Listening to Your Inner Instructor

You know it’s okay to do things differently and follow your truth, but sometimes it’s so dang hard.

I’ve been dancing Nia for over 3 years and if there’s one thing it taught me, it’s this: move your body’s way.

(it’s actually taught me many things, but I’ll focus on this one thing for now)

If you don’t want to lift your leg exactly as the teacher does, then don’t. Move in a way that feels good to you.

This is a different experience than my dance team days back in high school and college. In order to win competitions, everyone had to do the moves in exactly the same way. Any deviations meant losing a competition… and possibly being ostracized from the group.

I experienced being ostracized twice. The first time, while competing in Germany, I moved right instead of left, or maybe it was the other way around. The ENTIRE team gave me grief for hours afterward. They talked about me behind my back, they ignored me at the lunch table, total cold shoulder.

However, when I was THE ONLY ONE on the team to be recognized as a Dance Team Superstar, I became a worthwhile human being once again.

Then later, in college, while dancing for a gym full of kids, I forgot the moves to a routine we had performed dozens of times. I totally blitzed. I was embarrassed and my teammates wouldn’t even look at me afterwards. To say they were angry is an understatement.

When you spend your life wanting everyone to like you, it’s hard not to feel like crawling into a hole when you mess up. To avoid that feeling, you strive to do everything perfectly and not stand out too much, at least not in a bad way. You do your best to win everyone’s approval and avoid being judged. Or you hide.

But with this approach, you don’t pay attention to your desires. You don’t tune into your inner wisdom. You walk along a path that was created by others’ expectations until the day you start asking yourself, “How did I get here?”

Many years later, with the help of the Nia classes, I started letting go of perfectionism. I’ve slipped during class, literally, as have others. We goof off. We go the wrong direction sometimes. Everyone, including the teacher, giggles, and we keep moving!

While I enjoy doing most of the moves, there are some that I’ve realized just don’t feel right to me. So instead of stressing and straining and getting frustrated at best, or injured at worst, I adapt and it’s perfectly fine.

I take this wisdom outside of the studio and apply it to the rest of my life. It can be challenging at times but I’ve gotten better at using my internal filters to decide what’s right and what isn’t, what feels good and what doesn’t.

For example, very recently I said no to an opportunity to upgrade a business membership. I felt the pressure, and internally I felt judged and ostracized. Perhaps a reaction to past experiences, because no one in the room was judging me. They were actually encouraging me, and I thought, “Why not just go to the back of the room and sign up. You’ll feel better and everyone will be sooo happy!” But I held out. I remembered to connect with my “inner instructor” and followed my inner guidance. I said no to the upgrade, and I said yes to trusting myself. That felt good!

It’s amazing what body wisdom can teach.

Felicia Baucom
felicia.conway@gmail.com
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