Tag Archives: Nia

Awareness of “I” – Knee-Jerk, Habits and Patterns

Titania Fairy Queen Green Nature

Once upon a time

I joined Stone Soup & Lemonade, a women’s group dedicated to personal and professional development.

I went to my first gathering on Sunday. We would be celebrating Earth Day.

About 10 minutes into the agenda I noticed that some of my buttons were being pushed. I immediately went into habitual defensiveness.

So there I was, sitting in discomfort,vacillating  between feeling misunderstood (a very big and heavy piece of baggage for me) and considering how this might possibly have everything to do with how I was receiving the communications.

My body felt restless. Unconsciously I refused to place my feet on the floor. I realized that I felt vulnerable and wanted my knees closer to my abdomen. I let my body do what it was asking to do. Gradually, I felt my body agree to open and relax.

Instead of shutting down, as is my habitual response to believing myself misunderstood, I posed other possibilities to myself.

In not shutting down (completely), I learned the following about myself:

my lack of impeccability and clarity of communication lead to responses disconnected from my intention. In other words, I didn’t say what I really meant and the response, while appropriate was not satisfying. My words and my thoughts were incongruent.

This is one of my patterns. Here’s how it usually works.

I arrive with the Judge reminding me of my inability to verbally communicate with impeccability and clarity in the company of strangers. When I “prove” the Judge right, the Victim chimes in, “See, you did it again and now people think you’re an idiot – hysterical – overemotional. So not fair. Think small and maybe you can disappear. Keep quiet next time.” and the Judge, “If you were really as smart as you’d like to believe, you would be a better verbal communicator. You’re not so you’re not smart.”                                                               And the armor is once again, in place.

After the meeting portion of the gathering, I was scheduled to present my passion. In the past, I let the Judge and the Victim convince me and effectively siphon any Joy I had coming into the situation. On Sunday, even though I still felt the push and pull of being in the middle of a significant shift, once I started to move the Joy flowed.

My awareness had been the antidote.

Staying present helped me to remain open so that Joy did not end up dammed and suffocated.

In retrospect, I am surprised by the amount of energy if took for me not to respond out of habit. I felt as though I was chest-deep in mud trudging forward. Every step, every choice was deliberate out of necessity. If I didn’t place my “feet” mindfully, I would end up sucked down into the pit of vipers that the Judge and Victim provide.

Celebrating Earth Day brought Titania to mind. Earthy chocolate swing pants and a top of flowers and vines seemed appropriate. The sensation of loose hair spilling and swinging around my shoulder blades felt perfect. Another integral part of the shifts, changes and transitions flowing through my life is the evolution of my inner face.

My “inner face” is what I show when I get to wear a costume. Halloween has always been perfect for revealing what I keep hidden.

In my Nia classes until 2 years ago, every Halloween I shared a frightening, dangerous, ugly inner face. 2 years ago she was a reflection of the scary becoming something else, something softer and gentler. She was “witch”, “vampire”, “zombie”, “dead elf,” “dead fairy”, then the “fairy queen” more suited to a Jim Butcher Dresden novel. A year ago and this past Halloween, she continued into this new identification. She – I still didn’t have a name. On Sunday the connection was to Titania and I felt downright beautiful and richly inspired.

Vulnerability surrounding me like deceptively delicate fairy wings, I managed to hang onto the inspiration that brought me the Earth Day playlists and my love for delivering Nia and dance. Knowing that I had caught a glimpse of what could create a far more satisfying and rewarding way to share what I love, I felt my feet on the ground. Quiet. Certain. Relieved. Happy.

And lived happily ever after.


Until the next wave in this transition surge arrives to rattle my cage.

Thank you to the lovely, authentic women who shared this time and space. I am grateful.

Living from the Place of “I”

Dancing Under a Pink and Purple Sky

Just yesterday I was finally able to put into words my intention for the 28-Day Challenge in which I am participating.

In this moment, my 28-Day Challenge is to De-Clutter. It is my intention to clear out the stories, the agreements and old baggage and ideas that create barriers to my ability to fully define, embody and manifest my purpose. Steps I will take to be successful: Tapping/EFT, stalking my ability to not only speak from a place of “I” but my ability to act from a place of “I”, complete the programs I stepped into.

Can you believe that I did not list dance as one of the steps I planned to take?!

This morning after my movement practice I received a revelation in perfectly alignment with my intention to De-Clutter.

