Nia Testimonial: Paula Mixson, Nia Student

Nia Testimonial: Paula Mixson, Nia Student

LMSW-AP, CVGP, CNG, CTxG
Austin, Texas, United States

About me:

I retired in 2003 from the Texas Adult Protective Services program, in which I was a division administrator. Now I work part-time as a geriatric care manager for arrangeCARE PC and independently as a consultant and trainer. I volunteer as clerk of the board of the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and am a founding member of this organization, as well as the National Adult Protective Services Association.  I hold certifications in social work, guardianship, and Validation levels 1 and 2, and am currently completing the requirements to become a Certified Validation Teacher (level 3). Naomi Feil's Validation is a method of communicating with old-old persons who have late-onset Alzheimer's-Type dementia. Using Validation allows the confused and disoriented person to experience greater happiness; restores the person's feelings of dignity and self-worth; and reduces stress in the individual and caregiver alike.  

Why do you practice and/or teach Nia?

I practice NIA to get a hot, sweaty, joyful, and truly transformative workout.

Where and with whom do you take Nia classes and/or trainings?

Julie Wylie, in and around Austin, TX

What is one thing most people don't know about Nia?

I have no idea what most people don't know about NIA.  I would guess that most people don't know about NIA at all.

What tip can you give someone who is considering trying Nia for the first time?

Just do it!  You can adapt the NIA moves to any level of ability or stamina.

What effect has NIA had on you?

I started taking NIA as a way to strengthen my legs before my second total knee replacement surgery (TKR), as well as for aerobic exercise to prevent the onset of Type-2 diabetes, which runs in my family.  I had heard a bit about NIA back in the 80's, when we first moved to Austin, but never went to a class. I had the mistaken impression that it was all free-form, with no inherent structure. Some thirty years later,  I was looking for an exercise that I would enjoy enough to stay with it. So when someone posted an item in our neighborhood listserve about Julie's NIA class, I decided to give it a try.  It was challenging because I was so out of shape, but the assurance that I could adapt the moves to my comfort level; the joy of moving to the music in sync with fellow dancers; and the sense of accomplishment after finishing a class (not to mention lower blood sugars and weight loss) drew me back, again and again.

I had taken NIA for less than a year when I had "the-knee-formerly-known-as The Good One" replaced. Immediately after coming out of surgery, I noticed the difference from my previous TKR rehab in 2005 . The first time I moved myself from bed to walker, the nurses and physical therapists complimented me on how well I was able to get around.  NIA had increased both my body's strength and my body awaremess, which gave me more power and control as I kept my weight off the operative knee. That was about 9 months prior to this writing (Oct. 23, 2012). When for years before I could not stand or walk without varying degrees of pain, now I am appreciating standing and walking comfortably.  Thanks to the knee replacement, I no longer limp, and thanks to NIA my gait has improved, because my feet have a new relationship with the ground. NIA seems to have altered the mechanics of my step and how I move through space.

This is not all that NIA has changed in me, I discovered a few nights ago. While preparing for a presentation on "the use of the preferred sense," I re-took a questionairre, which I'd initially completed at least 15 years ago, to assess whether I process information visually, auditorily, or kinesthetically. The last time, the results indicated that my preferred sense was primarily visual, with kinesthesic being secondary.  I used to quip, "I'm visual with a gut-check."  Well, I can't say that anymore. The new scores show today I'm primarily kinesthetic, with visual in second place!  I knew that NIA was changing my body and my relationship with it, but I hadn't realized that the changes have extended, literally, to how I perceive and process the world around me. For me, this was exciting personal confirmation of the body-mind-spirit synthesis NIA instills in its practitioners.

 I'll be 66 years old in 3 months, and as far as I'm concerned, it's never too late to start NIA!