my family, my friends, or me that there was anything I couldn’t do. I have always participated in all types of sports, from competitive trampoline to squash. My left leg has always been quite comfortable, but with excess activity, it can become sore, at worst very difficult to walk on. Although it certainly didn’t keep me from doing anything, it prevented me from being able to start an activity quickly and it would tire me out for continuous activity.
Not long after I arrived in the UK in May 2010 with my husband and daughter, I went to my first Nia class. I had never really danced before and felt awkward, uncoordinated, and self-conscious. I am an accountant and do not have a dance, music, or holistic background. I was totally outside my comfort zone, but wanted to keep going to the classes.
Little did I know where it would lead me! I started going to one to three classes a week and was amazed at how well my leg coped - no discomfort at all. Through the gentle movements, listening to my body and tweaking, I found my passion in life and haven’t looked back. It continues to surprise and delight me that I can dance for hours and have no ill effects on my leg. To be honest, I don’t quite understand why, but it is fantastic!!
In October 2011, I completed my White Belt with Helen Terry in the UK. This was a personal journey for me to experience more of Nia. I had no intention of teaching. I was attending classes and practicing Nia at home when I completely surprised myself and my husband and decided to start teaching Nia.
Being a relatively newcomer to the Cotswolds area, I am very lucky to have found a gorgeous hall and a lovely group of ladies who regularly attend my classes. I absolutely love teaching! I am growing every day with Nia, but feel I have only touched the tip of the iceberg. I completed the Blue and Green belts in 2012. During the Green Belt I experienced self-doubt and questioned my choice to go further. I was concerned I couldn’t do Nia justice, as I have restricted foot movement in my artificial leg. Through the support of Helen and my Nia sisters, I carried on and I am delighted that I did.
Now after every class I teach or take, I feel elated. It took me some time to sense my body, but now when I am teaching, I enjoy sharing the sensations and pearls with my class, although some of my pearls do get a few giggles!
I have also been honored to teach classes for other Nia teachers when they are on holiday. I love the change of environment and meeting new students. Practicing and teaching Nia has dramatically changed my strength and stability. I had always tended to rely more on my right leg, especially when standing. My thigh muscles on my right leg were noticeably larger. As a result of Nia’s balanced moves, my left leg now has more muscle definition and strength. I can now take all my body weight on my left leg. This is particularly important for the long term health of my right leg as it protects the joints from overwork.
The future – Brown and Black Belts are in my long-term vision. I will definitely continue teaching. I would like to work with amputees and people with leg issues. I’d like them to experience the dramatic difference practicing Nia can make for them both physically and emotionally. I’m eternally grateful for Nia, and I look forward to supporting people on their journey to health through movement.