The rest of this post I am writing in real time – as I am going through the experience.

The money issues I have around dedicating my life to the practice and sharing of Nia and the elements that comprise Movement Alchemy aren’t mine. I have been living with them and acting as though they are mine but they are not. I have been aware of this inner conflict for a very long time, but I never brought it out into the light.

This concept centers around the following beliefs:

1- that there’s not enough money

2- I will never make back what I invested to learn, grow and blossom

3- Every class and event plan begins with “how much can I make?”

4- I can only live by getting a “real” job

As I made this list, it was so easy to slip back into that dark place of scarcity, guilt, shame and obligation.

What I truly know to be true and my body gives me tickles of agreement:

1- there is plenty of money and I have something of value to offer

2- key word investment; I have invested and continue to invest in my professional and personal development and this provides me with more to offer

3- as long as I am hesitant to put myself fully out there unless the money is right, then yea, I will surely never recycle my investment

4- My father left the country in which he spent the first 40 years of his life to start a new life doing what he was passionate about. He had no friends (except for his wife), no contacts, a 4-year old, little money and imperfect English. He taught me that if I want something badly enough, I’ll do what I have to do. (Unfortunately before I learned that, he taught me all kinds of horrible things that have helped me to sabotage my success. Since most of those things aren’t mine either, they will be part of the work I’m doing here as well.)

My body is giving me happy sensations as I roll this shift through my consciousness. All of a sudden I have an expansiveness lightness in my chest that is so new I can’t quite sort out the words that are pouring through my mind to describe it any further. Perhaps before I’ve finished this post, I can revisit and give more clarity.

I’m also noticing a bit of a without-a-net sensation as well. Fear and tears are close. Now what? Trust myself? Oh, shit.

These ideas did not serve me and even kept me from moving forward, but the empty space that has been left by this concept is not altogether comfortable. There was a structure and now there isn’t. I agreed to a concept that did not belong to me; not only that, I agreed to a concept that is in direct conflict with my value system. This concept is grounded in scarcity and my nature is to think, feel and move in abundance.

Ok, now I’m excited!

What are my practical values concerning money? On this topic I have rarely taken the time to investigate. The following considerations are undeveloped and subject to adjustment…

1- It is important to support local and small business and the people who are building them.

I recently had the honor of participating in a “Night IN” with a community of women who dance with Nia Black belt Jill Campana at her Sacred Space Studio in Hubertus, Wisconsin. It was an incredibly nourishing experience. There I met Anita Gulotta-Connelly, a certified professional Life Coach who is building her business, Dreams Realized Here! Anita spoke passionately about her desire to have a directory on her website of businesses that which she has personal experience and would recommend – businesses with faces.

At the end of last year I had this very conversation with a couple of friends and we even talked about creating an event around this concept. Needless to say, Anita and I had a lot to talk about and we are letting this alignment unfold.

2- The words, “sliding scale” bring more lightness to my being!

Jill and other Nia teachers have expressed their principle that no one should be denied a Nia class due to insufficient funds. This resonates deeply with me.

In the future, as I’m planning classes, workshops, online course offerings, I get to bring my value system into the process.

For now, I’m going to move this discovery in my Nia practice as well as my improv work. I’m gonna tap on it and I will stay present to how my words and actions match or are incongruent.

Reminder: Have You Signed Up for My Online Course – The Alchemy of Awareness?


A course for fitness and beyond.

April is almost here…

The Alchemy of Awareness: Your Personal Online Somatic Practice

Session One: Body Awareness -The Gift of Intimacy

Refine your ability to notice body sensation so that you can:

  • Get more out of your fitness classes and workouts.
  • With practice, see fitness results faster without having to work so hard.
  • Feel better in your body.
  • Increase your ability to fine-tune any movement practice.
  • Notice aches and discomfort before they become injury and make the changes you need.
  • This is a practice you can do from home—without ever having to get out of your fuzzy slippers or pajamas! Or access your practice from your phone during breaks at work. Do it anywhere, any time.
  • So what’s the “beyond”? Once you have increased your ability to pay attention and notice body sensation, you will have an increased awareness of your place in the world and the world around you.
  • Relationships exist on many levels in all aspects of life. We are in relationship with everything and everyone in our world. As your practice develops you may begin to notice, on a deeper level, how you relate to others and how others relate to you. With this rich information, relationships might look and feel different.
  • We often are not aware of what is available to us until it is brought to our attention.
  • Through awareness we have access to more of what is possible.

