Nia Testimonial: Shelley Angelil, Nia Teacher
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
I taught English as an "Additional Language" in township schools – and I also trained teachers. I danced as a child and a young adult, once belonging to a company called Eight Plus One (eight Caucasian women and one African American man). I discovered Nia and started an endlessly delicious journey of discovery which is still continuing.
Why do you practice and/or teach Nia?
It's my passion, and I love seeing sweaty, happy bodies and soft eyes at the end of a class.
Where and with whom do you take Nia classes and/or trainings?
I have just completed a Black Belt Training with Carlos AyaRosas and Debbie Rosas in Portland.
What is one thing most people don't know about Nia?
It's a fantastic workout for the body. It feeds the emotions and the spirit, and it calms the mind.
What tip can you give someone who is considering trying Nia for the first time?
You need to experience a few Nia classes before you decide if it's for you.
What was your experience of the Black Belt Training?
Floating (freestyle) down the river of the unknown, how can I sum up the experience of the Black Belt Training? It was the most challenging of all the belts (not the highest belt for nothing!) emotionally, physically and mentally. I loved being in beautiful Portland, I loved the group of about 50 women and one man, and I loved being around the magic of Carlos – as he bows out of Nia with a lot of guts and grace – and Debbie as she prepares (leopard-like) to pounce on a new future for Nia.
As Nia teachers, we learn, early on, the expression "tight but loose," which means we learn a routine in "tight" mode, teach it in that mode, and then start to do it in "loose" mode where we begin to play with it and make it our own. The Black Belt Training explores "Mastery of the Basics" – a lot of time is spent reviewing and mastering the principles of all the other belts. Over the week, the other four belts get wrapped together and tied up with shiny paper and beautiful ribbons. So it’s "tight" in a way. And yet, more than any other belt, Black Belt has freed me up. I feel like I have been given license to play, to run loose. It’s as though I’ve had a switch activated that has unleashed a storm of creativity and I’m breaking loose, with the structure that Nia provides as my foundation. Like a wild horse that had been (gently but firmly) tamed and trained, taught how to do dressage and dance sideways and jump over obstacles, I am now being set free again, with a shiny new mane and a beautiful long coat! I am free to prance and twirl, or just run.
We had some truly magical experiences that I won’t share, because of those who read this who will do it after me. It is best to go into the Black Belt Training with no expectations or pre-knowledge. It is about jumping into the river of the unknown, and then swimming, or floating with the currents. And there’s lots of ways to do so: doggy paddle, breast stroke and back stroke and especially, crawl and butterfly! And this is another gift of Black Belt: I have learnt to trust my ability to swim (freestyle). The future is all unknown anyway. I can plan my life down to the last minute, and I can plan a Nia class down to the first and last move, but anything can happen – and it does. Strange and wonderful people turn up, the music volume drops suddenly for no reason, something extraordinary happens in the room, or something ordinary. And such is life: endlessly unpredictable. So it’s best not to fight the currents but to trust your ability to stay afloat till you arrive! It’s with a lot of gratitude and excitement that I continue my Nia journey, down the river. Hopefully I will never arrive.