The Joy of Being in Relationship


Several years ago long before I became a teacher-trainer, one of my most committed Boston Nia students and I were walking down the street together after a rejuvenating Friday morning class. This student beautifully embodies Nia. Her clear energy, her attitude, the way she takes care of her body and her life – masterful! She is one of those people who just walks into the room and fills it with her radiance. Amazingly enough, she has been doing Nia even longer than I have…

Well as we walked, we talked about her relationship with Nia and how fruitful and influential it has been in her life. Long story short, after she told me all of this, she concluded her passions about Nia by saying, “And that’s why I don’t want to do the White Belt Training.” Cue screeching halt of wheels. “Huh???” I thought, with exactly that many question marks. My bewilderment prompted her to explain more. She then went on to share that she did not want to do White Belt because she was afraid it would take the Joy out of Nia for her. “If I pull back the curtain, I’m afraid it will take away the magic and make me think about Nia more technically, and I won’t be inspired by it anymore,” she said.

Over the years I have mulled over how to best answer this question.Yes, there were answers I gave at the time, stories of transformation and personal anecdotes about what the belts had done for me. Yet I wanted Nia’s answer, an answer that overtime has come to me by way of the Nia Blue Belt.

Side note: If you’ve ever trained with me, you know I love to compare nearly everything in Nia to romantic relationships. After all, Nia is my longest relationship thus far, and I did “get down on one knee” to receive my Orange Belt as a sign of my commitment to the practice…

With any given thing in life, there are so many different planes a relationship can exist upon. For example, let’s relate a romantic relationship to our relationship with Nia. We can date someone casually (take a class when we feel like it), have a one night stand (take 1 class, see the floorplay cycle and say “peace out” before the 60 minutes is over), make a person our girlfriend/boyfriend (take a few classes per week + attend monthly workshops), propose to our partner (enroll in the White Belt), or walk down the aisle looking into our soulmate’s eyes knowing there is no one on this planet or in this universe that could rock our world the way they do (become a Nia Teacher/Trainer).

If speaking to that same student today, who by the way has been happily (did I mention HAPPILY?) married for over 35 years, I would would share the following: If you love Nia now as you’ve loved “her” for years, trust that your relationship with her will only expand to envelop even deeper levels of Joy, transformation, and magic as your intimacy together grows. No, it does not mean the relationship will always be easy. You will need to pay attention to what you bring to the relationship, nurturing constant curiosity, openness, and creativity as you do with your life partner. What is so profound, though, is what Nia will always offer you again and again: to choose Joy. Amidst pleasure, pain, calm seas, rough waters, anything, Nia will always remind you of the ally that exists independent of circumstance: Joy. This is why I do Nia now, 11 years, 7 belts, and thousands of classes later. Nia has taught me the Joy of Being in Relationship.

Intimacy is a choice. We are going to be more or less intimate with different people and/or practices in our lives, creating different levels of intimacy that suite our wants and needs. In relationship terms, Nia and I are married with children (our beloved trainees!). Yoga and I are in a deeply committed relationship (a steady home practice). All levels of intimacy are valid, as we certainly cannot “go deep” with everything at the same time (though quantum mechanics makes this sound more and more possible!).

If you’re feeling a little commitment-phobic about your Nia practice, afraid that attending more classes, workshops, or trainings will take away the Joy, I invite you to open your heart and mind to the well of transformation Nia has already given you. If it’s this good now, just imagine how much better it could be with more intimacy…

After all, who can say no to a philosophy that says, “If it feels good, keep doing it; if it hurts, stop”?


4 thoughts on “The Joy of Being in Relationship

  1. Deveshni

    You’ve said it so beautifully, Alison! Thank you! Yes this love affair is fulfilling on so many levels! Nia is a sexy seductress & I am smitten with Her 🙂

  2. TonyCat Buscemi

    The little clip at the end is a riot! Yes, I too experienced a change after White Belt; the curtain was drawn back. I dove into the technical stuff and examined the teacher, class and dance differently. I was sad for a moment, where is my joy? Where did she go. Then, not sure how long later; it can back. Deeper, layered, mystical. I had evolved in my relationship and it became deeper.

    These days I can get emotional just thinking about Nia and the next dance. For you see, in the intimacy of the dance I am in a state of joy, exploration and curiosity. Added to this dance is the community, smiling faces, friends and extended family – that deepens the connection to Nia and that community.

    So dance, seek, and choose Joy. You’ll find it where you least expect it. For me, last night it was teaching From a Standstill. It was a Wow moment!

  3. Anne B. Shelton

    I love analogies and metaphors- I typically relate things to women and motherhood- I love this relationship metaphor…. thank you.

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