Every week you will receive a new Awareness practice in the form of a pdf.

Introductory 5-week session for $25.

For registration or questions, please contact Catherine Perreau Ehret at MovementAlchemyHeals@gmail.com or 630-290-4814.

Move. Adapt. Heal.

Keep moving like a kid long after you aren’t a kid anymore!

Fire in the Soul Fire and Moon

Movement Alchemy, My Tool Box

I can Help you  Reconnect to your  Body Through Movement and Awareness   


60-Minute Interval Classes:

  • Alternating periods of High & Low intensity work
  • Nia-based simple Dance choreography designed to be personalized by You.
  • Strength Training Toys & Techniques

60-Minute Dance-Movement:

  • Simple , Nia-based choreography for Movement Variety
  • Improve Balance and Coordination

Body Healing & Body Giggles:

  • Unique 30/60-Min. Body Healing Movement Classes  with an   emphasis on  learning to create body connection, flow, and release through Awareness.

Nia classes:

  • an energetic, fun way to get fit, connect to community and get your dance fix! 52 Moves fuse the energy of martial arts, dance arts and healing arts for a perfectly balanced fitness program.

Labs and Workshops:

  • that are perfect if you are new to movement or Nia. Labs and Workshops that are also rich opportunities for all of you veterans and teachers to dive more deeply into your somatic practice with others in the Nia community.

Sole Practice:

  • Keep moving like a kid long after you aren’t a kid anymore!
  • Play with a variety of toys: bands, balls, scarves, music, BrainDance to stimulate your nervous system.


  • Increased Strength, Agility, Overall Flexibility, Joint Mobility, and Functional Stability for Movement Longevity
  • Improved Balance and Coordination
  • Sole Practice is one-on-one sessions that incorporate your personal body history and natural movement style. This information is a treasure map that will lead us on a journey of mind, body, spirit and emotional fitness, well-being and pleasure.

Nia is much of what I share, but Movement Alchemy is how all of the tools fit in the tool box.

Movement Alchemy describes the transformation through movement that is accessible to every body.  Transformation that honors every body in its uniqueness and life history. Movement Alchemy is the culmination of the work I’ve done; the different disciplines of movement I’ve delved into, the variety of injuries I’ve befriended as well as the various methods of healing I’ve explored.

Awareness is the key to everything.

Movement Alchemy Workshop: The Sensation of Hearing

Add another tool to your Wellness Toolbox!

Saturday, November 3.

No experience necessary. You do not have to be a musician, dancer or  Nia student to gain benefits from this workshop. This is for everybody.

What does what you “hear” have to do with Stress?

Does music affect your Body the way you think it does?

  • We’ll take simple listening exercises.

  • We’ll play with listening in new ways.

  • We’ll move to what we hear.

 What does awareness and noticing the sounds around you have to do with getting fitness and staying healthy?

A 60-minute NiaTM class will close the workshop, get your heart rate up and let you put what you just heard to good use. You will leave relaxed and refreshed, ready for the holidays!

Saturday, November 3, 3-5pm at the Clarus Center in Warrenville

For more information on this workshop, other events and regular classes, please visit:


Cost $40

To Register, contact Catherine at niaspirit@yahoo.com or (630)290-4814.



“Passion”, A Lab for Every Body on Sunday!

Inspired by a series of conversations with black belt Nia guide Andrew Mills, I started exploring different formats with the intention of first helping my students learn Nia choreography more easily. Feeling the need to take the concept “live” I invited my students to help me test the early version. They agreed and were wonderful!

On Sunday, September 30 from 1-3pm, I’ll be sharing the first Learning Lab of this type.

We’ll be learning The Base moves for the Nia routine, Passion.

This Lab is perfect for a new-to-Nia students, as well as veteran students and new Nia teachers.

Dedicated to Awareness of Body Sensation, let’s create a relaxed, fun atmosphere. We’ll “walk” through the Nia Base Moves that make Passion the pleasure-filled fitness experience it is. We’ll explore just enough technique to create a foundation for success and I’ll share my “new toy”*, a tool that puts the intensity level of each and every class of any type in the palm of your hand.

I love doing this work and I’m honored to offer this first Lab.

The Passion Lab will be offered at the beautiful, serene Clarus Center in Warrenville. I love this location; gorgeous, warm hardwood floors, floor to ceiling windows and doors that open out to a bank of marsh grasses and wild flowers surrounding a huge pond settled against a tall line of trees. At Clarus we get to dance with coyote, ducks, geese, racoons and whoever wants to join in and if it’s cool enough, we’ll have a fire in the fire place.

The Lab cost is $35. You’ll go home with the Passion Home Practice Packet including the music CD so that you can practice at home.

To register, contact me, either by email – Niaspirit@yahoo.com or call/text 630-290-4814.

This Lab for learning the Base Moves is a first step from which many other learning opportunities can grow. Next, we’ll explore the Passion Moves for Core and the Upper Extremities of the Body. Then? How about the 9 Movement Forms followed by The Body’s Way?

All you have to do is show up and your body will do the rest!

I’d like to express deep gratitude to my students for their patience and willingness to step into the unknown with me while I figure things out, and for trusting that I would.

Thank you, Andrew.


*I introduced my “new toy” in my last blog post, What Is Movement Alchemy And What’s In It For You?


Sole Practice, my one-on-one sessions are beginning in October in the same amazing Clarus location. You can get more details about Sole Practice at http://www.movementalchemy.com. Click on Ooze, Melt and Drip and then on Sole Practice.

What is Movement Alchemy? And What’s In It For You?

Why am I here?

Why did I create Movement Alchemy?

What do I have to offer that will benefit you and others?

I’m here, I guess because my parents liked each other alot!

Seriously, I’m here because I can help you heal.

Movement Alchemy describes the transformation through movement that is accessible to every body.  Transformation that honors every body in its uniqueness and life history. Movement Alchemy is the culmination of the work I’ve done; the different disciplines of movement, the variety of injuries I’ve befriended as well as the various methods of healing I’ve explored.

Movement Alchemy is…

  • Nia classes, an energetic, fun way to get fit, connect to community and get your dance fix! 52 Moves fuse the energy of martial arts, dance arts and healing arts for a perfectly balanced fitness program.
  • Labs and Workshops that are perfect if you are new to movement or Nia. Labs and Workshops that are also rich opportunities for all of you veterans and teachers to dive more deeply into your somatic practice with others in the Nia community.
  • Sole Practice, one-on-one sessions that incorporate your personal body history and natural movement style. This information is a treasure map that will lead us on a journey of mind, body, spirit and emotional fitness, well-being and pleasure.

Why should you come and get it from me?

First, I am head over heels in love with your body!

It’s the truth and I’m pretty shameless about it! I’d like to hear about your experiences with movement, and your body history.  I’d also like to share tools to help you increase your awareness of body sensation. Awareness is the foundation for any change, whether you want to increase strength, and flexibility or get faster and increase stability. I’ll share tools that will improve your ability to  move more easily, release pain, heal and reach your goals.

Second, I’m a gifted teacher.

That means:

1. I can do what I claim.

2. There is nothing I would rather do with my time than share my love of movement with you. I bring 15+ years of experience moving bodies and a passion for exploration and movement adventure. I speak Sensation, the language of the body and with a little practice, you will too!

3. I have a new Toy and I can’t wait to share it!

On a personal note, recently I caught myself wishing I had stepped into this earlier in my life. I just didn’t have the juice I have now; the fuel, the excitement that gets me up every morning (and Movement Alchemy won’t fully manifest until October!).

What is it? This fuel?

I love my body! I love the way it moves. I love the way it feels and these two concepts feed each other.

The more I love the way I feel, the more I want to move and find ways of moving that result in loving the way I feel!

The Joy of Movement, Nia White Belt Principle 1. It is the sensation of Joy flooding my body. The sensation that says, “oh yea, this is the way I want to keep doing it”.  It was through Nia that I discovered The Joy of Movement, but it is not limited to Nia. I discovered the Joy of  Running. After 25 years of doing it-hating it-doing it-hating it, I applied Principle 5, Awareness. I ran and listened. When it didn’t feel good I made tiny changes, I tweaked – I kept my mouth closed but my teeth apart so my jaw would stay relaxed. I lengthened my stride; that did not feel good and I started counting steps again. I checked my ego, shorted my stride and slowed my pace. Ah, Joy returned. When I felt like I could run for hours, I was there. My body would ask me to run. I was slow, at first, but it felt really good and I was happy to be outside. Before long I was faster. I quietly kept up with the speeds of some more serious runners and found my pace not far from theirs. Ok, this really works!

Nia is much of what I share, but Movement Alchemy is how the big picture comes together.

Nia. Dance. Running. Basketball. Golf. Business. Relationships.

Strength. Flexibility. Agility. Mobility. Stability. Longevity.

The Balance of Yin and Yang, masculine and feminine energy within each one of us and out in the world.

Oh, yea about that new toy?!

This toy is actually a tool that gives me the power of choice; the power to choose how I’m going to use my body in any given moment. Learning to use this tool has made a huge difference in my conditioning and how my body looks. I’ll bet learning to use this tool would make a big difference in your movement practice; profession, hobby or sport, whatever your fitness, experience or skill level. At the same time, you will develop what I call your deep core reserve of stability.

Curious? Good! Come see me.

Too far away for live and in person? That’s ok, we’ve got this thing called technology. Contact me and we’ll figure it out.

Floor Play – Playing with Mobility

This morning’s focus for class was Systemic Integration which is just another way to say ‘moving all your parts as though they’re connected’.

My classes at the Indian Boundary YMCA are in the Fieldhouse – on the basketball courts. This affords us alot of space in which to move.

We began on the floor at one end of the courts using the song One Good Dub. With a piece of music that’s 8 minutes and 15 seconds in length, we had plenty of time to roll, wiggle, shift, undulate, rock, push, pull, ooze, and reach our way to the other end. Before the song was over, we got to our feet and continued to move – in the same way.

I love Floor Play. I love the floor – particularly wood floors and I spend quite a bit of time on the floor in and out of class. I am a devoted student and child of Floor play. My body tells me that the possibilities for fitness, wellness and overall functionality are greater than I’m taking advantage of.

We are built to move on the floor.

The fact that many people over 50 struggle and many over 60 “can’t” is not due to our design. It is due to our culture.

First, we’re an either/or culture. We are conditioned to believe that we only have 2 choices – yes no, black white, creative or not creative, athlete or non-athlete, smart or not smart, dancer non-dancer, strong weak, masculine feminine, young old, red or yellow. Really? Nothing in between? Dance professionally or go home?!?! Create a da Vinci or put away your art supplies!

Each of us is a remarkable blend of traits, characteristics, strengths, and works-in-progress. How does this get back around to Floor Play? Culture took us off the floor and sat us in chairs and other pieces of furniture that doesn’t truly honor our body design. Culture told us that only children sit and play on the floor – and either/or – I am a child and I can sit and play on the floor or I am an adult and I do not. Once deemed an “adult” I begin the slow painful journey to certain loss of mobility and potential illness as a result of poor circulation (since muscles contraction is often directly responsible for blood moving through veins)

I’m very, very fond of the color orange and I think I’ll be an adult who sits and plays on the floor.

I received information through my body during Floor Play today that I had not received this way before. The contrast of moving up on my feet had never been quit so stark. So stark that I guided the class back down to the floor. I felt limited on my feet. I have felt vertical limitation before, as a relatively normal human managing the affects of gravity. I’m not a gymnast or acrobat for Cirque de Soleil so I have some pretty distinct limitations. It was my awareness and sense of my body moving through the usual space that was different.

Floor Play definitely feeds what I do on my feet. If I did not have the relationship with the Earth that I do, I would not be the mover I am on my feet.

Moving on the floor takes a different awareness, perhaps a shift in awareness. My feet are no longer the foundation from which I am moving. This changes how I am in relationship with all of my body parts. When I am on my feet, my feet and legs are under me, my femurs/thighbones suspended from my hip joints and my shin bones (tibia and fibula) rise out of my ankles toward my knee joints. On the floor the relation-ship changes. My leg bones are resting on the earth. The muscles that surround, support and are responsible for vertical leg function now have to adapt. It isn’t strength that is needed for walking, it’s flexibility as muscles are stretched. To create strength requires that I think of my relation-ship with gravity in a different way.

Now my pelvis may be my new foundation, or my hands or perhaps my spine.

After a few minutes, I rediscovered the comfort of moving on my feet and the momentary awkwardness gone.

More deeply I wonder about the correlation between the social expectations of being permanently vertical, our waning relationship with the Earth and the tendency of ours to disconnect mind from body. Considerations for another post…

We began on the Earth and to lose the sense of the Earth as our foundation is to lose ourselves and our ability to move freely on our feet.